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. Love me some Trader Joes.
    Those K-Cups, while nice a cheap, didn’t work in my Keurig.Not sure they are made correctly. I have tried on 3 separate occasions. It only brews a partial cup and then states overflowing from the top of the machine where the K cup is. Its almost like the K-cup wasn’t make to drain well enough.
    Boooooo-hissss.
    I love their frozen food section. And their wine isn’t too shabby either.

  2. Annette

    Our Trader Joe’s is about 20 minutes away. My husband and I make a special trip just for the chocolate croissants! They have become a Sunday morning tradition. My husband loves the wine selection too. We were hoping for a Trader Joe’s around the corner from our house but got an Aldi instead 🙁

    1. Kristen@accidentallydomesticated

      Aldi’s has some hidden gems. They are owned by the same company as Trader Joe’s. It took me awhile, but I now love Aldi’s.

  3. Brooke

    I make a Thai chicken soup that is delicious. It’s basically normal chicken soup but with white pepper and cilantro. TJ’s has a chicken cilantro mini wonton (http://www.traderjoes.com/fearless-flyer/article/681) that is crazy delicious. It tastes just like the soup but without the soup (which is great since I’m all about the stuff inside the soup and not the actual soup!). And, of course, you can’t go wrong because they are mini! 😀

  4. Robin Williams

    Your choices are great. I must say their Siracha Roasted Garlic Barbecue Sauce is outstanding. I put it in sliders, meatloaf cups and pulled pork. I think it’s a seasonal item so stock up.

  5. Heather

    Okay, let’s see.

    REALLY cheap vitamin E oil. Fleur de sel, also at rock bottom prices. Almost any sweet towards the front of the store is just to die for. I got Caramel dark chocolate wedges on the way out the other day and the tin didn’t make it home. Yes, the bread is divine. All of it. The hummus, yes. Oh…honeycrisp cider, when they have it. Chocolate baton cookies, when they have them. Stay away from the fresh rice noodles. Literally the only bad thing I’ve ever had from there. Oh, but egg pappardelle is delicious and I’ve never had such a fat cut of noodle before, it would be perfect for the bolognese.

    I want to try that iced coffee concentrate. That looks epic.

  6. Nicole

    I love TJ’s!! My closest one is 2 hours away in Kansas City, but I always bring home a cooler. The Peppermint Jo-Jos around the holidays are to die for! Also, I have tried out several beauty products that are amazing–the lavender body scrub is a favorite!

  7. Misty

    I live in Thailand now, and I miss Trader Joe’s (along with good quality American food.) Anyway, my in-laws are coming for a visit soon and we gave them a list of items to bring us TJ’s. 🙂 No frozen foods on that list of course but an absolute favorite when we lived there was the mushroom and black truffle flat breads. My kids hate mushrooms but love this stuff. We also got the reduced guilt version of the mac n cheese. Not sure how it stands up to the full fat, it was the sample one of our first trip to TJ’s and since it was so good I never tried the full fat. The Chai and Salted Caramel Chai powder mixes are amazing, just add hot water. The pumpkin pancakes in the fall are great and their apple cider is yummy. I think all my other favorites have been covered by others. Oh! The melatonin is awesome if you ever have trouble falling asleep. They’re chewable so they work fast and are awesome when trying to get over jetlag. We had to give our dog away to move here (I still cry over him 2 years later) but he loved the Charlie Bear dog treats. They are small discs and were perfect when we were training him especially. Just the right size to be a treat but not so big that is was a bunch of wasted calories. Used them to teach him to high-five. Man I miss that dog…

  8. Karen Taylor

    Well I sure wish that we had a Trader Joe’s here because I really love some of there things they have I was in Arizona 2 years ago in July for 5 weeks to visit my sisters and brother and my one sister took me to several places and one of them was Trader Joe’s. I remember that the Hummus was one of the best I have had besides one to the restaurants that she took me to that they made there hummus and it was really so good so traders Joes was the 2nd best that I really loved.

  9. Marcia S.

    We also love the frozen Mandarin Orange Chicken and the Cranberry White Chocolate Dunkers! I made home made Orange Chicken one night, then went to my neighbor’s house who made the frozen, easy Trader Joe’s version and i liked hers better! Needless to say, I’m done making that from scratch!

