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What I Buy At Trader Joes and Why

I bought our weeks worth of groceries today and thought I would share what I got with you, and highlight some of our favorite items.  I bought $110.00 worth of groceries.  I do my weekly shopping at Trader Joes, and pick a few items up (like eggs & coconut milk coffee creamer) at my local health food store.

Why do I shop at Trader Joes?  Well, you can’t beat the prices for their organic fruits and vegetables, especially their frozen vegetables.  Also, foods with the Trader Joes label guarantee:

~no artificial flavors, colors, or preservatives

~no genetically modified ingredients

~no MSG

~no added trans fats

This is a huge deal for me.  It is super important to me that my family eats clean.  I don’t want nasty chemical dyes and preservatives in my food.  I have a child who has a tight chest cough/wheeze the minute she eats high fructose corn syrup and anything with yellow food dye in it, so shopping at Trader  Joes makes it easy on me.  I still read labels, but it is much easier at Trader Joes, as their label lists are much shorter and have ingredients that I can pronounce.

On to what I buy and why.  Let’s start with the above picture:

1. Organic Spinach–I bought 2 bags.  We eat a ton of spinach in our home.  It is one of our main sources of calcium and iron since we do little animal products.  We make a ton of green smoothies & I eat spinach salad often for lunch.

2. Organic Kale–Trader Joes just started carrying organic Kale.  It is already washed and chopped, which makes it super easy to prepare.  We often make Kale Chips, I put it in MY green smoothies (not my kids, I use spinach for them, kale is a bit too green tasting for their palates.)  I also will sauté’ it with garlic for a supper side dish.

3. Butter Lettuce Mix–I try to have salad every night with dinner.  My girls love this mix.

4. Organic Pears–These are perfect size for my girls lunch box.  They specifically ask if there is a pear in their lunch.  I’m always happy when I see them for sale!

5. Organic Kiwi–Another perfect fruit for their lunch boxes or as an afternoon snack.  I cut them in half and send a spoon, they just scoop it out and eat it.

6. Bananas–we love bananas in our family, and at Trader Joes, they are 5 for a dollar.  We eat them plain, we spread peanut butter on them, we freeze them and put them in smoothies.  We also love them sliced over cereal or in our Chia Oats.

7. Sliced Mushrooms–I saute’ these with pepper strips and onion, and use them in wraps.  Yum!

8. Organic Broccoli–I eat this raw as often as possible, & top my salads with it.  I will steam it for a dinner side dish at the end of the week, when the expiration date gets close.

9. Organic Gold Potatoes–my girls are on a big potato kick.  They have been coming home from school, washing a potato, pricking the skin and popping it in the microwave.  Cracks me up to see them wanting to snack on a vegetable.  Their little palates have changes so much since we started eating a plant strong diet!

10. Organic Pink Lady Apples–I buy ONLY organic apples.  I will not compromise on this fruit as it is one of the very highest in pesticides.  Sometimes Trader Joes has a huge selection of organic apples, sometimes they do not.  When they do, the price is great and the apples are delish!

11. Onions & Peppers–I saute’ these fajita style and use in a wrap with beans.  We also eat pepper strips raw.

12. Organic Baby Carrots–great for snacks and lunches…and our guinea pig!

13.  Organic Sweet Potatoes–I am a sweet potato fanatic.  I just love them.  I slice them into coins and bake them. I mash them..my fav. I use them in my Acorn Squash and Sweet Potato Soup. I also juice them sometimes.

14.  Lemons–I use these for my daily lemon water, and for juicing.  I also use them for cleaning and my favorite…add sugar to lemon juice for the most refreshing and yummy tasting facial scrub!

15. Dried Cranberries–We use these sprinkled on top of oatmeal.  I also mix them with nuts and put in lunch boxes.

16. Dried Apricots–This is a new favorite of my girls. They think it is like eating fruit snacks, and since I don’t buy fruit snacks, it makes me super happy that they feel that way! It is crazy, as I get sugar snacks out of the house, my kids have gradually fallen for fruit because it will be the sweetest thing in the house!

Whew…this is gonna be a long post.  Ready for pic number 2?

1. Potato Chips–I buy these every other week.  Not the most healthy, but my girls love them with sandwiches in their lunch and see it as a super fun treat.  I keep the portions small.

