When Darren and I moved to Scottsdale, AZ back in 2006, we immediately became huge fans of Trader Joe’s. When we moved to California, our love affair grew even deeper after realizing we had five stores (!) within a three-mile radius.
Then, in 2010, we moved back home to Kansas City and realized that the closest Trader Joe’s was a whopping four hours away in St. Louis. Bummer. Luckily, my dad regularly traveled their for business, so we took advantage and would send him with a shopping list. We couldn’t get the frozen goodies or anything that would spoil, but we were still able to stock up on our favorite staples.
A year or so ago, that all changed. Kansas City now has two Trader Joe’s. Whenever I mention how much I love shopping there, people either enthusiastically agree, or start to grumble because they find the experience overwhelming. Today, with New Year’s resolutions in full swing, and more Americans than ever realizing the healing benefits of switching to real food, I want to share the top ten staples we try to always buy at Trader Joe’s.
In no particular order, these are a few of my favorite things…
Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens.
(Sorry. I couldn’t resist.)
1. Organic Tomato Basil Marinara Sauce…this is our go-to prepared sauce for simple weeknight spaghetti, Popeye Manicotti, Chicken Parmesan Soup (recipe coming soon), and more!
2. Organic Dill Pickles…have you ever read the labels on most pickle jars? Every single brand at our local grocery store contains high fructose corn syrup and petroleum dervived food dyes. Yuck! Plus, these ones taste great and are shelf stable for over a year.
3. Organic Ketchup…same as pickles. I like to avoid the high fructose corn syrup or genetically modified beet sugar found in most supermarket brands.
4. Organic Mayonnaise…According to my best friend (who is currently pregnant with twins!!!), this is the only healthy mayo that actually tastes like the processed brand we all know and love. Enough said.
5. Salsa Verde…There are a lot of good green salsas out there, but this is our family’s favorite for price and flavor. There are also no yucky preservatives!
6. Organic Yellow Corn Chips…unless labeled “USDA Organic” or “Non-GMO Certified”, corn chips are probably made from genetically modified corn. Buying the Trader Joe’s brand are also not much more expensive than the regular ones!
7. Orange Juice…technically this is not a staple, but I had to include it because it is such a great value. Just $1.99/carton!!! When purchasing 100% real orange juice, it is unnecessary to upgrade to organic. Oranges are almost always on the EWG’s Clean 15 list.
8. Harvest Grains Blend…Israeli Couscous, Orzo, Baby Garbanzo Beans, and Red Quinoa. When cooked in chicken broth, this makes a comforting and nutritious pilaf to serve under chicken or fish. LOVE!
9. Whole Wheat Couscous…100% whole wheat and it comes together in just five minutes.This is one of our favorite ways to prepare it.
10. Organic Free Range Chicken Broth…Whenever possible, I like to use homemade chicken broth in our cooking. It is such a healing food! However, on days that my supply is empty or I forgot to pull some out of the freezer, this is a great alternative to have on hand. Plus, $1.99 a quart is a great price!
Well, there you go. Thse are ten of the Trader Joe’s staples we try to keep on hand at all times. They offer a ton of convenience, help heal our bodies, and are a great way to stay within our budget. Hopefully this list will help you stay strong with your real food resolutions and give you a place to start on your next visit!
What do you think? Do you have a favorite product from Trader Joe’s?
If you are one of the many people that find grocery shopping overwhelming, or you need help transitioning your family to real food, I would love to help! I regularly lead grocery shopping tours, do one-on-one or small group nutrition consultations, and lead real food lunch-and-learns for organizations large and small. Email firstname.lastname@example.org for prices and more information.