  10. Darcy

    So many great things that I’ve never tried! Yum! We love the Yellow curry sauce for quick veggie curries – add the the frozen samosas and garlic naan and you have a super yummy meal. We also love the Korean Bulgogi – sooooo good and easy to make.

  11. Diner Joe’s frozen macaroni and cheese is THE BEST EVER. It is so cheesy and the macaroni cooks up al dente, not mushy like the other frozen types. And the cookie butter. Beyond yummy. I am so glad I live in So. California where Trader Joe’s is a part of life. And they have lots of stores so I don’t have to go far to get my fix.

  12. Well, you know I LOVE this post. I look at that macaroni & cheese every time I go. I’m getting it next time. AND…I’ve so been avoiding those milk chocolate jumbles for the same reason….QUINOA! Ugh. OK, I might try them now. I trust you.

    1. Brooke

      My MIL is a snowbird (I live in FL). When she came down last fall, the first thing she did was tell me about a quinoa cookbook she got. I was polite, but in my head I was thinking “why would you do that???” LOL

  13. Jennifer

    Dang it! I literally just got home from Trader Joe’s an hour ago! It’s not super convenient, so I like to stock up. I always get their Naan (Indian flat bread), baby brie cheese (perfect for a snack with a handful of crackers), their JoeJoe’s mind ice cream sandwiches are the bomb (think mint Oreo cookies but with ice cream in he middle!). I’ve always wanted to try that orange chicken, so will have to grab some next time!

  14. Mikeline Skibsted

    I live in Southern California, and have 5 TJs within 5 miles. The closest is less than a mile away. Haven’t seen the Canadian White Bread here, but they have great multi whole grain breads. Love their card selection. Here in Calif. they are allowed to sell Beer and wine. Famous for what is affectionately known as 2 buck Chuck (Charles Shaw) wine it’s now $3 but well worth it. Best prices on eggs around. All around it’s a GREAT store

  15. Maria

    Creamy Spinach Artichoke Dip from the freezer section!! Quick, easy, awesome cheesy appetizer to serve with chip/crackers. Everyone loves it!

  16. Elizabeth

    I love the chicken shitaki mushroom stir fry! The Pomegranate Limeade is good by it’s self but does it ever make an awesome margarita or mixed with vodka! If you can get your hands on their dried peaches when in season they are my daughters’ favorite. They have great fresh pizza crust that we love. My favorite peppermint tea is TJ’s!

  17. JudyB

    We agree with the response re TJ’s cookie butter cookies! Can eat 3 or 4 without even thinking clearly. New fave, with cookies being on a par, is Corn and Chile tomato-less Salsa. Can eat it out of jar from a spoon. Good on wraps to spice them up a bit – plus, it adds a veggie to the meal (ha-ha).

  18. Amanda

    The chocolate crossants are the best! I do love the cookie butter but currently obsessed with the chocolate almond butter.

  19. Lyn Holmes

    Sorry if this is a repeat comment, but Trader Joe’s frozen pie crust is a must to have on hand in your freezer, for both savory and sweet pies! Two to a package, tastes like homemade!!

  20. Christine

    I have yet to buy something that I don’t like! I am lucky to live on 15-20 minutes from a Trader Joe’s, which can be trouble!!
    TJ’s Honey is better than the supermarkets! But, here are some of our favorites:
    Cat Cookies (Chocolate, of course)They are like Animal Crackers!
    Any of their frozen fruit
    Chicken Sticks for our dog
    Beef Strips for our dog
    Lite Feta (Block)
    Mascarpone
    Red Pepper Jelly
    Chocolate Raspberry Sticks
    Chocolate Covered Espresso Beans
    ~ I have to stop…I’m making myself hungry!

  21. Abby

    As an employee of TJS I love it! they are a fabulous company to work for with great benefits. But now onto the food— my favorites are in the frozen department– raspberry torte, cheesecake, bonbons, ice creams yummy! Just an fyi- the breads vary from region to region. I wish we sold that bread in the southeast! Absolutely addicted to the quinoa jumbles! And remember if you ever want to try something in the store just ask a crew member! We would be happy to open it for you!! Also, if you get home with an item and don’t like it… bring it back- no questions asked!!

