Trader Joe’s Pantry Favorites


Would you believe I made it another whole week without going food shopping?! I’m all excited about this ridiculously minor feat in my life but I remain convinced that getting myself down to one good food shop a week will save me some money and free up my errand-running time for other things.

I am also learning how much I need to buy so that we can get through the week. Like, make sure to overbuy the frozen vegetables (I eat more than I think), overstock the apples (I eat more than I think), never assume you have enough sweet potatoes and always make sure to fill the pantry.

While I normally share our dinner plan on Friday for next week, I am skipping it today because next week is looking a little hectic. We won’t be home Sunday night (Islanders game!), Monday is a day off (we may be out?) and I will be in the city for an event one day as well. Along with all of that, it’s a taper week for me which means routine meals with lots of potatoes.

So instead of selecting recipes that I know I won’t make, let’s talk about my Trader Joe’s Pantry Favorites!

Since my Trader Joe’s Frozen Favorites post was so widely appreciated, I put together my Trader Joe’s Pantry Favorites which includes a good chunk of the food in our house.

Trader Joe's Pantry Favorites

I tried to keep this post to what I typically purchase; there’s so much good stuff at Trader Joe’s that it can be hard to narrow down to a list!

Sauces, Soups & Oil:

  • Sweet Chili Sauce
  • Carolina Gold BBQ Sauce
  • Island Soyaki
  • Organic Ketchup
  • Tomato sauce < – I play around with which I buy
  • Organic Tomato Paste
  • Low Sodium Diced Tomatoes
  • Low Sodium Roasted Red Pepper Tomato Soup
  • Low Sodium Vegetable Broth
  • Coconut Oil
  • Coconut Oil Cooking Spray
  • Olive Oil
  • Apple Cider Vinegar
  • Balsamic Vinegar

Peanut Butter & Jelly:

  • Apple Cranberry Butter
  • Organic Raspberry Preserves
  • Chia & Flax Crunchy Peanut Butter


  • Organic beans (kidney, black beans, chick peas, white beans)
  • Green Lentils
  • Tri-Color quinoa
  • Pasta (whole wheat & regular)
  • Ezekiel bread
  • Whole Wheat English Muffins
  • Mini Whole Wheat Pita Breads

Chocolate, Candy & Cookies:

Dark Chocolate Pound Plus Chocolate Bar From Trader Joe's

So many chocolates to choose from!

  • 100 Calorie Dark Chocolate Bars
  • Pound Plus Dark Chocolate Bar
  • Semi – Sweet Chocolate Chips
  • Semi – Sweet Chocolate Chunks
  • Cocoa Powder
  • European Sipping Chocolate
  • Midnight Moo < – Chocolate Syrup
  • Organic Jelly Beans
  • Chocolate Cat Cookies
  • 100 Calorie Pack Oatmeal Raisin Chocolate Chip Cookies < – Haven’t seen recently?
  • Flour
  • Whole Wheat Flour
  • Coconut Sugar
  • Coconut Flour
  • Organic Whipping Cream

Dried Fruit & Nuts:

They have a great nut section but I don’t really buy the nuts. I buy the dried cranberries and raisins.


  • Organic Popcorn kernels
  • Kettlecorn popcorn (small bags)
  • Honey wheat pretzel sticks
  • Peach Salsa

Oatmeal/Cereal Section:

  • Organic Steel Cut Oats
  • Organic Old-Fashioned Rolled Oats
  • Oat Bran
  • Chia Seeds



  • All the Spices
  • Coffee K-Cups
  • Almond Milk
  • Quest Bars

Other Trader Joe’s posts of interest:

Trader Joe’s Frozen Favorites

Trader Joe’s Favorites For Runners

Trader Joe’s Grocery List


[bctt tweet=”Trader Joe’s Pantry Favorites #traderjoes #favorites #groceries #foodshop”]


What are some of your Trader Joe’s pantry favorites?

3 things you are doing this weekend?



What’s On Your Organic Food Priority List?


How many items in your shopping cart last week were organic?

Are you as guilty as I am when it comes to not obeying the Dirty Dozen list?


Even though Food Babe has a great case for always going organic along with an amazingly detailed post on how to eat organic on a budget,  I will admit that I don’t make organic a priority for all of my groceries.

I really want you to read her entire post so rather than summarize snippets of it for you, click here.

