Trader Joe’s used to only be on the West Coast and thankfully, they have now permeated the US. When I moved back to Texas from Northern California, I was relieved to know I wouldn’t have to give up all my TJ’s favorites. Doing regular rounds of Whole30 gave me a whole new reason to shop there regularly, so here is my typical shopping list of the Best Whole30 Items at Trader Joe’s.
What is Whole30?
Whole30 is a clean-eating, real food way of eating that eliminates five of the most common categories of inflammatory foods for 30 days. These food groups are dairy, grains, alcohol, legumes and sugar. Yep, these are very hard foods to eliminate, even just for 30 days, but doing so can help you determine what’s causing bloating or inflammation in your body.
Is this shopping ist ONLY for Whole30 participants? No. It’s all simply real food items that anyone can use. While it’s called the Best Whole30 Items at Trader Joe’s Shopping List, you can consider simply the Best Items at Trader Joe’s, then add a few extras!
Inflammation and unbalanced blood sugar are the primary reasons women have extra weight, are exhausted all the time and have joint pain. It’s not age or laziness. You just simply need a better way of eating and thinking about food. With my Free Real Food Reset guide you get the tools and resources for how to make this 5 day plan a lifestyle so you can lose weight, gain energy and do all the things you’ve been dreaming of.
Best Whole30 Items at Trader Joe’s
Without further adieu, these are the items that I use so much that I tend to overstock on them so I’m not left without them. Most of them are exlusive to Trader Joe’s and their national brand counterparts are either nonexistent or much more expensive.
Dry Good/Grocery Items
- Coconut Aminos -Sub for soy sauce in stir fries. I go out of my way to get to TJs and buy these when I’m down to only 2 bottles. They frequently go out of stock and are half the price of the national brand at other stores. I usually buy 4 at a time.
- Organic Sesame Oil – Essential in Asian recipes, this one has the best flavor and it’s hard to find organic sesame oil in general.
- Bomba Sauce – A mixture of Calabrian chiles (super flavorful Italian chile) and garlic. We use it in both Italian and Asian dishes.
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil – Next to Costco, TJ has the best price and is authentic, meaning not cut with cheaper oils. The Premium Cold-Pressed version is my fave and comes with it’s own pour spout. It’s in a dark green bottle
- Olive Oil (not EVOO) – I use this to cook at higher temps and to make mayonnaise.
- Olive Tapenade – This should be fine, just make sure there’s no soybean oil as different regions could have slightly different products.
- Kalamata Olives (in brine and dried) – The brined olives add a salty/tangy hit to anything you add them to. The dried ones, if you can find them, are very chewy, sweeter and a little earthy.
- Olives and Pickles in General – TJ has the best prices on these for sure. Just make sure there is NO sugar in any form. I count capers in this group and make sure I always have some on hand to make tartar sauce for fish.
- Nuts – Almonds, Pecans, Walnuts, Cashews, Brazil Nuts (a day’s worth of selenium in 4 nuts!) – I look for roasted and salted. If I get flavored, I look for no sugar or other sweeteners. Some favorite flavored ones are Rosemary Marcona Almonds or Thai Chile Lime. The latter has a little sugar so when I’m doing a Whole30, I don’t buy these.
- Toasted and Unsalted Sliced Almonds – I use these to top salads and casseroles instead of cheese.
- Nut Butters – Anything that doesn’t have sugar or other sweeteners (including honey and maple syrup) and that doesn’t include peanuts.
- Organic Applesauce – If you need applesauce in a pinch, look for the no sugar version.
- Coconut Milk and Cream – These are unsweetened and great sub for heavy cream in recipes. I never bother with light coconut milk. The fat is good.
- Organic Stocks and Bone Broths – These are a great bargain and an easy way to throw a meal together. Simmer chicken in chicken broth with celery, carrots and onion. Chop or shred chicken and throw back in with zucchini noodles. This makes a Whole30 approved quick chicken soup. Stir in some of the pesto below for an Italian spin.
- Skipjack Tuna (can) or Wild-Caught Tuna (packet) – I keep these around constantly for quick lunches. Combined with celery, green onion, dillweed, capers and/or pickles and lots of mayo, I can top a giant salad and be good to go for the whole afternoon.
- Canned Salmon – You can buy either boneless skinless for ease or the bone-in, skin-on for cost…just remove the skin and bones before using. I use this primarily for making salmon cakes such as these.
- Salsas – These are in a different area in most stores, usually by the chips. Ignore all the chips, but there are a few salsas that are compliant so I wanted you to know which ones:
- Hatch Chile Salsa
- Salsa Verde
- Tomatillo Roasted Yellow Chile Salsa
- Salad Mixes (watch ingredients) – These are great, but I’ve found that TJ’s have sugar in almost all the dressings and sometimes have non compliant ingredients.
