My favorite things to buy at Trader Joe’s.

My favorite things to buy at Trader Joe’s.

(I enjoyed this post about Trader Joe’s on Joanna Goddard’s blog, but was miffed that so many of my personal favorites weren’t on the list. Making amends for that today.)

We haven’t always had a Trader Joe’s in our neighborhood.

Until fairly recently—just a couple of years ago—Trader Joe’s was a place we visited like tourists more than anything. We’d visit friends in Seattle, visit their local store, and stock up on enough snacks and drinks to last the week. We’d spend a weekend Chicago and come back with our memories—and enough wine, crackers, and thai lime and chile cashews from their State Street store to last for months. We’d visit my inlaws in Cincinnati and drive miles out of the way to hit up their TJ’s.

Now we have a Trader Joe’s practically in our neighborhood, and I don’t take it for granted, even though I’m there at least once a week. It’s not a perfect store, and it’s not the only place we shop, but there is no better place to knock out a week’s worth of grocery shopping (for a family of 6!) in 15 minutes.

We can’t get everything at Trader Joe’s: the average grocery store carries 50,000 items, but Trader Joe’s stocks just 4000. This is not a drawback in my book: the story is tiny, and I love it that way.

We buy a ton of staples at Trader Joe’s: salad, baby carrots, avocado, eggs. But Trader Joe’s is famous (and rightly so) for doing specialty products, really well, and for cheap.

These are a few of my favorites. (I’d love to hear yours in comments!)

21 offbeat favorites to buy at Trader Joe's.

Fresh flowers. Trader Joe’s has a consistently great selection of blooms at budget prices.

Nuts and snacks:

• Freeze-dried strawberries. We always use these as a healthy road trip bribe for the kids.
• Coconut chips. Sweet, crunchy, addictive.
• Thai lime and chile almonds. Tasty enough that you’ll want to eat the whole bag, spicy enough that you can’t. The cashews are also fantastic.

Dairy: Trader Joe’s has a terrific cheese section, stocking their house products and popular brands like Cabot, Kerrygold, Boursin, and Baby Bells. These are our offbeat favorites:

• Creamy toscano with black peppercorns. Yum. The toscano with syrah is equally delicious.
• Quattro formagio. My favorite shredded cheese blend.
• Blueberry chevre. Lucy and I went to Trader Joe’s the other day on a mother-daughter adventure. I told her she could pick out whatever she wanted. I expected her to choose chocolate, or sushi. She chose this.

Pizza dough: we used to make our own, but now we pay $1.29 so we don’t have to wash the mixing bowl. (We like the garlic and herb variety.) Hot tip: this freezes well.

Sweet stuff: 

• Pound plus bars. Massive 17.6 ounce chocolate bars (for $5), available in a variety of flavors. We keep these on hand for baking and occasional snacking. The bars are thick enough that you need a knife to hack off a snack-size portion, which keeps me from snitching it every time I go in the kitchen. (A good thing!)
• Macarons. Available in the freezer section, $5 for a package of twelve. We like to keep these in the freezer for impromptu guests or special occasions.
• French vanilla ice cream. It’s just vanilla ice cream, but it’s really good vanilla ice cream.

21 offbeat favorites to buy at Trader Joe's

Crackers: we rarely buy crackers, so when we do we want them to be good.  

• Mini brioche toasts. A fantastic (and adorable) holder for dips and spreads of all stripes.
• Savory thin mini crackers. (Gluten-free.)
• Raisin rosemary crisps. These are great with tangy cheese. The fig and olive variety is also pretty tasty.

Pantry:

• Hot and sweet cherry peppers. I adore these. I love to slice them thin and add them to salads, or stuff them with creamy cheese (feta, goat, boursin) and top them off with slivered almonds for a snack or appetizer.
• Pesto. We keep finding new ways to use this, most recently on pizza with goat cheese. YUM.
• Cornichons. Trader Joe’s has a great variety of antipasto-type snacks in jars. The kids love these tiny tart pickles.
• Coconut cream. This is what you’d see labeled as “coconut milk” everywhere else, but for much less than you’ll see anywhere else.

Frozen:

• Sockeye salmon. Trader Joe’s has a great price on filets. Occasionally we’ll bake or grill it, but usually we cure it like this. My 5-year-old begs for this, on brioche toasts with cream cheese, or in an omelet.
• Lasagna. We rarely eat pasta, but I bought this once so the kids could have a nice dinner with the babysitter and now they’re obsessed. On the plus side, it’s great quality at a great price.
• Tamales. These are fun and fast for ball game nights, or a quick lunch.
• Frozen berries: they have great prices on the basics, and we love their Very Cherry mix.

What are YOUR favorite things to buy at Trader Joe’s?

