Best Of Trader Joe’s Part Two

A few years ago I wrote a post called Best of Trader Joe’s , a list of 15 top picks for shopping at this popular food market with a cult-like following. I figured it was time for an update since the store has brought in new goodies and I’ve made new discoveries.

As I said then,

“In a perfect world, I’d do all of my grocery shopping at a leisurely pace at the farmer’s market, make my own yogurt, cheese and butter, can all of my own fruits and vegetables, and have pastured chickens grazing in my backyard providing eggs naturally rich in omega-3s.”

But that’s not reality and Trader Joe’s is one of several places I lean on to stock my kitchen pantry. Plus, who doesn’t love those tiny cups of coffee to swill as you shop?

So, here are my updated picks for what to buy at Trader Joe’s.

What to Buy at Trader Joe’s

You can find my first round for what to buy at Trader Joe’s here.

I’ve also got a printable shopping list at the bottom of the page that you can bring with you when you shop!

What to Buy at Trader Joe's

  • Pain Pauline

The name and style of bread is clearly a play on the famous Pain Poilane of France And while it isn’t quite the loaf of its Parisian counterpart, it does make for an excellent slice of toast or grilled cheese sandwich. Plus, made with whole grains and just three ingredients — whole wheat, water, and salt — it meets my guidelines for a better bread.

15 (More) Things to Buy at Trader Joe's

  • Freeze-dried fruit

The store stocks a variety of one-ingredient freeze-dried fruit, including raspberries, strawberries, and grapes. They’re a fine fix for a sweet tooth and excellent in place of dried fruit in granola and homemade muesli.

15 (more) things to buy at Trader Joe's Click To Tweet

15 (More) Things to Buy at Trader Joe's

  • Dark Chocolate

I regularly buy this bittersweet chocolate imported from Belgium to chop up for cookies and other baking needs. It’s a generous amount at a significant discount over many mainstream brands.

15 (More) Things to Buy at Trader Joe's

  • Organic Persian Cucumbers

Persian cucumber made my list last time, but I’m pleased they now stock organic ones. While I don’t care for the excessive packaging, I do appreciate the convenience and crunch of a cucumber that requires no peeling or seeding. My kids love them.

15 (More) Things to Buy at Trader Joe's

  • Whole Wheat Lavash Bread

This is a pantry staple for wraps, roll ups, and easy Lavash Pizza. They also sell a white flour version, but I find the whole wheat goes under the radar with my crew.

15 (More) Things to Buy at Trader Joe's

  • Organic Popping Corn

One of the best, whole grain snack foods you can buy, and Trader Joe’s offers an organic one at under two bucks a bag. That’s a lot of movie time.

15 (More) Things to Buy at Trader Joe's

  • Old Fashioned Blister Peanuts

There’s some kind of magic in these peanuts. Bigger than garden variety peanuts, they’re superbly crunchy and perfectly salted. Tasty eaten out of hand, I also love them in peanut butter cookies or tossed into an Asian slaw. Double thumbs up.

15 (More) Things to Buy at Trader Joe's

  • Pure Maple Syrup

Although I grew up on Mrs. Butterworths, I’ve adopted pure maple syrup to pour over pancakes and use as a household sweetener. Trader Joe’s offers a more affordable option in a generous size than most markets.

15 (More) Things to Buy at Trader Joe's

  • Wild Sockeye Salmon (frozen)

Of course nothing beats fresh fish, but with the steep price of wild salmon these days. this frozen sockeye is a tasty alternative, especially with Miso Ginger Marinade.

15 (More) Things to Buy at Trader Joe's

  • Shredded Carrots

Sure I could peel and grate a whole mess of carrots to keep on hand, but the fact is, I don’t. This has become a refrigerator staple to add to sandwiches, wraps, and salads.

15 (More) Things to Buy at Trader Joe's

  • Multi-Seed Brown Rice Crackers with Soy Sauce

These tiny crackers are one of my kids’ picks for snacking. I like that the first ingredient is brown rice.

15 (More) Things to Buy at Trader Joe's

  • Mini Brie Bites

Another kid favorite for school lunch, these little Bries are darn cute and good for a morning snack along with a piece of fruit. Again, not crazy about the packaging.