  22. try their “queen of croissants”. a caramel topped pastry croissant that takes you to heaven. it’s seasonal though so when it’s there, buy a bunch of them. if i could only buy one thing at TJ’s that would be it.

  23. daria

    I love the Dog Biscuits. All natural peanut butter dog treats… some of them shaped like cats and mailmen! 🙂
    I also don’t have a store nearby, so I too have a list going… kinda funny when you think of it, huh? thanks for the additions! I shall try some of them on my next trip. Also- I have to mention the friendliness of the staff there….the customer service is awesome at the Trader Joe’s that I have been to. If you inquire about a product, chances are that the associate will open a package and let you taste it. Now that is excellent customer service!!!

  24. Donna Dawson

    I honestly have driven 25 miles put of my way for tj’s chocolate covered, peanut butter filled pretzels! No lie, love them that much!!!

  25. Amanda

    I was just at TJ’s last night! It’s like 4 minutes from my house so I go more often than I should. 🙂 Some of my faves: rosemary marcona almonds, fig butter, blueberry chevre cheese, frozen macarons (which I think are too much of a hassle to make when you can get them at such a good price and have them handy in the freezer whenever you have a craving), and the mini PB cups (also great to snack on from the freezer). One last favorite is the frozen spinach artichoke dip, which you microwave into yummy gooeyness for bread or crackers (I use the TJ version of reduced-guilt triscuits).

    1. Shelly

      I seriously can’t buy the frozen macarons anymore. I left them off the list because I just can’t. I EAT THE WHOLE BOX AT ONCE! It’s out of control!!!!! SO good!

  26. Rebecca Ednie

    Argh! Where was this post about 6 weeks ago! I love north of Toronto but ventured to Niagara falls and buffalo. Buffalo specifically for the trader Joes. These things all sound delish! Gonna pin this one.

  27. Sharon

    TJ came to town a few months ago, but I’ve stayed away, hoping the crowds will lessen. Guess where I’m going tomorrow????? Hee hee!

  28. Didn’t I tell you those jumbles were ridic? And this from a girl that just can’t with the quinoa. I’m going to have to pick up that mac and cheese next time I’m there. It’s always got to be single-serve around here because my loser husband hates cheesy sauces. 🙂

    I hope you got the marinara sauce too! Oh, and word to the wise on the k-cups they have there. They aren’t like regular k-cups. They’re in little, sealed foil packages, almost like a giant after dinner mint you’d get at Maggiano’s. You can’t take them out of the foil package without it making the coffee go stale, so forget about storing them in your cute k-cup drawer or spinner. Was a huge let down for me. I’d much rather buy their regular coffee and use a re-usable k-cup. BUT HOW HAVE I NEVER SEEN THE COLD BREW CONCENTRATE? I’m a little upset now.

    Also, thanks for the link love, babe!

    1. Shelly

      ahh yes, don’t remove the k-cups from the packaging 🙂 I don’t have a cute little drawer, so I’m all good! YES I bought the marinara but haven’t tried it yet! Can’t wait 🙂

  29. Cindy Friesen

    My son works at Trader Joes and I don’t have a store even remotely close to me. Every couple of months he fills up a large flat rate box from the post office and sends me all kinds of fun stuff. I love the cookie butter-make sure you try the other flavored-chocolate swirl & cookies and cream-so good! The nuts and candy are good-just tried the pecan pralines and you’re right-very good! When he came home at Christmas he brought some frozen things. Try the Mac & cheese balls-yummy!!

    1. Shelly

      I have seen those Mac and Cheese balls there and have always been tempted, but haven’t ever bought any! I will add them to my list!

  30. Michelle

    Try this Tomato Basil Soup when you want a quick soup. 1 box of TJ’s tomato soup, 1/2 jar of their pesto and 1/2 container of their creme fraiche. Heat it all together. Serve with TJ’s Garlic Parmesan flat croutons. I hate tomato soup, but love this. I also like for a snack their chocolate covered pretzels. Also love the Trader Ming’s Chinese chicken salad dressing. I’m lucky as there are 3 Trade Joe’s within 5 miles of my work. The closest is about 5 minutes away and one of the other TJ’s is on my way home from work.

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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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