My Paleo Picks from Trader Joe’s

Wednesday February 29, 2012
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A while ago, I shared my favorite frugal picks at Trader Joe’s.  Now that we are focusing on eating paleo/primal foods, I thought I’d share what I like to buy that is paleo appropriate.

Some of these items are, IMO, a really good value.   Others aren’t quite a steal, but are worth picking up when you are there for other stuff.  I have marked the best value items and my favorites with an asterisk (*).  If an item contains a questionable ingredient, I underlined it.

Best Paleo Purchases at Trader Joe’s

General Grocery Items

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  • *Coconut Milk (Light) .99/14 oz can
    Ingredients: coconut milk, water
    I wish they carried regular coconut milk, but this price is less than half of what I pay for the regular stuff at the Asian markets.
  • Unsweetened Coconut Milk Beverage 1.99/32 oz carton
    Not quite the same as coconut milk in a can, but close.  Ingredient list includes some funky stuff:  filtered water, coconut cream, tricalcium phosphate, carrageenan, gellan gum, sea salt, natural flavors, vitamin A palmitate, ergocalciferol (vitamin D12), cyanocobalamin (vitamin B12)
  • *Coconut Oil (Organic virgin) 5.49/lb
    Haven’t tried it yet, but will when my current stash runs out — it is the best price I’ve seen for coconut oil.
  • Grapeseed Oil 3.49/17oz
  • Fire Roasted Red / Red & Yellow Peppers 1.99/7.4 or 1.99/12oz jar
  • Sun Dried Tomatoes  3.29/8.5oz jar
  • *Sea Salt 1.49/26.5 oz
    This is a great price!  TJ also carries a smaller spice jar that is .99/3.9 oz
  • Assorted Spices
    TJs has a decent selection of spices, some organic and all much cheaper than regular grocery store prices
  • *Taco Seasoning Packet  .79 / 1.3oz
    Ingredients: sea salt, cumin, cayenne pepper, cane sugar, paprika, onion, garlic, black pepper, red bell pepper, oregano, chili pepper, smoked paprika
    It’s always better to make your own, but we love this package.   We can get 3 meals out of one packet.  Note the ingredients include sugar, but it is less than one gram per serving (12 servings per packet, so ~4 grams per meal for us).
  • *Dijon Mustard with White Wine 1.69/13oz
    Ingredients: water, mustard seed, vinegar, wine, salt, citric acid
    We love this mustard and you can’t beat the price!
  • Canned Tomatoes  1.49/28oz
    Comes in BPA free cans
  • *Fire Roasted Diced Green Chilis .79/4oz
    Great price!
  • Almond Butter 4.99/16oz jar
    They have several varieties:  smooth, crunchy, salted, and unsalted
  • Free Range Chicken Broth  1.99/32oz
  • Fair Trade Organic Dark 72% Chocolate Bar 1.99/3.5 oz bar
    Ingredients: organic cococa mass, organic cane sugar, organic cocoa butter.
    Haven’t tried this yet, but am looking forward to trying it as a post-challenge treat!

Produce

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Note: prices will vary seasonally — these reflect what I recently paid.  Items are conventional (non-organic) unless otherwise noted.

  • Bananas .19/ea
  • Organic Pears 2.49/2lb
  • Apples — assorted varieties and prices
    We’ve been enjoying the Organic Pink Lady variety — they have been small which is perfect for school lunches
  • *Romaine Hearts 2.29/18oz bag
    Contains 3 hearts, great price
  • Kale 2.29/10 oz bag
    Already cleaned and cut — I use this for kale chips
  • *Wild Arugula 1.99/7oz bag
    Mike loves this “Rocket Arugula”
  • Baby Spinach 1.99/6oz bag
  • Baby Carrots 1.99/ 24oz bag
  • Organic Carrots .89/16 oz cello bag
  • Cauliflower 2.49/head
  • Celery Hearts Conventional: 1.69/bag; Organic: 2.29/bag
    Celery is at the top of the “Dirty Dozen”, so it’s better to buy organic, tho I rarely do..
  • Snap Peas 2.99/12oz
  • Snow Peas  2.69/9oz
  • *Mini-Pearl Grape Tomatoes  2.50 – 3.29/lb
    We love these mini tomatoes and use them for everything from snacking to guacamole.  The price varies but it’s always a great deal
  • *Avocados — Conventional: 2.99/4pk  Organic:  3.49/4pk
    You can’t beat TJs avocado prices (they will fluctuate from what I posted, but are always the lowest I find)

Meat

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TJs does carry a good selection of grass-fed and specialty meats, but it’s not cheap.   We buy most of our meat direct from farmers, so I don’t purchase much of this stuff, but there are a few items that I like.

