I remember years ago when I was a Junior in college, a Trader Joe’s was installed just a mile down the street from me in Salt Lake City. I asked a friend what all the fuss was about. He vaguely responded by telling me that they have some “pretty cool stuff” and that he bought frozen meals from there a lot when he was doing summer sales the year before. Riveting.
Okay but in all reality I’m thankful that I let my curiosity get the best of me. It only took a trip or two for me to realize that I absolutely LOVE TRADER JOE’S. The produce is fresh and flavorful, the snacks are creative and tasty, the customer service unparalleled, and I also love the concept of a small, simplistic market that focuses on quality rather than quantity. With the exception of a couple higher ticket items, Trader Joe’s has lower price points with higher quality, plus some of my favorite novelty items you truly can’t find anywhere else!
I’ve put this list together for three different shoppers:
1) Those who have yet to step foot in a Trader Joe’s.
2) Those who shop there periodically.
3) Avid TJ shoppers. Because we all need TJ inspo once in a while.
A couple things to note. Firstly, I’m definitely no fan of freezer foods, *however* if there’s any place I’ll buy a frozen meal, it’s at Trader Joe’s. So while a lot of your Trader Joe’s lists are predominantly filled with frozen specialty items, mine only has a few. Secondly, I’m less inclined to buy meat and poultry from Trader Joe’s. It’s one of the few items that I’ve found are more expensive and not as comparable to what I’d find at my local grocer (freshly sliced deli meat, imported fish, etc etc). Anywho. Do you have a favorite Trader Joe’s item that isn’t on this list?? Leave me a comment below! And as always, thanks for stopping by!
- Cinnamon Graham’s: a great dressed up version of this classic American cookie. You will die over the cinnamony sugary finish.
- All butter shortbread cookies: I grew up in a shortbread loving family so this cookie is an automatic W for me. The chocolate and jelly filled shortbreads are equally delicious.
- Cookie thins toasted coconut cookies: my favorite road trip cookie. They’re thin, crunchy, and not so guilt inducing once you’ve realized you just pounded an entire roll.
- Cookie butter sandwich cookies: these buttery cookies filled with one of Trader Joe’s biggest hits won’t last a day in your pantry.
- Butter waffle cookies: just an all-around classic cookie. My favorite with a heaping scoop of cookie butter (keep reading).
- Dark chocolate covered peppermint Joe Joe’s: only available at Christmas time and more calories than you want to know, these cookies are some of my favorite ever! The thick layers of chocolate and peppermint are next level.
- Way more chocolate chips cookies: think chips ahoy without all the yucky preservatives and ugly packaging. These inhalable (I think I just made up that word) cookies are perfect for sack lunches or and after school snack.
- Triple ginger snaps: because this is the cookie that every ginger lover needs. I used these to make a ginger cookie crust for a homemade cheesecake and it was a surefire home run TSTL.
- Chocolate covered sea salt butterscotch caramels: quite literally these caramels are addicting. Something about the shiny coating + sea salt finish + buttery flavor is quite irresistible. You have been warned.
- Powerberries: real fruit juice from pieces made with acai, pomegranate, cranberry, and blueberry juices dipped in smooth dark chocolate. Heck yes.
- Dark chocolate almonds: my favorite “I’m eating something semi-healthy” dessert. These dark chocolate covered almonds sprinkled with sea salt and turbinado sugar will change your life.
- Milk Chocolate Peanut butter cups: or what I like to refer to as “adult” peanut butter cups. Think better chocolate and thicker peanut butter. I love these suckers frozen.
- Strawberry Licorice: if you’re anything like me there is nothing better than good, soft licorice. Take a box of the strawberry flavor with you next time you’re reading a book or writing.
- Cocoa Truffles: introduced to me by my sister, these chocolate balls of decadence are a chocolate lovers dream to the max. They’re rich, delicate, and a little goes a long way.
