LIFESTYLE

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What to Buy (and NOT to Buy) at Trader Joe’s

I took to Instagram Stories a few weeks ago and mentioned I’ve been thinking about doing this post…  And the response was overwhelming.  SO many of you wanted to see my list of best and worst products from Trader Joe’s.  I’m an avid TJ’s shopper, so this post was a fun one for me to put together.

What to Buy at Trader Joe's Angela Lanter Hello Gorgeous

I snapped an iPhone shot of my shopping cart the other day at Trader Joe’s so you could see what a regular trip looks like for me.  Obviously, I don’t buy all healthy groceries there, I also love my snacks and cookies, lol.

Trader Joe's Shopping Cart Angela Lanter Hello Gorgeous

Alright, let’s go {virtual} grocery shopping together!  I’m taking you through my favorite products department by department to keep this post as organized as possible.

What to Buy at Trader Joe’s:

Floral Department:  TJ’s is my go-to spot for flowers and not just during peony season…  Although, their peonies are the best!  They usually have a dozen roses in assorted colors for $6.99 at my local store and that price can’t be beat anywhere.  The price isn’t even the best reason to buy your flowers there, it’s how long they last.  I find that my roses last minimum 7 days, but sometimes even up to 14 days.  If you’d like to see a blog post about my flower buying tips and hacks for keeping them alive longer, leave a comment below and let me know.

What to Buy at Trader Joe's Angela Lanter Hello Gorgeous

Produce:  TJ’s is my favorite place to buy produce because A) the prices are great and B) the quality is great.  My favorite produce to buy there is: berries, spinach, cooked lentils, cauliflower and broccoli “rice” and bell peppers.  We also love their bagged brussel sprouts and pre-packaged fresh asparagus.

I prefer buying bananas at TJ’s because you can buy them individually.  This works best for us because we only really like to buy 2 or 3 at a time.  I’m looking at two bananas going bad on my counter as I type this, which is what I get for buying a bunch lol.

As for the cauliflower or broccoli “rice,” these have quickly become a favorite rice alternative in our house.  It’s a great low carb option that is super tasty. Per health.com, “Cauliflower has 25 calories per cup vs. 218 for a cup of cooked brown rice. (And, if you’re watching carbs, cauliflower has 5g per cup vs. 46g for a cup of brown rice.)”  That’s a great reason to make the switch over to cauliflower rice!  Here’s how I prepare it:

Warm olive oil in pan over medium heat and add in cauliflower/broccoli rice.  Season with sea salt, fresh cracked black pepper, garlic powder and a pinch (or two) of crushed red pepper.  Once cooked through, serve immediately.

What to Buy at Trader Joe's Angela Lanter Hello Gorgeous

Produce Pass:  Avocado prices tend to be higher than you’d expect.  Also, I’m not the biggest fan of their pre-made salads.

Bakery:  The only fresh bread I really love is their rosemary focaccia.  I haven’t bought this bread in a long time, but it warms so nicely and the flavor is amazing.

Deli/Refrigerated goods:  This is definitely my favorite store to buy cheese.  These are our favorites: Havarti with dill, organic pepper jack, shredded organic mozzarella cheese, Boursin, crumbled feta, goat cheese, and many more I can’t even think of right now.  I haven’t met a TJ cheese I didn’t love.  I did just see that they carry burrata and I don’t know how in the world I’ve missed that until now?

I swear by Trader Joe’s pizza sauce, but the kind in the refrigerated section near the cheeses, not the jarred.  It’s always fresh and lasts for weeks in your fridge.  It’s the perfect sauce: not too tangy and not too sweet.  We also love their whole wheat pizza dough in the bag.  You’ll find this right next to the refrigerated pizza sauce.  I have a special trick to making this dough…  I use a pizza stone that I heat up in the oven.  I toss the dough, put it on the stone, rub it with olive oil, sprinkle on Italian seasoning and bake for 10 minutes.  I take it out, rub the crust with olive oil again, then add topping and bake for an additional 10 minutes.  You get the perfect pizza every time using this method.

As you may know, the dips are right next to the cheeses in most TJ’s, but I typically pass on this section except for one item: Edamame Hummus.  Love this dip!  When I’m cutting back on soy, obviously I don’t buy it, but otherwise it’s super tasty and a fun twist on traditional hummus dips.

Matt loves their fresh hard-boiled peeled eggs just to have on hand for a quick protein boost.  I usually pick up my milk, eggs and yogurt at TJ’s too, the prices are lower than our local grocery store.

