Trader Joe’s isn’t my number one grocery store, in fact I don’t even visit every week on my normal grocery shopping routine. There’s a few reasons for that, proximity being the biggest one and Trader Joe’s being a little as I call “snackie” being the other. But when I do visit ole’ Joe’s I get to pick up some of my favorite “must have” items. I usually make a trip when I run out of these things at home and it’s always a satisfying trip because while Trader Joe’s isn’t perfect, there’s quite a list of things they do REALLY well.
And here it is.
Admittedly, this is my favorite purchase and it’s not even food! Here’s the deal: the flower’s at Trader Joe’s are seasonal and they’re cheap. They always have peonies in the spring and eucalyptus in the fall - two of my favorites. I usually make a stop at Whole Foods on my way home from Trader Joe’s and I will see the SAME exact flowers often for double or even triple the price of Trader Joe’s.
I typically won’t buy a premade bouquet, but instead I buy individual bundles of flowers and greenery so I can go home pretend I know what I’m doing with floral arranging. It makes the process more creative and exciting in my opinion. You guys, I even made my wedding bouquet from Trader Joe’s flowers! That’s how beautiful and reasonable they are.
Mandarin Orange Chicken
This isn’t an item you’ll want to whip up daily or even weekly, because it isn’t exactly the healthiest, but man it’s good! And I’d definitely say it’s a healthier choice than Chinese takeout. My favorite thing to do with these little morsels is toss them with some cilantro and serve them over cauliflower rice (which Trader Joe’s sells as well!)
If you’re only a fan of thick and chunky salsa, skip this one because it simply is not for you. However, if you, like me, enjoy a smoother restaurant style salsa then Trader Joe’s carries your new favorite. For me, it’s the only one. Anytime I have salsa other than Trader Joe’s Salsa Autentica and Salsa Verde, I find myself comparing the two and Trader Joe’s always wins! My husband and I always stock up on this stuff and you can usually find at least two jars back stocked in our pantry.
Organic Creamy Tomato Soup
Donate all of those cans of Campbell’s tomato soup you’ve got in your pantry and grab this stuff instead. Firstly, there’s no mixing in milk (and who’s mixing water in with the tomato soup? I don’t understand how that’s even an option on the back of the Campbell’s can.) Second, you can heat this stuff up on the microwave so it’s super quick to prepare! Lastly and most importantly, it’s the most delicious tomato soup I’ve EVER had. Also, and obviously it pairs SO well with a grilled cheese.
Frozen pizza is not a “gourmet” food by any means and when I was a kid I used to love a good tombstone from the frozen section, but these frozen pizzas are actually REALLY good. When my husband and I host we often stick three or four in the oven and cut them up to serve. They’re perfect finger foods and people are always asking if we made them ourselves or where we got them. Pictured below are two of my favorites, the French style with ham, caramelized onions, and gruyere along with the classic pepperoni. A close runner up is the plain cheese with cauliflower crust.
Hands down, the best dang chocolate milk I’ve ever had in my life. Don’t look at the sugar content (in fact, I never have,) just pour yourself a cold glass and sip it slowly or gulp it down, and then ponder on why you’ve been wasting your time on yoo-hoo’s in the past. I actually had to stop buying this stuff for a little bit because I was getting slightly addicted. But when I have this in my fridge I usually supplement a dessert with a tall glass of this stuff and I’m perfectly content.
Almond Danish Kringle
Admittedly, this would not be on the list if it weren't for my husband’s insistence that it should be. These things fly like hot cakes at my local Trader Joe’s and you have to snatch these up when you see them. It’s a huge buttery, flaky pastry stuffed with a sweet almond filling. It’s so nice to have in the house when you’re hosting family and friends around the holidays, which I believe is the only time they’re sold anyway. I love cutting these up and putting them on my cake stand for anyone to grab in the morning with coffee or after dinner.
I know what you’re thinking.. really? dijon mustard? YES! If you’re not a mustard fan, as I know some can’t even stand the smell, skip this one, but if you even like mustard a little, grab this stuff next time you visit Trader Joe’s. It’s really the best. I don’t even understand it. It’s spicy, but not in the traditional way and its simply the perfect balance of vinegar and mustard. Every sandwich at home gets this slathered with it and I have an amazing baked salmon recipe with mustard and pistachios that I can’t make without this particular mustard because it’s just not the same.
Everything But the Bagel Seasoning
This seasoning doesn't even belong in the spice cabinet. It stays on my counter as a permanent staple next to the salt and pepper. My husband and I put it on everything from fried eggs to asian dishes to actual everything bagels. Some spice blends have too much salt but this doesn’t. It’s a wonderful blend of garlic, sesame seeds, sea salt, poppy seeds, and onion that pairs well with more than you think. It’s another Trader Joe’s item that is often out of stock due to its popularity, so I suggest stocking up on a few when you find it.
Vanilla Almond Cluster Cereal
This cereal is a tad on the sweet side, but I personally don’t eat cereal for its “health benefits,” so I’ll have this as an afternoon snack or as dessert if I’m still hungry late at night. I just love the clusters! They even sell the clusters by themselves if you want it, but I like them mixed in with the cereal more.
Sea Salt & Turbinado Sugar Dark Chocolate Almonds
These only need but so much explaining. They’re whole almonds covered, or as the label says “drenched,” in dark chocolate and then sprinkled with big chunks of sea salt. I like to savor them and suck on them when I eat them. It keeps me from devouring the entire container in one sitting.
Know of something at Trader Joe’s that didn’t make this list?
Leave me a comment below and tell me what it is and why it’s so great!