Going to to the "big city" tomorrow and thought I'd squeeze in a visit to Whole Foods and/or Trader Joes. Anything in particular there that I should stock up on that are otherwise hard to find in average grocery stores? I might just go marvel at the Kerrygold butter!
Or are they simply overhyped?
And what happens when it gets real in the Whole Foods parking lot?
EDIT: Semi-serious question: Who has better meats? I'm lucky enough to have my own farm-fresh beef and wild venison. I'd like a couple good pork roasts to make some carnitas from.
EDIT after the trip: Trader Joes... small, like a trendier Aldi's market, in that the selection seemed quite limited. Produce was unimpressive, next to no dairy or meat selection. Seemed like it was mostly dry pantry goods. I picked up almond meal (half price of what I pay locally), organic raw almonds (a few bucks cheaper than local), and a pound of Kerrygold. Whole Foods... good-sized with decent selection. Produce was better than Trader Joes, but not any better than I can get in more upscale markets in my medium-sized town. Much more dairy and meat, great selection too. Snagged some Icelandic butter to try (no Kerrygold at WF), some cheese. Picked up some pork for carnitas, a couple random things that looked good because I was heading home at this point. Neither store had sorghum syrup, much to my disappointment (I don't care if it's paleo or not, it's too awesome on pancakes.)
Overall the verdict? Trader Joes is hype. Whole Foods is decent.
My Trader Joe's shopping list:
For Whole Foods
cans of tuna, sardines in olive oil, wild alaskan salmon
raw crunch almond butter
unsweetened cacao powder
fair trade coffee
jasmine rice blend
sundried tomatoes in olive oil
almond flour and/or other whole raw nuts
curry tuna packets
Honestly, the only thing I regularly buy at Whole Foods anymore since going paleo is nutritional yeast from the bulk bin, which I do not even eat that much of. If I'm in the area and in need of a quick "mobile" lunch, I can usually find something acceptable at their hot/salad bar, though (be warned that it can get pricey). Sometimes they have good sales on produce or meat, so be sure to find out what promotions your location is holding.
I primarily shop at Trader Joe's because I am a cheapskate who can't get to the farmer's market on the weekends and anything I could buy at Whole Foods or even a regular grocery store, I can get for way cheaper just by crossing the road to TJ's. I can't think of many things that I buy at Trader Joe's that you'll have difficulty finding in the average American grocery store nowadays, but the price difference is significant enough that what I buy there is worth mentioning if you're able to stock up. I recommend their:
Extra virgin olive oil
Organic virgin coconut oil (it has more of a neutral flavor, but it's good for cooking and really cheap)
Organic apple cider vinegar
Organic canned tomato products
Unsalted sardines in spring water
Unsweetened cocoa powder
Pure bourbon vanilla extract
Raw, unsalted almond butter
Various fresh herbs
Organic grassfed ground beef (I basically live off of inexpensive organ meats and don't buy this anymore, but it's still tasty and a decent price, though I'm miffed that they raised it 50 cents recently)
Organic frozen spinach
Organic frozen strawberries
Organic frozen raspberries
French green beans (the beans themselves are really, really small and these are great for eating frozen on a hot day)
Organic extra large eggs (not as good as fresh-from-the-farm eggs, obviously, but sooo cheeeeap)
Raw, unsalted sunflower seeds
Raw, unsalted pepitas
Organic pure stevia
Golden flax seeds
Frozen fish, especially the cheap frozen cod pieces
Things I don't eat/buy but have heard good things about include their smoked salmon, dairy selection, almonds and macadamia nuts.
Hope that was helpful, and if not then I enjoyed getting gleeful over my shopping list anyway.
Edit: Oh, and WF has the better meats, definitely.
Whole Foods Market
Be sure to grab a sales flyer and a Whole Deal book for coupons.
I bought their raw crunchy almond butter three times. The first time it was delicious, and I was psyched to find it at such a good price. The next two times I bought it it was rancid within a few days of purchase, so I haven't bought it since.
For Trader Joes...
If you use almond flour at all, I'd get the Trader Joe's brand (it's in the nut section, not the flour section). Theirs is insanely cheap.
If you use stevia, they have an awesome one.
If you use mustard, buy all they have of their dijon mustard because it's amazing. (It's known around our house as "the good mustard")
As for Whole Foods, I'd go to the refrigerated prepared foods section and try their Kale with Tahini and Garlic. Delicious. I think I could live off that stuff.
I curse the whole foods parking lot! Today was even more ridiculous than usual!
Trader Joe's tends to have the cheapest Kerrygold. Whole Foods should have that, along with some other grass-fed butter options organic valley, smjor (iceland), and plugra (NZ)which are all a bit different but all good/
I like getting frozen blueberries/raspberries from trader joes, and mine also has grass-fed lamb steaks from NZ which are pretty awesome and always have some good marrow in the bone.
Whole foods should also have the main coast kelp granules, which I really like. While you're in the condiment section you can also find coconut butter and/or coconut manna.
Both places will have some good salt options, himalayan, etc
And if you're feeling extra crazy, my favorite indulgence (sadly) are a certain trader joes potato chip... they're just potatos/olive oil/sea salt.
KerryGold is worth every penny! Not all TJ's have grassfed ground beef, but if you find it - score!! There is a huge difference in TJ's almond meal and Bob''s Red Mill Almond flour. The kind you find at Whole Foods is blanched, which means the peel has been removed. This kind makes lighter, fluffier baked goods. However, some recipes don't require that, like Paleo pancakes, and TJ's almond meal works just fine. Since it is usually a $6 difference between bags, I only use the blanched almond flour for recipes that specifically call for it. Paleo cookies rock with almond flour, they taste like rocks with almond meal ;-) Whole Foods definitely has a better meat selection, but Trader Joes has good frozen seafood section.
My Trader Joe's List
Meats and produce definitely better at WF.
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