Finally, a question firmly in my wheelhouse - until I moved right next door to a farm, I did 90% of my shopping at Trader Joe's. We've already covered the grass-fed ground beef (which I just had for dinner), and I'm a big fan of the almonds, both lightly roasted and raw, in convenient 200 calorie gatherer-friendly packets. The sardines are also great, if that's your thing.
I just took a survey of my freezer, because TJ's is all about the frozen foods, and the seafood is the star. (If you don't live on the coast, I'd rather get my seafood frozen, and you probably are getting it frozen whether you know it or not.) Below is a list of my favorites, with all the caveats in parentheses - personally, these caveats don't bother me, they're way down the ingredient list for the most part, but I'm the kind of paleo who doesn't stress out about having chicken wings fried in canola oil at the sports bar every so often. YMMV.
Cioppino Seafood Stew (white wine, soybean oil, olive oil, tomatoes) (this is freaking awesome, my favorite breakfast)
Pork Al Pastor (sugar, "soy grits")
Chile Lime Chicken Burgers ("natural flavor") (great in the toaster oven)
Mojito Salmon (canola oil, something unpronounceable, fermented wheat protein, tomatoes)
Tilapia Citronette (xanthan gum, natural flavors, fermented wheat protein, unpronounceable stuff)
Shrimp Stir-Fry (snap peas, water chestnuts, dextrose)
Chimichurri Wild Pacific Salmon (olive oil)
Ground Buffalo Burgers
There's also a fantastic stuffed salmon with a cream cheese center that I'm not thinking about because I talked myself into giving it a go without the dairy for a little while. If you eat cheese, seek this out, but be careful you don't get the one with breadcrumbs that's thrown in the same bin at my TJ's.
In the deli section, I'm a fan of the prepared turkey and chicken breast, and the Italian-style chicken sausage. If you eat cheese, find the Mexican frying cheese - cube it, microwave for 20-30 seconds, crack some black pepper over top, maybe a squirt of lemon juice. WHY MUST YOU HAUNT ME, CHEESE?
In the meat case, the bratwurst are awesome (but list beer as an ingredient, eh, not going to stress about a splash of suds) and the vacuum packed carnitas are great for a microwave-and-go lunch. They also have a bunch of marinated vacuum packed meats, which I've been avoiding because they seem a little more salty than I'd like, and I'm smart enough to season my own meat.
Very excited to hear more ideas.
I try to keep things simple as I am pretty busy during the week and have not perfected my culinary skills...
- Grass fed ground beef
- Wild salmon (expensive but good)
- Organic free range chicken breasts
- organic free range eggs
- frozen organic wild blueberries (killer deal @ $2.99 / bag)
- microwaveable brussel sprouts/asparagus/broccoli (fresh stuff near the produce section)
- organic blueberries (fresh when they have them)
- organic strawberries (when available)
- organic apples
- organic spinach/lettuce
- almonds/cashews/mac nuts (when available)
- organic celery
Semi-Paleo (some oils/sugar/dried fuit/dairy):
- Precooked sausages
- Precooked chicken strips (teriaki)
- organic heavy whipping cream
- almond butter w/flaxseeds
- apricot/cranberry chicken salad
Total bill for all this is about $65 here in California.
Trader Joe's is my number one source for organic sweet potatoes and bananas (rather difficult to locate at Washington state farmers markets), dry roasted unsalted macadamia nuts, raw milk cheeses (they have tons), uncured bacon (from Niman Ranch), organic dark chocolate (the 73% bar is soy-free), organic frozen berries, frozen fish (wild Alaskan salmon and cod), and of course, Kerrygold butter. They also have a nice selection of packaged organic herbs. Their prices are outstanding. Before I started making my own yogurt from raw milk, I was also hooked on their organic whole milk yogurt (in fact, it's what I used as a starter to get my own yogurt going).
They have a great selection of frozen fish. Also the Peppered and Original flavors of the Beef Jerkey are gluten free (not the teriyaki though).
Here's a great paleo recipe blog from one of Robb Wolf's trainers. It seems that she buys almost exclusively from TJ's and it has been a wealth of great Paleo/TJ ideas!
