What To Buy at Trader Joe’s

What to Buy at Trader Joe's! A fun list with all the favorites!

I’ve put together a fun list to answer the question What To Buy at Trader Joe’s?!

So you might live in a part of the country where Trader Joe’s have been around for a long time. OR you might live in a place where there are NO TJ’s….ORRR still you might live in a place where they’re just starting to pop up here and there.

I’m in New Jersey, and while there are a few Trader Joe’s locations, there isn’t a store that close to my house. They are all about 45 minutes to an hour away in different directions. But I love that little food store. So I try to make a special trip every 6 weeks or so. I wish I could get there more often, but it just doesn’t seem to happen. So basically I always have a running TJ’s list going so when I get the chance to get down there, I’m all set.

The funny thing is, when you live in an area without a TJ’s, everyone is always asking WHAT DO YOU BUY THERE? It’s like this mystery, which is funny, because really, it’s just a grocery store. I felt that way the first time I went into a TJ’s and literally left with 2 items. I was overwhelmed!

BUT TJ’s is mostly all private label food, so you won’t find Fruity Pebbles, or Pillsbury products. Now before you get all worried that TJ’s MUST be pricey, ala Whole Foods, think again. It’s not. I actually spend LESS on more groceries than I do at my local supermarket. It’s true. PLUS you can get all sorts of fun stuff that you can’t get from you usual grocer.

I also want to say that I am in no way affiliated with Trader Joe’s, nor am I being paid to say any of this. I really just love the store, shop there and want to help you guys!

So, I thought I would make a list of some of my favorites from TJ’s that I buy time and time again. This list will always be ever changing, I am sure, because every time I go there I pick up something new and love it…BUT what I am sharing with you today are my regular “MUSTS”.

Last time I was shopping I tried to take pictures of the things that I bought, but I didn’t get a pic of everything, so I will list the items that aren’t pictured as well.

When you first walk in you will see the fresh flowers. I LOVE this section, and try to buy a bunch or two. But that’s just a splurge purchase, because I don’t think they are priced that much differently than any other grocery store.

But in my store the bread section is right next to the flowers. And I ALWAYS buy this Canadian White bread…

canadianwhite

Let me say, I never buy white bread. Only from TJ’s for a treat. This stuff is RIDICULOUS. It’s sweet, chewy and omg with a spread of butter or jam…I love it. I’m under no false allusion this is health food. But I am telling you it’s so good.

Also, in the bread section the Pretzel bread/buns are AMAZING, the Everything Bagels are DELISH and the Brioche buns are great too!!

 

Next up you’ll walk through the produce section, and while they have some good prices and the produce always looks nice, it isn’t locally grown, so if you’re making a special trip to TJ’s for “musts”, don’t bother with fruits and veggies, just get them at your regular store.

Down the cold food section you’ll find lots of prepared sandwiches and salads, which I’ve gotten before and they are good, but not a MUST. Also skip the sushi.

BUT the hummus is SO yummy and they have lots of flavors. I love the Three Layer one, but everyone that I have tried has been amazing. The hummus is a must for me!

hummus

And then you come to the cheese section. Be still my heart. The prices are great and the variety is outstanding. My kids really like the Fresh Mozzarella Cheese sticks. They are like string cheese, but don’t actually string. They’re tasty.

cheesecollage

I”m not a huge fan of their cereals, but their coffee section is great! They even have TJ’s K-cups!!

The frozen food section is where it’s at. I have a few I ALWAYS buy. Starting with Mac ‘n Cheese.

frozenfood

This single serving Mac ‘n Cheese is OUT OF CONTROL. I am telling you it’s major. SO creamy and rich and yummy and it’s microwavable. One of my boys requests is ALL THE TIME. BUY this.

The Chocolate Croissants are another must for me. You pull them out of the freezer the night before, let them proof and pop them into the oven in the morning. It’s one of the best you’ll have, and you’ll feel so very fancy baking them.

The Chicken Lime Burgers are really great too. I adore them on a bun or off…with a large scoop of guac.