21 offbeat favorites to buy at Trader Joe's

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125 comments

  1. Kelty says:

    I’m with you, I love that there are so few items. It helps tame distraction and decision-making and just helps to get the job done, and in quite the tasty fashion!! Not to mention the CHEESE SELECTION! Speaking of fresh flowers, I’ve lately gotten into Trader Joe’s orchids. I treat them like cut flowers, as in I don’t try to bring them back or anything (don’t have the talent for that) but for $12.99 you can get a gorgeous 2 stem orchid that will last at least 5-6 weeks if you keep it watered. That’s a crazy deal for fresh flowers in my book! And, it makes me feel so sophisticated. 😉

      • Kelty says:

        I was very afraid until I saw my sister-in-law do it successfully. I learned that Orchids get a bad rap. They can be to get to bloom but they’re surprisingly low-maintenance if you let someone else (or Trader Joes) do that part. Every few days, I throw a couple of ice cubes on top of the roots and just keep doing that until they are more depressing than brightening.

  2. Cookie Butter!! It’s amazing! We don’t have a TJ’s nearby, but when we go Christmas shopping in the big city, I buy a jar of this sweet treat for everyone’s stocking. So far, I have everyone convinced it’s only available during the holidays. I love to use it as a dip for dried banana chips or use it as a filling between sugar cookies. Mostly, my kids eat it by the spoonful right out of the jar! Dangerous stuff, but oh, so good.

    • Anne says:

      I’ve tried it once, didn’t immediately fall in love with it, declared that a good thing, and never tried it again. Everyone says that stuff is dangerous! 😉

      • Jennifer says:

        The new cookies and cream cookie butter is mind blowing! I have avoided cookie butters so far because the “origin” cookies aren’t my fave but cookies and cream, yes please! I do love that everyone’s list of favorites from TJ’s has so many different things because generally everything there is a favorite to someone.

    • Julie says:

      Oh my god, those peanut butter cups. It’s a good thing I now live FAR away from the nearest TJ’s because those things are what I imagine crack is like to other people. I would love/hate for TJ’s to make its way over to the UK…

  3. Angela says:

    I love that their spices are good quality and very reasonably priced. I always have the 21 Spice salute on hand.
    P.S. I live in Canada and cross the border to hit a Trader Joe’s every few months.

  4. Kristin J says:

    We just moved to England (from Louisville actually!). We’re native Californians. I say once a week (and think it way more…) how much I miss TJs.
    My faves – allergen free snicker doodles (for my allergic to everything girl), coconut chips, jerky, yogurt, juices! Well, everything.

  5. Sara K. says:

    Sadly we still do no have a Trader Joe’s in my area. I think the closest one is a couple hours away. I have never been to one, but I want to! I believe I have heard rumors that one may be on it’s way so I’m keeping my fingers crossed 🙂 Oh, and I will keep your list handy so I can check out some of these awesome products when I do go!

  6. MelissaJoy says:

    Love your list! To add, we are huge fans of the frozen haricot verts…seriously, nothing else compares. Their hot dogs and bacon ends are also very tasty and affordable.

  7. I live in NYC where groceries are UNBELIEVABLY expensive. So I love TJ’s because their prices are set nationwide- which means this Manhattanite actually SAVES money by exclusively shopping at TJ’s! It’s a bit of a hike for me, I have to take my little cart and carry groceries up and down the subway stairs but it’s worth it for the savings! Off the top of my head we love their coconut oil, baking mixes, flowers, veggie chili, turkey meatballs, and frozen penne arrabbiata.

    • Anne says:

      That’s good to know. We’re going to NYC for the first time in over a decade next month, and our hotel is close to a TJs. I want to check out the restaurants and coffee shops, OF COURSE. But it’s good to know we could drop in for healthy snacks instead of packing them in our suitcases!

  8. Laura says:

    I always grab a few bags of the frozen quinoa duo vegetable melange. Maybe I could make it but it’s too good to mess with. The Greek yogurt, black toad beer, Mediterranean hummus, their bread or desserts for parties. Ooh and moisturizing cream.

  9. Tory says:

    Sprouted whole grain bread! I stopped baking my own because this stuff from TJs is tastier and healthier (if significantly more expensive.)

    Butter! They have a great price and it tastes wonderful, especially on a slice of toasted sprouted multigran bread.

    Frozen green beans (not even the haricot verts or organic, just the regular ones) are fantastic.

    Pineapple juice in a carton – a treat when we have friends over for brunch.

    The European-style plain whole milk yogurt is my personal favorite, thicker than regular but not as thick as greek. Great taste that barely needs sweetener. I’m not a plain yogurt girl, yet. This stuff might get me there.

    My newest splurge is the lentils in the refrigerator section. I always thought these pre-cooked lentils were ridiculously overpriced for something you can make at home for next to nothing, but it turns out I’m a sucker for convenience. I’ve been making salads to bring to work, and it’s so easy to throw these in (they are already seasoned, too, so they taste wonderful).

    Other convenience foods I love from TJs: salmon burgers, the little meatloaf muffins with greens and mashed potatoes, and frozen pizza.

    • Anne says:

      I understand what you mean about the “sucker for convenience” bit. I recently started buying snack packs of almonds and trek mix. Never thought I’d pay the extra $$$ just to have individual bags, but I really love the pre-portioned packets for myself and for the kids.