2. Organic Corn Chips–great snack with salsa, of course!

3. Oats–we go through a container this size every week.  We love our oats.  We eat them raw like you would a bowl of granola topped with fruit, we eat them cooked, we put them into smoothies, we make Chocolate Peanut Butter Chia Oats with them.  I will make homemade granola bars or our most favorite chocolate bars–The Best Recipe I Ever Messed Up.

4. Crisp Rice Cereal–I usually buy a more whole grain cereal, but my girls love this and get excited because I don’t buy it that often.  It is not high in sugar, but it does lack fiber so I view it as pretty empty calories.  I make it ok by adding whole grain toast and fruit.

5. Almond Milk–when we switched from cow’s milk to almond milk, my girls growled and complained.  Now they love it so much that they have a very hard time every drinking cow’s milk.  We use this over cereal or in smoothies.  I use it in recipes in place of milk.  I do wish it was organic.  Trader Joes just started carrying organic coconut milk, so I will have to try that.

6. Organic Tomatillo & Roasted Yellow Chili Salsa–I have tried every salsa Trader Joes carries, and this is by far the best.  Great flavor.

7. Earth Balance–we have used this in place of butter since eating more plant based.  I love that you can melt it and bake with it.

8. Shredded Cheese–I don’t buy it often, but we are having chili this week.  I don’t eat dairy, but my girls will like a sprinkling on their chili.  They also make cheese tacos as a quick afternoon snack. I do appreciate that all of Trader Joes cheeses have a label on them that announce that they use milk from cows NOT treated with Rsbt.

9. Clif Bars–a treat.  This box will supply an afternoon snack for my girls for 4 days (12 bars in a box). I love how easy it is to just throw a bar at them when they get home from school.  These are high protein and high fiber.

10. Hummus–I am on a huge hummus kick.  I have been using a big blog of it on my salads instead of salad dressing…so good!  I also love it on my Hummus Sandwich Heaven & to dip vegetables.

You still with me??  3rd pic…here we go:

1. Strawberry Nutrigrain Bars–very convenient for lunch boxes.  These are another item that I don’t buy often and are considered a treat.  They are quite processed and have quite a bit of sugar.  Comparing them to another store brand of these type of bars, they really are not so bad!

2. Vegetable Nests–I will tell you more about these below, but they are really yummy.  You can heat them up in the oven and eat them according to the package, but I like to get creative with it.  My plan is to bake them, then chop them up and add beans, using it as a topping for brown rice.  Easy and convenient meal.  These have amazing flavor and come with a yummy Asian dipping sauce.  Go easy on the sauce…it is high sodium.

3. Mini Chicken Tacos--A treat my girls love.  Not super healthy.

4.Steelcut Oats–These frozen pucks of steel cut oats are my most favorite breakfast.  I add blueberries or raspberries on top and I am in breakfast heaven.  I sometimes make my own steel cut oat frozen pucks, but decided to be lazy.  These sell for 1.69 for 2 large frozen pucks.  I can share one with one of my girls and still get full.

5. 100% Whole Wheat Bread–THIS IS NOT FROM TRADER JOES.  I have had a hard time finding a bread that we all love from Trader Joes.  I have a local bakery we use often, this time I bought Oroweat.

6. Sweet Apple Chicken Sausage–the only meat product I bought for the week, other than the chicken tacos.  We slice this up and sauté’ it, then it it with eggs & toast for a breakfast dinner.  I talk more about this product below.

7. Creamy Organic Peanut Butter with Sea Salt–a staple in our home.  I use it on sandwiches, smear banana with it, use it in chia oats and in smoothies.

8.  Organic Strawberry Jelly–great on toast, sandwiches & a dab twirled into oatmeal is yummy!  I will talk more about this product below.

I took these photos to show you the Trader Joes difference.  The ingredients in the salsa are all whole, recognizable ingredients.  No sugars added.  No preservatives. Love it!

The jelly has organic grape juice concentrate in it.  It still is considered sugar, but SO MUCH BETTER than high fructose corn syrup.  Click here to read more about why I don’t like HFCS.

Look at the ingredients of this crispy little birds nests!  Onion, carrot, kale are the first 3 ingredients.  Yes, they have tempura batter and oil, but for a processed snack that tastes good and is convenient…I’ll take it.

We made it to the end of this very long post.  Thanks for sticking with me…I hope this was helpful.