- Fleur de sel caramels: great for eating as is or incorporating into a recipe. I’ve used these on the viral “carmelitas” recipe found on Pinterest and thought that they were the perfect touch.
- Cowboy Bark: dark chocolate with toffee, pretzels, Joe Joe cookies, peanuts, almonds, and a sprinkling of salt. Great snacking food and awesome combination of sweet and salty.
- Mango! Mango!: my favorite fruit & yogurt gummies from Trader Joe’s. My little brother swears by these and I buy him some nearly every time I’m there. #sisterpoints
- S’mashing S’mores: because there is no greater combination than mallow + chocolate and a graham cracker. These are delicious as is or heated up over a campfire!
- Tuscan cantaloupe: I purchased one of these after a couple of TJ’s employees recommended them. They’re similar to a cantaloupe except sweeter with the same amount of fruit (less seeds).
- Hass avocado: if I’m making a large portion of guacamole or need avocado for anything Trader Joe’s is always my first stop. Their California grown avocados are ripe, but not too ripe; firm, but not too firm.
- Sweet strawberries (or any berry for that matter): back to the fresh factor. Always the freshest, sweetest, and most reasonably priced berries in all the land. I love to eat them whole or with granola and yogurt for breakfast.
- Peaches and nectarines: I can’t count how many times I’ve returned home with more than a dozen of Trader Joe’s peaches or nectarines this summer only to polish them off just a couple of days later (there are two of us). Be sure to smell and gently palpate each variety for the ripest one.
- Spinach and kale: so incredibly inexpensive compared to other commercial or local grocers. I love throwing these ready to eat greens in my salads and smoothies.
- Asian Vegetable Stir Fry: my absolute favorite “easy” vegetable side for chicken teriyaki. I toss the ready to go veggies with a little bit of oil and serve with a side of teriyaki sauce.
- Brussels sprouts: again, they’re fresh, delicious, and ready to go. They come in a microwavable bag, but my favorite way to eat them is tossed in olive oil with salt and pepper, then baked for 30-45 minutes at 400 degrees.
- Thomcord Seedless Grapes: such a delicious and beautiful grape that you can’t get anywhere else! Sold typically toward the end of the summer. I decorated a homemade charcuterie board with these recently and they were the perfect touch.
- Mini heirloom tomatoes: I purchase these nearly every time I make a stop at Trader Joe’s. They’re colorful, full of delicious heirloom flavors, and the perfect addition to bruschetta, caprese, or simply served alone.
- Grapefruit: because I’m 100% on a grapefruit kick and these are bigger and juicier than any I can find at a neighborhood grocer. Sometimes I drizzle a little of TJ’s Turkish Honey on top for a subtle sweet touch.
- Lemons: I love the fact that not only are these lemons juicy and fresh, but there are over half a dozen sold in one package for less than two dollars.
- Persian cucumbers: they’re smaller, sweeter, and an adorable addition to veggie platters, salmon sliders, and Mediterranean dishes.
- Tomatoes and basil hummus: our favorite Trader Joe’s hummus and perfect with a bag of veggie sticks.
BAKING & BREAD
- Semi sweet chocolate chunks: my go-to chocolate for chocolate chip cookies. A great change up from the traditional drop shaped chocolate chips (still love you, Nestlè).
- Organic unsweetened flake coconut: because Trader Joe’s is all about the coconut. I love using these coconut flakes in homemade granola and baked goods including banana bread, cookies, and cake.
- Turbinado raw cane sugar: my favorite ingredient to incorporate into cookie dough (especially this recipe) or on top of sweet breads to add that sugary crunch that everyone loves.
- Artisan bread: delicious artisan bread that’s ready to go and perfect for all of your sandwich, crostini, or carb loving needs. My current favorite is the olive demi ciabatta baguette.
- Sourdough bread: It’s light, fluffy, and has that perfect sourdough “punch” that makes the perfect slice. I also love that there are about 5 ingredients in this bread instead of 27.