I will though share with you today her handy Organic Food Priority List:

organic shopping list

My giant containers of blueberries are never organic. And, some weeks I buy organic strawberries and some weeks I don’t.


Most of the time, my apples are not organic.

On occasion I buy the organic romaine lettuce but last week? I did not.

I don’t think an organic cucumber has ever been to my house.

My coffee is only organic if that box of K-Cups is on sale.

Chocolate? I don’t discriminate when it comes to chocolate. I will eat last year’s Halloween candy if the craving needs to be satisfied.

I do buy organic eggs, meat and poultry almost every time or, at the very least, I make sure the package says vegetarian fed without added hormones and antibiotics.

Click here for THE BEST link ever which fully explains in detail how to decode the labels on the egg cartons in order to understand the difference between cage-free, certified organic, free range etc.

So lately I just wonder: If I am only obeying the organic rules some of the time, is there any point to it at all?

If my blueberries aren’t organic but the strawberries are, should I feel guilty?

Is it the sort of thing where we can say you do what you can because every little bit helps?

I just can’t afford a strictly organic diet, not to mention, the shelf-life expired yesterday.

I already live in the grocery stores; if I were to purchase all organic, I would need to buy an apple a day just to ensure that I don’t have a bushel of rotten apples sitting on my counter.

I do what I can and I try not to stress the whole pesticides on and in my food because as much as I could let it bother me, they do say that the health benefits of consuming fruits and vegetables even if they aren’t organic still outweighs not eating them at all.

Want to see my most recent shopping trip at Trader Joe’s?



  • Chick Peas – because organic beans are only twenty cents more than non-organic
  • Ketchup – price was good
  • Diced tomatoes – cheap enough
  • Tomato Paste – cheap
  • Carrots – because they cost less than one dollar for a big bag and taste sweeter

Not organic:

  • Brussels sprouts
  • Non-Fat Greek Yogurt – not organic but is not treated with antibiotics/hormones
  • Lite Shredded Mozzarella Cheese- not treated with antibiotics/hormones
  • Frozen vegetables
  • Frozen berries
  • Apples
  • Plum tomatoes
  • Strawberries – the organic selection this week didn’t look as good as last week

And because we don’t need to worry about organic when it comes to produce with a thick skin we aren’t eating:

  • Bananas
  • Avocado

Should I feel bad that my pretty bowl of oatmeal with yogurt is loaded with ingredients that aren’t organic except for the sprinkle of Nature’s Path Organic Heritage Flakes?


I bet you are convinced I don’t own real silverware. I do, I just prefer my yogurt store spoons and my son’s little Bob The Builder spoon from when he was two because they are more fun.

I wish I could live only on Stonyfield Organic Greek but I can’t. It is just too pricey.

When I can’t get Stonyfield at a good price, I fill in with fat free greek  yogurt tub from Trader Joe’s (in above photo) or even Fage which I can often get on sale.

I don’t buy Chobani as often unless I am desperate because I find the taste of their original the least desirable of all brands.

Not to mention Whole Foods stopped carrying Chobani because they contain GMO’s but GMO’s are another post altogether.

I am glad that sweet potatoes are not part of the Dirty Dozen list which means that pesticides don’t seem to penetrate the outer skin.

I once bought the organic sweet potatoes and they went bad within like 72 hours which really isn’t acceptable to me.

salad with sweet potatoes and chick pea avocado mash

Love sweet potatoes in salads, even if the salad this week didn’t contain organic romaine lettuce.

And, you should know that I love roasting sweet potatoes with a drop of peanut butter although I think I love anything with a drop of peanut butter.

peanut butter & co. crunch time

My peanut butter is not organic but it has all sorts of other happy messages and symbols so maybe that negates its non-organic nature.

Non-GMO, Gluten Free, Vegan….

Even though I am a vegetarian, I still need to buy meat and poultry for my son.

ground turkey

I can’t always buy certified organic but I do ensure all meat and poultry is vegetarian fed as well as not treated with antibiotics or contain added hormones.

If I cannot locate the right packages in the store which will clearly tell me grass-fed, organic or free from added hormones and antibiotics, I won’t buy anything which actually happened to me this week when I went looking for another package of ground turkey.

I wanted to make more meatballs for my son like last week but Trader Joe’s was out of the right turkey, as was Whole Foods and Shop Rite.