  • *Spicy Jalapeno Chicken Sausage $3.99/12 oz package (5 links)
    Ingredients: skinless chicken meat, water, roasted red peppers (red peppers, water, salt, citric acid), seasoning (sea salt, turbinado sugar, spices, jalapeno pepper, onion powder, garlic powder), jalapeno peppers (jalapeno peppers, water, citric acid)
    Love this spicy chicken sausage!
  • Classic Sliced Dry Rubbed All Natural Uncured Bacon 4.99/12oz
    Antibiotic, nitrate, and preservative free
  • *Apple Smoked Uncured Bacon 3.99/12 oz
    This is my new favorite bacon.
  • Ground Turkey 2.99/lb

Frozen Foods

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  • *French Cut Green Beans — 1.99/24oz
    We love these green beans
  • Sliced Peppers Bag – 1.69/lb
  • Brussel Sprouts – 1.19/lb
  • Chopped Spinach — 1.49/lb (organic is 1.99/lb)
  • *Salmon — 8.99 – 10.99/lb
    TJs has several varieties of wild caught salmon and is a really good price

Refrigerated

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There’s not a lot in the refrigerated/dairy case for paleo folks but here are a few items we’ve bought.

  • *Kellygold Grassfed Butter  2.79/8 oz
    We do dairy if it is from grassfed cows, which Kellygold is.   
  • Plain Goat Yogurt 5.49/32 oz
  • Eggs — large, white  1.99/dozen
    We get our eggs from a chicken farmer, but this is a decent price on regular eggs.

Nuts

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Costco is the best source for almonds (3.33/lb) and pecans, but when I run out, I will buy them at TJs to tide me over.  Here are some other nut items that I like to get at Trader Joes, especially if I’m making paleo bars.

  • Raw Almonds — 4.49/lb
  • *Sliced/Slivered Almonds — 2.49/8oz
  • *Raw Sunflower Seeds  — 1.99/lb
  • Raw Pepitas (pumpkin seeds) — 5.49/lb
  • Pistachios

Salsas

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Trader Joes has a pretty good selection of salsas and many of them are free of icky ingredients.  I usually make my own salsa instead of buying store bought, but here’s a few that look decent:

  • Organic Tomatillo Roasted Yellow Chili Salsa — 2.29/12oz
    Ingredients: organic tomato puree (water, organic tomato paste), organic tomatillo, organic roasted yellow chili, organic onion, salt, organic cilantro, organic dried garlic, citric acid
  • Salsa Autentica — 1.69/12oz jar
    Note:  this contains a corn derivative
    Ingredients: tomatoes, fresh yellow chile, distilled vinegar (from corn), salt, onion, spice
  • Salsa Verde 1.99/12 oz jar
    Ingredients:  fresh tomatillos, green chili, water, onions, fresh jalapenos, salt, spices
  • Trader Jose’s Chunky Salsa 2.29/15.5 oz jar
    Ingredients: tomatoes, tomato puree (water, tomato paste), green peppers, onion, jalapeno peppers, distilled vinegar, salt, garlic coriander, paprika, oregano.
  • Hot Chipotle Salsa – 1.99/16oz
    Ingredients: diced tomatoes, tomato puree (water, tomato paste), cider vinegar, onions, chipotle chile peppers, distilled vinegar, garlic, cilantro, red pepper.
  • Organic Tomatillo Roasted Yellow Chili Salsa- 2.29/12oz
    Ingredients: organic tomato puree (water, organic tomato paste), organic tomatillo, organic roasted yellow chili, organic onion, salt, organic cilantro, organic dried garlic, citric acid

So.. what are your favorite “clean foods” at Trader Joe’s?

Find more tips at Works For Me Wednesday, hosted by We Are That Family.

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24 Responses to My Paleo Picks from Trader Joe’s

  1. 1
    kelly says:

    great list, thank you! trader joes is opening up soon here in my town, now i know exactly what to look for!

  2. 2
    yvonne says:

    Great list! I am also doing paleo and we get a lot of the same things :)
    They also carry almond milk next to the dairy section that is delicious, almond meal (which is awesome for baking and at least half the price of other places).

    • 2.1
      Kendra says:

      thanks for the tips, Yvonne! I’ve started grinding the almonds I buy from Costco to make my own almond flour. It’s even cheaper than TJ’s price, tho not as convenient.

  3. 3
    Shabbi says:

    Hello! I found your blog through Primal Toad’s blog. I have been enjoying reading your blog. I live in Alexandria VA and was hoping you could give me some good recommendations for farms which have grass fed beef and such. Thank you in advance for any information you can give me.

