The Ultimate Whole Food Plant Based Trader Joe’s Grocery List + How to Cook Spaghetti Squash (Instant Pot and Oven Directions)

February 2, 2019 / Lyndsey Hafer-Williams /

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Note: We are in no way affiliated with Trader Joe’s and we did not get paid in money or groceries to write this blog post 🙂

I simply adore Trader Joe’s! However, it’s on the complete other side of town from me, and I do have other store options, so I don’t go as often as I would like. But, oh boy, when I do get the chance, I enjoy the hell out of it!

Looking at Trader's Joe's store, which has a great selection of plant based options

It’s like a mini field trip and I’m always giddy with excitement and filled with glorious anticipation from the minute I spot the flowers at the entrance!

Trader Joe's plant based floral department

From the moment I walk in my head starts spinning, my heart begins pounding, and I’m befuddled with any thoughts as to what I should buy.

I’ve noticed that I’m not alone in my excitement over the plant based selection at Trader Joe’s, as there are always quite a few posts from folks in our private Facebook group inquiring about what to purchase.

Trader Joe's plant based wine produce

I have two Trader Joe’s weaknesses! Let me just be real for a minute and get that out of the way. I will always go for a couple of lovely bottles of wine from their delightful, and well priced, selection!

Trader Joe's plant based wine selection

And, of course, I have to have a few bars of my favorite dark chocolate!

Trader Joe's plant based chocolate bar

The rest of the prepared vegan junk food I can keep away from as I focus on whole plant foods, seasonings, spices, condiments, and other items that I must keep in my pantry for the CFDG Plant Fueled Meal Plans.

Make sure that if you live quite a distance from your Trader Joe’s that you pack a cooler with ice packs because (of course!) you’ll want to buy some fresh produce and a few refrigerated and frozen items as well.

Whether you want to buy everything in sight or you have no idea what to buy, we have you covered! Below is a list of the best and most affordable things to buy for your whole food plant based kitchen. This is the list that you should bring with you if you don’t live near a Trader Joe’s and want to stock up when you get the chance.

The Ultimate Whole Food Plant Based Trader Joe’s Grocery List

  • All canned beans (black, pinto, navy, garbanzo, etc…)
  • All raw, unseasoned and unsalted nuts (especially: cashews, almonds, walnuts, pecans, pistachios, peanuts, and pine nuts)
  • All raw, unseasoned and unsalted seeds (especially: pumpkin, sesame, chia, flax, sunflower, and hemp)
  • Apple cider vinegar
  • Artichoke hearts (in water, not oil)
  • Avocados (the kind with 6 little ones in a bag is a steal)
  • Baking powder (aluminum free)
  • Baking soda (aluminum free)
  • Balsamic vinegar
  • Brown rice vinegar
  • Cacao powder
  • Canned jackfruit (in water)
  • Canned pumpkin
  • Capers
  • Coconut aminos
  • Coconut milk
  • Coconut sugar
  • Date sugar
  • Diced tomatoes
  • Frozen fruit with no sugar or additives/preservatives
  • Hearts of palm
  • Hot sauce (oil and sugar free)
  • Maple syrup (100%)
  • Medjool Dates
  • Minced jarred garlic
  • Nut butters, no sugar, salt or oil (almond, peanut, sunflower)
  • Olives (in water, not oil)
  • Pure vanilla extract
  • Red wine vinegar
  • Regular and Dijon mustard
  • Roasted corn (frozen)
  • Sauerkraut (no vinegar)
  • Soba and udon noodles
  • Soy milk (the one with just two ingredients: organic soybeans and water)
  • Soy sauce (low sodium)
  • Sprouted bread
  • Sprouted corn tortillas (no oil)
  • Sprouted whole wheat tortillas (no oil, but has honey)
  • Sun-dried tomatoes (in water, not oil)
  • Tahini
  • Tempeh (organic)
  • Tofu (organic)
  • Tomato paste
  • Tomato Purée
  • Tomatoes, organic grape or cherry in a clamshell
  • Unsweetened jarred applesauce
  • Vegetable broth and stock (low or no sodium / no oil)
  • White rice vinegar
  • White wine vinegar
  • Whole wheat pasta, lentil pasta, black bean pasta, rice pasta

You can download the list by clicking here.

Each time you get the urge to go explore your Trader Joe’s, whether it’s close to home or in a neighboring larger town, you can go with confidence, list in hand.

Happy shopping, Dirties!

What are your fave plant based staples from Trader Joe’s? Tell us in the comments below!