Therefore, last night we used our organic beans to make Jen’s recipe (our WIAW Host!) for Mexican Veggie Burgers.

mexican veggie burgers

Just a few minor changes to the recipe to work with what I had on hand:

In place of lentils I used organic chick peas because I already had them opened and I added some cooked (organic!) quinoa to go along with the black beans, corn (organic!) and refried beans.

Oh, and I did half cup of oat bran with a half cup of oat flour instead of just one full cup of the ground up oats.

mexican veggie burgers

They came out really tasty and hearty with a few left over to freeze for another time.


mexican veggie burgers

Even if I bought strictly organic for the house, I wouldn’t be able to adhere to an organic diet when dining out because I refuse to give up my favorite restaurants and desserts.

national cheesecake day

I don’t love cheesecake but I am pretty sure if you go in today for a half price slice and ask for Linda’s Fudge cake instead, they will honor it.

My son actually had the Peanut Butter Cup Cheesecake in the picture above the other night and I sampled around the cheesecake parts so it was really good.

Be sure to check out what everyone else is eating today!


Do you have organic shopping rules you stick to every week?

Are you guilty of going by price rather than organic vs. non-organic?

Will you be going to The Cheesecake Factory later for your half-price slice?






Forecast May Call For Baking


He told me he loved me.


Who knew making the little boy grilled cheese with some bacon on cinnamon raisin Ezekiel Bread was the key to his heart?

Now don’t get your panties in a bunch about me suddenly having bacon in the house.


It just so happens that I had an Applegate coupon to use and decided there was nothing wrong with keeping their Turkey Bacon in the freezer for the occasional breakfast treat for the boy. And just maybe, if I want to admit it, I break out the bacon so that he thinks I am cool.

In case you are looking for the key to my heart by the way, I am pretty simple; that key can be found in a slice of chocolate cake. Or a jar of Mighty Maple peanut butter.

The key to my house yesterday morning could be located somewhere inside one of the many pockets I had on me after bundling up to run in the 23 degree early morning air.


Clearly the thermometer is challenging me, but I am ready. As long as there is little to no wind, I will bundle on up to avoid that treadmill as often as possible.

As I ran, I laughed to myself from beneath my scarf watching all of my neighbors warming up their cars to leave for work.

Actually, I didn’t see my neighbors. What I witnessed was a series of empty cars being automatically started because no one was brave enough to come outside and sit in a cold car.

And there I was, running.

If you don’t run outdoors in winter, perhaps you think I am crazy but I swear to you, wearing all of these layers truly keeps you warm.


I was not the slightest bit cold, if anything, I may even have experienced feeling a tad hot.

So. Weekend time. Another opportunity for snow, ice, sleet and/or rain.

The weather isn’t supposed to get all icky on us until later on tomorrow morning which means my long run shouldn’t be affected.

I am sure the grocery stores will be packed today so the smart cookie that I am went to Trader Joe’s yesterday.


The best part was scoring a super large bag of the Organic Carrots of Many Colors. I am convinced this bag is much bigger than the last.


I get excited for things like this. Don’t you?

While I am hopeful that the weather mess doesn’t keep me stuck indoors, in the outside chance it does, I have been busy pinning a bunch of new recipes to try out.

What I love about  my pins on Pinterest is that most of them come from bloggers I follow, meaning we can trust that the recipes will come out as amazing as they look.

Like these soft and Chewy Oatmeal Coconut Chocolate Chip Cookies  and these Milk Chocolate Peanut Butter Truffle Brownies – I may have to make one or both of these over the weekend, snowed in or not.

And wait, I totally forgot to tell you that the little boy and I made Magic Cookie Bars last weekend because he needed to bake up a treat to bring with him somewhere.


Sometimes known as 7-Layer bars, my version came from reviewing a bunch of Magic Cookie Bars recipes over at the blog, Love From The Oven.

If you are wondering why you see a jar of Skippy in place of my favorite Peanut Butter & Co. Peanut Butters, it is because I keep the giant jar of Skippy Natural on hand for baking.

Only if you have the key to my heart do I share my Crunch Time or Mighty Maple. And even then you are pushing your luck.


Is it supposed to snow by you this weekend?

Have you tried out any new recipes worth sharing?





