Grocery Shopping Staples: Trader Joe’s

Hands in the air if you’ve heard Garth Brooks new song, “Mom.” If you haven’t, the song starts around 2:25 in the video below.

I think in the addition to the lyrics, the reactions of the women watching is just the best! Just sheer weeping! :)

Garth Brooks holds a dear place in my heart for so many reasons. One reason is one of my favorite memories from high school.  A group of my 6 best girl friends and 4 best guy friends all road tripped to Lincoln our senior year to see Garth Brooks on his farewell tour. We had nose bleed seats until (long story short), some old, strange man came up behind us, started chit-chatting and offered the girls FRONT ROW SEATS. (Sorry, dudes!)

Can I just say this was the concert of concerts?!?!  We were all hoarse by the time we drove back to Omaha and on cloud 9 for months after. Heck, I’m still on cloud 9! (Sweet corduroy overalls, right? I’ll just say it for you!)


Anyway, I was reminded of that story as I heard 2 gals talking at Trader Joe’s the other day about going to one of Garth’s shows up in Minnesota recently. One of my favorite 17-year-old memories!

I used to shop more regularly at Trader Joe’s, but now probably only go once every 6-8 weeks. It seemed when I was going on a regular basis, they were ALWAYS out of something I needed and I ended up having to make a trip to another store… the whole issue I’d been trying to avoid.

So, I have my TJ’s staples and usually buy 3-5 of each when I go there so we are well stocked until I return.

Ezekiel Bread: While I normally buy this at Hy-Vee, this is $1 cheaper at Trader Joe’s, so I always buy a loaf or 2 while I’m there for the freezer.


Buns: There is a whole wheat hamburger and hot dog bun at Trader Joe’s that have far better ingredients than those at Hy-Vee (and that the kids will eat). I usually buy a few bags and throw them in the freezer, especially in the summer.


Shrimp: Wild caught shrimp is insanely expensive, but I refuse to buy the farm raised Thailand crap that seems to be everywhere. (This is basically fish from the sewer.) This shrimp has gone up $3 in the last year. Trader Joe’s used to carry wild caught scallops that we loved, but they have been out for at least 9 months. Augh. (Beware of that seafood blend in the image. I think those are farm raised. Much of the cooked shrimp is also farm raised.)


Animal Crackers: Finn loves these animal crackers like it’s no one’s business! Again, certainly not the most healthy option, but not filled with high fructose corn syrup and strange additives.


Organic Pops: The kids LOVE suckers, but I always cringe when I see the long list of crazy colors added to them. This version doesn’t have that, so the kids don’t bounce off the walls and lose their mind after a sucker. It’s a treat I actually enjoy giving them. (By the way, the kids equate the bank with suckers, so I keep a stash of these in the car for when we hit the drive-thru.)


Crackers: I don’t really understand why these are “reduced guilt.” Usually anything like that (low-fat/no-fat), I’m suspicious of  because they’ve normally replaced the real flavor (real fat) with fake flavor (fake fat). Maybe I’m missing something on these? They also say 50% less fat than their original woven crackers, which I’ve never seen. Do you have the original in your store?


Crackers: The kids aren’t fans of these crackers, but I love them!


Chips: Totally calling my husband out, he DEVOURED these recently with avocado and salsa and then declared, “these are the best chips ever.” Maybe he was just super hungry?


Banana Chips: Every once in awhile Evie and I love to snack on banana chips in the morning while Finn is at school. Sweet and crunch all rolled into one.


Olives: My obsession with black olives continues…


Spaghetti Sauce: I always have a few jars on hand of this clean sauce for an “oh crap, what’s for dinner” night. It’s great with noodles or a sauce for chicken. The mushrooms are tiny, so if you’re anti (like my kids), you won’t even know they are there. Win win!


Black Beans: Awhile back I started soaking beans overnight for dinners. Of course there are plenty of times I’ve forgot to soak them, so I always have a few cans on hand for last minute additions to dinners.


Soup: While this soup is not dairy-free and OK for the kids, it’s a staple for me in the winter months especially when Justin is away or for quick weekend meals for the adults. It’s not chunky, just incredibly smooth and rich in flavor.


Mustard: Lots of mustards have weird ingredients and colors. This is a better option.


Ketchup: Like mustard, so many ketchups are filled with lots of sugars and high fructose corn syrup. This is a better option. (Note: beware of “sugar-free” ketchups as most store bought sugar-free ketchups are replaced with another corn product that is likely GMO and what I would consider the cousin of HFCS.)


Pickles: Like olives, I love me some pickles! So do the kids. Most pickles are filled with crazy colors to give that bright, neon green color. These are not.


Almond Butter: While we’ve started making our own almond butter (“super butter”), there are times we are in a pinch and need to have a pre-made jar on hand. I always have a few for those moments. The Trader Joe’s brand is far less expensive than any almond butter at Hy-Vee.


KerryGold: I love KerryGold! Not only does it come from my motherland (fun fact: I was named after County Kerry, Ireland), the cows are grass-fed and the cheese is delicious. We love the Dubliner. (If you belong to Costco, this is also available cheap.) Although I try and limit my dairy intake, I do like some cheese every now and again. This cheese with the woven crackers and some apples slices – heaven!


Oatmeal: The kids are on an oatmeal kick. Nearly every morning when I ask what they’d like, the answer is “OATMEAL!” This is my go-to oatmeal (it’s also gluten-free for those who need a GF option). The kids favorite additions are chia seeds, coconut flakes, almond butter and local honey. Every so often I make an extra serving for myself!


Whole Foods staples to come.

What are your Trader Joe’s staples?

My Mommy Mind

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  • It SNOWED this weekend which means the kids think Christmas is happening TODAY. Finn literally flopped to the ground and wept when I took out his Spiderman calendar and prepared him him for the wait. How did we talk him off the ledge? Hanging Christmas stockings :) #sorryimnotsorry #ineverusehasthtags #idontgetthem #hashtagthathashtag
  • Finn went with his best friend Saturday afternoon to Big Hero 6. He came home so jacked! Apparently it’s a fantastic movie, so if you need a great family movie – that’s it!
  • Speaking of which, I always get excited when I find the holiday TV show schedule. It’s been found! (Sometimes you have to click the link a few times.)

What is your favorite family-friendly holiday show?  I used to LOVE the Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer in claymation. Do you remember that? The kids are loving the Cat in the Hat Christmas special found on Hulu Plus right now. What about your family?

My Mommy Mind

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  • The girls in the house have been fighting off the crud for awhile now. Evie will be sick for a day and then totally fine for a few days. I have just consistently felt like YUCK for a few weeks. Lots of coughing and sleepless nights. We’re coming around the corner… I’m speaking this into being out of desperation! Are you in a healthy house?
  • Evie has successfully transitioned into her big girl bed and I’ve successfully completed sanding, priming, and painting her up-cycled dresser. (Never again.) Next up: the big girl potty… and then perhaps a haircut? I’m conflicted.
  • Thanksgiving is officially less than three weeks away. My cousins are planning some fun games for Friday including Turkey Bowling. How this will work, I’m not sure, but the kids and I are ready to compete. Game ON! #teamwise
  • Mr. Rogers. I haven’t watched his documentary yet, but it’s on my agenda for the week. Intense week, right? What an incredible soul.

I’m a documentary goon. Netflix sucked me in long ago. What must-see documentaries have you watched recently?