    • 3.1
      Kendra says:

      Hi Shabbi,

      We buy 1/4th a grassfed cow from this farm:
      http://www.localharvest.org/currituck-farm-an-agri-artisan-site-on-the-monticello-artisan-trail-M15913

      Localharvest.org is a great resource to look for other farms as well.

      I buy my shrimp mostly from Whole Foods (9.99/lb for wild caught shrimp). We get our chicken from a man who delivers it to our door every other week — it’s not organic but I like it better than supermarket chicken.

      I’m sure that Mom’s Organic Market and some of the other local butcher shops are great sources, but cuz I’m a cheapy, I do most of my shopping at either H-Mart (for produce) or Wegmans.

      Thanks for stopping by!

  4. 4

    [...] is a great shopping list that I found from www.themeanestmomma.com. The list  breaks down all the items to buy when you [...]

  5. 5
    Bob says:

    Thanks for the great list and many ideas for my next Paleo shop. Must comment that I am not impressed with TJ’s roasted Almond Butter, just so-so and doesn’t taste that fresh.

  6. 6
    Patty says:

    So glad to find this list!!! I’m new to paleo and have been looking for foods that qualify as paleo everywhere! :)

  7. 7
    Melinda says:

    This is a good list! Where do you get your meat? Do you use a local farmer? Thanks!!

  8. 8
    Jonathan says:

    This is a terrific list. Just what I need. I googled “Paleo grocery list” and a link for your blog was among the search results. It’s great all around!

    Just started CrossFit myself. I have my second class tomorrow morning. I’ll be sure to visit your blog for tips and recipes. Thanks!

  9. 9
    Anthony says:

    FYI – read the ingredients on their Free Range Chicken Broth. It contains barley malt, which contains gluten. It is why it isn’t listed as gluten free like the other options. I still buy it because I am not worried about trace gluten and it is superior to most stocks including their organic chicken broth (which contains canola oil and I’d rather have trace gluten than canola oil), but it is clearly not pale if it contains barley.

    • 9.1
      Kendra says:

      Anthony,

      Thanks for your note — I confess i hadn’t looked too closely at the label. I usually try and make and freeze my own stock from whole chickens, but have found it convenient to keep some of this on hand. Good catch!

  10. 10
    emilia says:

    Have you ever thought about creating a similar list at Costco? I have found this blog post so helpful!

  11. 11
    Deb says:

    Whole foods has a great organic chicken broth that has no additives, just chicken and salt, when you don’t have any homemade stock in the freezer.

  12. 12
    Julia says:

    Glad to see a list for trader joes that I can use for my next grocery run. I was wondering if the coconut milk vanilla flavored, found in the the refrigerator section can be used for primal/paleo?

  13. 13
    Shaquita Verdejo says:

    Asian food is every bit as diverse as it is delicious. I used to think that I knew Asian foods growing up. You see, we used to go out to Chinese and practically every weekend. They were a couple Chinese restaurants in the neighborhood, and they were perfect for us kids. They were greasy, flavorful, and we got a cookie at the end of every meal. What more could a child ask for?;

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  14. 14
    Noel says:

    Great list. Thanks! The only question I have is–do the nut butters contain sugar? If so, bummer. Love your blog.

    I am a scientist (PhD neuroscience, work on interactions between immune system and brain) and I just recently switched to paleo on a hunch. The difference in how I feel is nothing short of astounding.

    My entire digestive system has normalized in a matter of days, my migraines are gone, my muscle aches are gone, and I am sleeping better.

    Holy moley!

  15. 15
    Evan says:

    Great list overall! Thank you for taking time to snapshot all of these. Did any trader joe’s employee give you weird looks? =P

    Now, I want to be very nitpicky with some of the items you listed. Bear with me.
    =coconut milk – BPA free cans?
    =coconut milk – funky stuff indeed! http://paleohacks.com/questions/188108/carrageenan-what-the-f.html . i’d stay clear of it.
    =grapeseed oil – highly processed oil
    =where’s the mentioning of the bacon bits and ends?! those are awesome

  16. 16
    Kathy Brian says:

    Love it great prices. I wish they had a Trader Joes here in Baton Rouges.

  17. 17
    Katie says:

    Just starting on Paleo. Just completed day one!! I thought no dairy? (You have yogurt above) Thanks, any help appreciated.

  18. 18

    […] may not be enough for everyone. Additionally, here are some articles I found helpful for this week: My Paleo Picks from Trader Joe’s and How to Quit Sugar in 5 […]

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About TMM

The Meanest Momma
A mom of three, living in Northern Virginia, who loves her kids and enjoys chronicling their semi-frugal adventures.

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