My Favorite Trader Joe’s Pantry Items

It’s pretty obvious that I’m a big fan of Trader Joe’s. No, they didn’t sponsor this post. They did give me a bunch of raffle tickets for using my own bags yesterday. One day I will win that raffle. ONE DAY!

Because I’m somewhat obsessed with shopping at Trader Joe’s, people always tweet me asking what they should get when they’re going to a Trader Joe’s & they’ve never been before. BTW-I think it’s so awesome that some of my Canadian friends make special trips across the border to stock up on items. Love it! Canada deserves their own Trader Joe’s. For real.

This is the post I will reference when someone asks what they should stock up on.

These are my favorite Trader Joe’s Pantry Items:

Beans. They can be the base for most meals. I make sure to stock our cabinets up with them. At my Tj’s they’re sometimes less than a dollar or maybe just a little over. They make it into my cart almost every single trip even if I don’t need beans. Two of my staple recipes are Black Bean Tacos or Tuna & White Bean Salad. They all start with beans!

You look at this box and you think “Hmm! I could totally serve these at a party. Oooh! I should have a party. They even gave me 4 different appetizer suggestions on the box!” Then all of a sudden your “party” is a party of one on the couch …where you’re eating every last cracker even though you promised yourself only a handful and now you can’t possibly be stopped. These are dangerous….AND SOOO GOOD. Consider yourself warned….and you’re welcome.

I’ve always loved this soup. I’ve tried just the TJ’s plain tomato soup and it doesn’t compare. There’s something about the red pepper in it that makes is a winner for me. When I come home from work and Casey asks what’s for dinner and I don’t feel like cooking much, I heat up this soup (with a few added spices and fresh basil if I have some). Sometimes I add a sprinkling of cheddar cheese up in. It’s gooooooood.  I also make us grilled cheese sandwiches on sourdough bread because it instantly makes my husband’s day better. Good wife-ing.

NUUUUTS. Can I be frank with you? I’m CHEAP. Buying nuts in bulk is usually expensive. I like buying my nuts at Trader Joe’s. I always have and always will…until I find a cheaper alternative near me.

Plus they always have every nut I need.

You best believe all the nuts in these Honey Nut Squares came from Trader Joe’s!

I feel like I might be the only person who likes these chips. But that can’t be…because they keep making them. I know I am the ONLY person in my house that eats them. For a week Cooper LOVED them and now he considers them “TOO SPICY.” The nerve. Now when I finish a whole bag, I only have myself to blame.  I think I was introduced to these chips when I was low carb living. They have tons of fiber, which helps cancel out carbs (or something!). I like my chips to have polka dots (aka flaxseeds). When Mondays are tough, I throw cheese on top of a pile of them and call them nachos.

Oyster crackers. Nuff said. Cooper loves them. Smoked Trout! That’s my new favorite thing. I bought them once because I saw a potato salad recipe that called for smoked trout. I didn’t make that potato salad for some reason (lazyness?) and one night I opened up a can of smoked trout and proclaimed it dinner. Sometimes I open up two cans (one for me, one for Casey) add some crackers and say “DINNER IS SERVED!” This is real life.

We went to a birthday party a few months ago and Cooper was introduced to these seaweed wrappers. He LOVES them. This and Kale Chips are the only green things he will eat. It’s always interesting to see how big of a mess Cooper can make while eating them.

For the past few years, I’ve been buying really pricy balsamic reduction (I know, I could totally just make it!) so when I ran out and saw this at Trader Joe’s recently, I had to try it. It’s good, people. The best part is that a couple of drops on a cucumber made Cooper eat three cucumber slices. When I make this Strawberry Goat Cheese Bruschetta again, I’ll use this reduction.

This green salsa is a staple. When I’m making tacos on the fly, I usually will pair Trader Joe’s corn tortillas, carnitas, onions & cilantro. Sometimes I add feta if I have some in my fridge. Whatever, I know it’s not Mexican. It tastes good. It’s an easy/satisfying dinner. I’ll also take the carnitas from TJ’s and bake it in the oven in a casserole dish with this salsa. I add a little bit of rice, beans & cheese on top and broil it until all the cheese is crispy on top. NOM.

If you’ve been on my blog for a long time, you know that I love recipes that include sesame oil.

This Kale Salad would be NOTHING without this sesame oil.

Also.

This apple cider vinegar makes this potato salad possible!

Hooray for staples.

Honey and agave can be expensive other places. At Trader Joe’s they’re totally accessible.

I once had to buy agave syrup at Target and it was like $7. That’s totes expensive in Trader Joe’s land.

I usually stock up on seasonal items. My Candy Cane Joe Joe stash has been gone for awhile now…they never last! Cooper LOVES the pumpkin waffles I make from this mix. I add some pureed pumpkin when he’s not looking. I got a little too aggressive with pumpkin hoarding this year. Whatever.

Saving the BEST for last. If you listen to the podcast, you know how obsessed I am with this stuff. Think the texture of peanut butter….BUT cookies. It’s insanity. Great on carrots, apples, spoons & pretzels. I’ve heard people putting them on Chez-Its and goldfish crackers. Oh man.

These are the items I have in my pantry now. If they survived the move…and I stocked up on them for the new house, it means they’re winners.

What are your favorite items from Trader Joe’s?

Don’t you just hate it when they discontinue one of your favorite things? 

Also it’s a huge bummer that puff pastry is considered a seasonal item. Just sayin’

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  • Jessica

    Oooh, this is a great list! I love the chicken tikka masala, creamy jalapeno hummus and dried mangos! So much good loot at TJ’s :)

  • Anna @The Littlest Anchovy

    I’m from Australia and heading to the USA later this year. I have just heard too many good things about Trader Joe’s that I have actually added it to my “places to go” list. Love your blog and loooove the podcast!