Meats:  I sometimes pick up organic chicken or lamb chops, but it’s not my sole purpose for my grocery trip.  I’d much rather make my meat purchases from our local butcher.  We’ve had two experiences where we got home and opened our fresh chicken only for it to be spoiled, so I purchase with caution.

Bakery Pass:  I’m not a fan of TJ’s English muffins, sliced breads, bagels or wraps.  They’re all just okay.  Whole Foods has the best English muffins in my opinion.  I’ve not tried all of their fresh baked sweets, but the ones I have tried have not been memorable.

Canned Foods/Rice/Pasta:  I buy all of my canned organic beans, tomatoes and stocks here.  I also purchase my almond milk and a lot of my baking products such as flour here.

I typically pass on the pasta and head straight for the rices.  My favorite rice products to buy are: 10 minute barley, 10 minute farro and Harvest Grains Blend.

Trader Joe's Shopping Cart Angela Lanter Hello Gorgeous

We have either Harvest Grains Blend, barley or farro at least once a week.  I love substituting barley or farro for rice in dishes such as taco bowls, for added nutritional value to the meal.

Another must buy in this aisle is their olive oil.  Our favorite is the Tunisian Unfiltered Extra Virgin Olive Oil.

What to Buy at Trader Joe's Angela Lanter Hello Gorgeous

Snacks (non-frozen):  My favorite food life topic is snacks.  There are so many I love at TJ’s!  Here are the Lanter House favorites:

  • Oven Baked Cheese Bites
  • Toasted Coconut Cookie Thins
  • Partially Popped Popcorn
  • Speculoos Cookies
  • Crispy Crunchy Chocolate Chip Cookies
  • Roasted Seaweed Snack
  • Honey Butter Potato Chips
  • Soft baked Snickerdoodles
  • Milk Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups (Dare I say… Maybe even better than Reese’s!)
  • Kettle Corn
  • Chocolate Chip Brownie & Oat Bars (Great source of fiber!  Can’t eat while pregnant.)
  • Chocolate Covered Peanut Butter Filled Pretzel Bites
  • Dark Chocolate Covered Almonds

Snack Pass:  Cereal.  I’ve yet to try a cereal that I love enough to buy a second time.  I’m also not a huge fan of their tortilla chips.

Frozen Foods:  My favorite thing to stock up on while shopping at TJ’s is their frozen foods.  I love this department because it has such an awesome variety and such unique products that you really won’t find at your local supermarket.

What to Buy at Trader Joe's Angela Lanter Hello Gorgeous

Here’s a list of my frozen food faves:

  • Turkey Meatballs (So easy to warm up and pair amazing with spaghetti squash.)
  • Creamy Spinach & Artichoke Dip (My blogger friend, Courtney, turned me onto this and I’ve eaten it twice this past week. Best dip, hands down.  Perfect for football season!)
  • Cauliflower Pizza Crust (Such a great los carb and healthy alternative for your pizza cravings!)
  • Organic Silver Dollar Pancakes
  • Tandoori Naan (Best naan ever!  Bakes in 2 minutes, no joke.)
  • Frozen Brown Rice/Quinoa
  • Turkey Burgers
  • Bambino Pizza Formaggio

What to Buy at Trader Joe's Angela Lanter Hello Gorgeous

Frozen Food Pass:  I have a few in this category…  Mini Cinnamon Sugar Churros (tried to love them, but couldn’t), 5 Cheese Greek Spiral (I’m Greek.  I know a good filo dish and this isn’t one), Fully Cooked Falafel (too dry), Cauliflower and Broccoli Veggie Patties (just not a fan), Spring Rolls and Waffles.  There are other frozen items that I’ve tried through the years that were a total waste for us, but they’re just escaping me right now.  I’ll try to update this post with items on my next trip to the store.

What to Buy at Trader Joe's Angela Lanter Hello Gorgeous

Drinks:  Basically the only water we drink anymore is the TJ’s Alkaline Water + Electrolytes.  We buy this water by the case.  We’re big alkaline water drinkers, so this is the best bang for our buck that we’ve found to date.

Now I want to hear from you!  Did I miss a must-have from Trader Joe’s?  What are your favorite items to buy?  Leave your product suggestions in the comments below.

150 150 Angela Lanter

Hello Bump: Baby Lanter Gender Reveal

Hello Bump Podcast Gender Reveal Episode he or she angela lanter hello gorgeous

The wait is OVER!  We’re finally revealing Baby Lanter’s gender today on Hello Bump Podcast.  Honestly, I’m just really proud of myself for keeping this secret as long as I have, lol.  I’ve slipped to so many people when talking in person, so I had to try REALLY hard to watch my words when talking on Insta-stories.