Spaghetti Squash

Author: Molly Patrick

Ingredients

Instant Pot Ingredients

  • 1 medium-sized spaghetti squash (about 2 1/2 lb / 1.1 kg)
  • 1 cup water (235 ml)

Oven Ingredients

  • 1 spaghetti squash (about 2 1/2 lb / 1.1 kg)

Instructions

Instant Pot Directions

  • Cut the squash in half down the center, vertically (makes longer spaghetti-like strands) or horizontally (makes shorter strands). Use your hands or a spoon to scoop out and discard the seeds.   
  • Pour 1 cup of water into the inner pot of your Instant Pot (IP) and place the trivet on the bottom. Place the squash halves on the trivet however they fit. 
  • Lock the lid into place and make sure the nozzle is in the sealing position. Use the Manual (or Pressure Cooking) mode and set the timer for 9 minutes. When the timer goes off, carefully use the quick release method to release the pressure.
  • When all the pressure is out, open the lid and carefully remove the squash with a pair of tongs, or oven mitts, and transfer to a plate to cool. 
  • Once cool enough to handle (about 10 minutes), use a fork to rake the inside of the squash and place the spaghetti-like strands into a container. Make sure to scrape out all of the squash flesh from the skin, using a spoon at the end if necessary.
  • Allow to cool and then store in your fridge.  

Oven Directions

  • Preheat the oven to 375 °F (190 °C). Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat. 
  • Cut the squash in half down the center, vertically (makes longer spaghetti-like strands) or horizontally (makes shorter strands). Use your hands or a spoon to scoop out and discard the seeds.   
  • Place the squash halves, cut side down, onto the baking sheet and bake for 40-50 minutes, until the squash is tender. 
  • Carefully remove the sheet from the oven and, using tongs or oven mitts, transfer the squash to a plate to cool. 
  • Once cool enough to handle (about 10 minutes), use a fork to rake the inside of the squash and place the spaghetti-like strands in a container. Make sure to scrape out all of the squash flesh from the skin, using a spoon at the end if necessary. Discard the skin.
  • Allow to cool completely, then store in a sealed container in your fridge. 
The Ultimate Whole Food Plant Based Trader Joe’s Grocery List + How to Cook Spaghetti Squash
The Ultimate Whole Food Plant Based Trader Joe’s Grocery List + How to Cook Spaghetti Squash
The Ultimate Whole Food Plant Based Trader Joe’s Grocery List + How to Cook Spaghetti Squash

Wishing you a happy week. May it be filled with a cheery grocery store run.

Xo
Molly

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Written by ex-boozer, ex-smoker, Co-founder, and CEO, Molly Patrick. They will help you eat more plants while throwing perfection down the garbage disposal.

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42 Comments

  1. Brenda L Howell on February 2, 2019 at 10:27 am

    5 stars
    😍 I love my Trader Joe’s!
    And I completely agree with not all is good there, I did find this bread awhile back. And I love it! Gluten free brown rice multigrain bread. Has flax sesame pumpkin & sunflower seeds. Dairy free soy free.

    • Dena on February 3, 2019 at 7:25 am

      Oh about 20-25 yes ago I worked in catering in and around Beverly Hills. We always got complements on food especially the coffee. It came from Trader Joe’s!! I’ve been hooked on Joe’s ever since then, and I don’t even like coffee.!

      • Lyndsey Hafer Williams on February 4, 2019 at 1:32 pm

        Hi Dena! Yes, it is sooooo addicting! Xoxo

    • Lyndsey Hafer Williams on February 4, 2019 at 1:31 pm

      Hi Brenda! Yes, not everything is a good deal there, but I still love going! Xoxo

  2. Jana Allen on February 2, 2019 at 12:13 pm

    Frozen brown rice for “rice emergencies”.

    • Lyndsey Hafer Williams on February 4, 2019 at 1:33 pm

      Jana! Hahahahahaha! I have had plenty of those “emergencies” and TJs is a great place for treatment! Xoxo

  3. Mia B on February 2, 2019 at 12:29 pm

    There are a couple of things on your laist that I’ve not found in my TJs. Wonder if they’d order them for me?

    • Lyndsey Hafer Williams on February 4, 2019 at 1:35 pm

      Hi Mia! I live in Asheville, NC and my Trader Joe’s had a large variety of items. I would definitely see if those items could be special ordered for you. It never hurts to ask! Xoxo

  4. Ruth on February 2, 2019 at 2:07 pm

    5 stars
    I live in Winnipeg Canada, and we don’t have Trader Joe’s. (Or Whole Foods, or most of the other stores that you speak of in the USA). I have no idea if they’re in bigger cities, like Toronto.
    But I have a question about what makes Trader Joe’s so special?
    This grocery list looks like it would be great to have for any store because it is a very complete WFPB list. Why would I want to go to Trader Joe’s if I had the opportunity?
    Is it cheaper? Better selection of WFPB items? Fresher?
    Please enlighten me.
    Thank you!

