I absolutely love grocery shopping (I know I’m a bit crazy)!
Stores like Trader Joe’s makes grocery shopping fun though. They carry high quality products and no matter where you go in the country, the prices are the same. I like to think of Trader Joe’s as the little cousin to Whole Foods. They carry the same family of healthy foods and TJ is still pretty cool. I personally prefer Trader Joe’s over Whole Foods because I know that 90% of the time, the price is better. You know me and my brand are all about saving all the pennies we can!
Below you’ll find a lot of information regarding a few products I recently bought. If you’d prefer a cliff notes version, watch my YouTube video. Please subscribe to my channel, it would make my day!
Here's What I Bought at Trader Joe's
Green Goddess Dressing
Ingredients: water, avocado, apple cider vinegar, green onions, lemon juice, chives, parsley, olive oil blend, yellow onion, basil, garlic, sea salt, black pepper
Honest Review: this is by far the best salad dressing I have ever purchased. An 11 oz. bottle will cost you $3.99 which is truly unbeatable. Primal Kitchen also sells a green goddess salad dressing which can be found at Whole Foods. An 8oz. bottle will cost you about $6.99 though. The price per ounce of the Trader Joe’s brand is only $0.36 vs. Primal Kitchen which is $0.87. Not only does the Primal Kitchen brand sell for 2.5x more but it also contains eggs. I have used the dressing as a marinade in the past and also love spreading it on a wrap. The consistency of the dressing is thick enough where you could use it as a dip too.
Overall, I would rate Trader Joe’s Green Goddess Dressing a 10/10 for both taste and quality of ingredients.
Quinoa and Black Bean Tortilla Chips
Ingredients: stone ground white corn, sunflower oil/expeller pressed corn oil, red quinoa, black beans, garlic powder, onion powder, sea salt, water, trace of lime
Honest Review: I honestly can’t stop munching on these. They taste so darn good especially paired with my homemade guac or fiesta dip which I’ve rated below. For tortilla chips, I am happy with this product. Most tortilla chips use canola, vegetable, or corn oil in the creation of the product. Unfortunately, those oils are highly processed. When shopping for tortilla chips you want to look for 2 things: whole grains and expeller pressed oil. The whole grains will provide increased fiber which is great for digestion and staying full. You want oils that are not refined and are less processed. The word expeller pressed is a fancy way of producing oil and therefore is much healthier. This 12oz. bag only cost me $2.99. Comparatively, Tostitos sells a 6.25 oz bag for $3.12. Keep in mind that not only is Tostitos almost double the cost but it does not contain whole grains or expeller pressed oils. Let’s just say their marketing team knows what they’re doing. Regardless, I wouldn’t be snacking on chips every day but I do enjoy a crunchy snack and when I do, I want high quality ingredients.
Overall, I would rate Trader Joe’s chips a 10/10 for both taste and a 7/10 for quality.
Cashew Fiesta Dip
Ingredients: water, organic cashews, organic potatoes, organic carrots, organic onions, organic chili peppers, organic, tomato paste, sea salt, organic distilled vinegar, organic, garlic powder, natural flavors, organic jalapeno
Honest Review: I am in absolute heaven with this dip. A friend recently asked what it tastes like and I’ll be honest it’s pretty damn close to real queso. It’s less sharp than normal queso/cheese, not too salty, and definitely has a bit of a nutty flavor. A 9 oz. container of this at TJ’s will cost you $3.49. Compared to a non-vegan queso, I’ll admit it is pricy but it is well worth the cost if you are craving a savory dip. That being said, it is the most affordable non-cheese cheese dip that I could find. Target also sells an 8 oz. vegan dip at $4.99. Similarly, Whole Foods sells their 10.8 oz spicy blanco cashew dip for $5.99. My guess as to why TJ is able to offer their dip at such a reduced cost is that they added natural flavors to their dip. Unfortunately, there is nothing natural about natural flavoring.
A Note About Natural Flavors: This is added to products for several reasons: to lower the cost, to attempt to bring back flavors lost through production, or to substitute for ingredients instead of using wholesome ingredients. Natural flavors are not naturally derived, they are made in a lab. They are more expensive to source than artificial flavors and tend to be better received by consumers. Occasionally, people with very sensitive stomachs will react poorly to natural flavoring so be cautious and always read the ingredient label.
Overall, I would rate TJ vegan dip a 9/10 for taste and 7/10 for quality of ingredients.
Miyoko Cream Cheese
Ingredients: organic cashews, filtered water, organic coconut cream, sea salt, organic seaweed, vegetable juice for color, spices, cultures.
Honest Review: This is not a Trader Joe’s brand but I did purchase it during this grocery store trip and stand by their product so I wanted to mention it here. This brand contains sustainable, clean ingredients with a perfect cream cheese texture. They mimic lox by using seaweed. Unfortunately, I can tell it’s seaweed and don’t love that flavor but I am totally in favor of this brand. I will be trying more of their flavors for sure! The high quality ingredients come at a steep cost of $5.49 per container. I want to let it be known that everywhere else including Whole Foods and Miyoko themselves sell this product for $5.99. Somehow Trader Joe’s wins again!!
Overall, I would rate this cream cheese a 6/10 for taste and 10/10 for quality of ingredients.
Ube Mochi Pancake Mix
Ingredients: sweet rice flour, sugar, tapioca starch, ube puree, baking powder, salt, natural flavors, vegetable juice for color
Honest Review: I have to admit, I got sucked into this one. I was in the baking asile of Trader Joe’s to specifically look for a high protein pancake mix that could be made vegan. Somehow I came home with these. If you haven’t seen ube mochi everywhere, you might be living under a rock. Oh wait, it’s quarantine season, we’re all living under a rock. Anyways, I fell into a marketing trap with this one. I saw the purple, it caught my eye, and it ended up in my cart. I want you all to know I do not support 90% of the ingredients in the list above. The fact that sugar is the second ingredient is a major red flag. In 2 pancakes, there are 13g of sugar alone. Naturally, because I bought them, I had to make them. It was an epic fail guys (that’s what I get for being naughty with this purchase). As I’m writing this, I am currently on week 2 of my 4-week plant based challenge. I attempted TWICE to make these pancakes vegan and what I ended up with was a beautiful photo for instagram but a horribly undercooked, soggy pancake (sounds appetizing, right). The pancakes smelled great, filling the house with vanilla, sweet scents, but did not measure up to the hype. I’m sure if I prepared the pancakes according to the box directions adding eggs and oil, they would have been excellent. It’s a blessing in disguise that they came out awful. I learned once again, not to be fooled by trends and marketing.
Overall, I would rate TJ Ube Mochi Pancake mix a 3/10 for both taste and quality of ingredients.
Trader Joe's Review Summary
I know that was a lot of information for just a few products but the goal of this is to demonstrate how important ingredients labels are. I admit I forget to read them occasionally and come home with something “unhealthy” but in general, it’s a good habit to establish. Ingredient labels can tell you a lot about the food. Once quarantine is over, I will do many more in depth reviews of prices at different grocery stores and will compare and contrast products. If there is anything else you would like to see, let me know below! Don’t forget to follow us on Instagram and subscribe to our YouTube!