Food Allergy Shopping: Trader Joe’s

Yes, this week is the beloved Trader Joe’s.  And I know, much to everyone’s disappointment, there is only one store left in our food allergy shopping series.

Trader Joe’s is a little gem of a store that offers that quaint, yet not old-fashioned, neighborhood grocery feel.  They sell their own brand of food on many products.  The employees are always very friendly and helpful.  If I am unable to find a product, I simply sdl one of the floating employees and they are immediate to help.  And they always have a sample to try (including coffee), typically one of their premade dinners (and sometimes allergy-friendly) — I have yet to have a bad one.

Trader Joe’s is also very kind and welcoming to children, even on those very crowded Saturdays.  In fact, in the two TJ’s that I frequent, they always hide a webkinz pet somewhere in the store for the children to find and then get a prize (like an all-natural lollipop).  My children love this activity and the reward!

Trader Joe’s has become so popular that there are entire cookbooks dedicated specifically to foods sold there.  I did a recent book review of Cooking with All Things Trader Joe’s.

As much as I adore TJ’s, I don’t frequent it more than about every 6-8 weeks.  Why?

  1. It is located at least 20 minutes from me and not a good place to be in rush hour traffic.
  2. I spend too much money perusing the aisles, so I try to stick to my budget (like I do for Costco).
  3. Their prices are pretty good, but I can sometimes find better prices on similar items elsewhere.  There are exceptions to this.  I read recently that they do accept coupons, but I haven’t tried it out.  Plus, since much of their products are their own brand, you won’t have coupons for them.
  4. When I go, I stock up on the few choice items in order to last a couple of months.

What allergy-friendly foods are on my Trader Joe’s shopping list?

  • Sorbet: Raspberry, Mango, Lemon, and Chocolate are a few flavors from which to choose.  My son loves their sorbet, but it is pricey (but typically less than the name brands).
  • Rice Sticks, Traditional Thai Style Noodles: Cost about $1.29/13.2oz package (about half the price as name brand).  This is the “pasta” that my husband eats (the rest of us eat this also if used in rice pilaf or soup).  The rice sticks have a much better texture, in my opinion, than other gluten-free pastas.
  • Frozen Chopped Spinach (pesticide-free): I prefer this frozen spinach over any other brand I’ve had and it’s a great price (about $1.29/lb.).  I like fresh spinach for salads, but I think frozen is so much easier to work with when using for cooking.
  • Hummus: Our favorite is their Horseradish Hummus, but all are very good (watch out for the garlic though…it is strong!).
  • Fruit Breakfast Bars: My non-allergy daughter loves these.  My son is allowed to have them as well, but he doesn’t care for them.
  • Brown Rice Cakes: These were mentioned in the school/work lunch series as something to use with tuna.
  • Children’s Chewable Multi-Vitamin: They don’t have any “junk” in them…no dairy, no aspartame (what! why do vitamins need aspartame?! Or dairy or corn or soy, for that reason?).
  • Kansas-Style Bbq Sauce: no corn syrup!
  • Almond Meal: $3.99/lb (You can hardly find whole almonds for this price, so this makes for a pretty good price and it takes out all the legwork of grinding your own almonds.)  I have only bought this once and I’m still working on my baking skills incorporating it.
  • “Everything” Cracker (like the “everything” bagel): These are for me 🙂
  • Soy Yogurt
  • Tofutti Cream Cheese: Dairy-free cream cheese for my son — he eats it like chip dip.
  • Earth Balance Non-Dairy Butter
  • Smoked Salmon: This is my husband’s treat on occasion.  It’s not cheap stuff anywhere, but TJ’s seems to have the best price.

While I don’t typically purchase the following, I have bought them in the past and recommend all of them for taste:

  • coffee
  • frozen calamari
  • granola
  • salad dressings
  • olive oil
  • balsamic vinegar
  • flowers: They have such a beautiful and inexpensive variety.

So that’s a sampling of my Trader Joe’s shopping list.  As usual, I don’t buy all of these items every time I go and this isn’t a complete listing.

If you do not have Trader Joe’s in your town, if ever you pass by one…don’t pass by!  Try it out for yourself; you might just get hooked.

What is on your Trader Joe’s shopping list?

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  1. Pingback: Where to Shop for Allergy-Free Food? | The Willing Cook

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