I used to buy most everything we ate at WalMart or Aldi, with an occasional trip to Sam’s Club. Then we changed our diet and realized that those places were woefully inadequate for buying the kinds of things we needed. Now, we buy most everything at Sprouts, Trader Joe’s, Central Market and Costco. We just let our Sam’s Club membership go, and are going with Costco, because they have a MUCH bigger selection of real food there. There are still a few things we buy at WalMart and Aldi, and occasionally, Target, but the list for those places is quite short.
Many friends have asked me where I get the stuff we use, or what I buy at certain stores. I have put together lists of the things that I typically get at the various stores where I shop, and how the prices compare to other places. Over the next few days, I will share these lists, a store at a time.
Today I’ll start with Trader Joe’s. I have had several people who ask “What do you buy? I just never have found much there that I can use.” When I first went, I felt the same way. In fact, I was really disappointed because I had heard all the hype from people who had shopped at TJs in California, and I just didn’t see what the big deal was. Well, from what I understand, our TJs is not the same as the ones in CA. Even still, the more I have shopped there, the more I have fallen in love with the store and there are certain things that I always buy there now. Here’s the list, in no particular order:
1. Organic Ketchup – I have tried making my own ketchup and haven’t been successful. I have not given up, but until I figure it out, I will buy it here. Yes, it does have organic sugar in it, but I feel better that at least it’s organic. By the way, have you priced the organic ketchups at WalMart, Sprouts or Central Market? They are ridiculous!!! I can get organic ketchup at TJs for $1.99 and my boys love it!
2. Organic Brown Rice Pasta – We have been trying to cut back on wheat and we have found that brown rice pasta is a pretty good substitute. Again, the brown rice pastas at other stores are pricey, but I can get a 1 lb. package of organic brown rice pasta for $1.99 at TJs. Can’t beat that! AND, it’s gluten free, which I’ve heard is a concern with other brands of brown rice pastas.
3. Organic Quinoa – Now, I will be mostly buying this at Costco from here on out, but they have white quinoa and red organic quinoa at TJs for $3.99 a lb. That’s how much they charge at Sprouts for the non-organic quinoa. They also have the mixed quinoa and I think it’s $4.99 a lb.
4. Organic Jelly – They have their own brand of organic juice-sweetened (no sugar) jellies at TJs and we love them! The Superfruit is the best!
5. Nuts – They have great nuts and their prices can’t be beat for the quality, especially. We typically buy almonds and cashews (although they do carry other nuts too), and the roasted ones are roasted with palm oil instead of canola. They have a better flavor and texture over Sprouts’ nuts, and I verified today that their almonds are steam pasteurized instead of chemically pasteurized, which is awesome (Costco’s are pasteurized with jet fuel—ick! Not sure about Sprouts.) I don’t think they have organic nuts. I can’t afford them anyway.
6. Dried Fruit – They have some really great dried fruit for reasonable prices—some organic, some not.
7. Organic Coffee – If we didn’t buy anything else at TJs, we would buy their organic coffee! It is SO good, and it’s reasonably priced. My hubby is hooked on this coffee (and so is his wife!)
8. Organic Coconut Oil and Organic Olive Oil – I used to buy all my coconut oil here, because they had the best price–$5.99 for a 16 oz. jar. I will likely be buying it at Costco from here on out though because they have an even better price. Same with olive oil. It is a good price at TJs, but even better at Costco.
9. Organic Chocolate – We don’t buy this very often, but they have really delicious organic chocolate bars and they are the best price I’ve found for that sort of thing. I bought some the other day because we were making S’Mores with the fam in OK. YUM!
10. Organic Produce – I always buy colored bell peppers (they have a three-pack of red, yellow and orange), and berries at TJs because their prices for organic are better than anywhere. They are super tasty too! I can really tell the difference, especially in their strawberries as compared to Sprouts. They have good spinach and lettuce, apples, and other organic fruits and veggies as well.
11. Organic Frozen Fruit and Veggies – I will be buying much of this at Costco from now on, but TJs has some really great deals on their organic frozen goods. I also really like their frozen peas which aren’t organic.
12. Organic Chicken – TJs has the best everyday price on their organic, pastured chicken. I typically buy their whole chickens, although I often will buy the drumsticks (which are $1.99 a lb.) to throw in my stock. The extra fat from the dark meat really helps it gel up nicely 😉
13. Organic Beef Hot Dogs – We rarely buy hot dogs either, but TJs has the absolute best price on the organic all-beef ones. They are very tasty too!
14. Organic (and Non-Organic) Canned Goods – I occasionally buy canned beans, canned tomato products, or other canned stuff at TJs. They aren’t necessarily cheaper across the board, but they are good quality and sometimes it’s handy to just pick something up when I’m already shopping there.
15. Canned Coconut Cream – I can get a can that is all coconut cream at TJs! It’s reasonably priced, and great for making stuff like whipped cream or ice cream! Oh yeah!
16. Puffed Wheat Cereal – I rarely buy this either, but when we are in the mood for cereal, TJs has a really yummy Puffed Wheat sweetened only with Organic Blue Agave that Nathan really likes. I think it’s the only cereal they have that doesn’t have sugar in it. I know Agave has gotten a bad rap as a healthy sweetener, but it’s on our OK list for the special medical diet we are currently on, and I’m sure it’s better than refined sugar, either way.
17. Organic Applesauce – I have been buying this here, but recently saw it at Costco for a better price. They do have good quality applesauce though, and it’s a reasonable price.
18. Organic Rice Milk – We don’t use a lot of rice milk, but TJs brand “rice drink” as I think they call it is the best price of any I’ve seen. It’s the kind in the box on the shelf. My boys love it.
19. Organic Pickles — I just added this because I remembered that they have delicious organic pickles at TJs that don’t have lots of added artificial colors or other junk. My boys are pickle fanatics, so I was thrilled to find these. They are reasonably priced for organic pickles, too.
So there you have it! That’s quite a list! We really do like Trader Joe’s. I will say that you still have to be a label reader even at places like TJs and Sprouts because not everything they sell is organic, non-GMO, or even good for you. Not everything they have is all that great-tasting either. I don’t recommend their Organic Tortilla Chips, for one. We didn’t care for them at all (they kinda taste like cardboard). You’re much better off going with the Simply Balanced Organic Tortilla Chips from Target, or for an even better buy, the big honkin’ bag of Organic Tortilla Chips at Costco. But, I digress 😉
I will also mention that TJs doesn’t really have sales. I probably only shop there about once a month, and I try to stock up on the things that I know I will be needing. I usually buy at least two and sometimes three 3-packs of bell peppers, for example. I will use some in recipes and then chop the rest and put them in the freezer to pull out in a flash when I want to add them to something later.
Tomorrow I will share my Central Market list. It’s shorter 🙂