my favorite trader joe’s products

Posted on Oct 31, 2012 in Food

I’m a total Trader Joe’s fangirl.

It’s hard to believe that up until a few months ago, I’d never even really shopped in one, but it’s very quickly become my go-to grocery store. In my ideal world, I’d grow, make and preserve the vast majority of my own food and buy locally what I couldn’t make myself, but that kind of lifestyle just isn’t realistic for us right now (maybe someday!). So like millions of other hipster yuppie food snobs, I’ve become totally obsessed with the organic, natural and not-so-bad-for-you options available at TJs.

I thought it might be fun to share with guys some of my favorite products from T. Joe’s. I’m far from a TJ’s expert, but I have definitely found quite a few must buys over my months shopping there. Navigating the aisles at Trader Joe’s can be a little bit tricky, because, to be honest, there is a lot of junk there. Granted, it’s junk made without chemicals and preservatives, but it’s still not healthy, fresh, real food. It’s can be really easy to get into the mindset of, “Well, it’s from TJ’s, it must be good for me!” but that isn’t always the case. Feel free to share your favorites, too!

Organic and Seasonal Produce

I’ve heard a wide variety of things about the produce sections at various TJ’s locations  but ours is actually really nice. And it’s an absolutely amazing resource for organic and seasonal produce. Like these giant stalks of Brussels sprouts that I’m currently obsessed with.

Go Raw Trek Mix

The selection of nuts, trail mixes and dried fruits at TJ’s is amazing, but this stuff is my absolute favorite! It’s super simple (almonds, cashews, walnuts and raisins) and has no sugar added. You can buy it in this big bag, or in individual serving packs (which is awesome for grab-and-go-snacking).

Hummus Snack Packs

These hummus snack packs (a little cup of hummus, plus some pita chips) are the type of convenience food I don’t love buying, but when we started commuting three hours to and from work, they kinda became a necessity. Sure, I could do the same thing with hummus and pita chips, but that 5 minutes or so I save by not preparing my own snack packs really adds up.

Whole Wheat Pizza Dough

TJ’s premade whole wheat pizza dough is amazing and crazy cheap. You couldn’t even really pay for the ingredients to make whole wheat pizza dough for $1.19. The only issue? We haven’t had any success with it after it’s been frozen, so you gotta use it up while it’s fresh.

Cheese!

The TJ’s cheese selection is the stuff cheese-lovin’ dreams are made of. You can get cheap hunks of really good quality cheese, plus some not-so-cheap, but totally fun gourmet cheeses (like chocolate cheddar cheese!).

Natural Tonic Water

Gin and tonics are our cocktail of choice during the summer, but regular grocery store tonic water choices are total crap. You either buy the regular stuff and get a glass-full of HFCS or you buy the diet kind and get a ton of artificial sweetener. TJ’s is one of the few places I’ve seen natural tonic water. And these little cans are the perfect cocktail size.

Flavored Sparkling Water

All natural and unsweetened, I love these waters as an alternative to plain ole water.

Organic Dairy

TJ’s has a pretty great selection of reasonably-priced organic dairy. An organic sour cream this size at a regular grocery store in our area runs about $4.99, but at TJs, we get it for $2.99. And it’s crazy good. Like the best sour cream I’ve ever had.

Cottage Cheese

This is my favorite cottage cheese in the history of all cottage cheese ever. Probably because it’s 4% milkfat. I also choose to ignore that it’s not organic.

FAGE

I actually don’t really like the TJ’s brand of Greek yogurt, but I do really love their prices on FAGE 0% and 2%. Cheaper than any other store in our area.

Organic Frozen Pizza

This one is particularly delicious. Perfect for an “OMG I CAN’T COOK TONIGHT” dinner.

Frozen Organic Veggies and Fruits

You cannot beat TJ’s prices on frozen organic produce—especially berries. It’s a crazy good deal, and it’s crazy good quality, too.