You can listen to the episode now on iTunes, Stitcher or just click below and listen directly from this post:

I have so much adorable baby stuff I can’t wait to show y’all!  Be sure to follow me on Instagram here and also Hello Bump Podcast on Instagram here, because I post videos and photos to our stories to show the new baby products as they come in.

While we’re on the topic of baby products, since a lot of you miss my Insta-stories (they expire in 24 hours) would it be something you would be interested in if I kept a page of my incoming products I talk about on Insta-stories here on my blog?  I talk about a lot of different beauty products, baby items, recipes, etc. on my Insta-stories and I’m wondering how many of you would like to see me figure out a way to include that info here on the blog?  That way it’s easily accessible after the story expires on Instagram.  If this is something you’d like to see me do, please leave a comment below and let me know.  I want to be sure that I’m making everything as easy as possible for my Gorgeous Girls.

I posted these photos last night to take a poll about what y’all thought I was having.  I personally love the gender guessing game based on the way the mama is carrying, so I thought I’d let my Gorgeous Girls in on the fun.

Hello Bump Podcast Gender Reveal Episode he or she angela lanter hello gorgeous

Hello Bump Podcast Gender Reveal Episode he or she angela lanter hello gorgeous

Shop the Look angela lanter hello gorgeous

 

I just wanted to say one more time, thank you again for joining us on this journey.  We’re having so much fun creating our weekly podcasts and sharing them with each of you.  If you’re also enjoying the podcast, please take a moment to rate and review us on iTunes, so we can continue to climb the charts. 😊

150 150 Angela Lanter

9 Laundry Hacks that Really Work

I’m a little OCD about my home (organization and cleanliness) and even more so about my laundry.  These past four months of transition as we’re still trying to get settled into our new home have drove me nuts!  I’m still trying to find new homes for everything, which is so outside of my personality.  I like order in my home.

On to the laundry…  I don’t let anyone touch my laundry.  I have very specific things I do to ensure my clothes are perfectly laundered.  Laundry day is on Mondays in my house.  The beds get stripped, the clothes get sorted, and I get to work.  As you can probably see, I’m a little intense about the topic, lol.

I’ve tested so many different laundry products and hacks that I know exactly what works and what doesn’t work for me.  In case you’re a woman after my own laundry-loving heart, I compiled a list of my favorite hacks to make your life a little easier.

Laundry Hacks that Really Work angela lanter hello gorgeous

1. Deep clean your towels.  Ever notice that your clean towels don’t smell so clean?  Or maybe your towels don’t seem to absorb like they used to after a shower?  The problem could be fabric softener build up, which leaves your towels stiffer, stinkier and less absorbent than usual.  Several years ago I found a hack on Pinterest that works like a charm.  Now, I try to wash a load of towels (all colors) with this method every month or two to keep our towels in tip-top shape.

Here’s how I do a towel detox:  Wash your towels on normal cycle with HOT water and add one cup of white vinegar.  I have a front-load HE washing machine, so my detergent tray can’t hold a full cup.  I add the vinegar directly to the drum.  Skip detergent and softener (trust me on this one).  After that cycle is complete, add 1/2 cup of baking soda (again, directly to drum) and run on normal cycle with HOT water.  Skip the detergent and softener again.  After the second cycle is complete, dry as normal.  The smell is gone and your towels are as soft as when you first bought them, pinky swear!

2. Keep your whites white.  If you have an all white bed like me, keeping your whites bright is essential.  When using bleach, I add all of my whites to my washer and add only bleach (to the bleach tray).  I skip detergent and softener when using bleach.  I find detergent and softener can interfere with the bleach doing it’s job.  I run the washer on the whites cycle in COLD water.  If you don’t have a white cycle on your washing machine, just run a normal cycle with cold water.  I then run a second cycle on normal with my usual detergent and softener to get out the bleach smell and add an extra rinse on to ensure that all traces of the bleach are gone.

Sometimes, bleaching can cause your whites to begin to yellow…  What a pain in the butt!  My mom suggested using white fabric dye when your whites do yellow, to bring them new life.  I haven’t tried this method, but she says it really works.

Laundry Hacks that Really Work angela lanter hello gorgeous

3. Skip the homemade laundry soap.  Cue the angry comments about this one…  Here’s the thing, I’ve personally tested homemade detergent recipes many times and it just doesn’t work for me.  Yes, you’ll save money by not buying detergent.  But the homemade soaps that I have DIY’ed just don’t work as well as store bought.  Sorry, but it’s the truth.  They don’t get out the tougher stains and they don’t leave your clothes smelling as fresh.  I found myself washing with my homemade soap, drying, seeing the stains didn’t come out, then having rewash and spot treat with a stain remover because my DIY soap just didn’t have the soap strength to handle it.  By the time I was wasting all the extra water to rewash what the DIY soap couldn’t get out the first time, I wasn’t doing the environment or my water bill any favors.

