Trader Joe’s is the mecca of all grocery stores. The cream of the crop, the best of the best, the G.O.A.T.
No, you may not be able to get your full grocery order there every time, but I’d be willing to bet you’ll end up finding all of your favorite things there.
However, if you’ve never been, it can be a little daunting. It’s organized differently than most stores, and nearly everything is Trader Joe’s store brand, so it can take a few aimless, wandering trips to get the lay of the land and figure out what the real gems are. Toddler moms ain’t got time for that, so lucky for you, you’ve got me!
This is my ultimate toddler mom survival list from Trader Joe’s. Treats for you, treats for your toddler, some healthy stuff, some not-so-much. It’s all about balance, folks.
The first thing you’ll see and smell upon entering this glorious place is flowers. TJ’s has gorgeous flowers, at a great price. Get a pre-arranged bouquet, or arrange your own, and stick it in the middle of your otherwise wrecked house to present the illusion of order.
We’ll start with the healthy stuff. They’ve got great fresh produce here, again at a great price. I almost always get a bag of baby spinach because I toss it into everything to try and force my child to eat greens, and I basically can’t ever enter a store without getting some berries for him. And most of the time I pick up some carrots to dip in my…
3. Cilantro and Jalapeno Hummus
This stuff is the bomb. Quick, high-protein snacks are a must-have for moms of tiny lunatics. They also have super soft naan bread and crispy pita chips to eat with this, if you prefer that.
4. Packaged Salads
hard impossible to pick one favorite thing at Trader Joe’s, but their packaged salads come pretty dang close. This Mexicali Salad is one of my go-tos, but they’re all delish. And if there’s anything we toddler moms need, it’s quick and easy lunches.
5. Unexpected Cheddar
I can’t even begin to adequately describe this stuff. Sharp white cheddar, mixed with parmesan and perfection… just try it.
6. Baked Goods
There’s always this table, right next to the fruits & veggies, that just taunts you. Your cart is so healthy and colorful, and you’re feeling great about your life choices, and then you come across this table and it will break you down. So just accept that now. Pick literally anything off of it and know you can’t make a bad choice.
7. Trek Mix
This is my favorite thing to bring to preggos and new moms. When I was pregnant, I always had a bag with me. I kept one in my desk, one in my purse, one next to the couch, one in my nightstand. It’s an awesome protein-filled snack that you don’t have to feel too guilty about.
8. Pesto Chicken
They’ve got lots of great marinated meats to choose from. My family and I love pesto, so this one’s a clear winner for us.
9. Chile Lime Chicken Burgers
Onto the frozen aisles – this is where the real magic happens. These chicken burgers are everything. They’re healthy, tasty, easy to prepare. The trifecta.
10. Hatch Chile Mac & Cheese
if I need to convince you to try this, then I can’t help you. It’s hatch chile mac & cheese, for God’s sake, and it’s ready in 5 minutes.
11. Mandarin Orange Chicken
This is one of our favorite last-minute dinners. Just drop this in the oven, whip up some fried rice, and it’s ready in 30 minutes. TJ’s also has a great frozen fried rice to go with this; I just generally like my own version better.
12. Mac & Cheese Bites
13. Potato Tots
Tbh, I don’t know why these are any better than regular tater tots. But they just are.
14. Turkey Corn Dogs
I still maintain that it’s impossible to pick one TJ’s favorite, but if I were to attempt that, these would be a top contender. No corn dog could ever stand next to a Fletcher’s Corny Dog from the State Fair of Texas, but these are a damn good substitute (and they’re turkey dogs! I would never be able to tell the difference.). Buy them “for your toddler,” eat them for yourself.
15. Pinks & Whites Cookies
The secret to Trader Joe’s is that all the really good stuff is spread out above the freezers in the frozen aisles. That’s where you’ll find these delightful cookies that are like the Circus cookies of your childhood, but laced with crack (I assume, because I can’t stop eating them).
16. Chocolatey Snacks
There are too many amazing, to-die-for chocolatey goodies to include here. They’re all amazing, but these two–Dark Chocolate Almonds and Mini Peanut Butter Cups–are my favorite. I also highly recommend the Cowboy Bark and S’mores Bites, assuming you don’t care about things like pants sizes and diabetes (moderation, okay?!).
17. Cookie Butter Ice Cream
So, I intentionally didn’t include Cookie Butter on this list, because it’s too obvious. It’s a given. If you don’t have a jar of Cookie Butter stashed away in your pantry at all times, you’re doing it wrong. But Cookie Butter Ice Cream is worth including on the list. It’s everything you imagine it to be and more.
18. Gone Bananas
Another contender for a “favorite” TJ’s item. These are so simple–just frozen, chocolate-covered banana slices–and yet, they’re magical.
19. 21 Seasoning Salute
A tasty seasoning mix that improves anything and everything it touches. Chicken, pasta, meat, eggs, whatever. Just toss this in.
20. Two Buck Chuck
$2 wine, because, TODDLERS.
Any other Trader Joe’s favorites? Share ’em in the comments!