  10. I love their pre-cut cheese sampler that has manchego, drunken goat, etc. I usually buy frozen quinoa and/or brown rice there. We used to love their frozen mini chicken tacos, but last time I went, I couldn’t find them. I think they may have been replaced with the chicken taquitos, which don’t seem quite as tasty.

  11. Jillian Kay says:

    I go to TJ’s once a month when I visit the butcher’s. We love their frozen fish, cereal bars (especially when the pumpkin ones comes out), and their cinnamon school house cookies. They are so good with tea. I also buy their tortilla chips, and find their organic dairy prices to be very reasonable. I love their cheese section too, but I’m the only cheese eater in my family so I don’t take advantage of it often.

  12. Valerie says:

    Love Trader Joe’s but Delaware only has one which is about an hour away from where I live. The only time we would go was after orthodontist appointments which ended a couple of years ago due to no more braces. Also, found that 15 minutes into Pennsylvania was Whole Foods so we would hit both in one day. Not sure if Trader Joe’s would make it in central Delaware but some don’t know what their missing. Now that I have read your blog going to have a girls day with my daughter and stock up. Thanks for the reminder.

  13. Mandie says:

    The one thing I buy every time I go to TJ’s is their turbinado dark chocolate almonds. Soooo yummy. My sister makes me bring them when we come to visit. 🙂 I’m going to make a list of these things & go to TJ’s soon- I try to avoid this store because I so often leave with only things I don’t need, but maybe if I have good, reasonable things to look for, I’ll do a better job. 🙂

  14. Sarah R says:

    My 2 year old and I go to TJs every Friday (it’s literally down the street from us!) My family’s tastes are very simple so I love that I can buy what I need and still try something a little outside the norm for relatively cheap. I have my grocery list out as I read everyone’s comments and I’m adding to the list as fast as I can!

    Around Thanksgiving, they have 4 cheese scalloped potatoes that are heat and serve. They are restaurant quality and so good!

    Around Christmas, I was able to do all my gift shopping for teachers there. They have excellent gift packs of salt and sugar scrubs, as well as unique chocolate gift boxes. My favorite was a pack of 12 different chocolate covered caramels.

    For our everyday food, we buy all our produce from TJs. We eat organic and it is very cheap there. I stock up on the pre-sliced organic apples and organic baby carrots for lunches. My kids love their yogurt. I also love their line of cereal bars (“This _____ walks into a bar”) especially the fig ones. Their mini organic cracker and cheese sandwiches are good. We also like the cinnamon alphabet cookies. I also buy flowers every time I’m there. They last forever and are not expensive.

    I don’t know if all the TJs do this, but I love that our store really welcomes little ones. They have mini-carts so kids can help shop, plus our store hides a stuffed lemur within the store. It really helps to encourage my daughter to stay with me as I go up and down the aisles looking for the lemur. If she finds it, she gets an organic lollipop and stickers at the check-out.

  15. Karen says:

    I am sitting here having my car serviced and was thinking “I should hit TJs afterwards”! Your post sealed the deal :). I always have their garlic infused olive oil in the house. Love their turkey meatballs. For some reason their tater tots taste better than any others! I love their Jo Jos…..especially the peppermint ones they have at Christmas, but I try to avoid buying them because I could eat the entire package. The list could go on…..

  16. Tim says:

    TJ’s cinnamon graham crackers are the best anywhere. I put fresh ground peanut butter from Whole Foods on it and then you have the perfect sandwich.

  17. Miriam B says:

    The only Trader Joe’s in my area is about 90 minutes away. I have only gone there one or two times, but I remember loving their huge sourdough pretzels. I could eat 2 of those things and feel like I had a full meal.

  18. Kristen says:

    Trader joes flowers will always hold a special place in my heart. The morning of my wedding my husband and I shared breakfast out and then headed to TJ to pick out the flowers for my bouquet.

  19. Belinda says:

    The ginger snaps with little bits of candied ginger–you can taste the butter! The canned crabmeat which we put into their boxed corn soup and add their frozen roasted niblet corn–good enough for company! The frozen ham and gruyere flatbread and the frozen naan! Cinnamon sugar in grinder! Any of their nuts and dried fruits are great bargains and many come in affordable single serving packs. Their shampoo–the citrus one and the tea tree one are fantastic. I cannot wait for the Birmingham TJ’s to open!

  20. Jessica says:

    My two “local” Trader Joe’s are both 2 hrs away (luckily I have family near both.) When I go, I stock up on Gone Bananas! (frozen chocolate covered bananas.) My cats would be miffed if I didn’t also pick up their Double Wide Cat Scratcher, The macarons are also on my list of favorites. Oh, and Speculoos Cookie Butter Ice Cream!

  21. Love the raisin rosemary crisps. Hummus. Chorizo that tastes like it came straight from Spain. Nuts. And there’s this wonderful prepared salad that is bulgur wheat, chick peas, dill, and cabbage that is incredible.

  22. Heather says:

    I love Trader Joe’s! I get the Chai Latte mix along with their hot chocolate. The Salted Caramel Gelato is amazing! We get the tamales too. Their Granola & 3 Berries is something we always get to have with our yogurt. Coconut oil we get from here. Whenever my SIL comes to visit she stocks up on their unsweetened cranberry juice and 21 seasoning salute. The sweet and salty nut mix is fabulous! I could go on and on.