This is just a taste of the things we love and buy at Trader Joes.  I have not written posts about it because I realize not everyone lives near a TJ’s, but I hope some of the tips given are helpful despite that.

Let me know in the comments if you want to see more Trader Joe posts at New Nostalgia!  Also, share your favorite products with me if you are a TJ’s fan.

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  • Anonymous
    January 22, 2016 at 9:51 pm

    Wow I’m glad to know I’m not the only one driving hours to get to a TJ’S! Last place we lived was 2 hours from one. We are again 2 hours from the nearest location. I LIVE for the edamame chips!

    • AmyNewNostalgia
      January 25, 2016 at 4:43 pm

      How have I never bought the edamame chips?! Yum! Bummer you live so far away from a TJ’s. 🙁

  • Laura
    January 7, 2015 at 8:21 pm

    I love Trader Joe’s as much as the next gal, and I drive 50 miles to get to one every few weeks, but I’m sorry I’m going to have to burst the bubble here, … Trader Joe’s carries plenty of products that contain GMO’s. Unless a product is labeled as “non-GMO,” or “USDA Organic,” it absolutely can, and probably does, contain GMO’s. Please remove this information from your post as its untrue and would be very upsetting to anyone who, like us both, wants to buy only GMO-free foods and trusts your blog. Thanks!

    • AmyNewNostalgia
      January 8, 2015 at 10:48 am

      I just looked at their website and linked what they have to say about their non-GMO foods. Thanks for your note and heads up.

  • Anonymous
    October 24, 2013 at 11:08 am

    I commend you for the way you are eating and feeding your family. Heads up, however, on the use of microwaves. They are not as safe as we have been led to believe. especially regarding vegetables. In this age where everyone is trying to moderate their food, it is hard to be 100% sure. Just make sure to detox your bodies now and then to get rid of the excess chemical build up.

  • macamomma
    October 14, 2013 at 5:58 am

    I love Trader Joe’s as well. I just ordered from Azure Standard for the first time. I love their prices on organic fruit! A lot of it is by bulk but not all. They deliver the food to many cities across the US.

  • Mary
    August 17, 2013 at 8:11 pm

    Thank you for posting this! They are building a Trader Joe’s nearby and I’m very excited! Because of this, our local Wegmans is carrying alot more organic products too!

  • Mary Martin
    September 30, 2012 at 4:18 am

    thank you for this and i would love to see more!

  • Anonymous
    September 27, 2012 at 1:40 am

    Thanks for the amazing post. Can’t wait to try out trader Joe’s. They are an hour from us, but this list makes it seem worth the drive. Was everything one this list $110? Like others, I would love prices, but greatly appreciate the effort this post took. Thanks for an inspirational blog.

    • Amy Bowman
      September 27, 2012 at 9:19 pm

      Yep, all for 110.00. I will try to add the prices next time, I can see where that would be helpful. I super appreciate how kindly you asked this. 🙂

  • Emily
    September 26, 2012 at 11:50 pm

    I drive an hour to go to Trader Joe’s every other week. I love it! I had a hard time finding a bread that I liked there until we tried the quinoa bread. It’s amazing. Definitely give it a try!

    • Amy Bowman
      September 27, 2012 at 9:17 pm

      I have not tried that one! I will try it…thanks for suggesting it!!

  • linda
    September 26, 2012 at 10:39 pm

    Amy, I went to TJs for the first time in months (and spent $190) because of this post and learning about the no- gmos in their brand. Did a little research and it turns out they can’t or won’t prove that claim. Kinda concerned it may not be 100% true. The percentage of gmos in crops like corn, soy and canola are so high, I have to wonder at how they are getting non-organic and non-gmo sources on those items. Would love to see a third party verification but they won’t do it. Unless I am just unable to find it. Found some news about boycotting due to this fact. A little bit alarming that they won’t use the NonGMO Project’s seal, which is a 3rd party verifier. It is all over Whole Foods market and I trust that.

    • Amy Bowman
      September 27, 2012 at 9:17 pm

      Hmmm…makes one think. Let me know if you hear/read any more about this

  • linda
    September 26, 2012 at 10:26 pm

    Paul, it isn’t that common in any of the states I have lived in. I rarely get my produce prebagged. I like to choose each item separately. I am not sure why TJs does that. The one by my house doesn’t do it but with a few veg like celery hearts.

