What to Buy at Trader Joe’s

What to Buy at Trader Joes

Trader Joe’s is a magical unicorn of a shopping experience, but there is a lot going on so it can be hard to navigate. I shop there about once a month and after I wrote about our weekly shopping list, I got a lot of requests for a full post on what to buy at Trader Joe’s so here we are!

Strategy:
The first rule of Trader Joe’s is to never go there hungry. They have too many amazing snack options and you will overshop, it’s just a fact of life. Start with produce and work your way around the outside of the store. End with the frozen section. I find that I end up buying too much prepared frozen food if I head that way first. A fun rule that I made for myself is to try one new product every time I go in. That’s how I’ve discovered much of the list below.

Flowers:

Trader Joe’s carries so many beautiful and affordable flowers, and I’ve personally never found such a great collection at such a low price point anywhere else. Their roses are beautiful, and I always stock up on tulips in the spring and hydrangeas in the summer. My go-to purchase, however, is Eucalyptus which I put in a big ginger jar on my kitchen table. You seriously can’t beat the prices and the flowers usually last for a surprisingly long time.

Produce:

Shaved Brussels sprouts: I use them in this 20-minute recipe.
Sweet potato ribbons: Great for this recipe
Cruciferous crunch salad mix: I top this with a simple vinaigrette and grilled chicken or shrimp for a quick and easy dinner.
Mediterranian style salad kit: I make this for lunch a lot and serve it with a side of hummus.
Organic spinach: I put this in my smoothies and these muffins.
Carrot ginger miso salad dressing: This dressing is so so good. I love it on a crunchy salad or a brown rice bowl.
Green goddess dressing: Same as above.

Snacks:

– Bamba: Our pediatrician recommended giving these to Amalia for her first peanut experience, so I went and bought them the next day. I ate an entire bag on my drive home, oops! My whole family has an unhealthy obsession with Bamba.
– Peanut butter filled pretzels: Just yum.
– Soy and flaxseed tortilla chips: Serve them with the salsa below. Perfectly crunchy and salty.
– Salsa autentica: Find a better store-bought salsa out there and I’ll give you $1 million… OK maybe not but this one is hard to beat. I am truly addicted.
– Mini rice crackers, multiseed with tamari: These are my favorite crackers of all time. I use them for eating hummus.
– Freeze-dried fuji apple slices: Amalia loves these for snacking on in the car.
– Salt & pepper pistachios: Anel goes through a bag of these a week so I stock up whenever I can. They’re a super flavorful and filling afternoon snack.
– Thai lime & chili cashews: I prefer these because they’re a little sweet, a little salty, a little spicy, and a great snack option that’s a little different.
– Organic dried Turkish apricots: We eat these with peanut butter for dessert.
– Organic fruit wraps (found at checkout): Amalia likes these for an after-lunch dessert/snack. They’re all organic and have no added sugar which I love.

Dairy:

– Goat milk: They sell Amalia’s goat milk at a lower price than other stores, so I always stock up when I shop at TJ’s.
– Goat’s milk yogurt: I mix this yogurt with fresh fruit or applesauce for a snack for Amalia.
– Organic buffalo style hummus (this review says it all): It is so good. Just trust me and buy it. I love most of their hummus options, but this new flavor is a current favorite.
– Vegan kale cashew and basil pesto: It’s hard to find dairy-free pesto that actually tastes good, but this one does the job. I put it on pasta and in salad dressings.
– Goat’s milk creamy cheese: Amalia and I like this on toast. I put avocado on top of it for me.
– Organic string cheese: Great for packing in a lunch box.

Spices:

– Everything but the bagel seasoning: I put this spice blend on everything (pun intended) from scrambled eggs to avocado toast to brown rice to baked chicken.
Chili-lime seasoning blend: I love this tangy, slightly spicy blend for fish or on my chicken taco bowls.

Frozen:

These are my personal favorites but Delish tried and ranked every single frozen meal at TJs and listed them here which has given me some ideas for new products to try.

