Trader Joe’s is one of those store that is so special, it deserves a list. Easily 30 minutes from us, when we make the trip.. we make the trip.
However, if you’ve never been to a TJ’s (yeah, we close like that), you’re in for a real treat! Trader Joe’s is not your average grocery chain but more of a specialty store (ish) containing mostly their own brand. Similar to Aldi, the grocer has created the ability to keep their overhead costs low, carrying discounts to the consumer.
For us, TJ’s is a stop in the rotation. While many do shop primarily at Trader Joe’s, we mainly utilize them for our pantry goods and to beat prices compared to our local Kroger.
Through all of our monthly hauls, texts filled with our “must haves” to friends and family, I am finally plopping it here for you! Admittedly, the list can go on and on. There are so many things I have tried and loved that are outside of our usual needs that are not included.
In addition to our favorite products request, plenty of people have asked me how to shop at a Trader Joe’s.
Grab a basket and go, friend! No quarter needed and bags are on the house!
Aside from that, I do have three rules I follow:
- Never go mid morning (11-12) or early evening (3-4) on a Saturday
- Never go during those “after church” times on a Sunday
- Be patient.
Trader Joe locations are not large. They are a good size with about 4-5 aisles and plenty of people attempting to shop. When you finally make your way, do not overthink it and do not stress out! AND you know what, leave the husband at home. I know I do (hi Caleb). Take your time, look at all of the specialty foods in the freezer section and say “excuse me” to your fellow TJ’s neighbor! Everyone has had their first Trader Joe’s experience so.. we get it!
AND if all else fails, give a giggle and admit “ahh, I’m new here!”
I bet you’ll make a friend and even get a few recommendations!
TJ’s offers many common vegetables in bulk making it perfect for meal prep.
- Bagged leafy greens – arugula, spinach, and kale
- Cruciferous crunch – a leafy blend of green and red cabbage, brussels sprouts, broccoli, and kale. Perfect topper for fish tacos!
- Bulk poblano peppers
- Bulk Jalapenos
- Bulk Zucchini
- Riced cauliflower and broccoli
- Broccoli florets
- Brussels sprouts
- Spaghetti Squash – usually a flat price instead of weighted, making it cheaper than our local grocer
- Bulk onions
- Bulk potatoes
- All nuts and seeds – almonds, cashews, pistachios, and pumpkin seeds
- Dried fruits – my favorite is the mango
- Coconut milk
- Coconut oil – cold pressed and unrefined
- Coconut aminos – a soy sauce alternative perfect for Asian inspired dishes, sauces, and marinades
- Yuzu sauce – a spicy sauce that I like to add to Asian dishes and sushi
- Habanero sauce – for those fearless of heat
- Olive oil
- Olive oil spray – spanish olive oil spray
- Buffalo ghee – filled with turmeric, a natural anti-inflammatory spice
- Chicken stock + bone broths
- Canned artichokes
- Olive tapenade – a mixture of multiple olive variations in olive oil that is a wonderful snack with veggies/crackers or to jazz up skillet chicken
- Red pepper spread – perfect to have on hand as a quick snack for guests. I pour this over a small goat cheese log with sliced veggies and french bread when I’m in a hurry
- Tuna + oysters + salmon
- Season blends and spices
- Onion salt – pretty much ranch seasoning
- Everything bagel
- Seasoning salt
- 21 Season Solute – wonderful chicken seasoning
- Smoked paprika
- Any of the salt grinder blends
- South African smoke
- Chili lime – the best salt for a homemade margarita and kick to pineapple and mangoes
- Umami blend – very similar to NomNom Paleo’s Magic Mushroom blend
- Other classics at a great price – salt, pepper, garlic powder, oregano, etc.
- Baking needs
- Almond meal
- Blanched almond flour
- Coconut flour
- Baking powder
- Liquid Stevia extract – wonderful “swap” for sugar in sweetening coffee and sauces
- Maple syrup – the basic low cost option works for us. They have a couple of fancier options I have never tried
- Almond butter
- Cashew butter
- Cookie butter – a pure treat only.
- Salsa autentica – red salsa
- Salsa Verde – green salsa
- Plantain chips – the purple bag with monkeys on it are green plantain chips that are great for dipping. They are not sweet.
- Sweet plantain chips
- Cauliflower pizza crust
- Cauliflower gnocchi – yes, yes, yes.
- Cauliflower rice – I honestly buy 10 bags at a time for $1.99 a pop
- Fire roasted peppers
- Cauliflower florets
- Broccoli florets
- Fish and seafood
- Grassfed ground beef – $5.99/ pound most of the time in our area (Houston)
- Grassfed angus beef burgers
- Chili lime chicken burgers
- Turkey burgers
Meat and Dairy
- Ground turkey – I usually only get this if its on sale for $2.00
- Chicken sausages – always. We stock up on the garlic herb and jalapeno flavors
- Smoked salmon
- Goat cheese log – the large log at Kroger is $8.99 and the exact log at TJ’s is $4.99
- Kale, cashew, and basil pesto
- Dairy free fiesta queso
- Garlic spread
- Dog treats
- Wine – “two buck chuck” has been the base of my sangria for what seems like forever.
- Cards – The best birthday, anniversary, and holiday cards!
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Did I leave something out?
What are your TJ’s “must haves”? Let me know by leaving a comment below!
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