    • MJ on February 2, 2019 at 2:53 pm

      Trader Joes “can” be cheaper. They are a cousin or sibling to Aldi, both owned ultimately by a German family and both capitalize on lower prices for house brand goods. So while there are things that are priced as they are everywhere else, in my TJ’s I find the peanut and almond butter, nuts, non-dairy and cow dairy of all kind, and other foods cheaper. Live fermented sauerkraut is a few dollars less than the name brand (in the same square container), almond and soy milk can be very price competitive, almond butter is a better deal. Chocolate can be a great deal. But not everything is and they also do a great business in “gourmet” or semi-healthy cookies, chips, fun foods (that aren’t totally healthy) so you have to watch out for those…. Their frozen haricot vert are wonderful (big bag of think crips haricots from France at a great price).

      • Lyndsey Hafer Williams on February 4, 2019 at 1:41 pm

        You hit the nail on the head, MJ! I have found that Trader Joe’s can be a great alternative, but not necessarily the best deal. Especially on spices. I do love Aldi! Xoxo

    • Ann on February 3, 2019 at 2:52 pm

      Oh my. I am so sorry you don’t have a Trader Joe’s. The atmosphere is so joyful and friendly. The prices are wonderful less expensive than most places. The flowers are so reasonably priced you can treat yourself all the time. They have cute little words and ideas by their fruit or vegetables silly sayings it’s so fun. Last year I discovered there pre-cooked corned beef there brand of Thousand Island dressing and Pumpernickel rye bread and I have the best Reuben I’ve ever had in my life so good. I always get my leeks there my fennel they’re the best prices ever. Best price for cranberry juice no sugar. Cherry cider mixed with sparkling water. Yum. Also the best sweet Italian chicken sausages. All their desserts are wonderful including crackers. Staff always joyful. When I lived in Illinois a year I drove an hour a few times to get to Trader Joe’s. Make it a mini vacation and travel to one. You won’t be disappointed. Blessings to you

      • Lyndsey Hafer Williams on February 4, 2019 at 1:43 pm

        Hi Ann! You just explained exactly why I love my Trader Joe’s. I love the flowers, the inspiration, the colors, and the fun vibe is just so friendly and upbeat! Xoxo

    • Lyndsey Hafer Williams on February 4, 2019 at 1:38 pm

      Hi Ruth! It’s hard to explain the appeal of Trader Joe’s. I find all the colors, and flowers, and variety of items offered so intoxicating. There’s a certain hipster vibe and energy that swirls around that store. I encourage you to just go and see it for yourself if you ever have the opportunity. Xoxo

    • Jennifer on August 23, 2020 at 9:19 am

      5 stars
      Here is my great TJ story. When mom was dx with Alzheimer’s, my sisters and I went to Asheville with her for a weekend, to capture memories and be together. Guy at TJ’s asked what the occasion was and I told him. He stopped and got a big bundle of flowers and gave them to Mom. So kind. I’ll never forget that.
      All of their employees give a personal touch of one kind or another.

  5. MJ on February 2, 2019 at 2:49 pm

    Ezekiel bread (we keep it in the freezer and eat it slowly).
    Almond butter
    High protein extra firm tofu
    Tempeh
    Yes x100 to the frozen fruit and veg (with nothing added). Great for smoothies or emergency meals.
    Frozen edamame!

    • Lyndsey Hafer Williams on February 4, 2019 at 1:44 pm

      Yes! Excellent additions – thank you! Xoxo

  6. Cisa on February 2, 2019 at 3:36 pm

    A TJ just opened up near me. I am more of a Sprouts girl, but, I must say, TJ’s vegan, fermented sauerkraut with Persian pickles is damn delicious! I literally stand in front of the fridge eating it with a spoon straight out of the jar. The thought is making my mouth water now!

    • Ann on February 3, 2019 at 2:55 pm

      Oh yes now that I’ve discovered that Persian sauerkraut with the little pickle the best ever I could almost eat a whole jar in one sitting. The other day I couldn’t find it in here they moved it over by Meats thank goodness it’s still there

      • Lyndsey Hafer Williams on February 4, 2019 at 1:46 pm

        I’ll definitely need to check out those pickles and sauerkraut! Xoxo

    • Lyndsey Hafer Williams on February 4, 2019 at 1:45 pm

      Oh Cisa! That sounds wonderful. I’ll have to keep those in mind for my next TJs run! Xoxo

  7. Michelle Christine on February 2, 2019 at 5:33 pm

    The broccoli slaw at TJ’s is my favorite! My daughter loves TJ’s red lentil pasta. I appreciate the wide selection of lettuces. I always stock up on raw nuts, 10 minute farro, and 10 minute barley, too. 🙂

    • Lyndsey Hafer Williams on February 4, 2019 at 1:47 pm

      Hi Michelle! I love the red lentil pasta, too! Xoxo

  8. Susan on February 2, 2019 at 7:16 pm

    Are you in Tucson now? I am! Gem Show!!! I’m finding vegan food in many places and WFPB as well.