– Organic brown rice packets: This is probably my favorite and most-used Trader Joe’s product of them all. The individual-sized bags of brown rice heat up in only three minutes. I just mix it with some olive oil or ghee and salt and then top it with whatever I’m feeling. A few of my favorite rice bowls are this peanut sauce rice bowl and this honey teriyaki chicken bowl.- – –– Organic riced cauliflower: I like to buy the fresh packs better but I always have a frozen one on hand because they last so much longer.
– Organic wild blueberries
– Organic chopped spinach
– Indian food: Vegetable biryani, chicken tikka masala, veggie samosas, butter chicken, and garlic naan: Anel is in charge of dinner on Thursday nights and he started the “tradition” of making Trader Joe’s frozen Indian first. At first, I thought it was a major cop-out out but now I look forward to it every week because it’s so delicious!
– Mandarin orange chicken: Great over brown rice and cheaper than takeout for those nights when you have no time to cook.

Other:

– Sprouted grain sourdough bread: TJs has a surprisingly good bread section. Their gluten-free bread is pretty great for toast too. I personally like the sprouted grain sourdough.
– Matcha green tea powder: I love that these come in single-serve packets so I can easily make my once-a-week matcha latte with almond milk at home.
– Reusable kitchen cloths: I wrote about another brand of kitchen cloths lately, and some of you told me that TJ’s carries them too! I think they’re $2.50 and you can use them over and over again. It saves the waste of paper towels.
– Speculoos cookie butter: Don’t buy this unless you want to eat the whole jar in a matter of days. I buy it when I’m on my period (TMI?) and put it on a banana.

So those are my Trader Joe’s go-to’s! What am I missing on my list that I have to try next? FYI didn’t include non-frozen meat or fish because I don’t like to buy it there (I had more than one bad experience and gave up).

I have no affiliation with Trader Joe’s except that I’m a big fan!

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  1. Olivia said:

    Thanks, Julia! So many good things to try. The no sugar added dried mangoes are amazing. Better than any other dried mangoes because they aren’t sour at all. The potstickers are also delicious. I always keep them in the freezer. A little embarrassed to admit that I like them better than the ones I had in Japan.

    Also, for a better store bought salsa- the Aldi black bean and corn salsa. It’s amazing.

    4.9.19 · Reply
  2. Lauren said:

    What’s your favorite vinaigrette to pair with the Cruciferous Crunch mix?

    4.9.19 · Reply
    • Julia said:

      I make one with olive oil, apple cider vinegar, maple syrup, dijon mustard, salt and pepper. OR the carrot miso dressing from TJs when I’m in a pinch.

      4.11.19 · Reply
  3. Trixie said:

    Not TMI! Awesome post! I took your advice about the TJ’s Eucalyptus on stories a while ago too!

    4.9.19 · Reply
    • Julia said:

      Oh good! Doesn’t it smell amazing?

      4.11.19 · Reply
  4. Meg said:

    The vegan kale cashew basil pesto is so good! My toddler loves it and he basically eats whatever I put it on.

    4.9.19 · Reply
    • Julia said:

      Ok is your toddler a unicorn and can he teach Amalia his ways? That’s incredible!

      4.11.19 · Reply
  5. EM said:

    Their peanut butter cups are the best! (I live abroad and a pack or two of these almost always makes it into my expat suitcase from trips back to the USA.) Also the blueberry ale (I wrap a few bottles in zip baggies– which get reused— and pad them with dirty laundry.) And if I don’t make it to the US in the fall I have family buy the pumpkin body butter and put it aside for me (it’s like $4 and seriously wonderful– better than body butters that cost several times more, and the scent is great.) Also the pumpkin spice coffee.

    I wish Trader Joe’s would come to Europe. They are affiliated with Aldi and Aldi definitely exists over here (although they are better in the US), but are not here. If I lived in the US again I would be a regular Trader Joe’s shopper!