- Peeled Garlic – This garlic is from the Gilroy area of California. Garlic is not on the dirty dozen list so I have no problem buying it nonorganic. Garlic from China or other places can be irradiated so I avoid it.
- Fennel Bulbs – Fennel is a crunchy sub for celery. I use it in salads along with arugula, lemon juice and olive oil. Fennel seeds that are in Italian sausage taste very licorice-y, but the flavor in the bulb is so slight, you probably won’t notice it. Fennel is also an excellent liver cleanser. Here are a couple of other recipes that use it: Grilled Sockeye Salmon with Summer Succotash and Fennel Snap Pea Salad (part of the Za’atar Chicken recipe)
- Fresh herbs – Whether in a bag or little plastic box, they are all fair game and add tons of flavor to anything.
- Organic Sweet Potatoes, Russets and Yukon Gold Potatoes – No explanation here, right?
- Organic Romaine Lettuce or Mixed Greens – Or here…
- Lemons, Limes and other Citrus – I guess the headquarters being based in Southern California gives them access to the best citrus. We’ve found their citrus is almost always better than other grocery stores. There are many uses from Easy lemon dressing with just salt and olive oil to a squeeze in water for another natural liver cleanser.
- Teeny Tiny Avocadoes – I buy these at TJ because I rarely find a bad one. I just set them out on my countertop until they are just barely pressable then put them in the fridge.
- Organic Produce (in general) – For the most part, TJ has the best price on almost all organic produce items. Many times, the organic at TJ is cheaper than regular at other stores, so I stock up when I’m there. Onions, apples, red peppers, all organic are almost a weekly buy.
- Dips and Dressings in Produce
- A couple of examples are Jalapeno Lime Almond Dip and Vegan Kale, Cashew and Basil Pesto, but pretty much all vegan dips that don’t have beans, sweeteners, soybean oil or soybeans in them.
- Guac – Chunky Spicy guacamole and Avocado’s Number are both good to go
- Salsas in the refrigerated should be fine, but just check for sugar or other sweeteners to make sure since prepared foods can be different based on your part of the country.
- Marinara Sauce (the only compliant one)
- Green Goddess Dressing (the only compliant dressing)
Dairy and Meat
- Applewood Smoked Salami and Three Pepper Salami (No nitrates) – These are charcuterie board staples along with olives, nuts, dairy-free dressings, fresh veggies and pickles of all kinds, especially artichokes.
- Organic Smoked and Roasted Turkey – These are lunchmeat slices and have no sugar plus they are super yummy!
- Proscuitto – Italian ham that typically has no sugar in it. Drape it on a salad, wrap it around bundles of green beans or asparagus, or stir fry into Brussels sprouts or broccoli.
- No Sugar Dry Rubbed Bacon – This is antiobiotic-free, nitrate-free and hormone-free as well as sugar-free.
- Chicken Sausages – Look Apple Sausage, Garlic Herb Sausage, Italian Sausage or any others without have sugar. These are great for quick meals since they’re fully cooked.
- GrassFed Hot Dogs – Sometimes you just need a hot dog and these are your best option.
- Wild Sockeye Smoked Salmon – I know I’m a broken record, but check for sugar as many people use sugar in the cure.
- All Organic, Free Range Chicken – Buy whatever you can afford. I typically buy the Grill Pack, Whole Chickens, Chicken Thighs or sometimes the boneless skinless. (Costco is my primary chicken place.)
- Grass-fed, Organic or Conventional Beef and Lamb– whatever your budget can afford, but they are in priority of nutrient vs toxin ratio. Conventional is always my last choice.
- Pasture Raised or Organic Eggs – Look for the Hard boiled eggs, too, if time is short for you. Eggs are a complete protein that can be made in a flash.
- Organic Butter or Kerrygold Butter While butter isn’t allowed on Whole30, I use these to make homemade Ghee
- Miyokos Creamery Vegan Butter – This stuff tastes like real butter. It’s so good.
- Almond Milk – Look for no sweeteners and no carageenan.
- Frozen Vegetables – As long as there is only vegetables in the ingredient list (and those don’t include corn, beans, peas or edamame) they are good. I try and buy all vegetables organic except artichokes since they are hard to find.
- Frozen Fruits – I haven’t ever seen a fruit blend at TJ’s that has anything but fruit in it. Just check to make 100% sure, however, that there is no sugar before buying. Again, I try to buy organic with the exception of the wild blueberries.
- Frozen Organic Chicken – This can sometimes be a cheaper option for buying organic chicken. It’s really a matter of convenience in terms of remembering to thaw.
- Frozen Fish – I buy shrimp, mahi mahi, Sockeye and Silverbrite salmon, and cod. You can check seafood burgers, but many times they have fillers. If it’s 100% seafood and veggies, they’re good. I look primarily for wild-caught.
- Frozen Beef – Grass-fed ground beef is sometimes cheaper in the freezer area. They occasionally have other cuts as well.