9 Trader Joe’s Staples

What are your staples at Trader Joe’s? I drive the hour once a month to stock up, and while I love trying their new and limited items, I have a dozen or so things I reach for every time (often in bulk). Here are mine…


Unexpected Cheddar. Basically the best cheddar in the world — it’s got hints of parmesan and tastes amazing in a grilled cheese or alongside some apple slices. I NEVER get sick of this stuff.

Rustico Tomato Sauce. I grab a jar every time and turn it into a quick bolognese with ground beef and some red wine, or add a splash of vodka and cream for penne a la vodka. It reminds me a lot of Rao’s Marinara Sauce (but for a fraction of the price!).

Ginger Turmeric Tea. Soothing and good for you! I have it with a little honey.

Organic Peas. My friend’s favorite snack is warm peas with butter, salt and pepper. She got me totally hooked!

Coconut Milk. Simply because it’s inexplicably half the price.

Sweet and Spicy Pecans. Soooo good in a spinach salad with crumbled cheese and dried cranberries. Or sprinkled on some vanilla ice cream 🙂

Ranunculus! Because they’re $5.99 and make me happy every time.

Tortellini. For quick dinners, and filling lunches (I’m going make this easy recipe tomorrow).

Cilantro and Jalapeño Hummus. I have to be careful because I can eat this hummus is one sitting. I’ve been spreading it on some lightly toasted naan from TJ’s.

And one meal idea I’ve been meaning to try:

Quick Meatball Subs with TJ’s turkey meatballs, Rustico tomato sauce, some sliced mozzarella and subs.

Also, have you guys heard of the blog, “What’s Good at Trader Joe’s?” It’s a husband and wife team who rate random TJ items. It’s always helpful — and often hilarious.

Top image via Bon Appetit

39 thoughts on “9 Trader Joe’s Staples

  1. The taquitos in the frozen section are really good – with some guac, sour cream and pico de gallo. Also the olive tapenade in the refrigerated section with mascarpone cheese and crackers is a great appetizer/party platter.

  2. my faves from TJ’s are the pomegranate and blueberry cereal for when I’m craving a sweet snack, the teriyaki tofu for adding quick protein to salads, chocolate babka or chocolate covered power berries for a treat, and the Dr. Praeger’s California burgers for just a good time!!! They don’t taste at all like a real burger and I don’t think they’re sposed too… they taste SO GOOD though!!!

  3. I need to try the Unexpected Cheddar! I always get their Wisconsin Extra Sharp Cheddar. I also like their frozen vegetable gyoza, frozen edamame, stuffed grape leaves (in a can) with some hummus, cornichons, and the Marcona almonds with rosemary. I wish ours had ranunculus!!

  4. I love the mushroom turnovers (frozen section) for quick & easy snack or appetizer. Also the frozen cauliflower rice, great price and good substitute if you’re eating low carb.

  5. Loooove TJ’s multigrain pita chips with sesame seeds (another dangerous one sitting snack), New Zealand Sweet Apple Rings. Their peach and mango organic yoghurt cups are addictive, especailly the mango flavor. In the winter, their fresh lentil soup is a must. And in the summer, the vanilla icecream is excellent.

  6. I will definitely try the Unexpected Cheddar Cheese. I’ve never seen it, as I always get my usual smoked gouda and feta. And I agree with the coconut milk. So nice to have a can on hand for a last minute thai inspired curry. My favs are the stoned wheat crackers, all of the cereals, chicken drumsticks, frozen seafood blend, and of their bagged popcorn. Trader Joe’s makes the BEST snack foods, hands down. Fun post!

  7. I LOVE unexpected cheddar. For a deeply addictive snack try the Oven Baked Cheese Bites. Also they have a new product that’s little sealed packets of green olives with about 10 in each packet – great snack.

  8. Frozen croissants. Choc plain
    Frozen tacos beef, chix
    Pumpernickel bread sticks
    Cheddar/caramel popcorn
    Packaged lentils in veggie section
    Gnocchi in pasta section
    Brie/tomato tarte
    Frozen gyoza
    Aloo chaat
    Tiki masala samosas

  9. The mini chicken cilantro wontons in the frozen section are a great addition to veggie soup, or stir fry with cauliflower rice.

  10. A lot of the stuff I get is to shove in my toddlers lunch for pre-school, but these are all of my staples!

    The hummus, just the regular is enough for me!
    The Feta! So good!
    Sweet Potato Tortilla Chips
    The new Restaurant Style Tortilla Chips are to die for (real salty w/ lime)
    World Peas
    Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups
    The Apple Cereal Bars, the other flavors fall short
    The Green Juice
    Gluten Free Chicken Bites
    Turkey Meatballs
    Chicken Fried Rice
    Family Style Lasagna, the husband and I finish the whole thing in one sitting!
    Green Dragon sauce
    The frozen Garlic Naan
    Frozen Blueberry Waffles
    Maple Chicken Breakfast Sausages (boil them in a lil water for a quick breakfast, we all LOVE them!)

