Wondering what to buy at Trader Joe's for the 21 Day Fix? I've got the scoop on how to save money and buy great ingredients with this Healthy Trader Joe's Shopping Guide!
Hey guys! How are all the things?! Have you been a grilling fool like me this week? It's been in the 40s and 50s here lately and I'll take it. I've been testing so many delish things on the grill and I can't wait to perfect them and share them with you beautiful foodies!
Anyway, let's talk Trader Joe's. I'm a relative TJ's newbie and I'm obsessed. None of the places that I've lived in before had one nearby and you guys, the minute I walked in, I fell HARD. I mean in love, I fell in love. Thankfully I haven't fallen on my face in a while so we all have blessings to count, I guess. 😉
As you may know, I admin a Facebook group with my blogger besties that's called 21 Day Fix Recipes, Tips, and Support (come join us!). It's a great community of people supporting each other as we all try to live healthier, more fit lives by following the 21 Day Fix / Ultimate Portion Fix container system for nutrition. You can learn more about that here if you're interested. A question that comes up SO often in there is "What to buy at Trader Joe's for the 21 Day Fix?" There are so many great things that I thought I'd make a post about it for you guys to have as a reference. ♥
What makes Trader Joe's so great?
- The prices. We save so much money by buying as much as we can at Trader Joe's, then going to our local store for the few things we can't pick up there. I've compared some prices to my regular grocery store (Stop & Shop) below so you guys can get an idea.
- Organic produce that doesn't break the bank - often I can get organic produce at TJ's for the same price as the non-organic stuff from Stop & Shop.
- Fun seasonal items. Yes, of course everywhere has seasonal items, but something about Trader Joe's seasonal grub is just better.
- Tons of great, healthy (read: 21 Day Fix/ Ultimate Portion Fix approved) items - again at great prices - like whole grain bread, delish fresh salsas, well I won't bore you now with the details because I'm going to do that in a minute!
- The best employees and customer service of any other grocery store I've ever been to. They're super friendly and helpful and better than that, easy to find! They even look like they want to be there - of course, this isn't necessarily important for grocery shopping, but it does make me glad to support a company that's keeping employees happy. They also wear Hawaiian shirts which automatically puts them at the top of the list in my book. #priorities
- Food samples. Because who doesn't love a good food sample? And if you're really lucky, you might be there at a time when they're also doing wine samples!
- Speaking of wine - cheap (and actually delicious) wine. Ok, so I haven't dared to try the famous 2-buck Chuck, but they do have a ton of other great, slightly more expensive, but still inexpensive wines. I love checking out The Reverse Wine Snob's Trader Joe's wine reviews before I pick up a new bottle, maybe because I fancy myself a reverse wine snob as well, but those reviews have definitely helped me find some of my faves!
- My kids actually like going there. That's right they enjoy going grocery shopping. It's so weirdly fantastic. Between the fun atmosphere with the friendly Hawaiian-shirted-employees, the tasty food samples and the strip of stickers each of my girls get every time we go, they never seem to mind when I say we're going grocery shopping and that's a total mom win.
What to buy at Trader Joe's for the Ultimate Portion Fix / 21 Day Fix:
Note: For the comparison prices at Stop & Shop, I chose the least expensive options that I could find including generic brands. I didn't compare everything, as you'll see, just as much as I could in the time that I had during one of my shopping trips. Prices are from February 2019, though they may be different at the time of reading due to seasonality and ever-changing market prices, at least this can give you an idea.
Whole Grain Bread Products
- bread $1.79
- tortillas $2.99
- pitas $1.39 ($2.89 at Stop & Shop)
- Ezekial bread $4.49
- English muffins $1.79 ($4.49 at Stop & Shop)
- Whole Wheat Cinnamon Raisin English Muffins - you guys, these are so freaking good and there's no sugar added!
Products to possibly avoid:
- Whole Wheat Bagels - we bought the whole grain bagels once and they were awful! Could we have gotten a bad batch? I don't know, but we went back to buying Thomas whole wheat from Stop & Shop. Curious to hear any of your thoughts on this!
- Pitas - I like their pitas, however, I usually prefer to pick up Joseph's Oat and Flax pitas because on the 21 Day Fix you can have 2 for one yellow and I am not messing around when it comes to my yellows, you guys.
- bananas $.19 per banana - this ends up being similar in price to my regular store, but it's nice to know exactly how much they'll cost without having to weigh
- winter squash (including pre-peeled and cut butternut in the refrigerated section)
- bell peppers
- carrots $.89 for 1 lb of organic
- pre-cut slaw and salad mixes
- grape tomatoes - non-organic: $2.99/pt; organic: $3.99/pt ($4.00/pt for the non-organic at Stop & Shop)
- other awesome seasonal produce finds
- fresh salsa $2.99 for 12 oz ($4.29 for 16 oz at Stop & Shop)
- hummus $2.99 for 10 oz ($3.50 for 10 oz at Stop & Shop)
- probably a bunch of other great produce items I'm forgetting, but really, there are too many produce items to list!
- teeny tiny avocados - yes, they're actually called "teeny tiny avocados" and not only are they freaking adorable, but you can have an entire avocado for 1 blue container! $3.29 for a bag of 6!
- butternut squash "zig zags" - these are in the refrigerated section and basically they're crinkle cut butternut squash and they're just plain fun.
- grape tomatoes - we go through grape tomatoes like crazy around here because it's one of the few veggies my youngest will willingly eat! I love that I can get the organic ones from Trader Joe's for the same price as the non-organic at S & S - and hey, if my budget is super tight one week, I can buy the non-organic at Trader Joe's and really get them on the cheap.