    As a side note, a friend and I went to a talk given by Joe Coulombe, the founder of TJs, and it was so interesting to hear him talk about creating TJs and how he wanted it to run. Even though Joe has been out of the picture for a long time I think that many of his original beliefs are still inherent in the present company. I also used to work for a manufacturer that made some health care products for TJs (shampoo, conditioner, soap, sunscreen) and the employees that we had to work with were all very friendly. Not to mention the store staff at TJs is always super friendly and they don’t seem to have a high turnover rate.

    I think that my boys (6 & 4) would say that their favorite thing about TJs is finding Gary the monkey and then getting a prize for finding him 🙂

  23. Breanne says:

    We don’t have one remotely close to us (yay Canada!) but on our road trip last summer, we loved Trader Joes! We did easy/healthy-ish breakfast with yoghurt and granola and we loaded up on a huge variety of snacks for those long car rides. =)

  24. Michelle says:

    I LOVE TJ’s. The chocolate covered potato chips are a must during that time of the month. I also love the goat cheese brie, their pre-made salads, the three layer humus, and the box red wine for $12

  25. Ana says:

    TJs is the closest store to us so we do pretty much all our grocery shopping there. The compact size is a big plus, and they are friendly to kids. The prices are also hard to beat. Frequent specialty faves: the thai chili lime cashews, frozen tilapia, frozen hashbrown potatoes & tater tots, frozen meals are SO GOOD here (the Indian ones, especially, with the garlic or new paneer masala frozen naan—a serious meal!), cheese of all kinds, crackers, multiple varieties of hummus, the yogurt/spinach dip, salsas, the tiny kid-sized ice cream cone desserts, the dark chocolate/ice cream bon bons, dark chocolate peanut butter cups (ohmygod I want one now) and lots of other chocolate they have there, actually!, I could go on forever. No booze in grocery stores in our state so we miss out on that.

  26. Debbie says:

    We just recently got TJs in Texas after our California-transplant friends raved about it for years. I like their plantain chips, dried and freeze-dried fruits for snacks (my mom loves the candied ginger and asks me to buy her 6 bags at a time) and LOVE their frozen macarons…its like getting a taste of France without having to go there. In addition to finding the stuffed squirrel in our store each visit for a lollipop, my kids like the gummy penguins. Taking notes on new things to look for next visit!

  27. Frances says:

    So glad you did this post. I have friends who have always raved about the place and was excited when we moved near one recently. Honestly though after my first trip I couldn’t see what all the hype was about. Now you have given me some direction…excited to try out these foods.

    • Anne says:

      I felt that way after my first trip, thinking all this fuss and it’s just a grocery store. But then we figured out our favorites. 🙂

  28. Dana says:

    I love the pesto, the avocado hummus, their cheeses, the frozen vegetable melange with barley and quinoa ( it is great in soup), raw almonds, sprouted grain bread, yogurt, almond butter, frozen fruit bars, roasted red pepper soup, their pre made salads and sandwiches for special treats and so much more! My husband loves their meatloaf and I like their pastas ( pesto tortellini is my favorite). We buy their sparkling water because it is so much cheaper than other places, also their bags of salad are half the price of our local grocer. We also like their vegegtable tortilla chips because they are much lower in sodium.

  29. I love the cooked baby beets in the produce section. So easy to throw in a salad!
    The Syrah Toscano is my go-to (and I’m a sucker for the lovely, cheap water crackers.
    I stock up on their light coconut cream (which has no thickeners) I’ll add water and use it like milk, or add it to coconut rice.
    Also: love the spicy pre-made guacamole.

  30. Jennifer H says:

    My favorite is the chocolate covered blueberries; Samuel always chooses goat cheese; Chris, the frozen cheese enchiladas. All of us like the frozen black bean taquitos. And TJ’s has the best price for the Tofurky Italian Sausages which are really quite tasty.

  31. Sara says:

    1. roasted gorgonzola crackers (amazing!)
    2. regular “Joe” whole bean coffee
    3. yogurt (specifically, the blueberries and cream and vanilla and cream)

  32. Jaimee says:

    On the non-food side, I ADORE the Coconut Body Butter. Super creamy, but not at all greasy. And the smell is divine, too. My favorite go-to body lotion, that’s for sure.

  33. Nancy says:

    My favorite items are cheddar cheese with carmelized onion, and chocolate yogurt. If I need a quick lunch, I pick up their pre-made salads as well.

  34. Leigh Kramer says:

    I can’t believe you didn’t mention Candy Cane Joe Joe’s! I also love their ciabatta rolls, pita crackers, cranberries, naan, shaved Brussels sprouts, and so much more.

  35. Leanne says:

    TJ’s hot dogs are good – no nitrites in them. Their decaf coffee beans are wonderful. At Christmas time I love their peppermint JoeJoe’s and Candy Cane green tea. I always pick up their gluten free rolled oats. They have amazing flavored sparkling water also.