  • Alison

    My husband and I are visiting the states in October (we’re from South Australia) and one of the first things on my list to do is visit Trader Joe’s (and buy large amounts of cookie butter). This post has just made me so excited for our holiday! Thanks Tracy :)

  • Blog is the New Black

    That soup and that cookie butter? I’m done! 😉

  • Lindsay

    This is a really great list! Some of my favorite things to buy at TJ’s are jarred items like kalamata olives, sun-dried tomatoes, and roasted red peppers– they’re so much cheaper at TJ’s than other grocery stores.

  • Suzy

    Don’t worry Tracy, I love the Flaxseed Chips too!
    I just love Trader Joes and it’s always fun to go in and see what’s new, it’s like a scavenger hunt! And I never feel bad if I loaded up my cart with things I just want to try and not really need.

    Some of my fav items are the Sprouted Rye Bread, Breaded Eggplant Patties, Turkey Burgers and the Candied Ginger.

    Yeah, lady fingers are seasonal too…I want to make legit tiramisu and well, the last thing I want during Christmas time is tiramisu: P

  • Holly W

    I think I’m bookmarking this right now. It was just announced yesterday that my city, Salt Lake, is FINALLY getting a TJ’s by the end of the year, and I’m STOKED!!!
    Thanks for the list.

  • Jane M

    You left off the chocolate on your list. TJ’s sells bars of different % of cocoa and the chocolate is A-MAZ-ING! I bake with all the time. It’s soooo affordable as well! Love your pantry list. My mouth is watering and it’s only 7am in NJ.

  • Julia Steele

    Hello? Two. Buck. Chuck. While it may not be the *greatest* wine in the world, it is perfect for a party after the first “good bottle” is gone.

  • Wendy Darling

    My husband packs lunches for our family every morning, and today he has packed me a tiny go-cup filled with about 2 oz of the cookie butter! I cannot express how much I love that stuff!!! We shop at TJs every week, and I smiled and nodded my way through this post, agreeing with everything you said.

    My husband will never forgive them tho for disconuing the cocholate covered Jo-Jos. It’s a very sore subject for him.

  • Samantha

    Oh lord, that Sweet and Hot mustard. I live for that stuff! Love it on a good salami sandwich and my annual St. Patrick’s Day roasted corned beef. MMMMmmm.

  • Nicole @ The Dirty Oven

    Tracy we are TJ sisters….love all of those things. One of my deep dark secrets is that I love the egg white salads. Yes, a totally gross preapred salad, and I am sad to say that I will drive to TJ’s and “pretend” that I need to buy “something” in order to buy and eat this salad. Such Shame!

    I really do love the organic celery packages and their avos are pretty cheap. Also loving that they are having more oganic veggies and a wider range of tofu.

    My kids love the apple sauce and the TJ”s greek yogurts in honey and vanilla or as Calvin calls it “Purple Yogurt.”

    Love the post…still waiting for cookie butter filled pretzels.

  • Kali

    Cookie butter is a favorite, obviously. I love their house blend coffee. Also, I buy freeze dried fruit in the winter and then re-hydrate the fruit in water and throw it in muffins or pancakes.

    I forgot about two buck Chuck until I read a comment above. But in Minnesota, it’s three buck Chuck now. I agree with all of your items!

  • Valerie

    Lovin’ this post Tracy! I only wish TJs would set up in my city! Is it bad that I write to the company on a semi-annual basis, expressing my views on why Harrisburg, Pennsylvania would make an ideal location for a grocery store? Still holding out hope that one day it will happen. We do have a Wegman’s in the area and I love it. While they don’t sell Cookie Butter, they sell a product called Biscoff and it is equally delicious. Often, I find myself going to Wegs when I really don’t need anything. At the end of my trip my cart is filled with kitchen staples and much much more! I have to hand it to the grocery companies, they have figured out a way to make grocery shopping fun!

  • Clara

    Oh man, love this post Tracy. I too can be such a cheapskate when it comes to groceries- but I think it’s TJ’s that has made me that way! Their prices are so low so when I see higher ones I think… why would I pay that much??? I totally feel you on the nuts and the beans- so cheap and easy. I LOVE, like LOVE their greek yogurt brand, any of their nut butters (haven’t bought cookie butter yet- afraid to be alone with the jar!), their palak paneer frozen dinner, their coffee- so reasonable and good!, aaand their packaged/ pre-cut kale- perfect for kale chips.

  • ileana

    Ah, I wish I had a TJ nearby! I really want to try those pita bite crackers.

    • Kerry

      Ileana, do you happen to live near an Aldi’s? I have had the pita chips from TJ’s and then I bought some at Aldi’s one day, and I think they are the same. Just fyi…

  • Ann

    Some of my favorites are on your list, including those spicy flax chips! I haven’t seen the balsamic glaze yet at my TJ’s – can’t wait to try it. I’m fortunate to live within walking distance of TJ’s and I go there, oh, at least 3 times a week. Some things I almost never leave the store without are: flowers (so cheap!), the dark chocolate caramel bar w/ sea salt (life-changing), chicken gyoza potstickers, and, of course, wine. Oh, and my kitty loves the grain-free turkey and giblets wet cat food. Yay, TJ’s!

  • Robyn

    HYFR toronto needs a trader joe’s so bad!!! seriously contemplating a road trip this summer to detroit or pittsburgh to get my TJ’s fix!

    • Tara

      I love the trader joe’s in pittsburgh and they just opened a second one right outside the city that is supposed to be bigger that i really want to check out.

  • Hillary

    Such a great post. TJ’s has made shopping fun again for me. Heartily agree with many of the comments. Awesome chocolate, easy lunches and fun finds.

    I really like the masala patties for an easy dinner(potato-y and a little spicy, perfect with some strained yogurt). My go-to easy lunch is a frozen roasted veg burrito. Really satisfying for some reason.

  • Jessica

    I’m assuming that you somehow psychically knew that our FIRST Trader Joe’s is opening in a mere 9 days and that I’ve furiously been scouring the web for trusted product recommendations. Thanks for your perfect timing with this post!

