Whole30 Challenge: Shopping Trip to Trader Joe’s

Ok, so as promised, here’s my shopping experience from Trader Joe’s! If you don’t have one close to you, I’m sorry [insert crying emoji]. It’s an incredible little store! The closest one to me is in Athens. It’s about 35 minutes from my house, so probably not too much closer than the one in Atlanta, but it’s less than 20 minutes from my church, which I’m at 4 days a week (although not any more after this week). That’s still round trip time of nearly an hour, so it obviously isn’t a regular stop for me. In fact, the last time I went was over the summer. I just wanted to share some of the things they had there that excited me or that I bought in preparation for our challenge. I wasn’t able to get any fresh food since we were still 3 weeks away from our kick off, so I’ll most likely be making another trip, unless I find better deals at Sprouts, Whole Foods, or Kroger.

Peas

Remember the ONLY peas you can eat during the challenge are snow peas or sugar snap peas! This was the selection at TJ’s.

Mushrooms

I love mushrooms! Look at all those glorious shrooms!

Herbs

Wanna know how to keep your food tasting interesting? Use fresh herbs! These are great prices, if you don’t grow your own!

Pre-cut Veggies

I actually enjoy chopping veggies when I cook, but sometimes it is quicker and easier if they’re already chopped, especially when it comes to potatoes since you have to peel them, and if you’ve never cut a butternut squash before, prepare to work.  Those suckers are tough! They have pre-cut butternut squash at Walmart for about $3, but it’s not nearly this big of a bag.

Pre-Cut Kale

Kale is super easy to cut, and you can get a BUNCH from Walmart for less than $1, but if cutting’s not your thang, here ya go! The pre-cut stuff at Aldi is almost $4, although it is a bigger bag, so it might work out to be cheaper, IDK.

Pre-Cut Cabbage and Slaw

Cabbage isn’t hard to cut, but it is a little more difficult to shred for things like coleslaw, so I will typically splurge a little and just get it pre-cut. I think bagged broccoli slaw is great because it has broccoli, cabbage, and carrots already shredded and mixed so you don’t have to buy and shred three different ingredients! Again, it’s up to you how much prep work you wanna do! I tend to take the help where I can since there’s plenty of prep work I either can’t get or don’t want help with (I’ll boil my own eggs, thank you very much).

They even have shredded Brussels sprouts! The only two ways I enjoy Brussels sprouts are roasted/sauteed with bacon or raw in salad.

Grass Fed Angus Beef Strip Loin Steak

I thought less than $10 was a pretty good price for a decent sized grass fed steak, but I don’t buy steak all that often. I’m not the greatest steak chef, so when I have steak, I like to leave it to the professionals ;). I will say that if you want to stretch your meat, and your dollars, don’t make meals with meat and sides. Try to make meals where the meat isn’t the star of the show. I actually prefer my food all mixed together, and I rarely cook anything separate so my kids have come to not be so picky about it as well. My 10 year old actually prefers her food mixed like her mama! Doing this allows me to cook 1 lb of beef or 3 chicken breasts and still fill all 7 of our tummies without even feeling like we’re being deprived! LOL! I love meat, I just don’t love buying so much of it!

Frozen Grass Fed Ground Angus Beef

I buy grass fed ground beef from Aldi for $5.99/lb. I love it! You don’t even have to drain the fat! I might give this one a try just to see what the difference, if any is, even though I don’t typically buy frozen meat (not that anything is wrong with that).

Ground Chicken

I thought this was a great price for ground chicken! I haven’t used it much before, but I plan on trying it in a couple recipes during the course of the challenge.

Spicy Italian Chicken Sausage

I know Adell’s Chicken and Apple Sausage is compliant, but I’m not sure about the price, so it’s good to know there’s another option!

Eggs

When looking for eggs, it’s best to buy pastured. If you can’t find or afford pastured, go for the Omega-3 eggs, or the organic, or the free range/cage free, in that order. If you just HAVE to get conventional eggs, they are still one of the healthiest foods you can eat. If you want more info on which eggs are the best and why, go here. $2.39 for a dozen cage-free large eggs with added Omega-3 is a deal, let me tell you!

Canned Mackerel

One of the things on my meal plan for Week 1 is mackerel lettuce wraps, so imagine my delight to find this!

Spices

Trader Joe’s has great prices on seasonings! I love their 21 Salute Seasoning, and I just ran out recently, so I restocked. I also got some garlic powder since the garlic salt I get from Aldi’s has SUGAR in it [insert angry red face emoji along with crying emoji here]. I will say that Walmart and Kroger have great prices on organic spices, so you may want to check there first!

Fruit Spread

I have no earthly idea what I’m gonna use these for yet, but I considered them rare finds! “Jelly” made from nothing but fruit and fruit juice has always come at a pretty price in my experience, so I went ahead and got 2 of these. I’m not a fan of raspberry (although I will eat it b/c I will eat just about anything), and the mango has sugar in it [more crying emojis here, mango is my favorite!]. I know I can use it with meatballs at least.