    • Lyndsey Hafer Williams on February 4, 2019 at 1:49 pm

      Hi Susan! Molly and Luanne have returned back home to their beloved Hawaii. Xoxo

  9. Debbie on February 2, 2019 at 7:26 pm

    One of my favorites is their Pico de Gallo. Yes, I can make it myself but every time I go I end up buying a container, opening it and eating it as a snack! In addition to some items already mentioned I also like their Red Lentil Pasta, Super Seed and Ancient Grain Blend, Refried Pinto Beans Salsa Style, Umami Seasoning Blend, 21 Seasoning Salute, and Dark Sweet Cherries!

    • Lyndsey Hafer Williams on February 4, 2019 at 1:50 pm

      Hi Debbie! Great additions – thank you! Xoxo

  10. Lisa on February 3, 2019 at 5:50 am

    Their cauliflower gnocchi is terrific!

    • Lyndsey Hafer Williams on February 4, 2019 at 1:51 pm

      Oh, Lisa! That sounds yummy… xoxo

  11. Melissa on February 3, 2019 at 5:51 am

    In addition to your list, I love their everything but the bagel seasoning, cacao powder (it’s way cheaper than anywhere else I’ve seen it), flaxmeal (again, way cheaper), frozen grilled cauliflower, wheat lavash, nothing but fruit and nut bites, zesty kale chips (they’re oil-free), eggplant hummus (oil-free), and I just got their cashew based fiesta dip (also oil-free).

    • Lyndsey Hafer Williams on February 4, 2019 at 1:52 pm

      Great additions, Melissa! Thank you. Xoxo

  12. Danielle on February 3, 2019 at 1:04 pm

    I do 90% of my shopping at TJ’s. I love going there. They treat you like family and they even give out hugs at times. The only things I don’t buy there are paper products i.e. TP, paper towels and Kleenex. They carry the products I love and they are e as sy to deal with. If there was no TJ, I would not move there.

    • Lyndsey Hafer Williams on February 4, 2019 at 1:53 pm

      Hi Danielle! Yes, the energy and vibe in the store is so hard to beat. It just makes me happy to shop there! Xoxo

  13. Jenn on February 3, 2019 at 1:44 pm

    3 stars
    Yes yes yes to the TJ 21 Seasoning Salute! It’s salt-free and is a great “i don’t want to measure all those spices today” substitute.

    • Lyndsey Hafer Williams on February 4, 2019 at 1:54 pm

      Hahahahahaha! Right on, Jenn! Xoxo

  14. Nadean on February 3, 2019 at 2:41 pm

    We just got back from our local TJs. Before today I thought they might be more expensive, but we kept to whole foods and DANG, we got out with 4 tote boxes full of food for $184. Way cheaper and more variety than Safeway. What did we love – raw nuts; freeze dried fruit; bags of fresh small apples, avocados, purple potatoes, russet potatoes and tiny yams, small bag of sweet peppers (half the size of the bags at the other stores); butternut squash zig-zag ‘fries’ and lots of other items. It seems like they are better portioned for two people living together. Now to remember to eat all the bounty.

    • Lyndsey Hafer Williams on February 4, 2019 at 1:55 pm

      Hi Nadean! I agree that if you can ignore the junk food temptations, the WFPB items are definitely a great deal! Xoxo

  15. Ann on February 3, 2019 at 2:55 pm

    Oh yes now that I’ve discovered that Persian sauerkraut with the little pickle the best ever I could almost eat a whole jar in one sitting. The other day I couldn’t find it in here they moved it over by Meats thank goodness it’s still there

  16. sarma ilgenfritz on February 6, 2019 at 7:24 pm

    Although I’ve made great burgers from Meal Plans, the Trader Joe Indian Marsala veggie burgers are super delicious!

  17. Anne Landry on April 12, 2019 at 7:10 am

    Whyno vinegar in the sauerkraut?

    • Team Clean Food Dirty Girl on April 12, 2019 at 9:35 am

      Hi Anne, many products jarred with vinegar contain no natural products of fermentation – the primary reason fermented foods are considered beneficial. This article talks a bit about it. ~Karen

  18. JoAnn M Lakes on January 5, 2020 at 3:17 am

    5 stars
    TJ is like a great family. I also love their frozen baby Brussel sprouts, roasted corn (Mexican street corn salad, vegan and fat-free), garlic naan with no milk products, and the wine!!! there’s way more but they’ve been covered. Oh, don’t forget the frozen artichoke hearts, grat air fried.

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