15 (More) Things to Buy at Trader Joe's

  • Plain Organic Yogurt

I always have a tub of plain yogurt in the fridge, preferring to add my own fruits and sweeteners over having someone else do it for me. This creamy organic yogurt does the job.

15 (More) Things to Buy at Trader Joe's

  • Thai, Lime & Chili Almonds

Warning: these are spicy. Seasoned with lemongrass, lime, and chili, they make a good snack-food fix for the spicy-tolerant child or for a grown-up alongside a favorite cocktail.

15 (More) Things to Buy at Trader Joe's

  • Cabot Sharp Cheddar

A sharp Cheddar that is actually sharp, a little goes a long way with this Cabot cheese since it’s mega flavorful.

P.S. I also like the wine section of the store. Bargain basement prices and a good variety of options.

What are your Trader Joe’s picks?

Best of Trader Joes

Comments

06.24.2014 at 3:13 AM #

Stacy

My absolute favorite product at Trader Joe’s is the Balsamic Glaze. I also love their Almond Milk, lite coconut milk, raw honey, coconut oil and spray. I could go on and on! You just can not beat the price on pantry staples and a few treats!

06.24.2014 at 3:13 AM #

katiemorford

I read about that glaze on Shutterbean. Must check it out.

06.24.2014 at 3:13 AM #

Miranda

Please share how you use the balsamic glaze. Thanks!

06.24.2014 at 3:51 AM #

Jacquelyn Stern

Thank you for another great post! I am going to share a link to this on my page. Happy Eating:) #onebiteatatime

06.24.2014 at 3:51 AM #

katiemorford

Thank you Jacquelyn. Most appreciated!

06.24.2014 at 5:30 AM #

Annie

Love their canned wild sockeye salmon! Making salmon salad sandwiches. Also their organic European style yogurt is delicious. I wish I had not discovered their dark chocolate covered pretzel thins!

06.24.2014 at 5:30 AM #

katiemorford

Good tip on the salmon. Love those pretzel thins.

06.24.2014 at 5:52 AM #

Nancy

I like Trader Joe’s affordable spices. Our favorite is the 21 Seasoning Salute. It adds a little zing to your cooking. I buy several jars at a time because sometimes the shelf is cleared of this item.

06.24.2014 at 5:52 AM #

katiemorford

Ooohhhh, handn’t thought of spices. Thanks.

06.24.2014 at 6:28 AM #

Kate @ ¡Hola! Jalapeño

Such a great post! I love seeing other’s TJs favorites. We stock up on more basic fare that we can’t get here in ND. We usually make a trip to Minneapolis 2-3 times a year just to go to Trader Joes. Our cart is typically overflowing with French Roast coffee, several packages of pasta, Spanish extra virgin olive oil, Albacore tuna in olive oil, Trader Joe’s O’s (cheerios), and seaweed snacks.

06.24.2014 at 6:28 AM #

katiemorford

A Trader Joe’s road trip! You remind me not to take my abundance of options for granted, Kate!

06.24.2014 at 6:31 AM #

yunah

smoked sardines, olive oil popcorn, dal in those packs, sauerkraut!

06.24.2014 at 6:53 AM #

EA-The Spicy RD

Frozen organic brown rice, Fair Trade Organic Coffee, cheese of any kind (have never seen those baby Bries-my daughter will be so excited!), pine nuts and other nuts, handmade corn tortillas, creamy Organic Tomato Soup, and the list goes on! Will def look for those blistered peanuts-too bad they don’t have em in the shells-that would be really fun!

06.24.2014 at 6:53 AM #

katiemorford

I like that tomato soup, too. It’s a good one to put into thermoses for school lunch or for a quick meal at home.

06.24.2014 at 8:50 AM #

Gurvy Green

Thanks for sharing your favorites! I love the organic cucumber too, a little bit of TJ lemon pepper on top–yum! My fav’s are the 21 seasoning I sprinkle on everything & their multipurpose cleaner, works fab on granite countertops! Love Trader Joes.

06.24.2014 at 8:50 AM #

katiemorford

Those are all new ones for me. Thanks for the suggestions!

