• Nicole Groman

If You Don't Live Near a Trader Joe's, I Got You


Read on to make this entire dish with my favorite items from TJs - or nearly identical swaps from other common stores!

I’ve been really excited to write this post. If you follow me on @thehungryclementine, you know I love shopping at Trader Joe’s. I share my groceries often and meals and snacks weekly, and they usually all feature fun items that are so Trader Joe’s and that only they seem to carry.


But not everyone lives near a Trader Joe’s! And the more I posted meals featuring their products, the more I realized that the posts might not be relevant to a lot of my audience, or that a lot of people might feel left out. And that didn’t sit right with me!


So! I put together a list of my favorite TJs items that are seemingly uniquely TJs and found comparable items at other common retailers. So now, those of you who don't live near a Trader Joe’s or who do online grocery delivery (or, perhaps, just can’t deal with the insane lines at their stores...) can join in on the fun. The items I found are not only comparable in flavor, but most also line up in nutrition AND price point (!), which is big, because Trader Joe's is known for their friendly prices. For additional inspiration, I’ve linked some of the products to posts I’ve shared on Instagram. Happy browsing!!


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Cauliflower Gnocchi

Cauliflower has been having quite a moment for the last few years, but this definitely has the biggest cult following of all the cauliflower products out there (think cauliflower mash, riced cauliflower, pizza crust, etc.). At first I wasn't super into this gnocchi because as a non-diet RD with an "all foods fit" approach, I don't believe that carbohydrates need to be replaced with low-carb options or that we need to "trick ourselves" into thinking we're eating the real thing. But I finally tried it one day to see what all the fuss was about, and I was hooked. I love the flavor and the consistency, and it's a fun and easy way to include veggies in a meal, simply sauteed without additional seasoning or with tomato sauce (honestly you can find it in ton of posts on my feed because I love it).


There's a bit of a science to getting these babies crispy and delicious instead of gummy. I did a tutorial - you can see it here! I didn't specify this as strongly as I would have liked to in my tutorial, but the splash of water is really important. Using too much water is what makes them gummy.


The Swap: A friend texted me with a pic of cauli gnocchi from D2BDFoods that she found at Fairway, and that was the first I had seen outside of Trader Joe's! You can use their store locator to find where else to buy.


Frozen Arugula Pizza

Pizza is one of my favorite foods ever, so eventually I decided I wanted it on hand at all times. I like putting vegetables on my pizza to add heart-healthy fiber, which adds nutritional value and makes it more filling. This pizza from TJs has arugula and tomato on it already, and usually I top it further with fresh tomato and frozen broccoli.

The Swap: I found this Whole Foods arugula pizza on Amazon, and you can easily add fresh tomato to it, but honestly, any frozen pizza will do. Just add veggies on top or on the side, like cauli gnocchi or kale with tomato and broccoli for a super easy, balanced (DELICIOUS) meal.


Frozen Brown Rice

This isn't as unique as some of the other options on this list, but it's a favorite of mine and makes meals so easy, so it was only right to include it here. I love it because it takes 90 seconds (90 seconds!!) to heat up, and BOOM: your meal is now rich in fiber and whole grains, which means it's going to give you energy and keep you fuller longer. I love it paired with honey mustard salmon and kale, as "fried" rice, which is an easy and complete meal on its own, and thrown into salads.


The Swap: Because this is a pretty simple item, there are lots out there, like these from Whole Foods/Amazon, Birds Eye, and Uncle Ben's. The biggest thing for me about this product is the time (again, three minutes!). I like things to be super simple in the kitchen so this is a big plus for me.


"Carb Savvy" Whole Wheat Tortillas

While I'm not a huge fan of the name, these wraps have become a staple of mine. They're a go-to for me to eat with salads, because salads without starch just don't have as much lasting power (FYI, if you find salads to not fill you up, this could be one of the reasons why!). With 7 grams of fiber and 4 grams of protein per wrap, I also love making tuna wraps or having with peanut butter (and banana or chocolate chips) as a snack.


The Swap: I found two great options that are equally good sources of both fiber and protein, one from La Tortilla Factory, which you can get on Fresh Direct, and another from Mission - this one actually has 2 times as much fiber as the others! - available on Amazon (this is a pretty common brand that I'm sure you can find in stores, too).


Organic Toasted Sesame Dressing

I love this dressing. I tried it one day last year and never looked back. And let's be honest, it's not fun to use oil and vinegar ALL THE TIME, and this has become one of my new staples. I love having it on salads with salmon, tuna, or apple chicken sausage.


The Swap: While I haven't tried this version by Kewpie, their deep-roasted dressing looks very similar in appearance. I can't find it in less than a 3-pack on Amazon, but it's also available via the retailer. Panera makes an Asian sesame vinaigrette as well.


Sweet Apple Chicken Sausage

I get one of the chicken sausages every single time I go to the store now. They have about 5 different flavors, and the Sweet Apple and Sundried Tomato have become my fave, but the Sweet Apple is getting the shout-out because it was the OG for me. At 30 seconds in the microwave, it's such an easy protein for any meal. Serve with any starch and veggies of your choice, or put it in salads (this flavor is great with the Toasted Sesame Dressing). These are totally pork-free (some chicken sausage comes with pork casing), which I find helpful for those choosing chicken sausage because they don't eat pork. Pro tip: When it comes to choosing a processed meat or sausage, you want to look for nitrate- and nitrite-free versions like this one.


The Swap: I'm having a hard time finding versions as inexpensive as the TJs ones ($3.99), but this Deitz & Watson chicken sausage fits the bill otherwise, as does the Applegate version (I've actually heard awesome things about this one but haven't tried it yet - if you do let me know what you think!).


Smoked Gouda

Oh, how I love this cheese. It's creamy and smokey, which is everything, because I find that the smokiness actually makes quite a difference as compared to regular gouda. I typically have this as a snack with fruit or crackers (it's really good shaved onto tortilla chips), but sometimes I also grate it onto a salad for extra protein and a kick of flavor.


The Swap: The TJs version is $4.99 per pound, and at $9.99 per pound from Whole Foods and $7.99 from Fresh Direct there's obviously a price difference, but with the option of choosing how much you want (0.25 pounds, 0.5 pounds, etc.), you've got flexibility.


Kumato Brown Tomatoes

I've always loved grape and cherry tomatoes, but when I buy larger tomatoes, I find that they sit in my fridge unused. Kumato tomatoes, however, I finish almost every time because they have a more unique flavor that I love, so they've become my new staple. They're a bit sweeter than more traditional red tomatoes and, if I may use a term used to describe wine, more "full-bodied." I put them in salads constantly and on top of my frozen pizza like I mentioned above.


The Swap: Kumato tomatoes are available on Amazon Fresh and, in a mini size, at Whole Foods.


Everything but the Bagel (EBTB) Seasoning

This is another TJs item that developed a cult following. It's simple but pretty genius, and honestly so good. I use the EBTB seasoning on salmon, cauliflower gnocchi, eggs (SO GOOD), and of course, on an everything bagel, because I don't think there's a problem with every bite being entirely surrounded by everything bagel flavors.


The Swap: At $2.99 via Amazon/Whole Foods, this is the perfect alternative. I also just found a recipe for it on Food Network and it's actually comically easy to make.


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I can't wait to see what you put together with the products above. Tag me in on Insta @thehungryclementine and I'll share your posts to my story!


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