I’ve been lucky enough to have a Trader Joe’s nearby for a decade now and I’m still grateful every time I stop in. The pandemic has changed many things, not the least of which is when and where we shop for groceries.
One unintended consequence of this change in routine is that we’re not near Trader Joe’s as often as we used to be. I didn’t even realized our habits had changed, until I woke up one day and realized I wasn’t buying the flowers regularly anymore. That was an easy thing to change once I realized it, thank goodness—and I think that change in frequency now helps me appreciate the store that much more.
Trader Joe’s is justly famous for their specialty products, which they do really well, and they inevitably lure me in for seasonal favorites. I know I’m not the only one!
It’s been a few years since I last shared my favorite things to buy at Trader Joe’s. With pumpkin season around the corner, I thought it would be fun to more of my favorite things. And of course I’ll be very interested in hearing about yours in the comments!
Chile lime seasoning
Citrus + spice is my happy place! While this goes wonderfully with any number of main dishes, we use it most frequently on eggs and avocado toast.
I’ve become an evangelist for halloumi: if we hang out in person I’ve inevitably talked about this special cheese you can bake, fry, even grill. I especially love it paired with something zingy, like the preserved lemon I’m so fond of. This is a seasonal item at Trader Joe’s and we stock up because I can’t find it anywhere else in town.
Chomps Jerky Sticks
This isn’t a Trader Joe’s product but it’s my favorite place to stock up, for convenience and price reasons. I keep these in my purse and in the car for a high-protein snack on the go.
We have strong feelings about ice cream at my house, and we like the highly curated, high quality selections at Trader Joe’s. I personally prefer the Premium Vanilla and Ultra Chocolate (especially with their Dark Chocolate Cacao Nibs sprinkled on top); my kids reach for the Cookie Butter and Mint Chip flavors. My dairy-free friends swear by their Chocolate Coconut Milk ice cream. It’s on our list of things to try!
Everyone probably knows about their Mandarin Orange Chicken by now (we’re fans) but have you tried the Kung Pao Chicken? It’s a regular addition to our cart, and a lifesaver on many a busy weeknight.
Sweet and Spicy Jalapeños
I’ve mentioned this before but this is one of our very favorite products and it bears repeating. We know we NEED a TJs run if we get close to running out.
Big Churn chardonnay
One of our buttery chardonnay-loving friends turned us on to this one. If you prefer unoaked chardonnay, you’ll probably want to stay away. But if oaked chardonnay is your thing, it’s a tasty and very affordable option!
This item may look a little out of place on this list, but we ADORE their SPF 50 Spray Sunscreen. My daughters and I have sensitive skin, and this is the least irritating sunscreen we’ve found anywhere. We stock up every summer.
In recent years the dozens of pumpkin season offerings available at TJ’s have been verging on ridiculous. I wondered, Do we really need so many pumpkin items? But in 2020 my son and I loaded up our cart with one (or three) of everything. So many regular fun things were cancelled last fall, so we decided to take our fun where we could find it—and we taste tested basically every fall item on offer at TJ’s. (I’m certain we’re not the only ones.)
In all seriousness: my kids can’t wait for their favorite pumpkin item, the Pumpkin Bagels, to reappear on the shelves. We’re also looking forward to the Pumpkin Spiced Pumpkin Seeds, Pumpkin Waffles, and whatever new-for-2021 items Trader Joe’s rolls out.
Candy Cane Joe-Joe’s
This seasonal favorite has devotees far and wide. We don’t tend to buy multiple boxes like so many do but they are an enjoyable holiday treat. And I always have to buy at least one box of their Chocolate-Covered Joe-Joes for a holiday splurge.
What are YOUR favorite things to buy at Trader Joe’s?
P.P.S. That photo is from the launch party for my first book Reading People—and the beautiful food on display was sourced from Trader Joe’s!