06.24.2014 at 8:53 AM #

Lynn Pernezny

Thanks for this list. We just had a TJ’s open in our area for the first time a month ago. I am still fighting the crowds and making discoveries, so this list is really helpful. Everything I’ve tried so far has been spot on, and you are absolutely right about the wines. Can’t beat the prices, and the selection is really good.

06.24.2014 at 8:53 AM #

katiemorford

It does attract crazy crowds, even here in SF where it’s been around forever.

06.24.2014 at 11:05 AM #

Trina Robertson

Katie, thanks for adding some new suggestions to my TJ’s list. Here are a few of our family favorites. I love the Corn and Chile Tomato-less Salsa to top salads. The Pineapple Salsa is divine on plain crackers like the ones you’ve listed. If you tire of the sweet heat, move on to their Red Pepper Spread on crackers or scooped onto raw veggies. We love this last one when drinking a bottle of wine.

I almost always keep in my freezer the Black Bean and Corn enchiladas. They are perfect to bring to lunch when I’m in the office. For a quick dinner I like to serve their Gyoza over a spinach salad with the jarred roasted red peppers. I keep many of their frozen veggies stocked in the freezer when I want to add extra produce to a meal.

06.24.2014 at 11:05 AM #

katiemorford

I haven’t dipped too heavily into the spreads and salsa, so appreciate the recommendations, Trina.

06.24.2014 at 12:13 PM #

Jennie Schacht

Great round-up! I am fortunate to live in walking distance of a fabulous farmers’ market and a TJ. Persian cukes — check (agree about the packaging), maple syrup — check, chocolate, of course — check. Loved the Pain Pascal; have not tried Pauline but after the last changeover it was fine but not great.The organic European style plain whole milk yogurt is my absolute favorite yogurt. (I have a suspicion it’s Straus but don’t quote me on that.) Toasted chopped pecans, almond slivers, and almond meal are all great time savers. The multi-seed soy crackers are good but the salt & pepper rice crackers are addictive. Happy shopping!

06.24.2014 at 12:13 PM #

katiemorford

Love having your picks in the mix here, Jennie. My sister lives in NYC and swears that European yogurt tastes like Straus, too.

06.24.2014 at 4:47 PM #

Carolyn

I love so much about Trader Joe’s – the size of the store, the selections and the people. Thanks for the list!! A few other favorites are the Spicy Peanut Vinaigrette dressing to toss on some cut slaw or drizzle over spinach, 2-oz individual packs of cashews or almonds and the Chimichurri rice which I like to throw in tomato or red pepper soup in the Fall/Winter months.

06.24.2014 at 4:47 PM #

katiemorford

Spicy peanut vinaigrette sounds right up my alley. Must try!

06.24.2014 at 6:12 PM #

Susan

Great list – thanks!

I’m excited to check out some new things at Trader Joes! A couple favorites for us are:
* Veggie Masala burgers — vegan, really yummy and great for a quick meal.
* Roasted sunflower seeds in salads, granola and trail mix.
* Masala simmer sauce. We cook up some tofu, add ginger and garlic, the sauce and some frozen spinach for a quick and delicious dinner.

06.24.2014 at 6:12 PM #

katiemorford

Good ones, Susan. I like that Masala simmer sauce too…for a super quick supper.

06.26.2014 at 6:38 PM #

Amy

So many things! Salsa verde, bruschetta (jar), coconut milk, coconut cream, vegetable wash, almond butter, sunflower seed butter to name a few. I also love the peanut butter pretzels for a treat.

06.26.2014 at 6:45 PM #

Amy

Forgot one…plantain chips!

06.27.2014 at 6:19 AM #

shelly

whole grain frozen waffles (in the red box) 1000x better than eggos, frozen edamame in the pod for snacking (microwave a handful for a minute and youre done), low calorie lemonade, eggplant garlic spread (great on sandwihces or to dip veggies in), and radiatorre pasta. its the only place around me that carries this kind of noodle, and its the only kind my BF will eat, oh and those chocolate croissants in the frozen aisle that you let proof overnight!

06.27.2014 at 6:19 AM #

katiemorford

Thanks Shelly. Love all of your picks. We have a family tradition of serving those chocolate croissants on Christmas morning. They are delicious!