The Turkey Bolognese is also a major must for me.

bolognese

It’s a frozen sauce, that I feel like only serves about 2 people…so buy more than you think you need. I love it on a Portobello Mushroom with a little cheese on top, or of course on pasta! Honestly we love this stuff, and it’s so handy to have in your freezer in a pinch!

Still in the frozen section another must for me is the Kung Pao Chicken and the Mandarin Orange Chicken. Both of these are fantastic and great to whip up for a quick meal. We’ve tried lots of frozen stir fries and these are above and beyond the best.

chinesefoodcollage

Also, not pictured are the hand-cut french fries. They are great.

There are so many other little treasures in the frozen section, but I am only trying to share my MUST BUYS.

You’ll see above the frozen stuff there are TONS of candies and chocolates and snacks. It’s HARD to decide what you need to get.

My friend Amber told me to try these…

candy

Oh my word, y’all they are AMAZING. I would have never picked these up, because hello quinoa in chocolate, no thank you very much. BUT I’m so glad I did. They are freaking ridiculous. The quinoa are just tiny little crispy bits. covered in crazy delicious caramel. MUST buy.

Other unpictured treats to try… Pecan Pralines. OMG YES. Cowboy/Cowgirl Bark. LOVE. Chocolate Covered Sunflower Seeds..adorable and addictive.

Also this…

chocolate

If you’re a baker, buy their chocolate pound bar. Great chocolate at a great price. I love chopping this stuff up for chocolate chunk cookies. And it melts fantastically!

Oh and yeah, all things Cookie Butter.

cookiebuttercollage

Get the jar of Cookie Butter, obvi. But the ice cream is killer and the sandwich cookies…OMG YES. They are my new favorite cookie. The shortbread is buttery and melty and crispy and the cookie butter filling is a dream. You need. NEED.

Not pictured: Joe Joes. (TJs version of Oreos) They are super tasty and made with natural flavors and NO artificial preservatives or hydrogenated oils. I mean if you’re gonna have a cookie…

Next up, let’s talk nuts. TJ’s has a huge assortment of them…

nuts

My husband eats a lot of nuts, and I feel like TJ’s prices are pretty darn great. Plus they have some really cool flavored almonds and cashews. Our favorite right now are the Coconut Cashews. YUM!
tumblr_inline_n2wco3YT9M1qiagjg

And speaking of coconut you MUST buy these Coconut Chips… they are so ridiculously good.13917379116_f189dd8a15_b

Next up this olive oil. You know how Ina Garten says to use “good quality” olive oil? Yeah, this is that without the price tag. It’s so so good.

oliveoil

And then maple syrup. The price at TJ’s is way less than at my local super market, and it’s really good stuff.

maplesyrup

I am leaving out snack foods, in terms of potato chips etc…because every single thing I’ve bought there has been great, so I really feel like you can’t go wrong and it’s just a personal choice. BUT the chocolate covered potato chips might be my favorite!

Also, this Coffee Concentrate…

FullSizeRender

They were sold out this time, but it’s always a must buy for me!! I love love love this Cold Brew Concentrate. It’s so perfect for a whenever caffeine boost, and a little goes a long way! Iced Coffee on hand at all times for the win!

 

I would love to know your favorites from Trader Joe’s! If I left anything off the list leave me a comment here!

Hi! I’m Shelly and I’m an addict. Of the buttercream sort. I started this site a few years ago as a way to justify my sugary, buttery obsession with desserts. It has worked out well for me so far, because as it turns out you guys all love sugary, buttery desserts too! It feels good to know you're not alone, doesn’t it?

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190 Responses
  1. Pat

    Love TJ’s!! A few things more than what you mentioned are: goat cheese with honey on their Fig and olive crackers…delish! Love their cinnamon raisin bread…think and makes great French toast! Great pumpernickel pretzel sticks and Belgium waffle cookies with caramel layered inside. Too bad you don’t have the wine! They have a great Italian wine, Primitivo for $4.99! Great Trader Joes Dark coffee beans( 13 oz can)…. Grind at home! I could go on and on….????