- all the fun refrigerated salsas and hummus!
Produce to possibly avoid:
- herbs - they often don't have a great selection anyway, but I often find that they're more expensive at Trader Joe's than at Stop and Shop, especially cilantro, parsley and basil.
- berries - sometimes TJ's will have berries at a good price, but more often than not I'm going to get a better deal at Stop & Shop.
- cauliflower rice - it just costs so much more than making cauliflower rice yourself, which is super easy.
- nuts - cashews $7.99/lb, for example
- cereal - Joe's O's $1.99 for 15 oz, for example (S & S generic O's: $3.19 for 12.8 oz)
- spices/seasonings $1.99
- organic peanut butter $3.49 for 16 oz ($5.29 for 16 oz at S & S)
- peanut butter (non-organic) $2.99 for 16 oz
- almond butter $5.99 for 16 oz ($7.99 for 16 oz at S & S)
- extra virgin olive oil $5.49 for 16.9 oz ($5.79 for 16.9 oz)
- olive oil cooking spray without propellants $2.99 for 5 oz ($3.19 for 5 oz at S & S)
- whole wheat couscous (pick it up and make this fan-fave Feel Better Soup!) $1.99 for 17.6 oz - I couldn't even find any at Stop & Shop!
- organic low-sodium chicken broth
- brown rice
- honey regular at $5.99 (24 oz) or raw at $7.99 (16 oz)
- pure maple syrup 32 oz $15.99 ($17.99 at S & S)
- coconut oil 16 oz $4.99 ($6.99 at S & S)
- cocoa powder 9 oz $2.49
- canned tuna $1.69 for a 3 oz can
- tortilla chips - I usually make my own, but I like having some on hand for a 21 Day Fix treat swap if I don't have the time.
- truffle marcona almonds - if you like truffle-flavored things, you MUST get these. They're addicting!
- Everything But The Bagel Seasoning - I love this stuff and my friend, Nancylynn has some crazy-delicious ways to use it, like in these Everything Bagel Goat Cheese Snacks and these Cauli Hashbrowns (my fave!).
- organic low-sodium chicken broth - I forgot to check the price on this, but I'm 99% sure it's $1.99 for a 32 oz box, it's actually low in sodium (unlike many broths that claim to be low-sodium) plus it's organic!
Products to possibly avoid:
- oats unless you need certified gluten-free - they're quite a bit pricier than the oats I normally get at Stop and Shop, but I've heard they're a good buy if you need certified GF.
Dairy (and other refrigerated) Products
- butter 1 lb $2.99 ($3.99 at S & S)
- ½ gallon unsweetened plain and vanilla almond milk $2.69 ea. ($2.99 at Stop and Shop)
- dozen eggs $1.79 ($2.29 at S & S)
- ½ gallon low-fat milk $1.69 ($2.69 at S & S)
- Kerrygold butter (8 oz) $3.19
- string cheese $2.99 for 12 oz
- goat cheese (with the specialty cheeses) $2.99 for 5 oz ($5.49 for 4 oz at S & S)
- Greek yogurt $4.99 for 32 oz
- pecorino romano wedge (with the specialty cheeses)
- specialty cheeses - they have an ever-changing amazing selection of specialty cheeses, I love browsing this section and picking up something new to try!
- string cheese - I don't know what TJ's is doing, but they have the BEST string cheese! Don't buy the light though, it needs to be the regular one to count it as a blue for 21 Day Fix or Ultimate Portion Fix!
- goat cheese - did you catch that price difference?! It costs almost twice as much and you get less! Plus TJ's goat cheese is crazy good.
Products to possibly avoid:
- ricotta cheese
- cottage Cheese
I'm consistently able to get better prices on these at S & S, likely because they carry larger containers than Trader Joe's does.
Hot tip! I mostly avoid the frozen section at Trader Joe's - they've got a lot of cool stuff there (literally! bah!), but the majority of it is pre-packaged, processed foods or loaded with unnecessary sodium. I've found that even most of the frozen veggies have added salt! No thanks, Joe! Btw, it also happens to be a place where they stash lots of treats and other unapproved goodies that I'm trying to avoid.
The main thing that I do love to pick up in the frozen section of TJ's is frozen fruit! For example, you can get a lb of blueberries for $2.49!
Meats and Seafood
I've found that by shopping the sales at Stop and Shop, more often than not I get better prices for meats and seafood there vs. Trader Joe's, but it never hurts to have a look when you're there!
I'll list a couple of my faves for you to check out!
- Bay Moon Sauvignon Blanc $5.99
- Villa Cerrina Montepulciano D'Abruzzo $4.99
- Georges Debeuf Beaujolais $4.99
Wine to avoid:
- They carry a sherry, I've bought it and it was kind of awful - my favorite sherry to cook with is from Taylor and I've never been to a liquor store that didn't carry it! It brings so much flavor to my Pasta with Sherry-Mushroom Meat Sauce, these delish mussels and so many other faves on the blog!
What to buy at Trader Joe's for the 21 Day Fix at the checkout counter:
- just a handful of olives - these cute little packs give you a perfect orange container of olives! I love picking these up to stash in my purse for an emergency snack!
In case you're keeping score, if I bought just the items that I compared, I would (and do!) save over $20.00. And I usually buy the other items that I didn't compare here and definitely save much more than that.
I hope this has given you guys some good ideas on what to buy at Trader Joe's for the 21 Day Fix. It's definitely my favorite place to shop so I'm so happy to spread some of the love today!
Did I miss any of your faves? Let me know what they are in the comments!