06.27.2014 at 7:42 AM #

Gilli

We always buy the Mediteranean Hummous, Sesame cashews (amazing), the Trader Joes brand feta cheese (wrapped in plastic not the tub), the pulled BBQ pork or chicken and their Sweet Hot Peppers and arugula with Burarata are delicious together!

06.27.2014 at 7:42 AM #

katiemorford

Most of those are new to me, but agree with the feta and burrata. Thanks for the fresh ideas.

06.27.2014 at 8:30 AM #

Millie l Add A Little

Love this list Katie – everything looks delicious! Especially the nuts!
http://youtube.com/addalittlefood

06.27.2014 at 8:30 AM #

katiemorford

Thanks Millie! Love your blog…very impressive!

06.27.2014 at 11:11 PM #

kim brady

Wine you say… check out their Mystery Beer bags- a brown paper bag packed with a mix of a dozen different bottles and cans- for $9.99! The beer buyer told me they mix it up from the singles that are left over. Last time I had almost a full 6 pack of Prohibition Ales- Awesome deal.

06.27.2014 at 11:11 PM #

katiemorford

Hi Kim…so nice to hear from you. Definitely will check out the Mystery Beer bag. Thanks.

08.09.2014 at 2:33 PM #

TXSuzEQ

Luv me some TJ’s! Some of my faves:
Frozen Lite Mac n Cheese – Make for a quick carb side.
Frozen Crescents – I put them on a baking sheet overnight in the Microwave with the light on (just enough heat to get them to rise) and pop ’em in the oven in the morning…to die for.
Organic Blue Tortilla Chips
Organic Stocks – Chicken, Beef or Veggie
Olive Oil
Peanut Butter
Live Basil Plants
Organic Potatoes

08.09.2014 at 2:33 PM #

katiemorford

Good ones! Thanks for sharing.

08.14.2014 at 9:56 AM #

AmyT

My faves (I do the majority of my weekly shopping at TJ’s):
Nuts! I love TJ’s selection of nuts, especially the ones that are lightly salted. Their prices are excellent, and the variety is wonderful.
Frozen edamame- both in and out of the pods- are a go-to staple in my freezer at all times.
Apple chicken sausages are an easy and quick weeknight meal. My family likes them with roasted sweet potatoes and a green veggie on the side.
Their frozen fruit blends (I am currently loving the organic strawberry, mango, pineapple and banana blend) are the best thing to ever happen to a smoothie.
Cage-free eggs, sold at a price comparable to store-brand (not cage-free) in the local grocery store. Sadly, it’s as close as I can reasonably get to raising my own hens…
Fresh mozzarella balls play backup to my homegrown tomatoes and homemade pesto.
Come to think of it… the entire cheese section is pretty-much my favorite place on the planet…
Frozen reduced-fat fish sticks (both my kiddo and I LOVE these as a go-to weeknight quick meal with a salad on the side).
Olive oil- a nice selection at excellent prices.
Then there’s the coffee, the beer/wine section (Newton’s Folly hard cider is my current fave), the excellent selection of frozen prepared meals and pizza that aren’t too nutritionally horrifying (gotta watch the labels, though), and the snack aisle (pretzel thins and pita chips always end up in my cart)…. etc, etc….

04.28.2015 at 8:25 PM #

Anne Mullen

I confess to not having read every comment, so I’m not sure if someone else mentioned my favorite. They sell a tart cherry juice from the Republic of Georgia, former Soviet Union, that became a favorite of mine when visiting our son and his family there. It’s called alublitzveni there – of course I’m not sure that’s spelled right – but it’s delicious. It’s quite strong, so I sometimes add some water to it.

Thanks for all the other good suggestions. I’ll have to try them all.

04.28.2015 at 8:25 PM #

katiemorford

Nice to hear from you, Anne. That sounds delicious. And probably loaded with antioxidants, too. I’m thinking homemade cherry sodas for a special treat. I will go and give that a try. Thanks.

09.27.2015 at 2:01 PM #

Hope King

love Trader Joes! My favorite and go to item is the Balsamic and Rosemary grilled chicken breasts. So easy to cut up and throw over a salad.

09.27.2015 at 2:01 PM #

katiemorford

Oooh…I haven’t seen that before. I will check it out. Thanks for chiming in.