Value of the Dollar

I never made it to spin yesterday (as I assumed I wouldn’t) but I did have time for a quick visit with the elliptical machine followed by some strength training for my legs.

I am trying my best to work those strength training sessions in to my routine.

And I must have done a decent job on the lunges and squats because man,  I am feeling them today.

I could probably use a good massage.

I actually read yesterday that massage is critical to sports recovery and performance for loosening up tense muscles and increasing the blood flow.

I already knew this because any time I have had a good massage, my muscles absolutely feel looser, more relaxed and overall, fabulous.


It is a shame though that a good massage often costs a pretty penny.

 I think that all gym memberships should include sports massage in their monthly fees given how much we shell out as members.

I would probably have more money left each week to treat myself to such pamperings if I wasn’t spending it all on summer fruit.

IMG_4100 (2)

I couldn’t pass up the deal on the case of blueberries. $6.99 for all 6 containers.

Yes, I have blueberries coming out of my ears but have no fear, I will eat them all.

Or, maybe bake some form of a fruit crisp/pie this week. That sounds like a good idea.


Peach season makes me happy. It is the little things in life that put a smile on my face.

This peach was so sweet that I cannot wait to cut into another one today.

I am totally guilty of not buying the organic peaches even though I am well aware that peaches are at the top of the “Dirty Dozen” list.

IMG_4116 (2)

I redeemed myself though with the organic strawberries. They were on sale at Trader Joe’s this week. My only issue is that I am afraid they will go bad before I can finish them all so I have been trying to eat them quick.

IMG_4107 (2)

Does Pineapple Salsa count as a fruit? I bet for some people it does.

I bought this salsa for the first time this week, I normally purchase the Peach Salsa but went with the pineapple in an attempt to recreate the delicious flavor from my lunch last week at Laguna Grill.

It is good, but nowhere near as good as Laguna Grill. In fact, I would never even know this was pineapple flavored if I didn’t see the jar.


Speaking of jars, I bought another jar of these Hot & Sweet Cherry Peppers.

I love these peppers in my salads, WHEN I CAN ACTUALLY GET THE JAR TO OPEN.

Perhaps if I strength trained more, I would be strong enough to twist this silly cap opened. Until then, it just sits in my pantry.


IMG_4114 (2)

I had been winning the battle with the Mr. Softee Truck, especially after keeping this container of Triple Cookie Fudge Sundae (low-fat) ice cream in our freezer.


At least he is learning the value of the dollar.



How often do you get a massage?

Do you have a summer fruit habit like me?

Do you adhere to the Dirty Dozen list for deciding when to buy organic?

Do you try to limit your spending and choose one or two fruits each week to save money?

How do you open the jars that are impossible to open?

How Much Is Your Health Worth?

It was as if Ernie, the spin instructor at Lifetime, read my post yesterday.

It seemed as though he wanted to keep the 1980’s alive for me and played an amazing mix of music. As hard and intense as the class was, I couldn’t have been happier to increase the bike’s intensity along to the beat of Tiffany’s “I Think We’re Alone Now.” 


I used to think Tiffany was so cool. I bet she had a pair of velcro rainbow sneakers.

Anyway, I am a little annoyed at Mother Nature today. Clearly she didn’t get the memo that Spring has been revised (by me) to start March 1st. The last thing I am in the mood for is another snow storm.

The wind is already whipping outside. I have yet to decide if I will be braving the elements for a run before the snow starts falling or just visit my friend, treadmill.

Snow is so not part of my training plan.

Not to mention I don’t feel like dealing with the whole “stocking up for an impending storm.”

Yeah yeah yeah, I know it looks like I am always stocking up anyway.


My blueberry supply is dwindling. I guess I will have to hit the produce store to avoid the crazy “get ready for the blizzard with potato chips” type of lines once again.

Speaking of stocking up, it seems I have created a bit of a monster.


What’s wrong with a pile of lollipops? Well, my son pocketed these pops from the front desk at the barber shop. He said, “Mom, they are free. We like free.”

In addition to hoarding lollipops, the other night I caught him printing some interesting things off his computer:


Extreme couponing and lollipop hoarding at the age of 9. Perhaps we can have our own reality series.

If it is hard to see his choices, the highlights of his coupon selections are a full page of Glade products, blue box mac and cheese and Yoplait yogurts.

