We waited so long for Trader Joe’s to come to town that I still don’t take it for granted. I had to google it to be sure: it’s been nearly seven years since we got our own store. It’s not like it just happened—and yet I’m still grateful every time I pop in that they’re actually here.
A few years ago, I posted about my favorite things to buy at Trader Joe’s. (Read that post here, and don’t skip the comments section!) But that’s been three years now, and since that time, I’ve found plenty of new favorites—some new to me, some new to Trader Joe’s.
I can’t get everything we need at Trader Joe’s (the store is tiny, and I like it that way), but I get a ton of our essentials (greens, eggs, milk, fruit) and a whole bunch of specialty products, which Trader Joe’s is justifiably famous for doing really well, and for cheap.
These are a few of my favorites. (I’d love to hear yours in comments!)
Flowers and greenery
Trader Joe’s always has fresh flowers and a rotating selection of seasonally appropriate plants and greenery. I buy flowers almost every time I go. (It’s almost ranunculus season, and I can’t wait till my Trader Joe’s has them in stock once again.)
During the holidays, I love their boxwood wreaths and fresh garland. I’ve picked up potted succulents and pretty flowers in pots—not just for everyday use, either. We threw a Reading People launch party back in the fall, and drew our theme from the book cover—everything was gold, green, and pink. Those flower pots were party-perfect, and cheap.
I keep my pantry stocked with Trader Joe’s goodies so that we’re always ready to put together an appetizer tray or cheese board. (I keep these in a special cabinet over the fridge so we don’t gobble everything up on a regular Tuesday.)
We frequently put together party trays using only Trader Joe’s finds; these pictures here are of the trays we did for the Reading People party.
• their awesome and reasonably-priced cheese selection, especially the toscano with crushed peppercorns or syrah, Spanish manchego, unexpected Cheddar, and Boursin (my kids’ favorite).
• nitrate-free peppered salami
• dried figs. Cut in half, these are a fun and pretty addition to an apps tray
• dried apricots
• spicy candied ginger. This is sold out in my store at least half the time I’m there, so I always grab several bags when it’s on the shelves.
And the crackers/chips to go with them
• water crackers. I can’t find a better quality for the price.
• raisin rosemary crips. I can’t keep these in the house, they’re too addictive! I also love the fig and olive.
• plantain chips. Great for an apps tray or as a guacamole dipper.
• mini brioche toasts. Pretty and unusual.
• breadsticks. Not my personal favorite, but they make a nice addition to a party spread and kids love them.
• 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.
• Dark chocolate-covered blueberries.
• Walker’s shortbread. Not a TJ’s exclusive, but I love that I can pick up this crowd-pleasing classic when I’m there.
Also in the freezer aisle, and worthy of mention here: the mini-croissants, which couldn’t be easier to make or serve. Proof overnight, bake in the morning, and serve as a special breakfast or use as a sandwich base for lunch. (We don’t do a ton of breads around here, so when we do we want them to be good. These totally count.)
• Hot and sweet jalapeños. Will and I adore these.
• Pesto. We toss with pasta or zucchini noodles and add sliced chicken breast for an easy weeknight dinner. I also love this on grilled veggies.
• Balsamic glaze.
I’m grateful for the just-big-enough wine shop and helpful staff. We personally tend towards reds from Bogle (I get asked at checkout all the time if it’s my family’s winery—if only!), Coppola, and Charles Smith, but Trader Joe’s also has great exclusive brands at a great price.
I really like these TJ’s exclusives:
• Vint TJs: these rotate, but right now they have an Old Vine Zin we really like.
• Grifone Primitivo. Hard to beat for $5 a bottle.
• Churned. My visiting friend introduced me to this $7 buttery white, Trader Joe’s answer to the $16 Butter Chardonnay.
I’ve found the staff is always eager to recommend a house brand to substitute for whatever name brand I usually gravitate towards.
What are YOUR favorite things to buy at Trader Joe’s?