    4.9.19 · Reply
  6. Libby said:

    I do pretty much all my shopping at TJ’s because they have such cheap gluten free things!!

    The Authentic Spicy Chunky Guacamole is sooo yummy!! I can eat the whole thing in days hahah! Also, they have these gluten free cookies that are think and crunchy, and my fave flavors are the salted toffee crunch and the chocolate chip cookie. I get almond butter at TJ’s because it is way cheaper there. They have a greens mix called Power Greens, and I love it for sale and smoothies. I recently discovered frozen beets that I have been loving in a smoothie, or roasted for lunch or dinner. The Organic Sencha green tea is a staple I but, along with several boxes of K cups ahahah!! I can also attest to the Bamba obsession and the love for Salsa Autentico!!

    I could go on and on about my favorites at Trader Joe’s 🙂

    xx Libby

    4.9.19 · Reply
  7. Amanda said:

    LOVED this post! As someone who can only get there every once and awhile this is so helpful! Drafting a shopping list now.

    4.9.19 · Reply
    • Julia said:

      Tell your wallet I’m sorry 🙂

      4.10.19 · Reply
  8. Laura said:

    i love TJs! We love the frozen cauliflower gnocchi. Always keep a bag on hand for when we need a quick dinner. Frequently combine it with the vegan pesto. Same thing with the frozen spiralizeded carrots. I find the zucchini ones get too watery. their plantain chips are great and their cowboy caviar. combine the cowboy caviar with some frozen tilapia, some lettuce, avocado + plantain chips and you’ve got super easy fish taco bowls.

    also love their non-dairy milk options, the ones that don’t need to be refrigerated until opened, such as their Unsweetened Almond, Cashew & Macadamia nut milk. During holiday season they also have some other very tasty options.

    4.9.19 · Reply
    • Julia said:

      I feel like I’m the only one who can’t get behind the cauliflower gnocchi. Maybe I’m making it wrong? It always feels so gooey!

      4.11.19 · Reply
      • Amy said:

        You cannot make it to the package directions or it will be gooey! If you just spray your pan with non-stick cooking oil and cook it in the oil (no water), flip every couple minutes once the side start to brown, it is delicious! Another great way to make it is in the air fryer if you have one of those!

        4.12.19 · Reply
  9. Susan said:

    The dog treats! My dog loves them!

    4.9.19 · Reply
    • Julia said:

      I forgot to add dog food but we started using their food for Boots and he loves it!

      4.10.19 · Reply
  10. Caroline said:

    Great suggestions-I’ll have to try the cruciferous crunch.

    I LOVE TJ chocolate covered almonds-a treat without too much guilt.
    Also coffee and tea-you can get a big quantity of coffee for a good price.
    And of course, last but not least wine.
    In terms of beauty I use the Tea Tree shampoo and conditioner. Very similar to Aveda rosemary mint.

    4.9.19 · Reply
    • Caroline said:

      And the bottles of cold brew coffee for hot weather.

      4.9.19 · Reply
  11. Elizabeth said:

    Non-food items: I am a huge fan of the body butter and mango honey shaving cream.

    4.9.19 · Reply
    • Julia said:

      So many people are telling me this. I’m going to try the body butter next time I go. But I LOVE the Brandless body butter (coconut water) so that’s my go-to.

      4.11.19 · Reply
  12. amy said:

    duh! dark chocolate peanut butter cups!

    4.9.19 · Reply
    • Julia said:

      Oh TRUE. Dangerous…

      4.10.19 · Reply
  13. Kristin said:

    I love their vacuum sealed beets in the fresh produce section. I can sneak one or two into smoothies for my daughter and she is none the wise. Also great on salads with goat cheese. And I slice them with lime juice and the chili lime seasoning for a snack sometimes. I feel uber healthy when I eat a beet 🙂

    Also I used to rank the TJ Salsa Autentica as my favorite until I was introduced to Matteo’s brand. It easily unseated the TJs brand. It’s a similar texture but carries so much more flavor while being a tad less salty and less of a “jarred flavor” (but def not a sweet salsa). They carry the big jar at Costco which we usually get, but my local grocery just started carrying it as well. I get the medium flavor.

