If anyone has read this blog before, especially the Weekly Dinner Plans, you may already know I’m slightly obsessed with Trader Joe’s. It’s not because shopping there is a novelty. They’re actually the only place I do my grocery shopping every week. But if I had to narrow my obsession down to three reasons, here you go:
Why I Love Trader Joe’s
- Selection – The stores are very small, and so is the selection. But that’s a good thing because you don’t get tempted with impulse buys.
- Quality – Since the stores are so small, they make sure to fill them with quality over quantity. They source ingredients with a mind for healthfulness (don’t take that to mean eating a box of Joe-Joe’s a day is good for you). And they’re always coming out with innovative new things.
- Price – There are a few exceptions, but for the most part the prices are very reasonable, and often better than what you would see in a conventional grocery store. I’ve experimented doing all my shopping at both Trader Joe’s and a conventional store. I got better food, spending the same amount, at Trader Joe’s.
No, I’m not getting paid to write this (unless someone from TJ’s was so inclined, I could write a million more articles on why I love the place… like this price comparison with a local grocery store).
But as someone who’s shopped pretty exclusively at Trader Joe’s for the last few years, I sometimes forget that not everyone is fortunate enough to shop there every week. I’ve had friends receive gift certificates to the store and ask for my advice on what they absolutely must buy, and I realized that was a list I needed to keep handy at all times.
Even if you shop at Trader Joe’s regularly, we all get stuck in a grocery rut from time to time. It helps for me to see what other people have found there that they can’t live without. Or hearing other people rave about the same things just helps justify why I love the store so much.
Top 25 Things to Buy From Trader Joe’s
In no particular order, you can’t go wrong with these in your grocery cart.
(These prices are from January 2017 and I’m sure are subject to change depending on store and date.)
Italian Blood Orange Soda , $2.99 – Great in a cocktail or just straight out of the bottle.
Chocolate Covered Peanut Butter Filled Pretzel Bites, $3.49 – Look out, these will change your life.
Organic Virgin Coconut Oil, $5.49 – This is a great price for coconut oil. I even use it as my eye makeup remover.
Coconut Oil Spray, $2.99 – This is the best pan spray, and I feel healthier using it vs. the stuff with weird random ingredients.
Cookie Butter, $3.69 – This is one of those things TJ’s is known for.
Gorgonzola Gnocchi, $2.99 – Find it in the frozen section. It’s very easy to make, basically just throw it in a pan and voila! You can either use it as a side dish, or add peas and pancetta for more of a meal.
Hollandaise Sauce, $2.99 – Find this one in the refrigerated section kind of by the hummus. It is THE BEST pre-made hollandaise sauce out there. We used to make our own until we discovered this. It makes eggs Benedict so easy!
Mandarin Orange Chicken, $4.99 – Another famous TJ’s frozen meal. It’s perfect for a quick weeknight meal. And if the kids are picky, you can keep the sauce off.
Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups, $.99 – It’s just a small little bag… but dare I say they are better than the name brand!
Microwave Popcorn, $1.99 – Nothing super special about the flavor, though it’s very good, just a great price and the bags are the perfect little size for an afternoon snack. It’s a household staple for us.
Saucy Scallops with Mushrooms, $5.99 – One of my personal favorite stand-by dinners. Like the Gorgonzola Gnocchi, just toss it in a pan and heat it up. We like ours over pasta, but rice would be good too. We often add pancetta or more peas, but totally not necessary.
Thai Lime and Chili Cashews, $7.49 – That may seem pricey but it’s quite a large bag, and actually quite reasonable for nuts. These have a little bit of a kick and make for the best snack.
Cheese – This one’s hard to narrow down. They have the best variety and amazing prices. My kids will only eat string cheese if it’s from Trader Joe’s. And I save so much money shopping here for our Wine and Cheese Parties!
Chicken Enchiladas, $1.99 – I see people literally loading up their carts with the chicken and the cheese enchiladas. These have recently become my favorite lunch to take to work when we don’t have leftovers.
Coffee, $6.99 – They have an awesome variety, love the quality, and you can’t beat the price! If you don’t have a grinder at home don’t forget to grind it before you leave the store.
Cold Brew Iced Coffee Concentrate, $7.99 – One of my weaknesses, I have an iced coffee every day.
Family Style Meat Lasanga, $5.99 – Amazing price and it easily feeds our family of four. The best tasting frozen lasagna I’ve ever had.
Mac ‘n Cheese, $2.99 – We always have a couple of these in our freezer. It’s creamy and tastes like real macaroni and cheese.
Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil, $9.99 – This olive oil has won awards, and is an amazing price!
Organic Par-Baked Pizza Crusts, $2.99 – Two crusts come in this frozen package. If you like thin crust, this is the easiest tastiest crust. We use it as the base for all kinds of fun and unique pizzas, like this Banh Mi Pizza we had a couple weeks ago.
Organic Jasmine Rice, $3.49 – Not the most cost effective when you compare to making commodity rice, but it’s fluffy and delicious and comes out perfect every time. We always have some handy to pair with Orange Chicken, or anything needing rice.
Flowers, $3.99 – Even though there’s so much amazing food at Trader Joe’s, I was just as excited about the flowers when our local TJ’s opened. They always have a beautiful selection and the prices are unbeatable. Makes it easy to always have fresh flowers around the house.
Sourdough Bread, $2.99 – Another well-known fave. This bread is a great price, great ingredients, and great flavor.
Peanut Butter, $2.29 – Ingredients: Dry Roasted Peanuts. Enough said.
Beer Bread Mix, $2.79 – Just add beer and butter, and an hour later you have the most amazing freshly baked bread. This is a new discovery for me but it quickly became one of my favorites.
And there you have it folks. What are the things YOU can’t live without from Trader Joe’s?