  36. Rebecca says:

    Yum!
    -Mini ice cream cones
    -Costa Rican Coffee/French Roast Decaf/TJ’s Decaf
    -Persian cucumbers
    -Mac n Cheese (frozen)
    My kids love looking for Bruno the Bear so they can get a lollipop from TJ’s treasure chest.

  37. Dana at Happy Little Lovelies says:

    I figured you would get tons of comments on this…. people love their TJ’s!!! Great lists here and I’m making a note of it. Some of my favorites are their chicken sausage in tons of flavors like sun dried tomato and pesto, their frozen fire roasted peppers (A buck and change per bag, great flavor and you don’t have to slice the peppers! Great for tacos and fajitas.) and the pb&j chocolate bars at checkout. I can never leave without grabbing one. 🙂

  38. Elissa says:

    I’ve never been to Trader Joe’s (we don’t have one nearby), but you’ve convinced me to try it out when I see one next. I guess I just always assumed it was expensive hippie food… thanks for enlightening me!

  39. Amanda says:

    Love Trader Joe’s!! I totally second your choice of the Rosemary Raisin Crisps, those things are so delicious! Some of our other favorites:

    – Dark roast K-cups (good deal!)
    – Frozen fruit and spinach for smoothies
    – ABC cookies (like animal crackers, but so much better)
    – Salted Almond Butter .. I could eat this my the spoonful

  40. Lauren says:

    One thing I used to buy at TJs but they discontinued was the chipotle hummus. It was SO good! The creamy, spicy hummus they replaced it with doesn’t even come close. I really need to start a petition to bring it back!
    My loves:
    Bagged power greens-perfect for smoothies
    Frozen boreal blueberries-the best tasting blueberries ever
    Nutty bits chocolate-it’s so yummy…and vegan like me 🙂
    Organic carrots for .89 a pound!
    Light coconut milk in cans
    Unsweetened almond milk
    Nitrate free lunchmeats for my non-vegan family
    Sparkling berry lemonade for parties
    Leonard Kreusch Riesling (for me for parties 🙂
    The selection of nuts…I buy raw cashews, salted, roasted peanuts, banana chips and semi-sweet chocolate chips and mix to make my own trail mix…we eat it by the handful!

    I could go on….frozen edamame tofu nuggets (weird but good)…triple berry O’s cereal…power of 7 juice blend…mandarin orange frozen chicken

    Now I will stop! I should just copy my grocery list, I shop there weekly!

    • Erin Burns says:

      YES I’M NOT THE ONLY ONE! I swear when they first took the chipotle hummus off the shelf, I became a vulture. I’d visit Trader Joe’s just about every other day to see if they had it back in stock. To this day I still double check when I’m there, just in case, but no. It’s gone forever. Not only is their spicy hummus not the same, but NO spicy / chipotle hummus I’ve found at other store is anywhere close to the goodness that was TJ Chipotle hummus. Sigh.

      • Lauren says:

        The only thing that comes even close to the Chipotle Hummus is to buy Roasted Red Pepper Hummus and sprinkle it with Chipotle chili powder. I have also thought about trying to puree the Red Pepper Hummus with one Chipotle Pepper in Adobo and see how close that is. I may have to do that now!

      • Lily says:

        I live far from my nearest TJ but I try to get there occasionally. We are addicted to their decaffeinated Irish breakfast tea. Then one day it was gone. I talked to the manager about it and he suggested that I drop a note in the suggestion box. Two weeks later the tea was back!! First and only time I’ve had this happen at a grocery store. Lily

  41. Traci says:

    I always comment a few days late, but I love the potstickers and sweet chili sauce. My love for these runs pretty deep. The cookie butter cookies (with shortbread) are pretty spectacular too, but very dangerous.

  42. Alyssa says:

    I love TJ’s! A few weeks ago I wrote up a post of my personal favorites. You can see it here: http://www.goodinthesimple.com/favorite-things-buy-trader-joes/

    I always love hearing what others’ favorites are too. Most of what I’ve bought there has been good, but I’ve encountered a few duds, so it’s nice to have recommendations. By the way, I’m so intrigued by the “at home” salmon curing. I definitely need to try that…everyone in my family love smoked salmon but it’s so expensive I rarely buy it.

  43. Katie says:

    I don’t see this at every TJs, but one of my all-time fav things they offer is a three layer hummus. One of the layers is cilantro and it is SO GOOD. I’ve never seen cilantro hummus anywhere else.

  44. Janet says:

    I am lucky to be in SoCal with a lot of TJ options!
    Peanut butter pretzels, dairy, Genovese pesto (my son’s favorite), frozen chicken, wine, spices, orange-flavored dried cranberries, lots of nice organic things that are not too expensive, frozen orange chicken (a great short-cut dinner that takes the same to bake as the rice does to steam in the rice cooker), frozen meatballs, flour tortillas, reasonable price on olive oil….

    Over the years they have definitely increased their “staple” type items. I can’t get every single thing on my list, but that is probably more due to my personal preferences than a lack of offerings on their part. Oh, and if you can get your hands on a Firecracker Chocolate Bar. Oh yes.