    4.9.19 · Reply
  14. Liz said:

    The Cruciferous Crunch mix is also really amazing on top of chicken tacos. It adds a great crunchy topping. Then for leftovers I just add the shredded chicken over a large bowl of the Cruciferous Crunch mix.

    4.9.19 · Reply
    • Julia said:

      Smart idea! Would probably be really good on fish tacos too.

      4.11.19 · Reply
  15. I buy a Thai sauté sauce at Hannaford (Maine) that I love ❤️. The brand is Watcharee, if you can’t get it at Trader Joe’s you can order it on Amazon. The owner of the company is local to me and does samples in our store. Unfortunately, both Trader Joe’s and WholeFoods require a 40 minute drive down the coast (partly scenic ), which isn’t all that easy with a 16 month old.

    4.9.19 · Reply
  16. Beth said:

    Bambas are the best! Also addictive. I love them. Another favorite is their Peanut Vinaigrette salad dressing (from the produce section). I have a salad everyday with this dressing. I love Trader Joe’s!

    4.9.19 · Reply
    • Julia said:

      Will try it!

      4.10.19 · Reply
  17. Beth said:

    Oh, how could I forget about Cookie Butter? I love the crunchy. It’s also dangerous to have around. Give me a spoon with it… The Vanilla Ice Cream with Cookie Butter Swirl is to die for.

    4.9.19 · Reply
    • Julia said:

      OMG true. I just can’t buy it because I eat the entire jar in two days. It’s not ok in my house hahaha.

      4.10.19 · Reply
  18. PSA: Everything but the Bagel is now available on Amazon!!

    4.9.19 · Reply
    • Julia said:

      No way. That’s amazing.

      4.10.19 · Reply
  19. Allie said:

    To add to the Indian food section, they have AMAZING dal packets you can keep in your pantry. I heat them up over cauliflower rice and it’s seriously the easiest, most flavorful veggie meal. They’re single serving for me, so you might need a couple between the two of you but it’s seriously sooo good.

    4.10.19 · Reply
    • Julia said:

      I’ve seen those but I wasn’t sure if they’d be good or not. I’ll try them on my next trip to TJs, thank you!

      4.10.19 · Reply
  20. Jules said:

    It is so true that you need a TJs strategy. Many a time I have gone there in a hanger daze and walked out with like $100 worth of groceries and no idea what to make a meal with!

    4.10.19 · Reply
    • Julia said:

      Same! That’s why I avoid it now.

      4.11.19 · Reply
  21. Hillary Nammack said:

    Try the freeze dried broccoli! It is in the snack section (next to the dried beets). Soooo good! They are also a great daycare snack.

    4.11.19 · Reply
    • Julia said:

      I actually have a bag of it, I need to try! I hope Amalia is into it too.

      4.12.19 · Reply
  22. Meems said:

    Vitamin D3 – best price! I also purchase the citrus body wash, salt & pepper pistachios, “Charlie Bear” treats for our pups and the carnitas served with their korean bbq sauce on tortillas.

    4.12.19 · Reply
    • Julia said:

      Good call! Never thought to buy their vitamins but I bet they’re so much cheaper than what I pay on Amazon. People are really into their beauty products so that’s next on my list.

      4.15.19 · Reply
  23. Jada said:

    Love this Trader Joe’s round up!! I love some of their sauces too like General Tso and Masala!

    https://thegirlfromconnecticut.com

    4.15.19 · Reply
    • Julia said:

      I’ll have to try them! Do you just put them on whatever meat you’re serving?

      4.15.19 · Reply
  24. Not TMI! I died laughing, in the best way possible :). I recently bought this https://kween.co/ and it’s been….a slippery slope to say the least. xx

    4.16.19 · Reply
    • Julia said:

      Ok well that looks much healthier. Might have to give it a try!

      4.16.19 · Reply