Best of Trader Joe's / MOMS KITCHEN HANDBOOK

A few years ago I posted my Trader Joe’s Fab 15, a list of top picks for shopping at this popular food market with a cult-like following. I figured it was time for an update since the store has brought in new goodies and I’ve made new discoveries.

As I said then, “In a perfect world, I’d do all of my grocery shopping at a leisurely pace at the farmer’s market, make my own yogurt, cheese and butter, can all of my own fruits and vegetables, and have pastured chickens grazing in my backyard providing eggs naturally rich in omega-3s.” But that’s not reality and Trader Joe’s is one of several places I lean on to stock my kitchen pantry. Plus, who doesn’t love those tiny cups of coffee to swill as you shop?

So, here are my updated picks for what to buy at Trader Joe’s. You can find my first round of favorites by going here. I’d love to hear what yours are too, so please share with the rest of us in the comments section below.

  • Pain Pauline — The name and style of bread is clearly a play on the famous Pain Poilane of France And while it isn’t quite the loaf of its Parisian counterpart, it does make for an excellent slice of toast or grilled cheese sandwich. Plus, made with whole grains and just three ingredients — whole wheat, water, and salt — it meets my guidelines for a better bread. 
  • Freeze-dried fruit — The store stocks a variety of one-ingredient freeze-dried fruit, including raspberries, strawberries, and grapes. They’re a fine fix for a sweet tooth and excellent in place of dried fruit in granola and homemade muesli.
  • Dark Chocolate — I regularly buy this bittersweet chocolate imported from Belgium to chop up for cookies and other baking needs. It’s a generous amount at a significant discount over many mainstream brands.
  • Organic Persian Cucumbers — Persian cucumber made my list last time, but I’m pleased they now stock organic ones. While I don’t care for the excessive packaging, I do appreciate the convenience and crunch of a cucumber that requires no peeling or seeding. My kids love them.
  • Whole Wheat Lavash Bread — This is a pantry staple for wraps, roll ups, and easy Lavash Pizza. They also sell a white flour version, but I find the whole wheat goes under the radar with my crew.
  • Organic Popping Corn — One of the best, whole grain snack foods you can buy, and Trader Joe’s offers an organic one at under two bucks a bag. That’s a lot of movie time.
  • Old Fashioned Blister Peanuts — There’s some kind of magic in these peanuts. Bigger than garden variety peanuts, they’re superbly crunchy and perfectly salted. Tasty eaten out of hand, I also love them in peanut butter cookies or tossed into an Asian slaw. Double thumbs up.
  • Pure Maple Syrup — Although I grew up on Mrs. Butterworths, I’ve adopted pure maple syrup to pour over pancakes and use as a household sweetener. Trader Joe’s offers a more affordable option in a generous size than most markets.
  • Wild Sockeye Salmon (frozen) — Of course nothing beats fresh fish, but with the steep price of wild salmon these days. this frozen sockeye is a tasty alternative, especially with Miso Ginger Marinade.
  • Shredded Carrots — Sure I could peel and grate a whole mess of carrots to keep on hand, but the fact is, I don’t. This has become a refrigerator staple to add to sandwiches, wraps, and salads.
  • Multi-Seed Brown Rice Crackers with Soy Sauce — These tiny crackers are one of my kids’ picks for snacking. I like that the first ingredient is brown rice.
  • Mini Brie Bites — Another kid favorite for school lunch, these little Bries are darn cute and good for a morning snack along with a piece of fruit. Again, not crazy about the packaging.
  • Plain Organic Yogurt — I always have a tub of plain yogurt in the fridge, preferring to add my own fruits and sweeteners over having someone else do it for me. This creamy organic yogurt does the job.
  • Thai, Lime & Chili Almonds — Warning: these are spicy. Seasoned with lemongrass, lime, and chili, they make a good snack-food fix for the spicy-tolerant child or for a grown-up alongside a favorite cocktail.
  • Cabot Sharp Cheddar — A sharp Cheddar that is actually sharp, a little goes a long way with this Cabot cheese since it’s mega flavorful.

P.S. I also like the wine section of the store. Bargain basement prices and a good variety of options.

What are your Trader Joe’s picks?

Best of Trader Joe's / MOMS KITCHEN HANDBOOK