  45. Renee says:

    – Thai Red Curry sauce – my “go-to” meal – saute lots of veggies, add sauce and pour over rice (many of their sauces are good)
    – Frozen brown rice (3 pouches in box) – fast (3 min) on nights I need it
    – Organic tomato sauce (lg can) – I add olive oil, red wine and spices
    – Rice pastas – gluten free!
    – that carmelized onion cheese – oh, yeah!
    – those little blue cheese crackers
    – dark chocolate bar with salted carmel on the inside – YUM!
    – dog treats and canned food (to stir into dry food)
    – 21 Seasoning Salute – I use this on almost anything, esp. with olive oil for roasted veggies

  46. Not trying to correct you Anne, but the coconut enthusiast in me has to point out that the coconut cream at TJ’s is that that… the CREAM. It’s the stuff that is thick and white that floats on top of the coconut milk, which is even better than coconut milk because you can do the coolest stuff with it.

    My daughter loves to whip it just like heavy whipping cream, adding a touch of vanilla, to make a healthy icing or anywhere else you would use whipped cream (on top of puddings, fruit, etc). It’s amazing in coffee for people sensitive to dairy or on a low carb diet. Hello paleo. 🙂

    My TJ shopping list includes: leeks, kumquats, those presliced frozen sweet peppers (honestly having those in the freezer makes omelets and fritattas a total no-brainer), the frozen almond and chocolate croissants (the closest thing to a Paris breakfast I’ll experience stateside), baguette, roobios tea (naturally decaf and great for kids or upset tummies), Bronner’s castille, *whole milk* yogurt, powdered laundry detergent.

  47. jennifer l. says:

    I Highly recommend:
    Soy & Ginger Vinaigrette,
    Chocolate Covered Coconut Almonds,
    Garlic Naan, &
    Bran Muffins
    (just to name a few favs).

  48. Meg says:

    I don’t think anyone mentioned the coconut oil spray–I use instead of cooking spray in muffin pans, and even on air popped popcorn! The small whole milk yogurts (packs of six I think?) are great for the kiddos just starting to eat dairy (and moms too!). I also like several of their individual frozen meals to keep in the office freezer for emergency lunches. Yum!

  49. Kim j says:

    Have only seen one other comment on their olive oil…a large bottle with a spout & only $7. You can’t beat it. Also, their Olive Oil Popcorn is delish. As others have said, we love their nuts, cheeses, beer selection & spices. Can’t wait to try all of these new suggestions!

  50. Wendy says:

    French salted caramels–for $2.99 you get a whole lotta caramel.
    Garlic salt (comes in a little grinder).
    Frozen latkes.
    Salted caramel gelato–yes, I am a little obsessed. I don’t do pumpkin spiced anything, but I am totally on board with the salted caramel fad.

    I hadn’t bothered with Trader Joe’s, because I thought it was just some chi-chi grocery store, and I was annoyed that their veggies are so shrink-wrapped and not locally sourced. Then a friend was telling me she gets healthier meats there for a much better price than Whole Foods or New Seasons, so I stopped by to check that out. She was right. Plus, they’ve freed many of their veggies from the shrink wrap in the past few years.

  51. I love reading what others like at TJ’s…although there are fewer items than a regular store, I still don’t notice some of these items until someone mentions them 🙂 We always keep their frozen grass fed hamburger meat in the freezer. It’s so good and very inexpensive!

  52. Erica Layne says:

    When they’re in stock I LOVE the frozen mango chunks to go in smoothies. Also, the dark chocolate cookie butter cups! Super yummy, and I pretend that they’re on the healthy side because of the word “dark.” 🙂

  53. Sabrina says:

    Wow!! I had to write these down (and I’m pretty sure it’s the entire store)! I love TJ, ours shares a parking lot with Whole Foods…SO dangerous! I have only gone in for the specialty items I’m craving (inside out carrot cake cookies!!) or to use for a special event (typically the crackers, cheese selection, and sparking water), but this makes me so excited to shop there and really get to know the store! They are always SO friendly and I tend to take forever grocery shopping, so once I learn what and where things are this should speed things up!

  54. Jessi says:

    We love TJ’s for so many things! I can’t believe no one has mentioned the appetizer section in the frozen department. Every dinner party in San Francisco starts with an array of TJ’s appetizers, the feta and carmelized onion pastry bites and black truffle flatbread are two of my absolute faves. My son loves their organic banana chips and their vanana yogurt. Their italian truffle cheese is to die for and the old Amsterdam cheese is one of my husband’s absolute favorites. The prices for crumbled goat and burrata cannot be beat. My husband and I both take their multi vitamins too. But the ultimate dangerous yummy treat are their peanut butter filled, chocolate covered pretzels…

  55. Alissa says:

    As for a quick snack that my little ladies can eat… they love cheese puffs, but so many have orange dyes and are so unhealthy! Trader Joe’s has a healthier option of those addictive things, and they are cheaper than the name brands with orange dyes!!! And they carry different types of Rooibos tea! I fell in love with this tea in 2003 when I lived in South Africa and was so excited when stored here started selling it! But Trader Joe’s carries a small variety and usually has a delicious pumpkin one in the fall!!!