 

Dark Chocolate PB Cups

These fall solidly into the “junk” category, but damn, they are good. Like, insanely good. And they come in a variety of sizes. My favorite is the small ones (there are teeny-tiny ones, too).

Dark Chocolate Honey Mints

There are a lot of sweet treats at TJ’s, but this is my favorite of them all. They taste like honey-flavored peppermint patties, and only have three ingredients. We buy these and toss one into our lunch for a nice little mid-day treat.

Multigrain Pita Crackers

Best. Crackers. Ever.

Applesauce Crushers

Again, this is a lunch-packing convenience food, but we’re big fans of the Applesauce Crushers. They come in a few flavors (banana=least favorite, carrot=yummiest). Our cashier once tried to tell us we shouldn’t buy them because they are baby food, but they aren’t! They’re just applesauce.

Canned Salmon

We always have a few cans of this in the pantry. It’s really high quality stuff and much cheaper than we can find it at any other store. It’s great for salmon salads!

Organic Tomato and Roasted Red Pepper Soup

This is my favorite canned/boxed soup ever in the history of ever.

Chicken Breast Wraps Dog Treats

Puppyface freaking loves these dog treats. She gets to nom off the dried chicken layer and then spend quite a while working on the rawhide. They are definitely her favorites.

Sprouted Multi-Grain Bread

Ezekiel sprouted grain bread is awesome (and sugar-free!) but it’s crazy expensive—but thankfully TJ’s has their own version. It’s pretty much exactly the same—except for the price.

Original Turkey Jerky

Obsessed. We get a bag of this every shopping trip and share it on the drive home. It’s super flavorful, low-calorie, packed with protein and the perfect combo of chewy and soft. It’s a little pricey at $4.99 for a small bag. If it was a bit cheaper, I’d eat this stuff everyday.

Flavored Chicken Sausages

The raw chicken sausages at TJs are amazing. There are a few flavors and they are all excellent. Grilled them up and serve them along side a veggie and you’ve got a crazy easy dinner.

Chia Seeds

Chia seeds made the list not because of price (I can actually get them much cheaper elsewhere) but because of convenience. Before I always had to make a separate trip to a speciality store to buy chia seeds, but recently TJ’s started carrying them. It’s definitely worth the few extra cents to not need to go to a different store.

The Dark Chocolate Lover’s Chocolate Bar

This is the best Dark Chocolate on the planet.

So you can totally see why I love TJs, right? I don’t know how I lived without it for so long.

What’s your favorite TJ’s product?

44 Comments

  1. Thanks for sharing! We just had a TJ’s open about an hour away and I can’t wait to get down there. I LOVE LOVE LOVE their pumpkin butter. I wish it came in 5 gallon drums. :)

  2. I get to TJ’s about once or twice a year but when I do (or when anyone else I know is going) I absolutely have to have a package of the chocolate raspberry sticks. Love, love love them!

  3. I looove their dried unsweetened mangoes… The only place I have been able to find them, and their mini pb cups, but they are dangerous to have in the house… And Corbs loves,their TJ brand pirates booty.

    • Rachel, I totally second the dried unsweetened mango, too! We can’t find it anywhere else and we eat tons of it in our house. Soo good!

  4. Oh, and their almond flour is waaaaaaay cheaper than anywhere else I have seen by a few dollars

  5. I LOVE TJ’s roasted wasabi seaweed snack. Sooo good!

  6. My favorite TJ’s item ever is their (sadly recalled for salmonella) valencia peanut butter with roasted flax seed.

    What’s your issue/ problem with the pizza dough after it’s been frozen? I’ve frozen it before and haven’t had any problems.

    • I can’t get it to rise! No matter how long I let it come up to room temp or warm up. It just stays flat and un-stretchy. So the end result for me is always hard and crunchy. Like eating pizza on a cracker.