- Cheddar cheese with Caramelized onion: my 100% favorite cheese from Trader Joe’s. It’s a savory block of cheddar threaded with caramelized onion. You haven’t lived if you haven’t tried this.
- Burrata: because burrata is the fresh mozzarella’s creamy, rich, and delicate big sister.
- Cotswold with onion and chive: my husband’s favorite (and one of my favorites too) because there’s nothing that can quite hit the spot better than creamy cheese with onion and chive.
- Unexpected cheddar cheese: when I polled my readers not too long ago, Unexpected Cheddar was the unquestionable favorite Trader Joe’s cheese. I’ve tested, re-tested, and agree that it’s one of the definite winners.
- Sharp cheddar cheese cracker cuts: for all you working women (or men) like me who would rather pay an extra dollar for pre-sliced cheese. Fun fact- it’s actually not a dime more expensive.
- Incurred apple smoked bacon: as I mentioned above, while I personally don’t believe that Trader Joe’s specialty is in meats (pleaseeeee open a deli), this apple smoked bacon is one of our favorite bacons of all time. We love smoking it on our smoker and adding to salads, grilled cheese sandwiches, and BLTs.
- All natural chicken breasts: trimmed, low fat, and practically ready to go. It’s easy to tell the chicken at Trader Joe’s is higher quality when you realize how much more tender and flavorful it is compared to some of the less expensive cheap options I’d find elsewhere.
- Smoked sockeye salmon: a fantastic protein option to eat alone or with bagels. Trader Joe’s has a couple of smoked salmon options and we’ve enjoyed every one of them.
YOGURT & MILK
- Rockview Farms Low fat Chocolate milk: my absolute favorite chocolate milk EVER! Period.
- Vanilla nonfat Greek Yogurt: it has just the right level of sweetness and goes perfectly with any granola or fresh fruit.
- Cultured low fat buttermilk: one of my favorite buttermilks for baking including biscuits, pancakes, and buttermilk syrup. Hollla.
- Heavy whipping cream: high grade dairy with perfectly small portions. Because even though I’m all about that whipping cream, a little tends to usually go a long way.
SNACKS & MORE THAN SNACKS
- Veggie sticks: as mentioned above, one of our favorite snacks with a bowl of Trader Joe’s hummus. I like to eat this on road trips or before hikes when I’m trying to increase my sodium levels.
- Peanut butter filled pretzels: save yourself the grief of eating boring old pretzels, and grab some of these for a salty/crunchy outside, and creamy/peanutbuttery inside.
- Toasted plantain chips: “healthy” chips that are made with plantains, toasted (not fried), and salted for a crunchy texture and great flavor. I love keeping a bag of these in my car for an after work snack on my commute home.
- Kettle popped popcorn chips: a very unique and Trader Joe’s only item! I’m also usually able to polish off an entire bag of these in one sitting. They’re just that good.
- Organic popcorn with olive oil: I’m a huge popcorn lover, and although I make most of my popcorn at home, I love the lightness and flavor of this low-calorie, low-fat popcorn option.
- Salt and pepper pistachios: because according to ALL of the men in my life, it isn’t a holiday party without a big bowl of peppered pistachios.
- Just mango slices: understand that of the three dried mango options (sweet mango, just mango, spicy mango), this is the BEST. It’s dried mango and dried mango only. If there’s one dried fruit snack you should try at Trader Joe’s, this is the one.
- Peanut butter cups trax mix: miniature milk chocolate peanut butter cups in a blend of fruit and nuts. Can you tell that I love peanut butter??
- Candied pecans: delicious alone or as a topping for salads, dessert, or paired with cheese and crackers on a cheese plate.
- Sweet New Zealand apples (dried): another one of my favorite dried fruit options. If you haven’t enjoyed dried apples, these new zealand apples are a great place to start.