  2. Liz

    I love TJ’s! I live in Brooklyn, where everything is expensive, so it’s where I go for pretty much everything. Butter is $2.99/lb! It’s $4.99/lb for store brand at the Key Food across the street, so this is quite the deal. I do some serious baking out of my apartment, so I go through at least six pounds a week. Also, if for some reason I can’t get to Target or Whole Foods for King Arthur Flour, I like the TJ’s brand all-purpose and white whole wheat. I don’t buy sugar there because granulated sugar is granulated sugar as far as I’m concerned–I don’t need it to be organic. Also, their vanilla. And their pricing on eggs, milk, buttermilk, sour cream, yogurt, and heavy cream (just check the dates–I got a bad heavy cream once). And yes, the nuts and dried/freeze dried fruit! And chocolate chips! And the Pound Plus Bars! I don’t have any storage or a full-sized fridge(it’s New York, after all), so I don’t generally get the prepared or frozen foods (except for their tamales, which are everything). Speaking of tamales, their regular old red and green salsas are the only jarred salsas I will eat! So good. Anyway, this was long and rambling, but yes, looooove TJ’s.

  3. I love how you put together this list, what a great store!! I too spend money and find so many goodies. Those milk chocolate jumbles sound great! My fave are the chocolate covered espresso beans.

  4. Barbara

    I’ve loved TJ’s for years and was thrilled when they opened 15 minutes from my home. (And one in my husband’s office building.) I took some blueberry goat cheese to a book club meeting and everyone raved about it–calling it cheesy candy. The flavored mustards are great and we live on the individually packaged nuts. There are so many good things there and great prices–I have to allow myself one treat per visit or I’d buy it all!

  5. Julie

    I love TJ’s too! They are def very reasonably priced. My boyfriend is addicted to their pumpernickel pretzel rods, & I love the wheat ones. Some of my other staples are their lean beef & soy non-beef substitute. I use it in place of beef in casseroles, chili, etc. & you can’t tell the difference! Not only is it healthier, but you don’t have to brown it 1st so it saves that step. I also like their guac. Love their frozen Pollo Asada pizza & risotto w/ asparagus tips (just had this last night). Cookie butter is a must for me, too, of course – that goes without saying. 🙂

  6. Connie

    Ok here goes. Originally I’m from LA where we have a TJ’s almost everywhere. Now I live in WV, sadly NO TJ’s anywhere so I travel to NC. Anyway I am so in love with this store that when I go it’s like look out. The food, wine, and their beauty products are amazing! Please try the Greek yogurt (honey) flavor is my favorite with fresh fruit cut up in it. Have fun.

  7. I have fallen in love with TJ’s. Their pre-made salads are so nice for lunches. I love the lemon chicken arugula salad or the Thai peanut pasta salad. I also love the Curried chicken salad. From the frozen section, I totally love the chicken and cilantro mini-wontons. They are delicious. My sister-in-law also introduced me to the Unexpected Cheddar Cheese paired with the raisin and rosemary crackers. Basically, I am completely in love with TJ.

  8. Stephanie-Oh

    Love Trader Joes although the closest one is 1 1/2 hrs. drive away.
    I love their Brown Rice Medley and the Pitted Kalamata Olives, also their goat cheese and pound plus bars. I absolutely agree with the olive oil-it is the best at a very reasonable price. Their dried fruit is very reasonable: blueberries, cherries !

  9. MassachusEATS

    Their Tuscan Pane bread makes the best toast. Also I really like the mini edamame crackers (forget the exact name) and the jalapeno chicken sausages. Last trip I grabbed Half Popped Popcorn, which sounds weird but was the coolest find – those half popped kernels have always been my favorite.

  10. I have Celiac Disease, and the GF products at TJ’s are priced AMAZINGLY well. Some of my favorites are the brown rice pasta and boxed mac and cheese, both for under $2, and the frozen waffles!

