When I was living in NYC, I tried going to Trader Joe’s a few times, but was scared away by the throngs of people; it’s not unusual for there to be a line down the block (exhibit a: see above). It wasn’t until moving to the Cape that I came to really appreciate the store, especially for their crazy-reasonably priced pantry items. So, once a month, Kevin and I make a “date” out of it — we drive the 45 minutes to TJ’s and then stop for pizza and Caesar salad on the way home (I realize how lame that sounds, oh my god). By trial and error, we’ve mastered our list. Here are the 13 items we swear by…
Chicken cilantro wontons: these little frozen dumplings are great to have on hand; I throw them into soups, noodle bowls, or just pan fry them with a little oil. They have a great garlicky, ginger flavor.
Brown rice medley: Good and filling, make sure to cook it with a pat of butter.
Sriracha ranch dressing: surprisingly really spicy, but SO GOOD as a dip (pepperoni pizza…just saying).
Chocolate croissants: you leave them out overnight, then bake them the next morning. They’re flaky, buttery, and bonus: one box (which includes four croissants) costs only $3.99.
Organic sumatra whole bean coffee: I was skeptical of TJ’s coffee at first, but I’ve since come around. The sumatra blend is nutty and smooth. Also, the packaging is adorable.
Pizza sauce: perfectly seasoned, with the right amount of oregano — this sauce reminds me of the stuff on NYC pizza.
Green Dragon: addictive hot sauce that isn’t too hot or vinegary. Very good on eggs. When we first discovered it we stocked up on five bottles and have since used them all. Not kidding.
Pomodoro “Rustico” pasta sauce: tastes suspiciously similar to the cult classic Rao’s, but is only $2.99.
Soy cherry chocolate chip: this ice cream is actually a tad too sweet for me, but the consistency is identical to regular, full-fat dairy ice cream, and it doesn’t put my stomach in spins after.
Cultured salted butter: tastes homemade, with that slightly buttermilk flavor I love.
Chocolate chip brownie and oat bars: these brownie-granola snack bar hybrids hit the spot (and my sweet tooth) at 3 in the afternoon.
Face cream: light but moisturizing, and no weird scent.
Also, one thing I didn’t photograph because I may or may not have eaten it already: “unexpected cheddar.” It’s a blend of parmesan and cheddar and is the BOMB in a grilled cheese/on top of chili.
What’s always on your Trader Joe’s list? I could really go on forever, it was hard to pick!
Top image via Spoon University.