4. Read all. the. tags!  I spend so much of my laundry time reading individual clothing tags about how to wash and dry them.  Taking the time to do it right has saved me so much money because I avoid shrinking, destroying the shapes/materials and colors bleeding…  Therefore, I don’t have to replace the pieces that I damage from not washing them properly.  Score!

Laundry Hacks that Really Work angela lanter hello gorgeous

5. Use special detergent for your delicates.  I discovered Glamorous Wash a couple weeks ago when I ran out of my {discontinued} specialty laundry soap.  I posted about this detergent on Insta-Stories and was blown away by how many of you were raving about it.  Y’all never disappoint!  This soap is amazing.  I use it to wash a delicates load every couple of weeks, when I have enough for a full load.  I use it to wash my silk pillowcases, pregnancy pillow case, sleep masks, undies, bras and any delicate tops or PJs.  The scent lingers forever and I’m obsessed.  Every time I open my lingerie drawer it smells heavenly.  The scent is so strong (in the best way possible) that I can smell my bra through my clothes…  And I love it!  One Gorgeous Girl DM’ed me and said that she uses unscented Tide pods and Glamorous Wash together to get her clothes with tough stains clean but still smelling great.

PS- Always wash your delicates on the delicates cycle!

6. Use laundry bags.  This is a new discovery for me…  And I’m wondering what on earth I’ve been waiting for.  I have a small laundry bag that I use to wash my sock liners, shoelaces and other easily lost items.  It’s so nice not having that one random sock lying there for months because I washed them together in the first place!

Laundry Hacks that Really Work angela lanter hello gorgeous

Dress:  Goodnight Macaroon

7. Toss the iron, grab a steamer.  I’m probably going to go down in history as the world’s worst ironer.  I can’t iron to save my life.  It wouldn’t be a problem if I didn’t want things to be wrinkle-free…  But I do.  So steaming is the answer for the iron-challenged, like me!  I have been through many, and I do mean many, steamers.  They all seem to have something about them I don’t like…  Biggest problem of all is when they leak.  I finally found one that I love, this Conair Steamer.  Here are the reasons why this one stands out among the rest (that are now in my trash can): it heats up SUPER fast (40 seconds!), it stands up (no spills or steam on your wood floors), it doesn’t leak and it has a long cord.  All of those things combined make for a great steaming experience.  I used this bad boy on Sunday to steam all of my shirts and dresses during my great closet purge, and it is hands-down the best steamer I’ve used.

8. Spot Treat before washing.  If you wash some stains, you’ll only set them into the fabric, making them harder to remove.  Recently, Soka left a small stain behind on our ivory front room sofa and we were able to fully remove it with a clean microfiber cloth, hydrogen peroxide and some elbow grease.  If you need to know which products to remove what stains, this is a great cheat sheet.

9. Use your washing machine to bring new life to your sneakers.  I’m often tempted to just toss out my dirty sneakers rather than clean them because they look beyond help.  Wrong!  A run in the washing machine can do wonders to even the dirtiest of tennis shoes.  Here’s how I do it (nabbed these tips from Pinterest): Throw a couple of old towels in the washing machine.  I prefer to use towels that I don’t care are mixed with dirty shoes, so car washing or garage towels are perfect.  Remove your shoelaces and put them in your handy dandy small laundry bag.  I use Shout stain removal spray and spray the crap out of the fabric parts of my shoes.  I’m guessing any stain remover will do, but be sure to really soak the dirty fabrics to get them good and clean.  I throw my shoes and bag of shoe laces on top of the towels, then add 1-2 more towels on top.  I then add in my normal detergent as well as a scoop of Oxiclean to really knock out the stains and also clean the bottoms and interiors of the shoes.  I run my concoction on the delicate cycle.  After the cycle is complete, if there are any remaining stains on the fabric portions of the shoes, I douse them in stain remover again, and run a second cycle on delicates with Oxiclean.  I typically don’t wash my shoelaces twice unless they need it.  Honestly, I think you’ll be shocked at how clean your shoes will get!

PS- I often take my shoes to the shoe repairman up the street to clean my heels and replace the bottom of my heel.  It’s usually about $10 and my shoes stay in great condition.

I’m working on perfecting my master closet this week.  Leave a comment below if you would like me to do a post about my closet organization and/or a closet tour.  Also, please let me know if you like these types of home and cleaning posts.

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