- Freeze dried strawberries: have you had anything freeze dried other than yucky mountain house freeze dried dinners? You’ll be revolutionized by these sweet freeze dried strawberries and how surprisingly addicting they are.
- Cowboy caviar + blue corn tortilla chips: my favorite salsa paired with my favorite of the many trader joe’s chip options.
- Sundried sourdough toasts: I like to use these miniature toasts crushed up atop a caesar salad or served with french onion soup. They’re deliciously savory and are a great dress up for simple dishes when you’re in a pinch.
- Cranberry granola: I’ll never forget asking an employee if this granola was good, watching her open the bag in front of me, and having me try a bite right in front of her. The customer service at Trader Joe’s is fantastic and the granola is even better.
- Vanilla almond clusters: although I’m not a huge cereal buy at Trader Joe’s (more commercially inclined oops…), I DO love their vanilla almond clusters cereal. It’s sweet, crunchy, and resembles something close to one of my favorite commercial cereals, Honey Bunches of Oats.
- Sriracha potato chips: because what is there not to love about Sriracha or CHIPS infused with zingy Sriracha flavor?
- Salsa especially mild: tastes just like the salsa you love at your favorite Mexican restaurant. Great with Trader Joe’s restaurant style chips or scrambled eggs and corn tortillas for breakfast.
- Italian style wrap: my favorite on the go TJ’s lunch. I love the combination of Italian meats and cheeses with a hearty wrap and some leafy greens.
- Cheese tortellini: one of my favorite easy dinners served with Trader Joe’s Vodka Sauce and a pinch of parmesan cheese.
- Mango and strawberry flatbread: it’s sweet, unique, and topped with arugula and a balsamic reduction. I was sold on this after trying a sample in store. Great for an appetizer or light dinner.
- Roasted corn: save the stress and work of husking, grilling, and then removing kernels from your cob with this pre-roasted corn! We love using this as a side for BBQ, with salad, or in homemade salsa.
- Dark Sweet Cherries: if you’ve ever hand pitted cherries then you’ll understand why this purchase is worth every penny. These are perfect for cherry pies/galettes or fresh fruit smoothies for breakfast.
- Mango chunks: back to those green smoothies. And my new favorite one has spinach, banana, and a cup or two or Trader Joe’s fresh mango chunks.
- Baked Ziti: this Baked Ziti is one of my favorite frozen Trader Joe’s meals. It’s also another great excuse to eat pasta.
- Medium cooked shrimp: a great option for landlocked residents such as myself. I love incorporating this pre-cooked shrimp into pasta dishes.
- Gone bananas: there’s something so satisfying about frozen bananas and chocolate. The perfect snack to keep in the freezer for those inevitable late night cravings.
- Caribbean Fruit Floes: my new favorite store bought popsicle. They’re fruity, sweet, and surprisingly quite large for a fruit filled popsicle.
- Mochi: I love that Trader Joe’s has a handful of eclectic, international items and Mochi is one of them. A great easy dessert to follow your next sushi night.
- Cookie butter ice cream: this needs no explanation.
- Mac n cheese: because there’s nothing better than creamy, savory mac n cheese except for creamy, savory mac n cheese prepared in less than 5 minutes. Voila.
SIDES & CONDIMENTS
- Cookie Butter: spreadable speculous cookies. It’s creamy, it’s sweet, and it’s one of the most popular items to get at Trader Joe’s! I’m partial to the creamy cookie butter myself and like to enjoy it with Butter Waffle Cookies, pretzels, cookies, or warmed up and served with ice cream.
- Cento San marzano peeled tomatoes: I’m all about making my own homemade pasta sauce these days and my favorite base for a good marinara are the cento san marzano peeled tomatoes. Open your can, crush them with your hands, and cook up some pasta beautifulness.
- Gnocchi Italiani: and speaking of that glorified pasta dish, my fav as of late is the gnocchi. If you haven’t had gnocchi it’s basically the richest form of pasta one can possibly indulge in. Made of potatoes and densely rich when cooked, these are the perfect completion to your homemade pasta dish or one of Trader Joe’s homemade pasta sauces.