Hearts of Palm

Joe Daddy and I just went to Fogo de Chão and tried hearts of palm for the first time ever (at least we think we haven’t tried them before)! They reminded me of the taste of marinated artichoke hearts with the texture of a raw carrot. I had to look up what it was. They come from the inner core of certain palm trees! Neat, huh? Now, I don’t know if Trader Joe’s hearts of palm are as good as Fogo’s, but definitely worth a try, so I got some! They are great on salad!

Clarified Butter or Ghee

I don’t know how much ghee is elsewhere, but online it is astronomical! They have it on amazon.com for anywhere from$0.62/oz to $2.36/oz (maybe even higher, I didn’t price them all out! LOL)! Trader Joe’s option came out to $0.49/oz, which is obviously a much better deal. Remember that you can make your own clarified butter, but this is the only dairy you can have on Whole30! I might make my own someday, but I went ahead and got a jar to try.

Kerrygold Butter

If you do decide to make your own clarified butter, Kerrygold Butter is from grassfed cows and is pretty darn affordable! They even have it at Walmart!

Medjool Dates

These are the dates that are in a ton of the Whole30 recipes. They’re used as a binding agent in some and as a sweetener in others. I’ve seen them at Kroger, so I wanted to wait to get some til I checked prices, but then I found some at Aldi for $3.99 the day after I went to Trader Joe’s, so I ended up getting them there!

Almond Butter

Almond butter is one of those things you gotta watch for sugar with. These had two ingredients: almonds, sea salt. I was skeptical, but I bought both the crunchy and creamy on a whim, and I gotta say, I don’t really mind it without the sugar! Now, my kids, might be a harder sell. This is another item you can easily make yourself. Just grind up some roasted almonds in your food processor til creamy!

Cashew Butter

The cashew butter wasn’t much more, and I do intend on trying some eventually (I LOVE cashews, but I’ve never tried cashew butter), I just didn’t want to buy $20 worth of nut butters in one day! LOL!

Tahini

Tahini is ground up sesame seeds (again something you can totally make on your own). You can use it to make sauces and dressings, so it’s pretty versatile. I’ve never tried it, but I’m interested in trying it!

Red Boat Fish Sauce

I was equally surprised and excited to see this at TJ’s! Online it’s over $7 a bottle! I love fish sauce! I use it in a few of my Asian dishes so I had to have some!

Toasted Sesame Oil

This is another ingredient I use in a lot of my Asian dishes. Cold pressed oil is better for you. The one I bought from Sprouts was around $5, so I recommend getting it at TJ’s!

Rice Vinegar

This is yet another ingredient I use in a lot of my Asian dishes. The rice vinegar I had in my pantry had sugar in it. Luckily, the bottle was nearly empty! This one is sugar free and less than $2!

Coconut Cream

Coconut cream can be used to make whipped cream (although you’re really not supposed to make stuff like that during this challenge)! You can also use it to make sauces or for creamer in your coffee, although I will warn: it has a coconut taste. I am opting to give up coffee entirely during this challenge because even with some sort of creamer, I can’t do coffee without a sweetener, but I did try it in my coffee (which I still love even though I gave up the caffeinated stuff over a year ago) and it was doable, which is good news for me since I am planning on going Paleo after the challenge.

Coconut Milk

I’m pretty sure this is the best price I’ve seen on organic coconut milk, but I’ll let you know if I find it cheaper elsewhere. Coconut milk is in tons of Whole30 recipes. I needed 3 cans for my first meal plan alone!

Avocado Oil

I haven’t ever tried it (I can get a bottle of olive oil that size for half the price!), but I have heard it has a milder flavor that’s good for making mayo and dressings. I’m going to try olive oil first since it’s cheaper and the mayo I buy is made with olive oil, but I have a feeling TJ’s is going to have the best price on this stuff.

Sun Dried Tomatoes

Last time I went looking for sun dried tomatoes, I quickly said, “To hell with that!” Kroger wanted over $5 for a little jar! I know I won’t use them a lot, but I know one of the most important things about this challenge is finding ways to add flavor to foods to keep things interesting, so I splurged for the $3 jar.

Snacky Foods

Somehow, I deleted the rest of my shopping pictures without realizing they hadn’t uploaded to my album from my phone :(. TJ’s has a great section of nuts and dried fruits (without sugar) for pretty good prices. While these foods aren’t ideal for the challenge, I have to have something I can take with me to the gym so I can eat in the car on the way to the grocery store one day a week without having to go all the way home to eat. Of course, I could decide to go to Snellville to do my shopping each week (since they have a Sprouts, Aldi, Walmart, and Kroger nearby) and eat at Chipotle’s for lunch that day! Regardless, I wanted to have some snacky foods on hand for those moments when I’m close to failure. The good thing about chips and dried fruit is they don’t go bad fast (if they’re not opened). (Note: I got the sweet potato chips at Aldi, I just didn’t think about it when I took the picture. I also got dried apricots from Aldi, not pictured, which are the only compliant dried fruits they have.)

We found lots more, but these were the things I was most excited to share. I am still on the hunt for dijon mustard made without wine, compliant lunch meat, bacon, and sausage, and the best prices on fresh meat, produce, and herbs. I already visited Aldi, so I’ll be sharing what I found there soon. I’ll be visiting Whole Foods, Sprouts, and Kroger next week. Please share any deals or finds you come across!

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