Trader Joe’s makes a trip to the supermarket an enjoyable experience. Even for the world’s worst grocery shopper: me. Find out here why we love this store and how to make the most of running errands.
True Confessions of a Trader Joe’s Shopper
Let me preface this by telling you that I am the World’s Worst Grocery Shopper. I’ve never been good at it, so it isn’t surprising that going grocery shopping with children along for the ride really isn’t my cup of tea either!
You may laugh at this revelation. How can someone be bad at grocery shopping? All you do is walk in with your shopping list, buy your food, check out, and leave. Easy, right?
Wrong. . . For starters, I usually forget a bunch of things that I intended to buy, but somehow didn’t put on my list before I left home. And if I have all three boys with me, it’s usually chaos. I tend to rush through everything! I’ve also managed to lock my keys in the car a few times, once in the pouring rain. And I even left my credit card behind with the cashier. Trust me, something always goes wrong.
I will tell you, that as much as I don’t like to grocery shop, I really do enjoy shopping at Trader Joe’s. Especially if I’m by myself. The staff is always so nice, and Trader Joe’s has a great assortment of organic food that my family loves, along with a bunch of favorite items that are always in our pantry.
And there is an upside to all this. It’s my husband. Remember how opposites attract? Well, he LOVES grocery shopping, especially when he has all the kids with him. He considers it a personal challenge, and actually enjoys himself! Imagine that.
Here are a few tips I’ve learned from him, and the reasons why we love Trader Joe’s so much.
1. The Good Vibes
The vibe in Trader Joe’s is always pretty happy. Their team members are cheerful, helpful, and very friendly.
I always enjoy chatting with them at the cash register about their new favorite item, or a tried and true meal they like to prepare for their family. They happily dish out seasonal stickers and lollipops as the kids hand over the food. I grew up helping my mom bag groceries whenever we went shopping, so I’m always helping the cashier out, and my older son will get in on the action. Reminding him to not put fruit on the bottom of the bags is a must. Be sure to check out the murals and paintings across the walls – they’re switched out seasonally and we get a chuckle out of seeing a chicken wearing a bikini or surfing!
2. It Gives the Kids a Job
First off, have the kids help. For your older children who are learning how to read or already know how – hand them the list so they can follow along and call out what is next on the list. It helps to know where everything in the store is, so you can put the items on the list in order. Our youngest is three years old, and he can help with putting things into the shopping cart as well. Give the kids a job, read the labels, talk about what their favorite foods are. Also, don’t forget to look for Shelby the turtle hidden around the store, it’s never too early in the day to enjoy a lollipop.
3. It’s Perfect Practice for the “No Thank You” Bite
The tasters might be the best part for the kids. It’s a chance for them to try something new – and remembering their manners by saying “no thank you” if it’s not something they like instead of shouting out “yuck” across the store. Usually, the team member has a stash of animal crackers behind the taster counter for the children who aren’t interested in the food that’s available. Always fun to see what beverage is on the counter along with a steaming cup of Joe.
4. It’s in a Great Neighborhood
Our beloved Trader Joe’s sits next to a Petsmart & a Five Below up in Hilltop of Virginia Beach. If it’s mom’s day to grocery shop, before we head into Trader Joe’s, we will wander the aisles of Petsmart checking out the recent arrivals of new fish, saying hi to the cats and watching the dogs chase each other in puppy daycare. This wastes a good amount of time – and it’s almost like a free trip to the Zoo. Walking through the doors of Five-Below is another story, and it doesn’t happen too often in our household. Unless one of the boys has saved up enough money from their “Daily Routine Charts“, and it warrants a walk-through.
5. Trader Joe’s Staples
The “no questions asked return policy” gives you no excuse to not try new things. You have nothing to lose.
- We love their Greek Yogurt, with Trader Joe’s chia seeds & frozen fruit on top. It’s been my go-to breakfast all summer.
- Scrambled eggs with cheddar cheese make an appearance in our house many mornings.
- Trader Joe’s apple sausage has been a favorite for years.
- Their frozen acai berry packets have zero grams of sugar and add a great dose of vitamins and flavor to your morning smoothie.
Snacks & Lunches
- Applesauce packets of assorted flavors
- Veggie sticks (if the kids had a chance they’d eat the entire bag in one sitting)
- Trader Joe’s Edamame is delicious – and cooks in 5 minutes
- The nuts and dried fruit selection is top-notch
- Organic Fruit Leathers are in every pocket of my diaper bag – perfect to pull out for a hungry child
- Turkey & Beef Jerky packets hang by the chips – and those make it into our cart every time
- Their plantain chips are delicious and always a treat for the kids.
- Roasted organic veggies – I’ve never met a vegetable that I didn’t want to roast. And my kids will eat anything and everything roasted – so it’s fun to see how colorful you can get.
- Organic meats – These are perfect for easy hamburgers or meatloaf dipped in organic ketchup.
- Frozen zucchini noodles- Take them directly from the freezer to the stovetop. With a little olive oil, sauteed onions, and some tomato sauce, you get the same satisfaction of eating pasta. It’s just a much more nutritious version.
- Cauliflower pizza crust– Another great way to sneak in veggies! With a little pizza sauce and some cheese, it’s a great pizza crust substitute.
Thank you Trader Joe’s for making my trips to the grocery store a bit more bearable (dare I say it’s fun?) – especially if I happen to be alone! And thank you to my husband who will accept the challenge of taking all the children with him – and will always come back with everything we need and then some.