Trader Joe’s is just a gem, amirite? Inexpensive, delicious, and healthy finds; plenty of reasonably priced organics; helpful, cheery staff; a great selection of candles and flowers; treats for your pets; CHOCOLATE! Many of their regular grocery items, like my coveted Kerrygold butter, are cheaper than I find at my local grocer. They have a dedicated list of gluten free products which you can find here, and it’s easy to shop paleo at Trader Joe’s. I generally eat grain free, so I decided to compile a list of my favorite paleo Trader Joe’s staples for you.
My Favorites: Paleo Trader Joe’s
These are in no particular order, but top billing goes to Kale & Cauliflower gnocchi. Find this in the frozen section. Ingredients for the kale: KALE, POTATO STARCH, CHICKPEA FLOUR, SEA SALT, EXTRA VIRGIN OLIVE OIL. Ingredients for the cauliflower: CAULIFLOWER, CASSAVA FLOUR, POTATO STARCH, EXTRA VIRGIN OLIVE OIL, SEA SALT.
Now, the caveat here is DO NOT FOLLOW THE PACKAGE COOKING DIRECTIONS! You’ll end up with mushy gnocchi, and no one wants that. I even did an instagram tutorial on the *ahem* proper cooking method. You basically need to defrost it then brown it in a pan with butter so it gets a nice crust. Easy peasy. But overall, a delicious paleo alternative to regular gnochhi.
I just love the kale or cauliflower gnocchi (often I mix both together like a rebel!) with the Trader Joe’s vegan pesto.
This stuff is good and an excellent way to get more greens. Ingredients: kale, olive oil blend (olive oil, extra virgin olive oil), water, basil, cashew butter (dry roasted cashews, safflower oil or sunflower oil), garlic, lemon juice, sea salt, black pepper. I love that this doesn’t include inflammatory canola oils. It’s also delicious with TJ’s plantain chips! I should also mention TJ’s has a lot of good simmer sauces and tapenades that I’ll occasionally grab as well (usually Thai or Indian).
Which brings me to me next fave: The thick plantain crisps. They also have regular plantain chips, but I much prefer the thicker cut plantain crisps. They’re kind of like plantain kettle chips. SO good dipped in the vegan pesto. Did you know that plantains are great food for your gut bugs? Score! They’re also made with palm oil and not crappy canola.
Aside from the gnocchi, there is so much goodness to find in the TJ’s frozen section. They have a great selection of frozen meals to suit anyone’s diet, palate, or ethnic preferences. The Indian frozen meals are SO good. I love the lamb vindaloo when I’m not sticking to grain free. And the Thai fried rice is seriously to die for. Here are a few of the staples I always get:
Carrot spirals are a great way to get grain free noodles you can top with the vegan pesto or any sauce you like. Or toss with olive oil and sea salt for a side dish. I believe they also have zucchini spirals.
The shiitake chicken is great over cauliflower rice.
I love the berry mix & frozen wild blueberries for smoothies. Wild blueberries are a superfood for your brain.
I also love the riced cauliflower stir fry. You can buy pre-made chicken to slice and serve on top, or cook up a quick salmon filet, and dinner is ready in 10 minutes.
These colorful carrot coins are flavorful and delicious. They go from freezer to saute pan and are ready quickly. My only grievance is they retain a lot of moisture and don’t crisp up much, but they’re a tasty side dish.
These root vegetable fries are a blend of beets, parsnip, carrot, and sweet potato and make a great fast weeknight side dish. Also great with bunless burgers.
Moving onto the the produce section: So, Trader Joe’s doesn’t have the array of fresh produce you might find at your local supermarket, but there are several gems. You can’t get a fresh bunch of kale or greens, for example, but you can get bagged and chopped veggies that save you a lot of prep time. Here’s what I get:
Bags of riced broccoli & cauliflower. If you don’t have a food processor, these are great. If you do, it just saves you the “ricing” time and clean up.
Sweet potato ribbons & Butternut squash zig zags: These zig zags are delicious roasted with olive oil and sea salt. Serve like fries! I like them with bunless burgers. Or roast until almost finished, then saute with veggies on the stovetop. The sweet potato ribbons are a great pasta alternative.
This broccoli slaw is great for making paleo egg roll in a bowl, or stir-fry with tamari and serve as a side dish. It’s organic! They also have a broccoli kale slaw.
Moving onto meat: TJ’s has a very nice selection of frozen and fresh organic meats, but they don’t have a butcher section and often don’t have particular cuts I’m seeking. They tend to have nice lamb that I’ll grab for a roast, but I always get the grass fed ground beef, which is very reasonably priced. I also love their chicken sausages.
I get the Everything but the Bagel seasoned smoked salmon occasionally just because I love it, but it’s made with farmed and not wild salmon. Very tasty on salads though. Which reminds me, I have sampled a few of the TJ’s salad dressings–the green one and a turmeric ginger–but I didn’t love them.
They also have Everything but the Bagel seasoning, and I love the 21 Seasoning Salute which is basically like an all purpose spice blend without salt.
Another thing I love about TJ’s is the baking section. They have excellent prices on almond and coconut flours, which are pretty expensive at other stores. The coconut milk is fantastic too. Just 2 ingredients: organic coconut + water (no guar gums or thickeners!) and also reasonably priced.
They also have an awesome chocolate selection. Plenty of 70% or higher dark chocolate bars. I also love the dark chocolate peanut butter cups for a treat, sooooo delish.
One thing I do skip is their coconut milk yogurts. I sampled a couple of their dairy free yogurts and didn’t like them. Siggi’s plant-based yogurt remains my fave.
As far as beverages go, the TJ’s sparkling mineral waters are awesome. I love the cranberry orange and the pineapple. I also like their cold pressed green juice. They have other blends and cold pressed fruit juices, but they’re too high in sugar.
I don’t drink much coffee, but I do love the occasional splash of cold brew. TJ’s has a coconut cold brew concentrate which is delicious, and they also have organic cold brew concentrates too.
And finally, they have a great selection of seasonal snacks and treats. I definitely notice when pumpkin spice season hits. And this year I discovered an organic pumpkin spice granola bark that I LOVED. You can buy it on the black market (amazon) for like $20 LOL. It was around $5 a bag as I recall.
So that’s my usual TJ’s haul! I’ll come back and update as I discover new items. What are your faves? What did I miss and what should I know about? Drop me a comment 👇
Mary Vance is a Certified Nutrition Consultant and author specializing in digestive health. She combines a science-based approach with natural therapies to rebalance the body. In addition to her 1:1 coaching, she offers courses to help you heal your gut and improve your health. Mary lives in San Francisco and Lake Tahoe in Northern California. Read more about her coaching practice here and her background here.