10.26.2015 at 12:08 PM #

PK

In addition to your list, I love TJ’s:
Saffron,
Tomato soup with roasted bell pepper
Masala Burgers,
Dark Chocolate (pack of 3),
Unsweetened cocoa powder
frozen molten lava cake
Olive bread

For kids lunch:
Pesto pizza
Sun dried tomato chicken sausages
Mini chicken tacos
Five layer fiesta dip (to make Lunch burritos)
Chicken dumplings

10.26.2015 at 12:08 PM #

katiemorford

Thank you! Most of those are new to me. Frozen molten lava cake? Yum.

11.03.2015 at 12:47 PM #

Gigi

Thank you for the suggestions! I’d like to include the low-sodium soy sauce and toasted sesame oil at ridiculously low prices, the EVOO’s for everyday cooking, the boxed red pepper and tomato soup and the cream of portobello soup, the 100% durum wheat pastas for only a $1, the precooked tiny black lentils, the eggplant spread, the turkey meatballs,the chocolate stout in single bottles, the piquillo peppers, the Marcona almonds, and the $1 half-baked French bread in the bakery section.

And, yes, I agree on the wines, popcorn, frozen fish (miss the Artic Char!!), and the balsamic glaze (and the balsamic vinegar).

11.03.2015 at 12:47 PM #

katiemorford

GREAT additions. I’m looking forward to digging into your list of favorites. Thanks for sharing.

11.07.2016 at 3:44 AM #

Terry Fest

BUTTER, you can’t beat their prices on European butter and KeriGold……I try to buy 4 or 5 and freeze as I don’t get to Trader Joe’s as often as I would like. WHAT A TREAT TO SEE SO MANY IDEAS PUT FORTH TO BROADEN OUR MEAL PLAN, SO HELPFUL THANKS.
COTTAGE CHEESE IS ANOTHER MUST HAVE IN OUR KITCHEN. WE MAKE PANCAKES WITH IT, SERVE WITH FRESH FRUIT FOR BREAKFAST AND USE IT IN QUICHES WHEN HOMEMADE. I COULD GO ON AN ON ABOUT IT.

11.07.2016 at 3:44 AM #

katiemorford

Yes to cottage cheese in pancakes. One of my favorite recipes in Rise & Shine has cottage cheese and it makes them so light. And I’m with you on the European butter at TJs.

12.01.2016 at 9:36 AM #

GingerWatkin

Favorite TJ’s items: Tartar sauce (has a hint of jalapeno, which is just right); Green curry simmer sauce – love this for a quick dinner of shrimp and veggies sauted in the sauce and served over steamed rice; Bruschetta and Pesto sauce – love to keep both on hand for a quick and tasty snack or appetizer; 21 Season Salute – YES – use it in soups, in gravies (like sausage gravy for biscuits and gravy), and just as a seasoning on fish before grilling; Peanut butter pretzels – YUM; Green chile and cheese tamales (what would Christmas Eve be without these tasty things?) and lastly, their selection of wines. Plus I love exploring when I go to see what’s new and yummy. Although I live in California, our closest TJ’s requires a 45 mile drive – so we only go about 4 times a year and stock up when we do.

12.01.2016 at 9:36 AM #

katiemorford

Thanks for sharing your favorites. Those tamales are a staple in our house too. Great for school lunches!

10.23.2018 at 8:39 AM #

Allana Luterman

Trader Joe’s has the absolute best Gluten Free Pumpkin Bread/Muffin Mix! I add mini dark choc chips! This is a family gluten free favorite! It’s also yummy if you don’t need to be gluten free!

10.23.2018 at 8:39 AM #

katiemorford

Thanks for sharing. I will have to check that out (and I’m always up for adding chocolate chips to my pumpkin bread).

01.19.2019 at 7:26 AM #

Patsy

I love TJ’s! I just wished the nearest one was closer than an hour and a half (more in traffic) away. I don’t like driving in Nashville. I try to get hubby to drive! I could spend hours shopping there looking for interesting things to try. Hopefully we will get one in Murfreesboro soon. We do have a Sprouts, but it doesn’t compare to TJ’s.

01.19.2019 at 7:26 AM #

katiemorford

That is quite a haul to get to TJs…you just have to load up when you do go!

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