  • Catalina @ Cake with Love

    I went to TJ only once and hated it, maybe because the one we have in NYC is small, and it looked dirty and empty, now that we have a car, I would love to visit the one in NJ, maybe I will have more luck, and will find all the delicious products that you just posted!

  • Deb Schiff

    I’m with you on the nuts, apple cider vinegar, and salsa verde. They don’t carry the smoked trout at the store I frequent, unfortunately. I’d like to try it. I also like their dried fruit, particularly the unsweetened dried mango slices. It’s like mango jerky. Although not a pantry item, I use their vitamins as well.

  • MaryBeth

    Oh this makes my heart ache that we don’t have a Trader Joe’s in Canada! I knew that it was awesome but after seeing this post it confirms that it’s even better than I thought! I might have to see if I can order that cookie butter online, also ever thought of doing a cookie butter swirled ice cream recipe? I think that’s gotta happen!

  • Candice

    I used to work one block from a TJ’s, but two months ago, my job moved me to a different location and the ONE thing I miss most about my old location is TJ’s. I had to go to that office yesterday and stopped by TJ’s on the way home, but that only made me realize just HOW much I missed it. Their stuff is SO awesome (I have so much of the stuff you show here) and so reasonably priced – and their meat is really good, too. Sigh. I seriously <3 TJ's.

  • Katherine

    Tracy! I swear we are sisters from another mister. I was at my local Trader Joe’s and just found out that the puff pastry was seasonal. I almost left. I cook the Carnitas and salsa verde like that. It is a huge hit in my family. My ultimate TJ favorite is their corn and black bean salsa in the refrigerator section. YUM!

  • Bev @ Bev Cooks

    YUH-ESS. I love the nuts too, and the oils, cheeses, wines (duh), omg everything. CHOCOLATE. Bath soap, green chicken burritos, tikka masala, omg. I’m starved.

    See you tomorrow night!

  • Kate

    I’m one of those Canada-livin’ people that drives down to the US once a month to shop at Trader Joe’s. Cookie butter, imported cheeses (CHEAP parmagiano and NZ cheddar – anything is better than Canadian cheese), the red pepper and tomato soup, spices, beans, crackers and chocolate always make the list. I’m moving to NZ at the end of the year and I honestly don’t know what I’ll do without some of this stuff. TJs needs to set up some worldwide shipping!

  • kim

    I am actually scared to buy that cookie butter. And I’m STILL mourning the loss of my very favorite cornmeal crust pizza! The fresh one with the peppers and olives and spinach. I always bought one a week and saved it for a rough day, and NOW? No pizza! :(

  • jenny

    TJs soul sisters! I can’t do the tom & rrp soup–roasted red peppers don’t agree with me for some reason–but seriously everything else on your list is a total staple in my pantry, too.

    you forgot:
    * TJ’s greek strawberry yogurt (the only commercially-produced strawb yogurt that’s not too sweet, IMO)
    * Pre-made roasted beets (DELICIOUSNESS, and I love that I don’t stain my entire kitchen like I do when I roast beets myself)
    * Pre-cooked lentils (great weeknight meal with rice and kale or spinach and a little lemon)
    * Dried strawberries (OBSESSION)
    * Dark chocolate-covered pretzels (yeah, I had to.)

    p.s. I wish they’d bring back the decaf chai latte mix. I love that stuff, and caffeine makes my heart race. boo.

  • nova

    I soooo wish we had a Trader Joe’s here.

  • Amanda

    I always buy their spinach and kale yogurt dip. It’s addicting! I hope it’s not seasonal or I will cry. Also their hummus, teriyaki sauce, frozen pizzas. TJ’s is dangerous! I always get ideas from their pre-made salads, but I never buy them because they are expensive.

    • Tracy

      They have a spinach quinoa salad that is SUPER good. It’s got edamame, craisins & a carrot dressing. SUPER tasty.

  • Rachelle S.

    As a former California girl who now lives in Denver, the number one thing I miss about TJ’s is their Honey Mango Shave cream. Every time I go home I have to stop in and pick up a couple bottles because nothing else compares! In college I lived off their mediterranean hummus with olive oil and pine nuts in it. I don’t think they make them any more, but their frozen gnocchi that are filled with pesto were the most delicious things. I CANNOT wait for the Boulder store to open! I don’t care how big of a crowd I have to fight, I will be shopping there constantly!

  • melissa

    I recently discovered their cinnamon raisin bread and have eaten it as toast for 2 weeks straight. it is amazing and so thick! also love their plain non-fat greek yogurt to go with morning granola. and the kid in me has to buy a bag of gummy-tummies every time i go!! oh and along the lines of not so good for you…the salt and pepper chips?! wow!

    • Tracy

      We love that bread! I’m probably going to do a few more posts of my favorite items there. Watch out!

  • Rachel

    You have now made me STUPIDLY happy that there is a Trader Joes on the ground floor of my building in Los Angeles I’m moving into in September – I’m from the UK so I’ve never shopped there before, but I hear you guys obsessing over it on the podcast all the time! x (I don’t think I have commented before, but MASSIVE fan by the way!)

    • Tracy

      OMG. I cannot IMAGINE living in a building where a Trader Joe’s is. YOU LUCKY GIRL!

  • Christina

    I’m totally with you on every single item! Nuts are just damn expensive so TJ’s is always where I’ll buy them.

    One other thing I always get from TJ’s, the banana’s! At 19 cents each, you just can’t go wrong. That’s 5 for $1!! Not even NYC fruit carts compare with this price.

  • Deanna

    I love those flax seed chips so you’re not alone. But they discontinued my favorite flax whole wheat crackers. I stockpiled them when I found out. I had something like 15 boxes at one point (that cost me all of $15). And I hate that they don’t stock the chocolate cheddar cheese all of the time. Because that cheese made my heart go pitter patter. I love living a 30 second bike ride away from TJ’s.

    I do wish they would carry powdered sugar.