  56. Kristina says:

    We just got a TJ’s close to us a couple months ago. I used to shop there all the time in CA, and missed them when we moved to TX. I love TJ’s gluten free bread and unsweetened vanilla almond milk. I also tried there tomato basil pasta sauce and the family really liked it! Heard they have GF pancake mix that is good, but haven’t tried it yet.

    • Anne says:

      I keep looking at it in the freezer case but the memory of a particularly horrible TJs key lime cheesecake from 10 years ago has kept me from buying one. But hey, I’ve just been looking for an excuse to give it a try. Thanks for the nudge. 🙂

  57. Stephanie says:

    Some of our very favorites that (I think) weren’t mentioned:

    -Cocobon (best red wine just about ever, and it’s $5.99! 2012 was a better year, they are on to 2013, but still good!)
    -Reduced sugar strawberry jam and organic strawberry jam
    -Fruity O’s (yeah, they’re fruit loops!)
    -Toasted Oatmeal Flakes (my kids are currently burned out on this, but it was a long-time fave)
    -Pecan Praline Granola
    -Nonfat Greek Yogurt
    -Fleur de sel caramel sauce (ok, you see these three items, the granola/yogurt/caramel? Layer them. SWOON!)
    -bag of organic lemons
    -lemon curd (better than any tea room in England, and I’ve been to many!)
    -salami (the solid paper-wrapped stick)
    -dry cheese tortellini, in pasta section (it’s a fraction of the cost of any grocery store variety like Barilla, we use it in soup!)
    -boxed mac & cheese (tastes better than Kraft and much healthier! Cheap kid lunch!)
    -Hard taco shells (non-gmo!!)
    -Brie (use this with the leeks, fresh thyme, and the bacon ends to make an amazing quiche)
    -Candied pecans (makes your salads dreamy!)
    -Hot pepper jelly (spread on crackers with cream cheese)
    -Canned cannellini beans (an ingredient in the soup we use the tortellini for, add chicken sausage, chicken broth, canned tomatoes and a bag of power greens)
    -black hawaiian sea salted dark caramel chocolate bar (that really doesn’t need an explanation, now does it? But just so you know, there are chunks of salt visible in the bottom of the chocolate bar. Yes.)
    -GUMMY BEARS (no artificial colors or flavors! Rejoice, moms of spectrum kiddos!)
    -canned organic black beans
    -hummus (this was mentioned, but I’ll say it again, BECAUSE IT’S AMAZING)
    -wensleydale with apricots (oh yum!)
    -crumbled gorgonzola cheese
    -organic heavy cream (great price!)
    -Maple syrup
    -yogurt covered raisins
    -multigrain pita chips (better than the plain)
    -Trader Ming’s General Tso’s Stir Fry Sauce
    -Thai Yellow Curry Sauce (we make something called “Indian Chicken” with this by adding chicken, raisins, apples and a little coconut milk and serve over rice with a side of the frozen naan)
    -gluten free chocolate cupcakes (delicious!)
    -lemon tart (great to bring to a party!)
    -the frozen chocolate croissants! (these needed another mention)
    -sushi (not preferable to a nice sushi place, but a great lunch to grab on the go)
    -cute hand soap
    -best price on lara bars
    -prosciutto (regular and wrapped around mozzarella)
    -woven wheats (these are basically triscuits)

  58. Lisa says:

    Frozen Risoto!!! Butternut squash is my FAV!!!! Mushroom one is a bit salty so add more shrooms to cut it. And asparagus pretty good too! Minutes and a great meal or side!!!

  59. Kristi S says:

    I love the nuts, particularly the Go Raw Trek Nuts. They are a great snack anytime–especially when you add some dark choc chips! Speaking of dark chocolate, that’s another item I never leave TJs without. Love it!!

  60. Nicole says:

    Gluten free jojos
    gluten free oatmeal
    Frozen brown rice
    Goat cheese
    Rosé
    Mini beef tacos
    Vitamins
    Hand wash
    The list is long.

  61. Sue says:

    I love their Gazpacho. I can eat an entire container in one meal. I love their pizza skins, cheese cracker sticks, pre-made salads, Hummus wraps, vegetables which are so fresh, and vegetarian/vegan foods.

  62. Shari Cavin says:

    Here are some things I like at TJ’s:
    1. Kona coffee
    2. Frozen croissants (these are frozen dough. You put them in a pan in the over the night before and then bake them in the morning. They taste just like the ones in France. Flaky and buttery!)
    3. Black Bean Dip
    4. Quinoa Chips
    5. Slivered Almonds (great price)
    6. Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream
    7. Toscano Cheese with Blk Pepper
    8. Water Crackers (great price!)
    9. Feta Salad Dressing. (The Asian Soy-Ginger Vinaigrette is great too).
    10. Sparkling Water (Great price, excellent fizziness!)