  11. So fun! That cheese section! Seriously though. Seriously. I would never make it past the cheese. We have a new-ish TJ’s here in Rochester but I’ve only been once, the day it opened. Needless to say it was so crowded I could barely move. I think it’s time I went back!

  12. Tricia

    LOVE the tips on the frozen stir fry’s! You are so right, they are extremely hard to come by that are delish.

    I have come to like TJ’s bruschetta that you find in their cold section next to their hummus. It is so good on just crackers. Also their chicken salad. It is the one with poppy seed dressing and grapes in it, out of this world.

    They have the best prices on olive oil. Hands down. Flowers too.

    Their little cat cookies are really good too, like a little ginger snap. The toddler loves them, and they are pretty lo cal.

    Sorry i just took up your blog! I love me some TJ too. the best.

  13. Stephanie

    My kids love the unsweetened dried mangos! So tasty. The yellow curry sauce is great for a quick dinner. And I currently crushing on the toasted coconut pancake mix! Soo good!

  14. stina

    The feta cheese spread. Once I went to TJs and they were sold out and I was a very, very sad panda. Also really love the sriracha barbecue sauce, and the “yellow” cold-pressed juice. I don’t care that it’s $5 for a little bottle, it’s epically delicious and I buy several bottles & keep them in the freezer. My husband loves to buy beer at TJs because the single bottles are priced lower than the local 711.

  15. We don’t have TJ’s here but everything I see on blog posts looks so appetizing. I think if they ever open one here I’ll be the first one through the door.

  16. Tanya

    Love trader joes! When my husband is out to sea, my boys and I have their frozen meals a few times a week and I don’t feel guilty about it. My current must haves are their microwaveable organic brown rice and their “nuts about raspberries and chocolate” trail mix. Peanuts, almonds, dried raspberries and little disks of Belgium dark chocolate. A handful is great when I get a sweet craving.

  17. Erin

    Our store is about 45 minutes away and we go there at least once a month! We love their yogurt cups( my kiddos refuse any others), their green chili chicken tamales in the fridge section are out ofv this world, multigrain crackers, kimchi fried rice, and so many others! Lol my newest obsession is mixing their precooked lentils, a container of their feta cheese, and their container of bruschetta. Let it sit for half hour. Then, take their pita bread, cut them in triangles and use it as a vessel for the deliciousness to get into your tummy! It is sooooooo good!

  18. Cheryl

    My favorites are Veg. Fried Rice just add left over chicken or steak and you have a meal, Pub Cheese, aged Balsalmic Vinegar and Chocolate coconut covered almonds (like an Almond Joy bite). Love the store. Thanks for the tips.

  19. TJs is the best. Like you there isn’t one super close so we always have a running list. I used to love the slice Fontina cheese but they stopped selling it a few months ago. Arg! Chocolate covered sea salt almonds are so amazing. I can never stop eating them once opened. And you pretty much nailed everything else.

  20. Hannah

    Ahhh how cool! I am from Brisbane, Australia and we have nothing like this here!! (we did just get a Costco though whooo) I am going to New York at the end of the year and can’t wait to try a bunch of these!! Do you have any other suggestions of American products (particularly for baking) that I should keep an eye out for? We don’t have graham crackers, as many variations of candies/cookies such as oreos, chocolate chips or m&ms and I’d never heard of cookie butter!! Thank you Cookies and Cups, you’re the best!

    1. Shelly

      ahh thank you! Cookie Butter and Biscoff Spread are very similar, so if you can get your hands on either one of those you need to grab them!!

    2. Hannah but they don’t have TimTams!!! Or Crunchie/Violet Crumble (love it sprinkled on pavolova 😀 ) or Allens lollies!!! I have also heard we have a better variety of kitkats than they do 🙂
      In Perth we have only just started to get 7/11s and Aldi is finally coming over 🙂

  21. Courteney

    Love the pounder dark chocolate. Recommendations to try…dark chocolate coconut almonds. Beef and broccoli frozen meal. Any of their Greek yogurts. Lemon or coconut thin cookies. Frozen mini tacos. Coffee cake.

