My 13 Can’t-Live-Without Trader Joe’s Items

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

7 thoughts on “My 13 Can’t-Live-Without Trader Joe’s Items

  1. Absolutely LOVE TJ’s. We stock up every month as the closest to us is still an hour away.
    Our favorites include but are not limited to !! Salted butter from Brittany, Cornichons, Dijon Mustard, Raw Milk Blue cheese, Unexpected Cheddar too (when it’s not sold out !), Greek Yoghurt Guac, Organic chocolate bars, Plantain Chips (highly addictive), Pop-Up sponges and French wines of course! (the Révélation is surprisingly good).
    We’re going next week and I’m already working on my shopping list !!
    I’ve never seen the face lotion though, is it new ?
    Cheers to 3-chairs.

  2. I have so many go-tos at Trader Joe’s that I simply can’t live without too (mainly for my lunches that I take to work; I stock up on Mondays and they last me all week)! I love all of your selections, completely delicious. I also love their sparkling water, and it’s so cheap for massive bottles. I never really drank carbonated water before now, but it’s so refreshing! I’m a total convert.

    Also, they have some of the best [cheapest!] wine selection anywhere. I’m currently obsessed with the La Ferme Julien Rosé, which is only $4.99. Can’t beat that!

  3. Nuts, butter, eggs, and yogurt are all SO much cheaper at TJs! So are cans of San Marzano tomatoes. The frozen arugula pizza and frozen Indian food are some of the few pre-packaged foods we splurge on (also totally agree with you on the croissants!). And it’s one of the only places we can find reasonably-priced Vermont cheddar in California.

  4. I live in Montreal, Canada, but I go to the US once every 3 weeks or so to see my boyfriend, and I always stop at Trader Joe’s in Burlington VT on the way home. I usually come back with bags filled with pantry items (can’t bring produce across the border and anything frozen would just thaw by the time I get home).

    A few favourites of mine that you haven’t mentioned : mango chips (when they’re available), quick cook steel cut oats, coconut oil spray, dried mangoes, unsalted peanut butter (simply the best pb), the dark chocolate roasted pistachio toffee, tomato and basil hummus, roasted pepper and tomato soup…

    I love TJ’s !

  5. Love the coconut milk strawberry ice cream, the Island Soyaki which I just marinate chicken in and toss on a salad or with rice, unexpected cheddar, cheap wine–red or white–for cooking (and drinking while you’re cooking) vanilla bean Greek yogurt (less sweet than other flavored brands but tastes like vanilla cream cheese icing), and their frozen ginger soy marinated wild-caught cod filets you just throw into the oven.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *