Trader Joe’s Must Haves

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Most people who know me know that I can not live without Trader Joe’s. My weekly shop is not complete without a Whole Foods run, supplemented by Trader Joe’s. I am asked all the time for my list of “must haves” that I rattle off readily. Somethings are straightforward and some require a “Trader Joe’s Hack”. So, here it is:

Sauces (I need all of these in my cupboard, all the time):

- Green curry simmer sauce: I used this for chicken and then add grilled veggies & a grain.

- Pesto Quinoa sauce. Use this as a simmer sauce, pasta topping or zucchini boat filling.

- Organic Tomato & Red Pepper Soup: I tend to use this as a sauce, for pasta or to cook chicken in. However, if you add beans or veggies and top with a dollop of sour cream it becomes a hearty bowl of soup!

Pasta & Grains:

- Brown Rice & Quinoa Pasta – this is delicious, healthy & filling. It cooks quickly, so excellent for a last minute lunch or dinner for the kiddos.

- Superfood Pilaf: this frozen blend has quinoa, kale, sweet potatoes & carrots. I cook both this and the frozen blend below with an egg cracked into it for a quick kid lunch.

- Multigrain blend with vegetables: barley, corn, and spelt, as well as red, black & white rice—and veggies like peas, carrots, and zucchini. cook with a little olive oil.

- frozen rices: who doesn’t love organic brown rice that cooks in less than 3 minutes?!

- Harvest grain blend: a blend of israeli couscous, orzo, baby garbanzo beans & red quinoa.

- 10 minute Farro

Veggies and Legumes: TJ’s is not always known for the quality of their fresh produce & all the packaging used to wrap them. They do have some incredible prepared options though.

- Steamed lentils : ready to go, hot or cold. They are incredibly versatile & I enjoyed putting them in Cam’s baby purees to introduce texture.  I also make a salad with the lentils, kumato tomatoes, olive oil, lemon & sea salt.

- Steamed & Peeled Baby Beets: Throw these into a salad or eat as is!

- Bananas are 19 cents. Beat that!

- Persian cucumbers: we slice these up to snack on with hummus – or any of the other spreads listed below. Cam’s go to afternoon snack is cucumbers & hummus.

- Cruciferous Crunch Collection of Chopped Kale, Brussels Sprouts, Broccoli and Green Cabbage & Red Cabbage. This is a delicious base to a salad, or sauté it and top with a fish or protein. I love the gorgonzola on it as a salad, with chopped apple.

- frozen tofu nuggets


- Hummus: there are a dozen kinds to choose from. We love the cilantro jalepeno hummus and the beet hummus.

- artichoke jalepeno dip: cut up their mini pitas for dipping and your appetizer is ready

- spinach & kale greek yogurt dip

- cowboy caviar: salsa with black beans, corn & pepper. Add it to your cornbread mix for a gooey yummy treat!


- Karat Cake: This mini cake comes frozen and requires no prep. Simply leave on the counter for an hour prior to serving and voila! For 5.99, there’s no better desert for an impromptu dinner party. Or just because…

- chocolate covered almonds with sea salt & turbinado sugar


- Force Primeval Bars: Cinnamon, Apple & Walnut bars. Toast them with butter for a savory breakfast. Or make them from scratch.

- fresh pizza dough: we buy these at least once a month & have home made pizza night. They have three different flavors: plain, whole wheat & garlic + herb. Read a how to on perfect pizza here.


- Omega Trek Mix: TJ’s has portioned this mix into 10 ready to go bags. Almonds, walnuts, pepitas (aka pumpkin seeds), pecans and pistachios make up the nut portion of the mix. For the fruit, omega-fortified dried cranberries ( I always put these in my mom-to-be care packages). Great to have on hand, in the car or your purse!


- pop up sponges: These pop-up sponges come in a compact packet and somehow they just work better than cheap-o cellulose sponges. These come 10 to a sleeve and are cheaper at TJ’s than at Williams-Sonoma.

- Lavender laundry dryer bags: these non-toxic dryer bags make my world a happier place. Once finished doing their job in the dryer, follow their suggestion and sprinkle on the carpet before you vacuum!



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