    Seriously, I almost always have all of these things in the kitchen.

  11. I have made a meatball sub with the turkey meatballs, shredded mozzarella and the three cheese sauce, and oh man, it is GOOD. I’m gonna have to try the pomodoro sauce next! Love your list.

    • Me, too. We love the turkey meatball sub: Shredded Mozz melted on the Frozen Turkey Meatballs that were warmed for 20 mins in the canned Tomato Sauce (which is also amazing on pizza). I sprinkle some chopped fresh parsley on top and serve on the Multigrain Rolls..

  12. excited to try unexpected cheddar! our favs:
    orange chicken
    roasted garlic and onion jam aka crack
    kale and butternut squash pizza
    fig bars
    sour gummies ts & js
    cilantro & chive yogurt dip
    micro greens

  13. Where to begin? (I’ll do a mental walk through)

    Greenery of some sort
    Snow Peas/Avocado/etc.
    Joe’s Os
    Praline Granola OMG!
    Wasabi Mayo (again OMG)
    Balsamic Glaze (I put that stuff on everything)
    Joes Chardonnay because, duh.
    Almond Butter
    The little seasonal candles are great.
    Pounder Dark Chocolate

    I’m positive I’ve left something vital out.

  14. PSA: I don’t sh our routine down at whole foods so that it only takes 10 min to run around and fill our cart for our family of four-we eat the same things weekly to simplify so I have the list and food location memorized now and it is AMAZING) BUT we went over to a friends house and they grilled some TJ’s pre-marinated Korean style BBQ chicken and it was SO GOOD. Seriously so good. I would make a trip to TJs just for this chicken and that is really saying something for our busy family. If you have a grill go pick some up now-you won’t be dissappointed.

  15. The French onion soup, it’s in the frozen section. Four portions per package, individually sealed. Pop them into a crock, back for 40 minutes – cheesy, gooey and delicious!

  16. We’ve been drinking the Bay Blend coffee for at least 10 years and still love it.
    Green Chili and Cheese Tamales
    Frozen garlic naan for quick mini pizzas.
    grated parm and mozzarella. Sliced cheddar.
    crunchy peanut and almond butter
    Salted organic butter.

  17. Trader Joes: the smoked sardines in a can. probably the best food in the world for your skin/hair/ mental health (trust me) and so affordable. no BPA in the can. I recommend them to all my patients. chill before serving

    Cauliflower rice (organic) in a bag

    Crunchy salted peanut butter

    organic basil

  18. That Tumeric Ginger tea is the bomb!!! I absolutely love that stuff…I have to get over to TJ soon and pick up some more. I also love their chocolate covered coffee beans ^_^

  19. We buy more staples there and less of the prepared stuff, which is different than most people. Our faves are:

    sriracha hummus
    regular hummus
    crumbled feta
    baby bell cheese
    bagged green beans and broccoli
    prechopped onions
    pre-peeled garlic (yes we’re lazy but this allows us to actually cook!)
    boxed broth
    fage yogurt
    Health Aide kombucha
    wraps, tortillas, pita, Milton’s bread
    frozen fruit for smoothies– cheapest and best!
    frozen waffles for the kids
    frozen burritos
    individual bags of trail mix
    wine (Apothic Red and Nobilo sauv blanc, every week)
    pita chips
    grated fresh parmesan
    fresh mozzerella/burrata

  20. -organic frozen green beans
    -organic frozen peas
    -organic chicken drumsticks
    -joe’s o’s
    -cinnamon swirl bread
    -canned tomato sauce
    -any of their pasta
    -their cheap wine!
    -free range eggs
    -organic strawberry yogurt pouches
    -orange juice

  21. My wife and I love the regular frozen naan (just like the restaurants), French cultured salted butter (best butter we’ve ever had), pub cheese, Carolina Gold barbecue sauce, coconut water, and acai.

    Amazing Trader Joe’s hack: Their gryo meat on their naan, with their yogurt cucumber dip. Just like any gyro you would order at a restaurant.

  22. Okay…my TJ’s list of want to try just tripled…haha!!! Staples & prepared stuff…so much variety…a happy helpful friendly staff who know the products!! Sunflower butter is awesome…salsa verde…fig cereal bars…oh the list is huge…♡

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