  22. Kathy

    If you haven’t tried it, next time at Trader Joes try the Reduced Guilt Chunky Guacomole, it’s made with Greek yogurt. It’s creamy & delicious. I buy several & freeze them.

  23. The closest TJ’s is an hour away and me and my husband go every other week! Mainly because I’m addicted to their Chili Lime Cashews- omg, so good! I go through a couple bags a week- so bad for my wallet! I love their price on organic fair trade coffee. I also always get peanut butter and almond butter- cheaper and tastier than anywhere else. I could go on and on, but I’ll leave it at that! 🙂

  24. I have got to try that hummus and the jumbles! And I love their chili lime chicken burgers too, along with many other things you mentioned. I agree about the fruit, but sometimes I do buy some there because I find things I cannot get at my regular store.

  25. Jennifer

    i love TJ but honestly never really know what to buy there. I’m going to make a shopping list of your suggestions and give them a try! They all sound so yummy!!! Thank you!

  26. My favorites are the plain naan, roasted corn, crispy puffed pea snacks, and Thai cashews. The gluten-free chicken nuggets are really great as well, and their veggie burgers are some of the best I’ve had.

    OH, and coconut oil! Can’t forget that.

  27. PeggyAI

    100% with you on these choices, would add the other two croissant choices, the frozen goat cheese & caramelized onion pastries, Just the Clusters vanilla cereal, fair trade coffee & their salads. I could go on forever…oh yeah, their shopping bags are the best – we have some that are 10 years old!

  28. I live in NJ too and the closest TJ’s is about 35 mins away – I go to the Shrewsbury one. I always get so overwhelmed and spend over an hour just going up and down the isles! Lol. Next time I go I’m definitely going to try your suggestions! You NEEEEED to try the mochi. I always get the strawberry one and it’s literally heaven in your mouth. By the way, you are the ONLY blogger I have found that lives in NJ – YAY!

  29. Katrina L

    We love the Kung Pao chicken too, just had it last night! We also love the garlic naan bread, frozen fruits, chicken cilantro potstickers, everything crackers and all of their candy/treats.

  30. MJ

    The speculos chocolate cups! One little cup cures that chocolate and speculos craving. If your TJs has wine then you are in luck bc you will find an assortment of good wines for not super expensive. And I’m not talking the gross 2 buck chuck.

    And I love that you said you spend less at TJs bc I do as well but my husband doesn’t believe me!!!

    1. Shelly

      it’s so true! I always spend less! Also I’m in NJ and they don’t sell wine/beer in grocery stores up here…but I have heard their wine is amazing!

  31. Paula King

    You HAVE to try the Hobo Bread. Very similar to Boston Brown Bread. Some people put cream cheese on it, but I like it with just a bit of butter. My husband likes it with Biscoff crunchy spread.

  32. Myriam

    I love this post and TJ! Cookie Butter is a must and at the top of my list. Their Kung pao chicken and grilled chicken strips are regular purchased as well. So many great things at TJ. I recently started buying their freeze dried fruits to incorporate in my baking.

  33. Nicole Sloka

    You must try TJs Quick Cook Steel Cut Oats. Yellow can, I think it’s $2.49. Very filling and versatile with fruits and toppings. Our two year olds eats it like we are going to take the bowl away from him!

  34. SuMi

    I love everything about Trader Joe’s! From their nuts/dried fruit to their hummus to their frozen foods… It’s my favorite place to take my toddler shopping because he loves the little kiddo carts he can push his “musts” around in. I always buy their yogurt cups (whole fat yogurt in a kids portion! Perfect!) and the Peruvian Chimichurri Rice. Also love the orange Muscat champagne vinegar for making vinaigrettes.

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Shelly Hi! I’m Shelly and I’m an addict. Of the buttercream sort. I started this site a few years ago as a way to justify my sugary, buttery obsession with desserts. It has worked out well for me so far, because as it turns out you guys all love sugary, buttery desserts too! It feels good to know you're not alone, doesn’t it?

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