Maya Wong

From stackable rice cakes to mini mango mochi, everyone’s favorite cult grocery store stocks tasty, often healthy foods that kids seriously crave

Jessica Mordo  – February 12, 2019 | Updated March 18, 2019

Like many parents I know, I do the bulk of my grocery shopping at Trader Joe’s, and my kids love accompanying me on my weekly trips. Maybe it’s the copious amount of snack foods on the shelves. Maybe it’s the super-friendly (and never creepy) staff, who smile a lot and actually engage the kids in conversation. Or maybe it’s the promise of a generous amount of stickers dispensed at checkout. Whatever the reason, my little ones always clamor to join me on the errand, and they’ve become quite the pros in navigating the aisles to locate their must-have foods. I’ve compiled a list of their favorites, from (yes, of course) snacks to meal staples to parent-approved treats.

For Hand-Held, Healthy Breakfasts: Multi Grain Toaster Waffles

Sneaky, sneakyin the way a parent loves. These whole-grain toaster waffles taste like the white flour version and feed kids quickly on those mornings you’re rushing through the routine.

For More Indulgent Mornings: Cinnamon Raisin Bread

When breakfast calls for something ever-so-slightly decadent, these thick-cut slices of raisin-studded, cinnamon-swirled bread do the trick. Want to totally win the morning? Use them to make French toast.

For Filling That Nut Butter Void: Sunflower Seed Butter

PB&J used to be a packed lunch staple, but now that nut butters are getting banned from schools far and wide, sunflower-seed butter is the alternative of choice. Not only have my kids never known differently, but also they favor the TJ’s version over the fancier Whole Foods stuff. Go figure.

For Veggie-Packed Lunches: Organic Lentil Vegetable Soup

When you’re in a lunchbox rut, putting a thermos of hearty soup into your rotation can be a great way to perk up a meal. My kids like a chunky-style soup; no purées will do. Of all the options TJ’s has to offer, the lentil soup is by far the most flavorfuland (bonus!) it’s chock full of veggies and fiber.

For Instant Gratification: Edamame Shelled Soy Beans

My kiddos love legumes, so it’s nice to have a vibrantly colored option to rotate into the mix. It’s rather handy that TJ’s sells these healthy soy beans shelled, fresh, and cooked—no defrosting or boiling required.

For a Quick Dinner Fix: Chicken Drumellas

We prefer home-cooked meals over ones from the freezer, but it’s helpful to have something of that sort on hand when you need a quick dinner in a pinch. These nugget-like entries are made of actual breast meat and don’t have that ultra-processed consistency, so we can feel better about serving them. The kids like ‘em, too.

For No-Mess Snacking: Organic Fruit Sauce Crushers

I practically have an entire pantry shelf dedicated to boxes of these applesauce pouches. I can’t tell you how many times they’ve come in clutch tucked into a lunchbox or toted around in my bag when we’re on the gothey’re light and virtually mess-free and get a serving of fruit (and sometimes veggies) into a kid’s diet. Mango-apple is the flavor of choice in my household, with carrot-apple and strawberry-apple close behind.

For a Fun Twist on Produce: Freeze-Dried Fruits

These packets of light and crispy freeze-dried fruits have long been a winner among all members of my household. TJ’s stocks at least half a dozen options, with honeycrisp apple, blueberry, and mango among the best.

For the Ultimate Dip: Smooth & Creamy Classic Hummus

We’ve been buying this hummus for years. The consistency is perfect. ‘Nuff said.

For Self-Serve Cheese: Cracker Cuts

My kids typically storm the TJ’s cheese section, and they have surprisingly sophisticated palates, often opting for the likes of Camembert, Petit Basque, and Roquefort. Sometimes, however, a good ol’ cheddar hits the spot, and these precut squares could not be more convenient to self-serve on a cracker. +1 for independent kids!

For a Family-Pleasing Snack: Cheddar Rocket Crackers

The other cheddar product we invariably have in our cart is TJ’s answer to Goldfish or Annie’s Cheddar Bunnies. For some absurd reason, we once had some amount of all three novelty-shaped cheddar snacks in our home and my husband and I did a blind taste-test, just for kicks (don’t judge). TJ’s Cheddar Rockets were the most flavorful by a mile.

For Stealth Vitamins: Veggie & Flax Seed Tortilla Chips

What my kids have cheerfully referred to as “rainbow chips,” these spinach/garlic-, carrot/tomato-, and beet/onions-infused enhancements to the classic corn version are great on their own or served with a side of TJ’s ranchero salsa or pico de gallo. Bonus points for the baked-in, omega 3-rich flax seeds, in addition to the sneaky serving of veggies.

For a Unique Version of a Classic: Pumpernickel Pretzel Sticks

What TJ’s doesn’t have in the way of traditional pretzels, they make up for in variety of pretzel-based snacks. My kids have long been partial to the Pumpernickel Pretzel sticks, which happen to be super tasty dipped in the aforementioned Smooth & Creamy Hummus.

For a Snack with an Improved Shape: Organic Thin Stackers

When your kids love rice cakes but the traditional large circle shape is too unwieldy to fit in a lunch container, this slim, cracker-like version is your savior. Serve with a layer of sunflower seed butter or jam for an extra hit of yum.

For Those Salty-and-Sweet Cravings: Rainbow’s End Trail Mix

It’s got two types of nuts, raisins, and rainbow-colored M&M-type candies, so it’s no surprise that kids are gonna request it. “It’s mostly healthy” is the justification I most commonly hear, and I can’t really argue with that.

For a Reasonable Amount of Ice Cream: Mango Mini Mochi

These mochi balls filled with mango ice cream come in the perfect bite-size portion.

For European-Style Decadence: Mini Stroopwafels

A stroopwafel is comprised of two thin waffle cookies with a layer of caramel in between, and the proper Dutch way to eat one is to rest it atop a cup of steaming coffee (or tea), which melts the caramel a bit, and it’s kind of my version of heaven. TJ’s miniature version doesn’t fit the stroopwafel/coffee tradition as well, but it surely satisfies a little one’s sweet tooth and comes at less than half the size of the original.

For a Healthy Treat: Gone Berry Crazy

Frozen, chocolate-dipped strawberries are a relatively healthy indulgence, so I rarely protest throwing this into our shopping cart. That might have something to do with mom and dad being fans of this treat, too. TJ’s also has a banana slice version called Gone Bananas, but that’s a bigger hit with the adults in our household.