One thing that Trader Joe’s is really good at is catering to kids. I have two of my own growing boys that are 8 and 9 years old (15 months apart!) and are very hungry all the time right now. We’ve tried lots of stuff at Trader Joe’s over the years, especially for the kids. I’m not going to include obvious things like milk, apples and bread since they vary from state to state and to be honest are pretty boring compared to this list! Also, as we all know Trader Joe’s makes all their foods without High Fructose Corn Syrup and whole ingredients. Most ingredient tables on the side of the box are easy to read so you know exactly what is going in your body! On to the list:
1. Pizza – What kid doesn’t love pizza, there is no doubt that this is one of the most popular products at Trader Joe’s. Not only do they have cheese pizza, but they have about 10 different types of pizza. They have several in the frozen section, then a few in the fridge section. They also carry fresh pizza dough that isn’t half bad! I really like the three cheese Organic pizza. The kids want me to throw a few pieces of pepperoni on top to dress it up a bit. As pizzas go these are OK, are all organic. The crust is a little too crunchy for me but the kids don’t seem to mind. Some of the pizzas in the fridge section aren’t too bad and the crust is a little chewier.
2. Chicken Drummettes. This is Trader Joe’s take on a chicken nugget. My kids eat pounds of these things and I feel pretty good about it. They are mostly chicken with little filler and the breading isn’t too thick. I mainly bake then in the oven, but sometimes heat them up on the stove top. I always keep a box or two handy for a quick meal that I know they will eat! Dip them in Ketchup or Soy Sauce or nothing at all, they are very tasty!
3. Applesauce Crushers – If you’ve not seen these before they come in a variety of flavors, but we mainly eat the Applesauce ones. I use these mainly for the lunch box, but they are a good snack anytime if a little expensive. The reason I like them is that they are a lot less messy than the plastic sauce cups that most applesauce comes in for kids. I know there is a lot of packaging here, but have you had to clean out applesauce out of a lunch box? These also come in apple/banana and apple/carrot if just plain apple wasn’t good enough for you!
4. Juice boxes – My kids prefer apple juice, but there are a myriad of juice boxes at Trader Joe’s from apple to grape. They have white grape and red grape and so on and on. They have organic and non organic. My kids love juice and if I let them, they would drink these all day!
5. Fruit Bars – Where to start on the bars. Trader Joe’s has gone from having a few bars 10 years ago, to a whole section dedicated to bars. My kids favorite right now is the This Blueberry Walks Into a Bar fruit bar. These fruit bars are all organic. They have outer cereal covering and blueberry jam in the middle. They are great to throw in the lunch box too. They come in several different flavors like Strawberry and Fig (my favorite). But that is just the start of the bar crazy Trader Joe’s. They carry a array of protein bars and of those my favorite for kids are the Z-bars (not a Trader Joe’s product) and we eat a ton of those too.
6. Cheese Sticks – I have two sons, as I mentioned above, one eats a ton of cheese and drinks milk every day. The other one is cheese adverse and hates milk. The only time he eats cheese is on pizza! It’s probably a good thing since we’d go through a bag of cheese sticks a day! The Trader Joe’s Mild Cheddar Cheese sticks are the current favorite with my younger son. I really like these because they really taste like real good cheddar cheese! Trader Joe’s has a wide variety of cheese sticks if cheddar isn’t your kids thing, they have mozzarella and white cheddar and jeez you name it. I think I counted about 15 different cheese sticks last time I was in the store. If you can’t find cheese in stick form that you like then go over the regular cheese section!
7. Chips – Trader Joe’s has a ton of chips from potato to lentil to bean to you name it! If it’s made of starch, Trader Joe’s will try and make a chip out of it! My kids favorite chip right now is the Trader Joe’s Organic Corn Chip Dippers. My one son eats them by the bowl with salsa. They both love them and I like that they are organic corn. These are an obvious Fritos knockoff. They are a little larger than Fritos and they don’t seem to have as much oil in them and less salt. I really don’t feel bad letting the kids eat these for a snack or take to school lunch. Also, they are gluten free if that is your thing!
8. Mini Tacos – Not sure if these were meant as a kid friendly product or not, but my kids love these things. They are basically ground up chicken stuffed in a little taco. It’s up to you to dress them up taco stuff, but my kids eat them plain and I make vegetables separately. Super simple to make, just pop them in the oven for 10 minutes or so until they are heated through. They also come in beef!
9. Trader Joe’s O’s Cereal – This is a complete Cheerios knock off, and Trader Joe’s has done such a good job of replicating Cheerios now there is no reason to go to the big box grocery store to buy them! As a good I would go through boxes of Cheerios and we didn’t have Trader Joe’s back then. I’m sure my mother would’ve shopped Trader Joe’s when we were growing up if they had them in my area (She lives in Arizona now and shops there every week!). My kids eat pounds of this cereal for breakfast and what could be simpler than this a bowl of milk and some Joe’s O’s!
10. Trader Joe’s Peanut Butter – When I was growing up it was Jif and Skippy peanut butter and that was it. Now when I walk through the grocery store the peanut butter section takes up half the aisle! Trader Joe’s is obviously echoing that expansion in Peanut Butter choices with several different ones. My older son eats Peanut Butter and Jelly sandwiches every day for lunch since 1st grade. He likes a routine and it’s the same thing every day. I was the same way, I ate peanut butter and jelly for 10 years straight until I got to high school and it wasn’t cool to bring a lunch but that’s another story! Trader Joe’s has a wide variety of peanut butter. They have crunchy, chunky, organic, mixed with flaxseeds you name it! The one I am feeding my son now is the Valencia Creamy Salted Peanut Butter with Sea Salt. He doesn’t know how good he has it!
11. Trader Joe’s Yogurt Squishers – Did I say 10 things? Darn, I just couldn’t fit this list into 10 items! I kept coming up with more things the kids loved and wanted to include in this list. This is an essential for anyone that has kids and they will eat yogurt. These yogurt in a tube thing started showing up a couple of years ago in the mainstream grocery stores and my kids loved them but of course they were loaded with sugar and fake fruit. Trader Joe’s Squishers seem to be just yogurt and some fruit flavoring as best I can tell and they actually taste like yogurt. My younger son eats these like crazy and they are great to pack in their lunch box.
Bonus items! Trader Joe’s does two things that fun for kids that are not food related.
Stickers – Trader Joe’s is notorious for giving away little round stickers to kids when they are waiting in line. You can tell the parents that shop at Trader Joe’s by the number of Trader Joe’s stickers stuck to the inside of their car windows! The stickers change seasonally and they change from year to year. Always something different!
Finding the animal – At our store it’s finding Freddy the Frog. Every store is a little different.When the kids are really small it’s a fun game to find the stuffed animal somewhere in the store. When they do, they go to the kitchen area and tell the person manning the station there and they kids get a free lollipop or something. Someone in the store moves the stuffed animal every day so it’s always somewhere different to keep the kids engaged.