  • Ashley @ Hudson on the Potomac

    I loveee TJ’s! I was just there last night! I always buy quinoa there because it’s only like $3 at TJ’s compared to $7(!!) at my local Safeway! I’m also always sure to stock up on $3 bottles of wine, and have a SERIOUS obsession with their White Bean & Basil hummus.

  • Diana

    I buy those chips EVERY SINGLE TIME I go to TJs (which can be twice a week sometimes). So…You’re not the only one :)

  • Amanda

    I may or may not work at a store that sells amazing balsamic reduction. I cry when I buy it, even with my discount. Walking through the TJs, I spot something similar, and lo and behold, it’s 3 BUCKS! It really is almost as good. Definitely 3 bucks good. This is going on everything.

    Cilantro dressing, beans, japanese fried rice (it has edamame and carrots, but more importantly seaweed and little bits of fried tofu…yum), greek yogurt, nuts and cranberries, tomato pepper soup, etc. Lived off TJs in college.

  • Jessica

    Love your list! Many of my favorites on there. Have you tried the Edamame Hummus? Its my new obsession and so delish. Oh and just tried the black bean/quinoa chips.. yummy

  • sara

    i told you I work there right? so many of your items are the best sellers (salsa vrde, roasted red pepper soup, almonds etc.). The chips? not so much, but you’re right! They’re still around! I bake with the almond meal often and buy the fresh almond milk (blue container), cilantro dressing, brown rice tortillas…they’re produce isn’t so great but pantry staples are fabulous :) Such a real life post, love it.

  • Janae

    Thank you for this post! I LOVE TJ’s and will definitely try some of your suggestions (like the tomato & pepper soup). Some of the things I always get there are hummus, mozzarella cheese, pita bread, and chocolate. Oh, and the bags of cinnamon pita chips… and the kettle corn! That stuff is dangerous… I’ve never had the Speculoos spread (going to pick some up today!) but I’ve had their chocolate bars that are filled with it (the ones they keep at the register for people like me to grab), and YUM!

  • Janae

    And btw, thanks for informing me that the puff pastry is seasonal because I look for it all the time and was thinking that my store just wasn’t wasn’t stocking it. Mystery solved :)

  • Jerri Moore

    Thanks for sharing this! We are getting a trader joes in the near future in Austin! So exciting.

  • Megan

    Such a good list! And man-0-man, your cookie butter description on the podcast totally talked me into buying it that week. And I love it! And I make everyone sample it at my house.

  • Nicole

    I visit TJ’s weekly because they are open at 8 am and I can slip in before work! I want to win that raffle, too, dang it!

    You are right, those pita crackers are DANGER and sometimes I buy the multigrain kind to feel better about myself.

    I also like the mozzarella, garlic hummus, nuts and dried fruit, lemons, limes, multigrain bread, European style yogurt (for tart fro yo), capers, sundried tomatoes, ketchup, pasta, tuna, raw sugar, maple syrup!, green tea mochi!, Valrhona chocolate, tea tree oil facewash, vitamins, Dr. Bronner’s soap, Reed’s ginger beer, coffee, mango yogurt gummies (more danger) and they usually have a good selection of seasonal beer that I’ll pick up for my husband.

    I always feel like I should be handed a medal for not purchasing their delicious chocolate-covered or peanut butter-filled treats that line the frozen aisle. I just can’t go there!

    I bought the Joe Joe’s for a recent visit from my parents (my Dad is an Oreo fiend) and they were crazy good and so much better than Oreos. I’m pretty sure I can never purchase those again.

  • laura k

    I love all their vinegars and oils. The beans are totally winners, and I always grab some. I like their marinated meats, especially the carne asada. So easy for quick tacos! In fact, I might have to pick some up tonight.
    They make a trek mix that has chocolate covered espresso beans in it, or at least they used to. Delicious.

    I actually thought I would shop at TJ’s way more often once I moved back to California, but the one near my house is always so packed, it stresses me out. People get pushy in TJ’s. It requires many deep breaths. But I’m still grateful that I can go when I want to.

  • laura k

    PS – My niece also loves those seaweed snacks. You’d think it would be a taste little kids would have a hard time with, but I guess not. Wacky kids.

  • Lacey Chalenor

    Loved this list, thank you! Their frozen mac n’ cheese is hands down my fav thing! It tastes like homemade but it took 4 minutes to cook. I add some siracha or other hot sauce to it when I need a spicy kick :)

  • Jenny

    Love this post! I think I love Trader Joes as much as you. I do most of my shopping there! I always get some white chocolate chips during the winter because they are also seasonal as well. I have not tried the pumpkin mix but I love the cornbread mix from Trader Joes. I find it hard to replicate that cornbread with my own recipes.

  • Amanda @ DinnersintheFourOneFive

    I am embarrassed to admit this, but we are such fans of the sparkling Contadino Pinot Grigio Vivace that we pretty much drink two bottles a week. And then recently they stopped carrying it and I practically screamed in the aisle like a junky looking for a hit when I realized it was gone from the shelves. Then it came back for a New York minute and now it’s gone again. They are toying with my fragile emotions.

    • Leslie

      Amanda – I used to love the Vivace as well…. The wine guy at my TJs recommended the Espiral Vinho Verde as an alternative and it’s great. AND, it’s low enough in alcohol to not feel bad about multiple bottle a week!

  • Tara

    Now I have to stop by Trader Joe’s after work to pick up some things!

  • Amanda Barkey

    Your love for tjs is what drew me to you years ago when you posted this Chewy Oatmeal Pumpkin Bread http://www.shutterbean.com/2007/pumpkin-bread-mix/ YUM. I love their Rasin Rosemary Crisps (same deal as the Pita crackers you posted about) and I LOVE those flax chips! I eat them with the hummus quad that they sell. My boys are obsessed with their fruit bars and fruit leather. They also make this Tandori Style Butter Chicken in the section with the meals for one and its such a yummy little lunch with their naan bread. Their Almond milk is pretty delicious too. :)oh Trader Joes, I heart you.

