Grocery Shopping TRADER JOES EDITION
So after making my last post about going to the grocery store, I decided to dive in a little bit deeper about WHAT exactly I buy there. Now there are really two places I go to (& at two different ends of the spectrum) and that's Whole Foods and Trader Joes. Whole Foods obviously has more in stock that are health conscious and specialty items that I religiously buy, but ya girl has bills to pay- that's where I couldn't thank God enough for Trader Joes. And if you've been a TJ's shopper for a while like me, you've noticed they have definitely jumped on the "health train" and have more options than ever before. That's why I'm here- to show you the best of the best this wallet-saver chain has to offer.
Flowers & Plants
If you leave TJ's without some sort of plant or flower, you're doing it all totally wrong. I know this doesn't have anything to do with food, but it's just as important. Not only is treating yourself with flowers just practicing "self-care", plants help bring a healthier environment to your home. They are beautiful and so much cheaper than anywhere else I've ever found. They always have a "flower pro" on call so you can ask all kinds of questions about what types are the best, less/most patience, etc. They usually have some perfect eucalyptus plants to put around your shower head too.
Now that TJ's is slow close to my work, I've ran in here multiple times just to grab a quick snack or meal and end up spending much less money than anywhere else. But to be completely honest, I have the hardest time finding things in this section. Trader Joe's uses oils, like canola, in their products to keep the cost low and, unfortunately, that's one we want to stay away from. The inflammatory response in the body tested with canola oil is much higher than coconut oil, avocado oil, etc. Regardless, there are always some great choices. These are some of my favorites that didn't contain those oils or just have some great ingredients alongside to balance it out. Again, it all goes back to reading ingredients. There are so many choices in this section that "appear" to be a great choice until you read the back and it's full of fillers or toxic oils.
Now this section could go plenty of ways. Really anything you like is good as long as most of it is "organic". Just remember that anything you eat the outside of (strawberries, cucumbers, spinach) should be organic. Everything else you are ok. The nice thing about TJ's is that that they don't have a crazy markup on their organic produce from their regular, which is hard to find anywhere else. I love their salad mixes, but just make sure you are careful with the toppings and dressings that come in the bags. Their 3 dressings in the top of the picture are the bomb. They are different flavors and have a thicker consistency so a lot goes a long way.
Packaged Food (Nuts, Dried Fruit, Bread)
Nuts are always a great staple to have in the pantry, your car, your purse, etc., but it can definitely get expensive. A good rule of thumb is to keep it as "raw" as possible- without salt or flavorings. I keep one or two of those around because we all get cravings. I love salted pistachios for salad toppers and those thai lime and chili cashews are killer and without the additives.
When it comes to fruit in a package, the less added the better. A lot of times it's been dipped in another round of sugar, which is a big no-no. These options are great to mix with protein for a great pre-workout snack or just when you have that sweet tooth. Those date & nut bites come individually wrapped & even though I get frustrated with all the packaging, it does save me when I can just throw some in my bag for emergencies. Those coconut chips are also great to add to the top of smoothies.
As I'm gluten-intolerant, bread is something I usually have to steer clear from. To be honest, TJ's isn't the perfect place for the healthiest bread but this is definitely the section to look. Especially Ezekial bread (top) is great for using whole, sprouted grains in their ingredients.
There are tons of juices, milks, butters, yogurts, and other refrigerated products in this section, but these are some of my top picks. I'm all about my watermelon juice for after workouts and green juices are always great just to have those days you know your "greens" are slacking a bit. I'm not a fan of other juices just because they always tend to add sugar or mix their fruit with other sweetened drinks. Yogurt is a great way to get in probiotics to your diet and I'm all about the whole milk, grass-fed kind. I tend to stay away from "fat-free" or "reduced fat" just because companies usually add sugar or different types of chemicals to it in order to be more appealing taste-wise to the consumer. If you're lactose-intolerant, greek yogurt is a great option for you as well. When looking at eggs, make sure they are cage-free organic, like the ones in the picture. As for the almond milk, I have to caution you that I don't normally buy this because it does have fillers and extra unnecessary chemicals, but there's always a time and place, right?
These are some of the best pantry staples TJ's has. Of course, there are other options, but these are always my go-to's. Again, make sure you double check the ingredients. If you don't know what it is, it's best to go without it.
Frozen foods are great for a few reasons- they can still be healthy, actually last for more than a few days, and they are just so much more convenient. These are some of my favorites I have stored in my freezer and one that I just found are the ginger cubes- these are fantastic to throw in a smoothie in the mornings to help with digestion. And of course, everyone knows about the fabulous cauliflower gnocchi. Just toss that with some olive oil, marinara sauce, or pesto and it's a great low-carb staple.
TJ's has really upped it's meat section the last few years. Now you have no problem finding grass-fed, organic in this section. Try to look for items without adding antibiotics, nitrates, or flavorings. I added cheese in there for those of you looking for dairy options. I stay away from cheese most of the time, but I have my exceptions. I never buy shredded cheese as stores usually add different types of combing agents. I'll buy blocks of cheese and use my $9 shredder from Amazon to make my own. So much healthier and takes 20 seconds.
Hemp seeds, chia seeds, and this green powder are key ingredients for a killer smoothie. The seeds add fiber to keep you fuller longer, with a little protein and fats on the side. They also include some essential omega 3 & 6 fatty acids, which are great for hair, skin, and nails. The bars on the side are great to keep around for quick bites just to have around too!
These products are just some random products I've used that I think are just as good as other store items. Looking for self-care products that have as many natural ingredients as possible is key. Their facial toner is great mid-day that feels so refreshing and tightens skin naturally. I use this jojoba oil after dry brushing to help smooth the skin without the extra ingredient additives.
That's a wrap for this times shopping trip! Have another store you'd like to have reviewed? Comment below!!