My Kids Tried 25+ Trader Joe’s Products — Here Are the Winners
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When I asked my daughters if they would be interested in testing some products from Trader Joe’s, the answer was a resounding yes. After a year of ordering groceries online, the idea of perusing shelves in-person — and picking up something other than the same-old — appealed to us quite a bit.
On the way, my daughters, ages 8 and 6, worked on a list of what to look for: snacks and desserts were at the very top, but we agreed that for research purposes, we should aim for a well-rounded selection that included good options for mains, as well. (I also did a little research ahead of time for some internet favorites that weren’t yet on my radar.)
While we didn’t sample every item that’s popular at Trader Joe’s, the shopping trip reminded me of a couple things. First of all: just like us grownups, my kids like variety. It’s so easy for me to just buy the same thing over and over again, but often by the second or third time around, they won’t be interested. Having a few new things to rotate through will help us eat more of our food, generally.
The other thing it reminded me of is that — particularly now that they’re in elementary school — my kids don’t only like typical “kid” foods. Finding mild versions of foods that I’m happy to eat, like pesto or salami, makes it easier to shop for the whole family. Plus, when they choose their own foods, they’re more likely to eat them, so bringing them to the store every once in a while is a good idea. As the pandemic eases, I’d like to make that more of a practice.
When we got home, my second-grader made a rating chart, and over the next few days, we wrote down our tasting notes.
Here are, in their opinion, the best Trader Joe’s products for kids:
My kindergartener loves blackberries, and I liked the size of the packaging: big enough to last a few days, not so big that the delicate berries would go bad before we could finish them. “These are yummy,” she told me. (I agreed.)
Pomegranates are a special treat in our house, and when we get them, we opt for the pre-seeded ones. These came in a divided container, with just the right amount to cut in half for each of my kids to eat in one sitting. “I like these because they are kind of sour,” said my kindergartener.
My kids have recently become obsessed with artichokes (or is it really the garlic butter?) and when they saw them at Trader Joe’s, they got very excited. Instead of the large, individual ones, I steered them toward the four-packs, which were smaller and a better value. My second-grader says, “Artichokes are my favorite vegetable.”
Everything but the Bagel Seasoned Smoked Salmon
My girls love smoked salmon and this did not disappoint. The seasoning wasn’t too strong for them, and they were happy to eat it straight, since we didn’t have any bagels or cream cheese handy. We also like it as a good morning protein option. “Nice and salty,” said my second-grader.
My kids don’t like standard white loaf bread, but they love a baguette. This one held up: crunchy on the outside and soft in the middle. For breakfast, they ate it in chunks, and toasted with peanut butter. My older one made herself a sub sandwich, and brought it in the car to snack on on the way to the playground. “I love this bread!” she said.
Cocoa Almond Spread
We eat a lot of hazelnut spread in our house, so we were interested in how this compared. My daughters ate it out of the jar. “I love it!” declared my younger one.
Lunch and Dinner
Miso Instant Ramen Soup
Ramen is a failsafe in our house, to the point where the girls each know how to make it themselves (with supervision, of course). While my older one did not like the miso flavor as much as her usual beef ramen, she ate every last noodle.
Trader Giotto’s Bambino Pepperoni Pizza
This four-pack of “tiny!” pizzas generated a lot of excitement. The small sizes are just right to put on a plate alongside some veggies or fruit for a more balanced meal, and a hungry kid could easily have two pizzas. This one lost a few marks because my kids couldn’t wait for the pizza to cool (“really cheesy and saucy but too hot” was my younger one’s comment), but they each gobbled them up in no time.
Sweet Italian Sausage and Four-Cheese Ravioli
My younger one looooves pasta, and this was a nice way to add some protein into her meal. She picked these out, and they didn’t disappoint: meaty, but not too spicy, and a half a packet was just right for her for lunch.
Vegan Kale Cashew and Basil Pesto
My kids are torn on “green sauce” — one likes it, the other doesn’t — but this version pleased both of them. It was fresh-tasting but not too sour or lemony, like many other store brands that we tried. The garlic and kale flavors weren’t too strong, either. We used it on our raviolis, but I also tried it as a dip, and mixed into some other leftovers.
Chicken Gyoza Potstickers
Dumplings of any sort are a crowd-pleaser in my family, whether we make them at home or order for delivery. I sort of botched the fry-and-steam process, but the kids didn’t care: these were gone in minutes. Both kids agree that they were as good as the delivery versions.
Columbus Reduced Sodium Italian Dry Salami
My older daughter loves cured meats, both for snacking and for sandwiches. She used these both ways, including making herself a “sub” with her baguette. “Not too spicy,” was the verdict. And I liked the reduced sodium component.
Everything but the Bagel Sesame Seasoning Blend
This spice blend is all the rage on the internet, so it seemed to be a must. The kids didn’t necessarily know they were eating this, but I spread it across a few things that they ate heartily: grilled salmon one night, baked asparagus another, sauteed peppers another time. For the kids, this wasn’t make-or-break, but for me, it was a nice alternative to my basic garlic-salt-pepper combo.
Roasted Seaweed Snack with Sea Salt
My kids love seaweed snacks, and these were crunchy, but not too salty. As a parent, I like them as a marginally more nutritious snack than some of the starch-based savory snacks. “Yup, they’re good,” said my older one, who rated them a 10 out of 10.
White Cheddar Corn Puffs
I would say these were the number-one kid favorite! I was worried that the large bag would be too much for us to eat, but instead, it was gone within 24 hours (they may have had it for breakfast one day — we were on spring break after all!). “I only got four,” my younger one lamented (though she probably had two bowls-full).
Grape-Mango Fruit Leather Buttons
I couldn’t interest my kids in the rectangular fruit leather, but they were VERY excited about these button versions — go figure. “Very grape-y and sticky,” my younger one said, which was a compliment. I like them for the portability factor.
These were a bit of a splurge, but when I busted them out at the playground, they were a huge hit. I appreciated that they were easy to throw into my bag and to share with friends. “I love these!” said my taste-testers and their friends.
Mint Chip Ice Cream
As a family, our favorite ice cream flavor is mint chocolate chip, and the Trader Joe’s version was just as delicious as any of our other favorites. (I might have had seconds one night.) The ice cream was creamy but not overly minty, and not a weird color, either.
Almond Flour Chocolate Chip Cookie Mix
One person in our family has a wheat intolerance, so we were interested in how these cookies stack up. They were a hit! Super-easy and quick to bake, and they came out soft and delicious. The kids were surprised (in a good way) when I told them they were gluten-free.
Gluten Free Joe-Joes
Phase two of the gluten-free treats test: Oreo-style cookies. “These are yummy,” said the younger one, pleased to have cookies twice in two days. They didn’t last long in our house, and nobody noticed they were gluten-free.
My coworkers used to keep these in the office and my kids were always excited to raid the snack drawer. I like that they are a sweet treat with just a little more nutrition per bite, and they are bigger than typical nut-based treats (and thus, more satisfying). “These are my favorite!” said my younger one.