If step one is admitting then here I am. I have a confession to make. I am a Trader Joe’s junkie. Correction. My family and I are Trader Joe’s junkies. We love that store. We often times compare it to the poor man’s Earthfare, or Fresh Market, if you will. It has everything healthy in it and is more expensive than Walmart, but so much cheaper than all the other whole food stores and offers the same things.
Our first encounter with Trader Joe’s was through a friend recommending it on her blog. I told JR that Kerry Beth kept talking about this stuff called “Cookie Butter” and we were intrigued. Where could we find such a thing? Apparently, Abingdon nor Bristol were in need of a Trader Joe’s or anywhere around us for that matter. Every time we would head out of town I would check to see if a Trader Joe’s was on our way. To our dismay, it never was. This past May we went down to visit my cousin, Kelly, and her husband, Brandon. Let me stop here and say they are just awesome and amazing people. I wish they lived closer. Anyways, in talking to Kelly I found out there was a Trader Joe’s just a few miles from there house. Oh. My. Gosh. My mind was racing and knew I needed to ask an expert what to do. I sent Kerry Beth a message and got a list of the essentials to buy and made my list. We were ready to conquer this store.
Let me start by saying we were unprepared. I’m not sure there is anyway to prepare fully for your first trip to Trader Joe’s. If you’re a fan of healthy food and clean eating, this might as well be Mecca. And when I say that, I mean the Mecca for someone on the cheapo budget. We walked in and basically bought anything we thought looked good and then some. And two jars of cookie butter. We hadn’t tried it before so we weren’t really sure how good it could be. We knew we were going back down at the end of June and were sure we wouldn’t need any before then. Seriously? What were we thinking??? Between us and letting friends and family try the awesome goodness that is cookie butter, we were out within a few weeks. How did this go so wrong? We underestimated the greatness of cookie butter. I knew at this time that I needed to reevaluate for our upcoming trip in June. There was no time to play when it came to Trader Joe’s. We created a list on my iPhone and to this day, we keep a list on my iPhone. You never know when you’re going to need your shopping list on hand. I’ve decided to share my list with you. I know. This a huge step. Count it a privilege that I would leak out such confidential information! So, for your pleasure, here is our Trader Joe’s shopping list:
*Cookie Butter- this is the FIRST STOP we make. We try to base it off how many we think we will use before we visit again. We use it on pancakes, bread, crackers, celery, by itself, and more. We usually buy 4 at a time. And don’t forget to ask friends and family if they want some too! Last time we went to Greenville, we bought 8 things since we had friends requesting it, too. I felt a little ashamed until I talked to the cashier and she said we were just touching the tip of the iceberg. Also, they have little candy bars with cookie butter inside of them. What a great snack on the go!
*Cocoa Almond Spread- this stuff is heavenly. JR likes this better than cookie butter and it has a great taste, too. More cocoa, less cookie. It’s good on anything and everything. The way I would describe it is a healthier version of Nutella. Win? I think so!
*Habanera Lime Tortillas- shut the front door. This stuff is awesome! We bought these on our way to Savannah knowing we’d be making a lot of wraps while we were there. These add the perfect amount of spice without setting your mouth on fire. We made black bean wraps with these. We made breakfast wraps. We made huevos rancheros. They were good with everything and have therefore made it to the staple list.
*Veggie Chips- talk about yum! These aren’t necessarily the healthiest snack ever but are definitely better than a bag of Lays. We don’t even think they taste like veggies. Not at all. Emma loves them, too. We all sit around eating veggie chips for snacks every now and then. It’s a way we indulge without going too far.
*Hummus- if you’re going to try the veggie chips, this MUST go along with it! We get the three layer hummus but we’ve tried the sampler, too, and they’re all good. You can’t go wrong with hummus. JR is a secret hummus coinsure. I’m pretty sure he turns into a different person when hummus shows up.
*Vanilla Bean Yogurt- my cousin, Kelly, recommended this one to us. JR wasn’t crazy about it but I love it! It has little pieces of vanilla bean in it and makes a great snack. I like the sweet taste in it and cannot wait to let Emma try it now that she can eat, and LOVES, yogurt.
*Applesauce Pouches- this was a big hit for Emma. When we’re busy and on the road I like to have pouches of food for her. Trader Joe’s has several different kinds of applesauce flavors and Emma really likes the apples and carrots one. It gives her fruits AND veggies. Num num num!
*Freeze Dried Fruits- can’t say no here! We really like freeze dried fruits and often times get them from Fresh Market when we’re not close by to a Trader Joe’s. It’s a great way to snack and doesn’t cost many calories at all. I haven’t had a bad fruit yet. My favorites are bananas and apricots. Truthfully? All of them are good. Try one, try all!
*Fruits & veggies- you can’t go wrong with fruits and veggies. Trader Joe’s has some of the best for the best prices. Keep in mind that there stuff isn’t processed so it doesn’t laste as long. If you’re going to buy something you may not use for awhile, be sure to freeze it. My favorites so far have been the bananas, pineapple, and strawberries. We have also tried their apples, sweet potatoes, and corn and liked them a lot, too.
Two other things we haven’t tried yet, but have heard are amazing, are the frozen chocolate croissants and the pumpkin butter (seasonal- fall). Since our June visit, we have been to the new Trader Joe’s in Knoxville. Praise God for only a two hour drive to a Trader Joe’s! We went late at night after our trip to Splash Country which probably wasn’t the best idea. They were out of a lot of essentials. Luckily, we have friends in Knoxville who can pick us up some goodies as well as family in Greenville for back up. Praise God for all His blessings, even those as small as Trader Joe’s. If you’re a fan of health foods or have dabbled in trying out health foods, I recommend trying this store. We haven’t had anything bad there. I’m sure there may be one or two things, but that’s it and we haven’t even tried them yet. Seriously. It’s a good place to help you make your switch and keep on a budget.
Do you shop at Trader Joe’s? If so, what’s your staple item?