My thoughts:

The Glade concerns me. Does he feel our house smells? Is this a passive aggressive coupon choice? 

He was proud to show me the yogurt coupons. I didn’t tell him I no longer buy Yoplait.


Why don’t I buy them you ask? Well, you see, this is where I say food choices are not all about calories.

Just because it is “nonfat” yogurt and  “Only 90 calories!” doesn’t mean it is your best selection. One needs to look at ingredients. 


Where do I begin with this disaster of an ingredients list? Should I start with the aspartame, the preservatives or the Red #40 which has been banned in other countries?

No further questions your honor.

We all know my son is a huge fan of the Chobani bites but I don’t only buy greek yogurts. Stonyfield has a nice line of regular (organic) nonfat yogurts that my son enjoys as well. With no funky added ingredients.


I don’t always have a coupon though for these yogurts. Sure, I am able to seek out a deal every now and then but, even without a coupon or sale, I make the choice to buy them.

It is extremely hard for a deal-seeker like me to pass up the coupons for the Yoplait yogurts that are delivered to my doorstep just about every Sunday. 

But how much is your health worth to you? This is a question I think about often.

I would rather spend a little bit more on groceries that I know are made with a “cleaner ” list of ingredients than save a few dollars on less than stellar food choices.

I cannot buy all organic or shop at Whole Foods for all of my groceries. Nor can I control the milk used in Starbucks or Dunkin Donuts or the type of eggs and other ingredients restaurants cook with to make our meals.

But I can make choices and decisions regarding the food that comes into my house and I try my best to ensure a majority of it is of the highest and healthiest quality. Even if it means paying the price.


 I think these chips are the reason behind the boy’s couponing. He must assume he can butter me up with a coupon.

So far I have been lucky. He has not spotted a bag on any local store shelves.

I need to know:

How much is your health worth to you?

Do you buy what is on sale or are there certain products you buy regardless of the price?

Child Tested, Cookie ChRUNicle Approved – Cookies

Is there anything better than this?


Nothing quite like a fresh from the oven, homemade chocolate chip cookie. Especially when made by me..


Sometimes  I even surprise you with my signature recipe fudge brownie baked in the center of the cookie.

So really, is there anything better than this I ask? Well, ask my son.

As much as he loves my baking, and he really really does, it seems there is a cookie these days that rivals mine. In fact, he has said that this rival cookie is now his favorite. After he made this statement, he felt a little bit bad and then said that my cookies might possibly be his favorite too, like maybe a tie. Maybe a tie? Hmm.

What cookie is it you ask that seems to be better than my decadent, secret recipe chocolate chip cookies?


This brings a tear to my eye. And I am not sure if it is because a packaged cookie tastes as good if not better than mine, or because my child has selected an organic cookie made with minimal, Cookie ChRUNicle approved ingredients as his favorite cookie of choice.

He loves the Oatmeal Chocolate Chip but enjoys all of the flavor varieties. They come individually wrapped and today’s lunchbox will feature the Oatmeal Raisin cookie.



I am more than happy to give him these good-sized cookies. I get a little excited throwing one in his lunch box knowing that for 100 calories he is eating an organic cookie with ingredients I can pronounce.

Best part – it is pretty easy to find and print out a coupon for Country Choice Organic products! I normally have a $1.00 off coupon each week.

You can sign up to receive Country Choice Organic Newsletters by clicking here.

I always recommend signing up directly on brand websites for their offers and coupons. You know this.

I also tend to locate coupons for Country Choice Organic products on the various coupon websites I listed in this past Sunday’s post.

I think the fact that my son loves these Country Choice Organic cookies is evidence enough that if we as parents seek out healthier options, our kids will not only eat them but may even really like them!

Once again, it is up to us to provide the healthy options. 

Now, on to other things. Very important things.

I received a very special delivery yesterday from Pottery Barn.


My new kitchen table! I was quite excited when it finally arrived.

You know you are getting old when furniture excites you.

I am off to the gym shortly and may hang with my friend, treadmill. It is rather sad that running outside has become an afterthought. It has been so cold, windy and icy that I don’t even dream of going outside.

Hopefully it will warm up soon! I have a few races on my mind to register for including the More Magazine/Fitness Magazine Women’s Half Marathon in April.

Anyone else registered to run this half marathon?

What races are on your calendar?

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