  • Kadie Roberts

    Shelled Edamame! It’s so easy to eat! I feel like I’m cheating because I can just take a handful and chow! Great list! I totes agree on the Pita crackers… Best eaten with warm brie in my opinion!

  • Erin @ The Speckled Palate

    When I lived in Nashville, I shopped at TJ’s, though I didn’t get nearly into it as I should, especially since there is not one ANYWHERE near my current town.

    I miss Joe Joe’s. I also love, love, loved their frozen tart yogurt. I’m also a huge fan of the nuts and dried fruits section. Affordable AND awesome. Love it, and I cannot wait to live in a town that has one soon!

  • hellywelly

    i used to buy that balsamic glaze when i lived in california but they don’t sell it in washington. loved glazing pork tenderloin with it. so good! love the roasted tomato soup, too! other fave items: sunflower seed butter, sweet potato gnocci (frozen), enchilada sauce, light string cheese, tomato basil hummus, tandoori naan, turkey bacon, chimichurri steak, honey chevre, and green fin white and red table wines.

  • Carissa

    We live almost 2 hours from the closest Trader Joe’s, so when we go, we stock up majorly!. I love their nuts, too. We also get the kalamata olive oil & the big jug of balsamic. In the winter, I love their sipping chocolate that comes in a little brown & tan tin. The sweet potato chips & harvest grains blend are both delicious. They probably think we’re crazy cause we buy so many of all this stuff since we live far away.

  • Rita

    My favorite item from Trader Joe’s is Penne Pepperonata in the frozen section. It’s penne pasta with a roasted red pepper sauce…OMG! It’s a quick and easy dinner. My sister told me about the Roasted Gorgonzola Crackers. If you like blue cheese, you’ll love these. I travel about an hour to get to the closest TJ’s, but it’s so worth it!

  • Marian

    Today will be my last visit to TJ’s before I move from Seattle up to Anchorage, sniff sniff. Unfortunately TJ’s, like many other chain stores, have yet to make the trip up to my northern homeland. I will miss munching down on sweet potatoe chips dipped in tahini and drinking some delicious mango black tea quite terribly. Good bye joe, my old friend..

  • Rosemarie

    I love this list! I agree with your selections, especially the nuts, the oils/vinegars (the white balsalmic is great), and the soup. I also stock up on the frozen turkey meatballs (great way to add some protein to a quick dinner)and cranberry oatmeal dunkers. I realized a tea I love was seasonal and almost asked the a person I gave it to for Christmas if she would mind giving it back. But I refrained.

  • Jane M

    OH how can I forget – I love their SPONGES! Have you tried them???

  • Emily

    Love this post! One thing I love that i was introduced to last year is their PUMPKIN BUTTER. Soo good! I stock up in November for sure. Love the Cilantro dressing too. Good deal on the MOCHI ice cream too..the chocolate is my fave.

  • Simone

    Their Ginger Granola w/ Almonds & Cashews, Honey Nut O’s (just like Honey Nut Cheerios but cheaper, same for “plain” ones), fresh pineapple juice, refrigerated whole wheat pizza dough, coconut thins (new cookies, the most AMAZING flavor & buttery texture, like homemade), spices (most are $1.99), chicken shu mai, ice cream (I haven’t tried a flavor I didn’t like), roasted peppers, capers (so cheap!), marinara sauce (only $1.89), spicy hummus, tandoori naan bread, sourdough wheat bread, goat cheese & sun-dried tomato ravioli, shredded swiss/gruyere blend (awesome for quiches), candied ginger, dried mango…I could easily go on for days. Luckily I’m going this afternoon! :)

  • Kristen

    I love this list Tracy! I hope you do some more. I am a Trader Joe’s addict. I remember I used to get excited to go shopping at the mall, now I have those same feelings towards TJ’s. I share some of the same favs as you. It is hard to contain them to one list.

    I just grabbed the balsamic glaze last weekend and can’t wait to give it a try. I always grab at least 2 bags weekly of frozen breaded chicken tenders. My husband eats them daily. For frozen chicken strips they are so good and meaty. For a quick meal he will pour some marinara sauce and shredded mozzarella and pop them in the oven (after defrosting them in the micro). I call it the lazy man’s chicken parm. I also faithfully grab a bag of orange chicken and grilled chicken breast strips. Some of my girlfriends got me hooked on what we now call “life changing cheese”, it is creamy toscano cheese soaked in Syrah. Words would not do this hunk of cheese justice!

  • Emily

    I live over 2 hours from the nearest Trader Joe’s, but am moving a half an hour from one…hooray! I can’t get enough of the Just Mango slices. Who knew dried fruit was that good? I went to NYC to visit a friend and, on the return trip, packed my suitcase with more bags of Just Mango than souvenirs. I also like anything that they dip in chocolate: espresso beans, edamame, pomegranate seeds.

  • Anne@BakingMe

    I just found out we are getting a Trader Joe’s in my city! I must check out all of your great recommendations!

  • wesley @ the way home

    Thanks for this! So good to know! I still need to try the cookie butter, but I will say I’m afraid to get addicted…

  • Grace

    Although I live in Arkansas and sadly we have no Trader Joe’s in the state, I love to visit the stores when I’m near them. My husband and I stopped at TJ’s three times on our honeymoon in California alone! Anyway, I love their cilantro and chive yogurt dip, chocolate bars (such as the sea salt, dark chocolate and caramel one) and cheap wine. Thanks for sharing your faves.

  • emily | nomnivorous

    Oh my, I almost forgot about those spicy flax chips! I love those. They’re such great, crunchy, spicy snacks.

  • Julie @BananasForBourbon

    Great post! Are you prepared for the bum-rush of comments? Everyone has their TJ’s favorites. Definitely with you on the nuts. I will add:

    *The syrah soaked toscanno cheese. It’s amazing. I can’t stop eating it on everything.
    *Maple sugar! The just started selling it. It’s deeeelicious!
    *organic sweetened condensed milk in a squeeze bottle! So you don’t have to use the whole can. Genius, right?
    *Their fair trade french roast coffee beans are the best for the price. Can’t beat it!
    *Their pound plus chocolate bar. Really nice chocolate at an awesome price. Their fancier stuff is good too.

