One funny thing about being a dietitian is that people become really interested in what you eat and what you buy at the grocery store. I don’t mind, because I also LOVE to watch grocery hauls and read reviews about what’s trending in the food world. And not in a judgy way – I get just as excited to learn about the new seasonal ice cream flavor as I do to see how people meal prep for the week.
So, here’s a glimpse into MY shopping cart – the Trader Joe’s essentials that I grab every time I go.
A little disclaimer before you scroll away: I live 45 minutes from Trader Joe’s (sad, right?!). So, this isn’t where I buy the majority of our produce/fresh foods. There are a few fresh foods I always grab, but for me, TJ’s is a once a month stop where I grab mostly snacks and freezer faves.
So keep that in mind!
1. Teeny Tiny Avocados
These avocados are the PERFECT size. Plus where I live (read: the midwest where avocados aren’t local), this is a good price!
Tip: Put your avocados in the fridge as soon as they’re ripe. You’ll squeeze a little more time out of them!
2. Sweet Potato Fries
These are always stocked in my freezer. They’re perfectly crispy and not heavy on the salt. Plus they have 3g of fiber per serving!
If you’ve never put fries on your salad, you’re missing out. We’ve been making burger bowls (kinda like a burger in salad form) a lot for dinner, and these are the perfect filler.
And if you prefer to make your own fries – sometimes I do too! Just depends on what I’m feeling and how much time I have.
3. Frozen Fruit
I know, you can buy frozen fruit anywhere, but I really love the quality of these strawberries – ESPECIALLY for the price. These are $2/bag where I live! I always buy a couple bags to use for smoothies. I also love the frozen mango – it will make your smoothie so creamy!
You can also make your own chia jam with frozen berries to use on toast, in oatmeal or on yogurt.
4. Silver Dollar Pancakes
This is purely a convenience buy. I have two small kids and believe it or not, I’m not always up for cooking breakfast from scratch 😉 So sometimes I make a huge batch of my own pancakes to freeze, but these are great too.
Here are some easy ways I add a little more nutrition when we eat these:
- Spread with nut butter
- Sprinkle with hemp seeds
- Add a side of fresh fruit
- Make a dipping sauce with Greek yogurt and nut butter (YUM)
5. Ground Chicken
My local grocery store doesn’t always have ground chicken and when they do, it’s pretty expensive. So, I always grab some at TJ’s.
I mainly use this to make meatballs – this recipe is my fave. After they’re cooked, I put them on a cookie sheet and freeze them before putting them in a freezer bag for storage. Then, I always have a quick source of protein to pull out of the freezer. Sometimes I add veggies (diced super small!) to these before I bake them.
6. THE Yogurt
This is the best, creamiest yogurt…ever. Before you come for me about the amount of sugar in this little cup, this isn’t our “every day” yogurt. We mostly eat these as a sweet snack or freeze them as popsicles (def do this). But if my kids DO ask for “the Trader Joe’s yogurt” for breakfast, I simply load it up with other goodies like protein and fiber-rich granola, seeds and fruit.
7. Chicken Gyoza Potstickers
One of my favorite Trader Joe’s essentials for quick lunches. The key with these is to let them “sear” before you steam them so they get that nice crust on the bottom. Then, I like to dip in a soy sauce-sriracha combo with a side of steamed veggies and/or rice.
8. Veggie Fried Rice
The easiest side ever. Sometimes I make this to go with my Chicken Gyoza Potstickers, but most of the time I just crack an egg or 2 in the same pan and call it a meal (one cup of this rice and 2 eggs = 18g protein with basically no effort!).
9. Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups
Reese’s who? These are my husband’s pick but I always sneak a few 😉.
10. Pizza Dough
I love making my own pizza dough… but I don’t love having to plan ahead to make my own dough… you know? I always pick one of these up to have a fun DIY pizza night with my kids. Sometimes they even experiment with some veggies because OF COURSE they taste better when you’re making your very own pizza.
Sometimes I get the frozen Naan to make personal pizzas.
11. Bamba Peanut Snacks
I buy these for my kids but tbh I snack on them sometimes too. I like that they have 5g of protein and 2g of fiber per serving, with no added sugar. They’re easy to take on-the-go and just all around very kid-friendly and usually mess-free. Oh and I think they’re $1 a bag?! I’ll take 7.
Any cheese. The feta is my go-to because the price is always SO good, but I love wandering this section of the store and letting TJ’s tell me what I need.
13. Super Sour Scandinavian Swimmers
Last but not least, my favorite candy. These are better than Sour Patch Kids and I will die on that hill. There’s no sugar coating (see what I did there) the nutrition info on these – I mean, it’s candy. But that doesn’t mean I guilt myself for enjoying it every now and then.
What Trader Joe’s essentials did I miss?!
Tell me some of your faves that I need to try next time I shop.