In the Cheap Easy Healthy Eating System I share how I created our grocery shopping (with food sensitivities) so we can a) get what we need and b) do so in under $500 a month.
Because life happens and we run short on time or something comes up, schedules and rhythms get moved around, meal plans get set to the side for another night of rotisserie chicken and side salad, it’s good to know what your back up plans are. For me, Trader Joe’s is normally an every 8-10 weeks kind of gig, however, when life gets a little hectic, I know I can run in there and get what I need for $125 or less.
One thing my husband notices is that our produce tends to head south faster when we buy it from Trader Joe’s. I’m not sure if it’s that we’re not eating it fast enough or if it just goes bad, but I do pay close attention when choosing produce.
Something else to mind are the ingredients. I remember living in Mammoth Lakes, CA with my BFF Leah when I was 20. The closest Trader Joe’s was in Reno and we would pop in there any time we had to bring someone to the airport…it was something we totally looked forward to. To date it’s still the best laid out and most fun Trader Joe’s I’ve ever set foot in.
I digress, back to ingredients…I think most people have it that Trader Joe’s is a healthier store to shop at. That’s not always the case. Plenty of times I have purchased something without thinking, assuming the ingredients would be fine, such as salad dressing, and then find while eating dinner and reading the bottle that it’s got high fructose corn syrup as the second ingredient. That’s such a crappy feeling, right? Do we finish it knowing what’s in it or toss the bottle into recycling knowing we paid for a product we aren’t using. I have since found out Trader Joe’s will take back just about anything you’re not satisfied with.
What I buy at Trader Joe’s (this is the basics list):
raw sunflower seeds
raw pumpkin seeds
produce including cucumbers, jicama, beets, snap peas, avocados, bananas, tri-pack bell peppers, pears, grapefruit, celery, carrots, broccoli, cauliflower….I avoid the greens if possible because those seem to go bad pretty quickly and we go through them pretty quickly so that’s saying something
organic eggs if we don’t get them from the co-op, my grandparents or the farm
occasionally organic whole fat yogurt
raw goat milk cheddar cheese-personal fave
Applegate farms deli meat
sunflower seed butter
organic liquid stevia
organic frozen berries
And yes, we do purchase the occasional bag of TJ’s version of Pirate’s Booty
When you find yourself in Trader Joe’s for the first time, what you notice are all these fun private label foods-they have super fun food for entertainment, great cheeses and lots of quick, go-to convenience-type foods. Be mindful of the ingredients and you’ll be set to purchase your groceries for a great price.