    And Tracy, can you believe I JUST tried their smoked herring for the first time a few days ago!? AMAZING!!! We must have looked at the same recipe (The Kitchn?) because I totally made potato salad (diff recipe) and put the herring on top and it was totally amazing (totes amazeballs in your lingo ;p). A worker at the store had recommended the herring. Believe their recommendations, people!

  • Kate @ eatrecyclerepeat

    I love the green tea peppermint decaf tea they have around Christmas – Peppermint Candy Cane or something like that. I buy 20 boxes so I have a year round supply!

  • maija

    Like you, I always buy beans & roasted red pepper soup. Staples – can always make a meal with those pantry items.

    I also like/obsess over:
    *frozen cheese/green chile tamales (2 in a pack) – microwave for 5 min. meanwhile – heat up a can of beans (add cumin, chili etc). easy meal for 2 – one tamale each + 1/2 can of beans. Add salsa, cheese, avocado to top.
    *frozen garlic naan – good w/their Indian foods, of course.
    *pizza dough – we have pizza almost every week (oops)
    *roasted peppers & olives (in jars) – great for pizza, pasta, etc
    *bags of sugar snap peas – for work snacks
    *reduced guilt mac-n-cheese (frozen) – yummy lunch treat
    *emergen-c packs from vitamin aisle (best price around)
    *gorgonzola crackers – my BF’s obsess – he calls them “gorgo snacks”
    *dried fruits (esp apples)

  • maija

    Almost forgot – their cheese tortellinis from the refrigerated section. I always have a package of these in the fridge. Good hot w/sauce in the winter or as a cold pasta salad in summer (add viniagrette & peas & parm).

  • stacy

    OMG I CANNOT WAIT TO FINALLY BE GETTING A TJ IN AUSTIN!!! THis excites me beyond belief. Watch out Whole Foods, TJ is comin at ya. I’m taking this list of staples with me on my first visit, you better believe! Thanks!

  • Becky

    Tracy, we love those Flaxseed chips, too. They’re the BEST. Two things that killed me when they discontinued them were their teriyaki drumsticks and this nut mix called Mayan Mix. We called it crack mix. Sooooo good.

  • Jennifer

    We love our Trader Joe’s! We live right on the border of Canada and the parking lot is always overflowing with Canadian vehicles who made the trek down just for TJ’s!

  • Sarah

    I LOVE the Soyrizo!! I am veggie and gluten free and this is both! My carnivorous bf loves it too which is a super score! I also love the Spinach and Kale Yogurt Dip with the Falafel Chips mmmm! Tri-Color Quinoa is a staple in our cabinet too.

    We have a TJ’s and Whole Foods down the street from each other and I always hit up TJ’s for our veggies, cheese, dairy, etc. and then I pop over to Whole Foods for stuff they didn’t have. I LOVE TRADER JOES AND I DONT CARE WHO KNOWS IT :)

  • Sarah

    OH AND!! HOW COULD I FORGET THE SESAME HONEY ALMONDS?!?!?

  • Mary-Lynn

    I live across the street from Trader Joe’s, though I don’t always love it. However right now I’m obsessed with two items: their s’mores and the sesame melba toasts.

  • Caralyn @ glutenfreehappytummy

    love the cookie butter!! i wish trader joe was an actual man…i’d marry him!! haha…thanks for sharing! great post!

  • Melanie

    i always buy plantain chips, naan, orange chicken, pulled pork, stroopwaffels, oh man! cannot wait to go back to Nebraska to stock up. Good news though — Boulder is finally getting one!

  • Bailey W.

    I just got my first jar of Cookie Butter the other day. So insanely in love with the stuff.

  • Laila

    “you’re welcome, and I’m sorry” haha! I said those exact words when I professed my love of cookie butter to my best friend. Cookie butter & banana sandwiches are so tasty!

    Our must haves from T.J.s:

    Lemon curd…mmmmm! I can just eat this with a spoon!
    Old fashioned thick cinnamon grahams. These go well with the cookie butter.
    Veggie & flaxseed tortilla chips.
    Monkey business trek mix…dangerous!
    T.J.s brand original almond milk. The only almond milk my kids like.
    Chimichurri rice. In the freezer section. Great for quick dinners with some baked tilapia.

  • Jesse

    speculoos should really be called amazingness. i am BEYOND obsessed.

  • Shawna Greenway

    My kids love the Seaweed Snacks but they gross me out! I always tell them not to kiss me after they eat them because they smell just like the cat’s breath! This makes them chase after me trying to kiss me which is sweet but ewwww…….

    My can’t-live-without’s are the TJ’s Soyaki (I put that s*#t on everything!), the nuts for sure since I make homemade pesto at least once a week, jelly beans since Jelly Belly’s are evil, and the tzatziki because I’m lazy.

  • Laura

    I’ve started something a little dangerous…mixing Joy the Baker’s vegan rice pudding WITH cookie butter. DEADLY.

  • Mark Gardiner

    I love this site. Great post, too, about your fave TJ’s products. We’ve all got ’em.

    One thing a lot of people don’t know at Trader Joe’s is that, for a company that operates out in the open, it’s incredibly secretive. After 20 years in the ad business, I actually went to work in a TJ’s store to learn how the company built one of America’s most valuable brands, without advertising.

    The result is a new book, Build a Brand Like Trader Joe’s, which will go live on Amazon in a few days. People who are curious about the company can get more information at my web site, which is at TraderJoesSecrets. There is a story behind the products!

  • Alex

    I got my dad a jar of cookie butter for his birthday, he totally loved it! My love of trader joe’s runs so deep that i couldn’t go to grad school at UT Austin because there are no TJs in Texas.