- Creamy Italian soup: because there are just some days where you a)need a bowl of warm savory soup and b) don’t have the time in the world to even mix canned soup with milk. This ready to go soup is my favorite to enjoy with butter toast, grilled cheese sandwiches, or just alone on a cold spring or winter day.
- Julienne sliced sundried tomatoes: can you tell that I love tomatoes yet?? These Julienne sliced sundried tomatoes are the best in the game. I love adding them to pasta (or better yet pasta salad), meat and poultry dishes, or simply with some fresh mozzarella.
- Fig butter: because you totally need something irresistibly sweet and posh to add to that cheese board I keep mentioning. I love enjoying this with sliced baguette, whipped ricotta cheese, and a dollop of this glorious fig butter.
- Lemon curd: beautiful, wonderful, lemon curd. Another item that Trader Joe’s has converted me to. It’s great with cookies, mixed with yogurt, or served with angel food cake and whipped cream.
- Carolina Gold BBQ Sauce: you better believe that this is one of our favorite BBQ sauces. In fact we recently figured out how to smoke ribs from home and topped the goods off with this Trader Joe’s original sauce.
- Bacon Jam: just as it sounds and unquestionably a must try! You can eat this alone (oink, oink), with cheese and crackers, atop homemade flatbread, or on a toasted bagel with cream cheese.
- Coconut Oil: there’s something just different and better about the coconut oil from Trader Joe’s. We all know the hundreds of uses of coconut oil, but my favorites are for makeup remover (just add cotton balls yasss), baking, taking stains out of white clothing, and for moisturizer during the winter when my skin is dry as all get out.
- Mango lemonade: I’m a huge fan of any lemonade but Trader Joe’s seems to add mango to anything and make it even better.
- Green Plant: for days when you need to get your juices (literally) flowing and reintroduce those greens to your system. It’s a really sweet drink that’s perfect for enjoying with savory breakfast or lunch items.
- Apple Cider: fall isn’t fall without buying a container of Trader Joe’s unfiltered apple cider. Check out this seasonal item next time the leaves start changing colors.
- Basil: when it comes to herbs, basil is my love language. And at Trader Joe’s you can purchase a container filled with organic basil or an entire plant for one dollar more ($3.99). It makes you a sick thinking of all those miniature packages you purchased at other stores for 1/4 the amount of fresh basil.
- Succulents: because we’re all about plants that are hard to kill. And what’s not to love about a succulent? I’m slowly working at a growing collection on my bedroom dresser.
- Lavender: one of my favorite ways to spruce up a space or great gift with a simple Trader Joe’s card. PS the metal tins they come in are adorable.
- Peonies: come late spring/early summer walk into any Trader Joe’s and become smitten by the parade of peonies as you walk through the storefront. My favorite flower you can find at TJ’s undoubtedly.
- Enrich Moisturizing Face Lotion: truth be told, I use this lotion every. single day. It’s the perfect moisturizer for my skin and has 15 SPF because hello who wants sun spots?
- Coconut Body Butter: allll about the moisturizer here (#Utah). This coconut body butter reminds me of cake frosting because it smells incredible and quite honestly looks like frosting.
- Lemon Verbena French Soap: I’ve got this fetish with having a spotless bathroom and my cherry on the top is great smelling soap. I love buying this soap from Trader Joe’s because it’s light and refreshing. Time to get sudsy.
- Chia Seeds: chia seeds are all the rage the days and for good reason. I like to keep a bag of these seeds stocked in my pantry at all times for granola and green smoothies.
- Greeting cards: my favorite place to get greeting cards is at Trader Joe’s! They totally fit my taste when it comes to aesthetics because they’re simple, upbeat, and not overly commercialized. Best part is that they’re a whopping dollar.