They have grass fed ground beef at the TJ's here in Santa Monica. Its usually kind of hard to see and I never noticed it until Robb Wolf mentioned they carried it. Id look again and if they dont ask your local store to get it as some of their other branches do. You pretty much covered everything else I get from there. Great store!! Oh, I also buy many of my vitamins there. They are whole food based and most are gluten free and much cheaper than other gluten free vitamins.
The Trader Joes I shop at does not have grass fed meats (so I buy those at Whole Foods) but otherwise I get everything there. Vegetables, leafy greens, raw nuts, uncured bacon, free range organic chicken eggs, berries, etc. Unfortunately they only have "light" coconut milk which really isn't too tasty. If you do the dairy bit my Trader Joes has two raw milk cheeses as well as a few grass fed cheeses (but not raw AND grass fed). Of course they always have a cheap and tasty selection of red wine if you're into that.
Forgot to mention plenty of canned fish, Sardines being my personal choice
The Trader Joes I visit is the one in San Jose, CA
My local Trader Joe's has a new product - beef bacon. I tried it today and while it's not the same as pork it is good stuff. Obviously should be better than pork bacon for minding your 6's and 3's.
TJ has become a regular visit for me... Best deal there is still the Kerrygold butter which is cheaper by far than anywhere else around here. Actually that's the second best deal... the best deal is the free sample stuff where I figure I can forget paleo most of the time because it's just one bite. On the downside their grassfed ground beef is $6/lb - and I get that at Costco for about $4/lb. So for now I'm still splitting my shopping all over the place. I have like 5 places I go to for different things - what a headache.
New find (for me): my local TJ now sells boxed packages with a pouch full of tuna in red or green curry sauce. Aside from a high sodium count, the ingredients are all legit... tuna, coconut milk, curry spices. And it tastes very good. It's already cooked so you can eat it right out of the pouch - I throw it over a salad like this - or heated up per their suggestion.
The TJ Greek "Style" Yogurt is not a real Greek Yogurt and would avoid it. I have yet to see any grass fed beef in my local- rather large and busy- TJ store. They only sell "light lowfat' coconut milk and seem to have gone fat free in too many products. I will never buy a low/free free product unless nature made it that way.
KISS I love to stock up on almond flour on my way through the States- it is a way better deal at Trader Joe's than anywhere in BC.
They carry a spice mix called "Dukkah" (chopped almonds, sesame seeds, anise, cummin, coriander) that is sublime sprinkled over chicken livers sauteed in beef lard. http://www.amazon.com/gp/aw/s/ref=pd_sl_35jo3m6a50_p?rh=i%3Aaps%2Ck%3Adukkah+spice&keywords=dukkah+spice&ie=UTF8&tag=hydusmmsn-20&hvadid=1468701553
Also a handy pink Himalayan sea salt the has a built in grinder on the top of the shaker.
If you ask at the customer service counter, they have a very helpful "gluten free " list which includes every item in their store which is gluten free.
Have a problem with TJ's cos the meat is imported from other countries and veg are way overpriced compared to farmers market but, prosecco, coconut oil, bagged nuts, sparkling water...
Don't shop at TJ's much (closest one is 6 hours away!) but when I visit, I tend to reach for the following:
-Bagged nuts/seeds/trail mix
-Whole boiled eggs
-Tinned sardines/trout (though the trout is canned in canola oil)
-Goat milk cheeses
-Prepared salads with reasonable ingredients lists
-Organic beef jerky (SO GOOD)
-Seasonal fruit (great prices on figs when in season!)
-Various frozen vegetables. Nowhere else do I find frozen leeks and kale!
-Coffee. Almost all whole bean and fair trade. I work at a coffeehouse and get my fair trade/single origin/organically grown coffee there half-price, and the TJ's coffee is the same price I pay at work!
-Frozen salmon. I'm picky about my fish, and I was able to get Wild Alaskan Sockeye (frozen) for a little cheaper than normal. Major win is that they are sold in smaller portions.
-Almond butter. People tend to be split on the quality of AB at TJs, but I'm a fan, and it's one of the few places you can get almond butter at around $5 per pound.
-Dark chocolate. Quality stuff at reasonable price.
-Large variety of pre-packaged veggies for easy mise en place.