  • Sasha

    I just tried the Cookie Butter and its to die for!!! I’m in heaven! I could eat the whole thing but I can’t wait to try it in my protein shake! If I ever move back to Toronto, TJ’s is one of things I’ll miss most about California!

  • lynn @ the actor's diet

    my must-haves are ginger chews and the meatless meat balls. one of my blog readers works at TJ and she did a great guest post for me too on the behind-the-scenes workings!

    http://theactorsdiet.com/2011/05/11/guest-post-the-inside-scoop-on-trader-joes/

  • vanessa @ just the tip

    i go to trader joe’s at least bi-weekly to stock up on french roast coffee, creamy toscana cheese soaked in syrah, aged gouda, preprared lentil soup with ancient grains, pita bite crackers, BACON, whole wheat sourdough bread, tins of sardines and smoked trout, pappardelle pasta, and creamy tomato soup.

    i’m always heartbroken when the discontinue something that’s not selling – today i learned that the korma simmer sauce has been axed, and a few weeks ago i mourned my favorite mini rye crackers. boo!

  • Holly

    This post just makes me super jealous. Canada TOTALLY needs to get a Trader Joe’s! The closest one to me is 7+ hours away. In a different country. BAH. Haha!

  • Sydney

    I live in a suburb of ATL and we’re obsessed with Trader Joe’s even though we don’t have one in our town. Everyone always calls and asks them to open one here, but to no avail. I even wrote a quirky post about it on the news site I work for. http://smyrna.patch.com/articles/smyrna-seeks-soul-mate-in-trader-joe-s

  • Kristen M.

    Lately I’ve been all about the TJ dried fruit. Right now I think we have blueberries, cherries and apricots here. I mostly eat them as snacks but have put them in waffles and cookies recently too. And I used the apricots in @JoytheBaker’s carrot cake and it was the most yummiest thing ever! Their apricots aren’t dried out and leathery.

    Sadly, I think they just discontinued my most favorite thing though — Chocolate Chip Brownie and Oat Bars. :( Lots of fiber and some protein but only 120 calories a bar and they tasted just like brownies! I need to figure out a way to make my own, I guess. (Or you could do it for me!)

  • Mo

    Love TJ’s, I’m one of those Canadians who goes across the border. It’s about a 20 min. drive from the border. I love the dark chocolate covered peanut butter cups. They are so good. I also love the mixed nuts & fruit. They also have super cute, scruffy, hippie, boys working there too. It make shopping much more enjoyable.

  • Tommy Engstrom

    Um….COOKIE BUTTER?! Did you just introduce me to my new addiction? I am already in love with TJ’s as it is…how have I not stumbled across this?!

  • Jessica W

    OMG. I love your post and all the comments. Also in love with the flax chips & buy all my nuts at TJs! I can get carried away in that store, so I usually bee-line for the items on my list and leave, fun to have some new “must try” selections! I love how cheap the flowers are – room brightening for $4!

  • sweetmaddy

    OMG I miss TJs so much! But luckily I will back in the US in one month. I love those flax seed chips, you aren’t the only one! I also love buying goat cheese (or any fancy cheese really) there because it’s way cheaper! Their peanut butter cups are DANGEROUS I eat wayyyy too many but they are my favorite in the world. Also the frozen veggie potstickers. SO GOOD. Aaaaah everything is good.

  • Gayle

    A couple of recent finds: TJs prepared curried chicken salad is amazing. I make good chicken salad but TJs is better. The Fleur de Sel Caramel Sauce is excellent- a great thing to have on hand.

  • Debra

    As a Canadian I dutifully got myself to a TJ’s the first day of my holiday in California last year “just to see what all the fuss is about”. Well, I can tell you that *several* visits were made over the two week trip, especially for their trail mix with dried blueberries and chocolate chips and their caramel dark chocolate bar with sea salt. Only 5 more months until my next run across the border (and this time I’m heading straight for the cookie spread!)

  • jackie

    Yes, the worst is when the suddenly discontinue a product I’m used to getting there! I still check for shelled edamame and frozen mango every time I’m there just in case they changed their minds…

  • Mandy

    OMG Speculooooooos. Love, love, love it.

    I love that salsa verde too. It’s the secret ingredient in my guacamole! It adds just the right amount of kick.

    I love their harvest grain blend, which has orzo, couscous, garbanzo beans and quinoa. It’s great and really easy to prepare!

    Their lime juice popsicles are really good, as are their frozen Greek Olympiad (or something like that) pizza. And their yogurts. And their salsa especial. Oh God, I love TJs.

  • caitlin

    Trader Joes (and Whole Foods) need to come to Australia too! I always get so jealous of every blog I read.

    Our supermarkets here are getting better and I’ve lately found lots of adorable and amazing organic shops, but I still want Whole Foods!

  • Andrea Merrigan

    So jealous. I have never lived where there is a Trader Joes close enough to go to!

  • Michelle

    This list is awesome. I miss TJ’s and am dying for them to open here already (next year, maybe, I hope) but for now I just fly Southwest anytime I travel to bring an extra suitcase so I can stock my pantry :)

  • Rachel

    I love Trader Joe’s lowfat Cheese Curls (AKA Cheetos). They are so TASTY. I eat them with chopsticks so my fingers don’t get orange and also to prevent me from eating the whole bag.

  • Katy

    I agree with everything on your list, Tracy! I also recently discovered their “Unexpected Cheddar” which is an aged cheddar with hints of parmesan. I’m a cheese addict and this is my favorite. Ever.

    Like another poster said, I also adore their white bean & basil hummus and the corn puffs! So cheap for a snack and only 800 calories for the whole bag!

  • Iraida Elena.

