Trader Joe’s is one of my favorite places to shop for gluten-free groceries. The prices are very reasonable & they are usually lower than any other store. Trader Joe’s started out as a small chain of convenience stores back in the 1950s and was called “Pronto Markets” at the time. In 1967, the founder, Trader Joe, changed the name to “Trader Joe’s”. The stores were made bigger and the crew donned Hawaiian shirts, a practice still going on today. Trader Joe’s buys direct from the suppliers when it is possible to offer the best price to customers. If a product does not do well in the store, it is moved out to make room for something else. A timeline of how things developed can be seen here. Have you ever wondered why you hear a bell ringing at Trader Joe’s? Instead of using an intercom system, the employees use the bell. If the bell rings once, the crew knows to open another register; twice means additional questions need to be answered at the checkout; three times means the manager is needed.
Trader Joe’s has a gluten-free list available on their website with all of the products they carry that are free of gluten. Incidentally, they also have lists for vegan, vegetarian, fat free, kosher & low sodium diets. Some of the products do vary by region and are noted on the list. For example, I can’t get the brown rice tortillas or the English muffins here in Ohio, much to my dismay.
Here are some of our favorite gluten-free specialty products from Trader Joe’s:
- Gluten-free Granola – This comes in 2 different flavors.
- Brown Rice Pasta – I have heard rumors that this is actually Tinkyada pasta, but have not been able to confirm it. The pasta is very good and is $1.99/package. You really can’t beat that price.
- Rice Macaroni & Cheese – This has been rumored to be Annie’s Rice Mac & Cheese. I am going to go with this for sure, as the first time I bought it, the cheese packet inside said “Annie’s” on it. This is $1.99, too.
- Gluten-free French Rolls – I use these all the time for tuna melts or for mini-pizzas. These must be toasted to be edible. You will be very disappointed if you try to eat them un-toasted, just like I was the first time I tried them. They resemble a hockey puck. I promise they are great when toasted, though.
- Gluten-free Gingersnaps – These are great cookies and taste close to my homemade ones. The bag is $2 and they work great for crumb pie crusts, too.
- Meringue Cookies – Excellent dessert to have on hand and low in calorie, too.
- Frozen Homestyle Pancakes – These are really good and great to keep around for busy mornings.
- Frozen Waffles - These cost less than Van’s or Nature’s Path Buckwheat at $1.99/box, and they have 8 in a box instead of 6.
- Brownie Mix - These brownies are excellent and are lower in price than some comparable tasting products, such as Pamela’s or Betty Crocker’s.
- Organic Brown Rice Marshmallow Treat – These are much like Rice Krispies Treats. Jon likes to take these in his packed lunch or in the car for a snack. Great flavor.
Here are some other things that I buy at Trader Joe’s because they have the best price:
- Blue Diamond Unsweetened Vanilla Almond Breeze – $1.99 all the time.
- Goat Cheese or Feta Cheese – The crumbled variety is always under $3.
- Wine – They have a great variety & low prices. Have you ever heard of “2 Buck Chuck”?
- Dried Fruit & Nuts – By far they have the best selection & prices in town. Love the apricots, raisins, figs, almonds, pecans, etc.
- Refried Beans – $.99/can – great price & no lard in the can.
- Light Coconut Milk – I use this in many recipes & they have the best price in town.
- Rice – There are many varieties & the price is always right. I really like the brown basmati & brown jasmine.
- Almond Butter – With as much almond butter as I eat, it is a good thing that it is only $4.99/jar at Trader Joe’s.
- Peanut Butter - TJ’s is just peanuts & salt and is $1.79/jar.
- Salad/Lettuce – We go through a lot of salad, so I always pick up more at Trader Joe’s. I particularly like the bagged arugula that they sell.
- Spices – These are really inexpensive compared to my regular grocery store. I check the selection every time I go.
There are obviously many more products, as can be seen be viewing the list of gluten-free products. A policy that I really like that Trader Joe’s offers is that if you buy something and are unhappy with it for any reason, just bring it back to the store for a refund or exchange. If you are ever curious about tasting something, just ask. An employee will do what they can to get you a sample to try. I love how friendly the crew is and I really feel that the customers are top priority with Trader Joe’s.