  • Paul - The Kind Little Blogger
    September 25, 2012 at 1:37 pm

    Woah. That’s quite the shop! I enjoy seeing people’s grocery hauls from other countries.

    It’s a bit everything is bagged up or covered in plastic. Even the fruit and veg. Is that common place in the States?

    • Amy Bowman
      September 27, 2012 at 9:15 pm

      Not common, but TJ’s does it. I do not like that they use so much plastic. 🙁 Fun to get a comment from another country…will come check out your place…I like the name!

  • Anonymous
    September 25, 2012 at 4:13 pm

    I drive 90 miles to go to TJ but it is so worth it! Their cocoa almond spread is so much better than Nutella. Like all the produce and frozen veggies.

  • Melinda
    September 25, 2012 at 1:37 pm

    Thanks for this post! I’ve never lived near TJ’s and have always been a little jealous when I see their products in blogs. However, we just got one a couple of months ago and it’s not too far from me. The parking lot is super-tiny so I’ve been waiting for some of the hype to die down before I went. Now I know some things to look for!

  • Kathy Wallace
    September 25, 2012 at 11:34 am

    Thank you so much for this info. I find myself going to Trader Joe’s and just being overwhelmed. I really appreciate all your time and effort you put into this. Great info!

  • Anonymous
    September 25, 2012 at 2:47 am

    I try to shop there, but dislike all the produce in plastic containers and the majority of the canned/frozen foods are from china. I’ll stick with local CSS and coop.

    • Amy Bowman
      September 27, 2012 at 9:16 pm

      Yes, I dislike the plastic too. 🙁 My coop is triple the price unfortunately.

  • Teresa Thode
    September 25, 2012 at 2:35 am

    They just opened a location about an hour from me (1st on in Florida), I can’t wait to use your your list. 🙂 Thanks!

  • It Feels Like Chaos
    September 25, 2012 at 2:13 am

    Thanks for sharing this, we just got a Trader Joe’s in our area and I can’t wait to try it out. Great to know what you buy there! I’ve been known to peak in other people’s carts at Whole Foods wondering, “What do other people buy here that might be good for me to try!”

  • Louise
    September 25, 2012 at 12:48 am

    Great post! I want to try that salsa, peanut butter and sausage!

    • Amy Bowman
      September 27, 2012 at 9:09 pm

      there is a recall on that particular brand of PB…but I am sure they have them all pulled from the shelves by now!

  • Shannon
    September 25, 2012 at 12:42 am

    When we lived on the west coast where TJ’s is everywhere, I shopped there a lot! We now live in TX, and we get our first TJ’s in about a month!!! Hooray!!!! I cannot afford places like Whole Foods, so I am excited that I get my favorite grocery store in the entire world again. I am just like you…have all of my favorites from TJ’s, and I like to fee my family clean, organic food whenever possible. TJ’s makes that possible with great prices, outstanding employees, the best private label stuff ever, etc.!!!!

  • Lindaxvgn
    September 24, 2012 at 7:57 pm

    I prefer Whole Foods but then again my husband has worked for them for ten plus years. I do shop TJs but infrequently. I wish you listed the prices. I didn’t know they were gmo free on their store brand. That is excellent news.

  • Maura
    September 24, 2012 at 7:25 pm

    i live blocks from a TJs and it’s my FAVORITE. i could go on and on as to what i get there. I”m currently dairy free while nursing my son but they have amazing cheeses at a great price. I love their jarred marinated artichoke hearts. i eat them with crackers, in salads, on pasta. so convenient to have around. the pretzel thin crackers are awesome with all of their hummus flavors. you vegetarians will cringe, but their applewood smoked bacon can’t be beat (i often saute one or two pieces with lots of kale for a fun flavor). also love the bagged kale. their harvest grains are a staple side dish in our house. i could go on and on! LOVE TJS!

    • Amy Bowman
      September 27, 2012 at 9:08 pm

      oh I MUST try the artichoke hearts! I bet they would add great flavor to things and I love that they are jarred instead of canned. I like it when people use bacon as a flavoring instead of the main dish–wise. Harvest grains–is that in the freezer section or a dry mix? Thanks for your comment!