    I used to live in Boston, and used to bike to TJ,s to get baked blue corn chips, dry cranberries, green tea, roasted almonds, Ethiopian coffee beans, hummus, wine, and soooo many other goodies, ah, and my winter buys were, Clementines, (yeah, you could get them from other stores, but getting them from T,Js became a seasonal tradition) …AND those German cookies they sell only in the winter, the ones that are soft, and have a waffle bottom and are toped with either dark chocolate or some sugar glace… You know what I’m talking about? i LOVEEEEE them and miss them so much!!! Now I live in Venezuela, and we don;t have anything like TJs. I love it here, (despite a looot of things) but I miss TJ’s so much…. But here we can eat some good arepas, do you know what they are?? Should check them out…

  • Claudia from Idiot's Kitchen

    You got out of TJ’s without chocolate covered anything! How is that possible? The chocolate covered grahams are fabulous. As are the chocolate covered vanilla wafers. Don’t even think of leaving next time without the chocolate covered pomegranate seeds!!! Oh, and they’re not chocolate covered, but I still love their tortillas. Now if only they would open a dang store in my city….I have to shop when I’m out of town and bootleg it back home.

  • Kristina @ MouthFromTheSouth.com

    We’re getting a Trader Joe’s this summer. When I found out, I think the whole neighborhood heard me crying tears of joy. I’ve just bookmarked this post for my first visit when it finally opens.

  • Cortnie

    Tracy, I think you’re my Trader Joe’s twin! I have EVERY SINGLE THING that you listed in this post in my cupboards right now. That’s cuckoo! Oh, well, actually, I don’t have the Cookie Butter. I don’t like it. I really want to like it but it leaves a waxy residue aftertaste in my mouth and I just can’t hang with it. Don’t be mad!!! Anyway, I’m really really into the Chickenless Mandarin Orange Morsels. Oh. My. Good. Lord. Pair that with some the ready to heat brown rice and frozen broccoli florets and you have yourself an inhale-able dinns.

    xo
    cortnie

  • regan

    waaaah, I miss Trader Joe’s!

  • Lia

    This is now worth it’s weight in gold to me! I just emailed my sis-in-law who lives in Venice & she’s getting me stuff to send me (I’m in the UK!) YAaaaY. Cookie butter here I come!

  • Julie

    I didn’t see the spicy soy & flaxseed chips so only got the regular kind. They’re hearty. Not that yummy but hearty.

  • Leila

    I’m literally sitting here at my desk eating cookie butter on an apple and reading this. I wish I could have sent you a picture. It’s so magical and addictive! But with an apple makes it healthy, right?

    ….RIGHT?!?

  • Lisa | With Style and Grace

    Our pantries must look pretty similar, minus the few gluten products. If only that cookie butter was gf…

  • karolina

    Coconut oil! Best price anywhere. But I have to stock up as they sell out anytime they stock the shelves. Also I was so sad when they discontinued the peanut flour. It was great. Boo :(
    The way you feel about cookie butter is the way I feel about their cocoa almond spread. Nom.
    Basically, I love everything there.

    • Tracy

      I’ve been WONDERING about that cocoa almond spread! I’m gonna hafta buy some this weekend.

    • Mollie

      Love the cocoa almond spread too! But not as much as cookie butter 😉

  • Mollie

    Your pantry finds look like my shopping cart! I LOVE the soup! and we, too, pair it with grilled cheese. I occasionally use Trader Joe’s multi-grain sour dough bread for them. Sooo good! You’ll have to try it you haven’t yet already.

    I also get my coconut milk and almond milk to TJ’s. Sooo much cheaper here!

  • Marlena

    I didn’t live near a TJ’s until about two years ago. What a life-changer! I am totally with you on the nuts and the pita crackers (the multi-grain are my weakness), and you also can’t beat their cheese selection! Goat cheese at $2.49 for five ounces? Sign me up!

    The favorites I always have in my fridge are the Peach Salsa and the Basil Hummus (oh man, that basil hummus! Like creamy pesto). I just tried their almond milk and Greek yogurt. I still like Chobani better for yogurt, but their almond milk is really good. I also usually have Joe’s O’s for cereal.

    And the wine! There’s a pinot grigio they carry that’s delicious and only $3.99!

  • Raheel

    Your post totally had me intrigued by this cookie butter and I was desperate to try some. Sadly there are no TJ’s in Canada so when a friend said she was driving down to Seattle on Monday I got her to pick me up a couple of jars in exchange for baked goods. I spent the whole evening baking for her and she dropped of the jar 10 minutes ago…I couldn’t wait to try it! It’s good and I don’t know what I was expecting but it tastes like cookie! Kind of like a pre-chewed cookie like the way a mama bird would feed her chile (or alicia silverstone!)

    Anyhow thanks for the recommendation. I wanna make cookie butter buttercream, cookie butter sandwich cookies and slather it on a slice of crusty loaf…mmm the possibilities!

    p.s.
    Do you think you could do a future post on TJ indulgences? Things that aren’t staple but so good you gotta have them.

  • Kathryn

    the first trader’s in my town opened friday! i steered clear over the weekend, but got there right when it opened this morning. the store was quiet but my heart was racing! haha. i had to cut myself off from throwing more things into the cart. definitely hollered at some cookie butter and the crumpets you are always talking about! yum! thanks for the tips, i will certainly be taking your advice. :)

  • Andrea

    I finally got to a TJ’s and tried the cookie butter today! it’s more delicious than i’ve even been imagining all these months! i also got some chocolate covered edamame-mind blowing! I’m not even a huge fan of edamame, but so good! a must try :)

  • Michelle

    I just realized we have essentially the same list. I always stock up on the roasted, peeled, and vacuum sealed beets. BEETS! Can’t get enough, minus the mess.

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    dark chocolate covered almonds with sea salt!!

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  • Ingrid Becker

    Hands down my favorite thing to buy at Trader Joe’s is they super thick and rich coconut milk! So incredibly devine and perfect in every way. The only time I do not use it when coconut milk is called is when I make coconut rice (the rice can not absorb all that amazing goodness).
    My other all-time favorite is Paneer Tikka Masala. Its in the frozen food section with all the other Indian meals. OBSESSED! I have enjoyed this dish for years now on a night when it is just me and the kiddos. You must give the Paneer a try!

  • Kincannon

    Love this! I’m definitely going to have to try these.

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