-Organic chicken. Pretty good prices for organic!
Yeah we just got trader joes in Plano and the heavy whipping cream is awesome!!!
Best foods at TJ's:
They have a good selection of beef steak options. I pretty much stick with their "prime angus" variety, and ignore their "butcher shop" options, which don't have any notation at all about antibiotic free or vegetarian fed. I just picture your typical slaughter house and nasty feedlot. But with the angus selection (currently they use a black sticker for those and the price is quite a bit higher), they say 100% vegetarian diet and antibiotic free. But if you flip over the package, they claim on the back that their cows feed on lush green grass pastures their whole life up until just before processing. So it sounds like they are grass fed and then grain finished. I've tried the tri-tip sirloin, the ribeye, and the new york steak. They are all good, but my new favorite is their flank steak. We broiled it the other night and man it was delish.
100% organic grass fed ground beef for $5.99/lb.
Bacon selection is decent, but most have some form of sugar in the ingredients. I don't mind this so much, but I always get the thick Applewood Uncured option, and the turbinado sugar is usually pretty low on the list and then it indicates 0g on the label, so I'm sure there can't be much in there.
They have some wild salmon, but it's very pricey I think so I don't buy it too often.
Very adequate selection of cheeses, with prices that seem quite fair. They have some grass fed New Zealand cheddar, several raw milk cheddars, and a nice variety of other cheeses.
Kerrygold butter is always on hand. They get 1 point for that.
Some fresh fruits, with usually a good price on a basket of blueberries.
They have the best price on raw pecan halves at $6.49/lb, beating every other store, including Costco. They also have a very robust offering of other nuts, but unfortunately many of them are roasted, which is a real no-no of course.
They have a good sour cream option, if you're into that. It's amazing how many companies add a bunch of silly ingredients to their sour cream, but there's one at TJ's that has just the basics.
Of course, an always excellent selection of red wines, which is fine in my opinion.
Also don't forget TJ's is one of the few places that carry a legit heavy cream with no other additives!
Oh! and I almost forgot, they have fully grass fed Lamb from Atkins Ranch in New Zealand. We usually get the big 1 lb steaks. These turned out excellent in the crock pot. My wife made a delicious Lamb Korma with these.
Pre-Paleo, the isle that we use to spend all our money on was the frozen foods isle. Now, we dont even walk down that row. The only exception is if we want to check some frozen fish or scallops or whatever, but most of the food in those freezers are "out" now.
I just made an early morning trip out to my closest TJs and picked up a few of my favorite things. Their price on almond butter can't be beat compared to all the health food stores around here. I use it for my paleo baking all the time and it gets expensive to use an entire jar for a pan of brownies!
I also have a thing for their Fiberful dried fruit bars, they are only 60 calories and have 6 grams of fiber and 8 grams of sugar. All real fruit. They are an easy to carry Paleo snack when I am on the go.
I bought the chicken meatballs, which just looked YUMMY. As we get closer to the holidays my days will be busier and I need some quick Paleo dinners. I also bought the egg white salad w/chives. They didn't have an egg salad w/yolks. It's delicious and easy, not very nutritious though, but still better than a lot of other snacks!
I also bought some Kerrygold butter. The price on this is great too!
I just wish the store was closer, it's a 30 minute drive from my house. The nearest Whole Foods though, is 45 minutes.
I have enjoyed "Trader Joe’s Spicy, Smoky, Peach Salsa" a few times. It goes well with a meal of scrambled eggs and spicy ground beef.
Another favorite of the house is "Trader Joe's Whole Grain Dijon Mustard" which, despite the name, is grain free. :-)
A new favorite is Trader Giotto's Bruschetta though it contains canola oil. A brown a pound of ground beef and mix in one jar of this stuff and serve it over a mass of veggies (cooked cabbage or mixed greens). It's fast, cheap, and good!
Well, I guess it must vary a lot from store to store. I finally drove out to the one nearest me (Bethesda, MD) and was pretty disappointed. Not much selection, small meat dept with no grass-fed cuts, no pastured eggs. They did, however, have Applegate Farms cold cuts, so I picked up two packs of grass-fed roast beef... which means it wasn't a total loss!