  • Maura
    September 24, 2012 at 7:05 pm

    Did i miss where you elaborated on the chicken sausage? just curious your thoughts on it

    • Amy Bowman
      September 27, 2012 at 9:06 pm

      I spaced it! Basically, I don’t get it often but I do feel good that there is no nitrates in it. It is yummy, my girls and hubs love it. I love that I can just slice it and throw it in a pan to heat. So easy.

  • Christy
    September 24, 2012 at 6:57 pm

    Amy, I wanted to let you know that Trader Joe’s has just done a massive recall on Peanut Butter. You might want to check into it. It has been linked to several salmonella cases. I love TJ’s!!! These things happen, but knew you would want to know.

    • Amy Bowman
      September 27, 2012 at 7:57 pm

      thanks for the heads up! I threw mine away the same day I put this post up!

  • Anonymous
    September 24, 2012 at 6:16 pm

    Thank you for this post! I live around the corner from Trader Joe’s and assumed it was a more expensive place to shop (we also have a Whole Foods nearby that we can’t afford). But, your list of items was pretty significant and low cost! I’ll be checking mine out soon 🙂

  • Iuliana
    September 24, 2012 at 4:55 pm

    oh how I miss Trader Joe’s!

  • eakitch
    September 24, 2012 at 4:43 pm

    When I was there last week I noticed that they had Chia seeds on their new items shelf!

    • Amy Bowman
      September 27, 2012 at 7:56 pm

      I KNOW I KNOW! I was very excited to see that!!

  • amperezrosales
    September 24, 2012 at 2:16 pm

    Enjoyed this. It gave me some great ideas. Thanks!

  • reneeb
    September 24, 2012 at 1:53 pm

    We drive 40 minutes to shop at Trader Joe’s. It it totally worth it. I always run out of something during the week (we have 4 kids) and find it hard to wait until the next time I go 🙁 We were just there yesterday. My husband loves the chicken tacos!

  • Melissa
    September 24, 2012 at 1:53 pm

    You are very blessed to have one so close. Ours is so far. Might could swing a once a month trip. My father in law has one near him, so when he comes for a visit I ask him to stop and get me some goodies. He always bring great treats. I especially love the nuts there.

  • Erin
    September 24, 2012 at 1:51 pm

    I love TJ’s, but our closest one is 4 hours away!!! I have a friend that is also a TJ fan so whenever either of us are anywhere near a TJ’s we call the other and stock up. Sadly, it’s been a while and I am getting low w/o a trip to St. Louis or Kansas City in sight.
    Despite not having one near, I loved reading your post.

  • Melissa
    September 24, 2012 at 1:50 pm

    I wish we were closer to one. We might be able to swing the drive for a once a month shop. When my father in law comes for a visit I always ask him to stop by his and bring me goodies. 🙂 You are blessed to have one so close.

  • Cindy Lyles
    September 24, 2012 at 12:36 pm

    You are so fortunate you have one near you – the closest TJ’s is 45 minutes (20 miles) from me…I’ve actually told my husband if he moves me (I’m a corporate wife) again the next house has to be within a 15 minute drive. Totally agree regarding clean eating and today’s post!

    • Amy Bowman
      September 24, 2012 at 1:19 pm

      I actually cringed when I hit publish on this one, for I feel really bad for those who live far away from a TJ’s! I love what you told your husband…I would say the same thing!

  • missy
    September 24, 2012 at 12:32 pm

    Love TJ’s and only buy Organic fruits and Veggies. It’s worth the price to me as I treat food as a gift to the body and not just stuff one stuffs the mouth with. lol I didn’t always treat my body as well as I should but with age comes wisdom. Hmmmm I should be a lot smarter than I am for my age–hee hee.

    I wanted to alert you about the FDA Recall yesterday for Trader Joe’s Peanut Butter:


    I’m sure they pulled all jars off the shelves but just in case you or your blog followers have one in the pantry.

    Hugs and have a happy and healthy day–week–month–LIFE,

    • Amy Bowman
      September 24, 2012 at 1:18 pm

      Hi Missy!
      I just saw that recall this morning and dumped our peanut butter. Scary.

      Love what you said “treat food as a gift to the body” –yes! I say you sound very, very smart!

    • Anonymous
      September 24, 2012 at 3:02 pm

      It was the Valencia peanut butter, not the one you buy—and it was pulled off the shelves. I actually work at a Trader Joe’s, and we do NOT want anything hazardous! We’re very proud of our quality and value. Glad you have so many favorites (some of them are mine, too!)