  63. Colleen says:

    My boys love the frozen Japanese fried rice. We also like the honey wheat pretzel sticks and the almond butter. The little tins of dark chocolate they sell at the front helps me portion out a chocolate treat without going overboard. I also really like the chicken sausage and the jarred beets. Be sure and get the ginger beer when they have it next holiday season.

  64. Beryllium says:

    I had the misfortune of discovering TJ ‘s salted caramel gelato not long ago (I consider myself somewhat of an aficionado since eating the world’s best gelato in Florence back in ’97 and have eaten ONLY gelato since, trying every brand I come across with varying degrees of pleasure). TJ’s one and only flavor blew me away, and now I can’t recall which of the 3 stores in my area stocked it. I have looked extensively on line and saw one customer comment that suggested it has been discontinued for lack of public interest. Could this be true???? Does anyone out there know??? Btw, I live in L.A. if that helps. Thanks. BL

  65. Amy says:

    I am a TJ’s superfan! I was so excited when we got one in our neighboring neighborhood (say that three times fast! 😉 )!!! I always grab a couple of bags of the frozen pot stickers, and the chicken lemongrass sticks to have on hand for those nights where you feel more like a snack than dinner! Their produce is ALWAYS wonderful…and the cheese….ohhhh the cheese! I make sure that we always have that Syrah soaked Toscano cheese on hand…so delicious! And their bacon ends and pieces are definitely something to stock up on! No nitrates or nitrites….and, even though it’s ends and pieces, you tend to get a decent amount of just regular strips of bacon crammed into that little pack!

    I am loving everyone’s suggestions, though! It helps to branch out!

  66. Danielle says:

    I love their chicken friend rice. It has chopped green onions which takes the flavor up to the next level. I also love their ginger snaps during thanksgiving season. I have a cream cheese dip that it goes well with 🙂 I make homemade pesto and their prices are unbelievable during the winter time for a pack of basil.

  67. Vegyogini says:

    Hi Anne! Trader Joe’s is my #1 market and I was fortunate enough to grow up with one nearby. It’s my main grocery store and I love their plethora of well-priced organic produce (hooray for organic, pre-chopped, pre-washed kale!), the enormous amount of vegan products that are labeled as such, fresh flowers (like you!) (they currently have 9-stem bouquets of roses for $3.99!), and I could go on for ages. I occasionally need to hit Whole Foods for a thing or two that TJ’s doesn’t carry, but that’s not even once a month. One note: The canned coconut cream is actually not the same as what is labeled as canned “coconut milk” elsewhere. Canned coconut milk is only coconut milk and water. TJ’s canned coconut cream is coconut extracted, sodium carboxy methyl cellulose, xanthan gum, and water. Coconut cream can be achieved by refrigerating a can of coconut milk and skimming off the solids at the top, but TJ’s canned coconut cream is coconut treated with other ingredients so the entire can is cream without refrigeration. I hope that’s helpful! Thanks for the fun post; I always enjoy knowing what other people appreciate about TJ’s.

  68. Kendra says:

    To me, the BEST thing at TJs is something nobody has mentioned. Y’all, you must get the dark chocolate almonds with sea salt and turbinado sugar! Please, for me, you must. They are above the frozen food and have a yellow label. I keep a few on hand for happy gifts!!

  69. Michelle says:

    Hi Anne! Our TJ’s isn’t close by but is on my hubbys commute so every few months I have him stop. We love their Tea Tree Oil Shampoo. The entire family uses it. It is excellent for your scalp and doesn’t have all the stuff that builds up and weighs your hair down. I’m obsessed with the chili-lime cashews, the price ($8/bag) keeps me in check. We also love the honey roasted peanuts for peanut butter in the vitamix. The honey roasted sliced almonds are phenomenal in granola. Someone else mentioned their maple syrup. They have the absolute best price by far on grade b, hands down. My son is crazy about the organic strawberry banana juice. All my guys are nuts for the PB&J bars they have at the checkout. I wish they were closer, I’m afraid to get attached to anything I’d want more often.

  70. Some of my favorites are their granola cereal with cranberries; goat cheese rolled in blueberries or cranberries; a frozen bag of linguine with pesto & tomatoes (yum!) and EASY to prepare!!!! Starting at the holidays they have lots of darling speciality items with my favorite being their Almond Roca, just like the “real” thing! I adore their non alcohol French Sparkling Lemonade. (It looks so pretty in stemware) And I love their Peach Belini wine; “Two Buck Chuck” Zinfandel is delicious. There are many others but these are just a few! Move to MY neighborhood, Trader Joe’s!! I have to travel so far!!!

  71. Sarah says:

    wine, wine, and cheese! haha also the popcorn and different cracker combos are great. oh and did i mention the scones!

  72. Elaine S Woodford says:

    Wine and Secco Peach Bellini; goat cheese rolled in blueberries;(frozen) fried rice; frozen pasta dinners. Lots of other stuff too!!! And at Christmas time, lots of unique specials.

  73. Rebecca says:

    Coconut body butter! Excellent. A nice little gift for girlfriends. Frozen foods – Mushroom Risotto, orange chicken, Kung Pao Chicken. Love Tj’s in Capitola CA

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