      • Me too, Cassie!! :(

  7. One of my favorite things to get there is the veggie gyoza (frozen in the green bag). They are filling, low calorie and quick cooking. I also love that they sell local eggs at our tj’s for under $2 a dozen.

  8. I love their frozen edamame- they sell it in like 3 different ways: Shelled- uncooked, shelled- pre-cooked(just defrosting needed), and unshelled to add to stir fries and such!

    Also love that Red Pepper Soup(though the reduced sodium tastes like @$$ to me)

    I love their Gorgonzola Crackers too. SOOoo delish.

    And their goat cheese medallions.

    YUM!

    • Yes, I buy the frozen shelled edameme too!

  9. Oh no! I just bought two bags of pizza dough from TJ’s and froze them. Hope mine turn out okay.

    My favorite products from Trader Joe’s are the Petite Cocoa Batons and their Curry Simmer Sauce!

    • It’s definitely still edible after being frozen, just not the awesome amazing texture that it has pre-freezing. :)

  10. I love their chicken pot stickers. Their mini chocolate icecream cones. They had these really good hot dogs with cheese inside the middle that the kiddos loved. Love their boxed soups, too! I really love their micro mac and cheese but I know its not healthy! YUM!

  11. This weekend we are going on a long car trip and I was excited to get our fav road trips staples from TJ, like the turkey jerky and trail mix, the wasabi pea trail mix is great. I also got a mini veggie tray and the hummus snack packs for healthy treats.

    But I think my all time fav is their sprouted bread. I usually get the smaller ones, but I just got the one in your picture and like it just as much.

    Watch out for Christmas, they have tons of yummy things! The peppermint green tea is awesome: )

  12. I TOTALLY have the same problemo with the pizza dough – but it’s the best. The turkey sausage is the best. I buy all their frozen fruits, love. Artichokes when they have them – and their version of the no-pudge brownie mix. I stock up on their kalamata olives so cheap and salsa and the brushcetta, the list goes on!!! For junk food – the chocolate covered pretzels are ridiculous!!! Sadly – with all my love for TJ’s – I don’t have one where I live – YET – I travel over an hour and a half with a cooler!!! And – if your TJ’s has wine – the prosecco is the best – and super cheap!

  13. I could spend hours in TJs just walking around looking at everything…love it! My go to staples: frozen sliced leeks and artichoke hearts, whole wheat pita pockets, pizza sauce, cuban style black beans, light coconut milk, sea salt and sesame oil (for making hummus). It is a great place to buy spices as they are super cheap and come in glass jars that I sometimes reuse for other things. My favorite treats are definitely the dark chocolate covered edamame, aussie style red licorice and the white bean and basil hummus.

  14. KETTLECORN!! My now-husband introduced me to TJ’s kettlecorn on our first date. Obviously that turned out well for him. ;) It’s amazing. Unfortunately, our closest TJ’s is over 2 hours away, so we don’t get to go often, but when we do, we buy at least 3-4 bags of kettlecorn. One we split on the way home, and the rest get put out of sight in the kitchen so they don’t get eaten immediately.

    Not healthy by any means, but there are worse things to be eating, and it’s amazingly delicious. Our city is getting a TJ’s next year, and I have a feeling there will be a lot of kettlecorn eaten in our house.

    Other things: the dark chocolate pb cups, maple leaf cookies, sweet chili sauce (my new favorite thing to put on tofu), flavored cream cheese (esp in flavors like peanut butter or pumpkin), and frozen blueberry waffles.

  15. I spent most of my time as I read this wondering, “where is the turkey jerky?”. ;)

  16. Ah, I so love TJ’s (-: My nearest is 50 mins away so I travel w/ a cooler when I go! But next year when we move, I’ll have one right in my (new) town. Hooray!!
    Some faves in our house:
    12 grain crackers. My 3 yr old LOVES these and they are pretty healthy too. Delish!
    100 cal dark chocolate bars. So smooth!
    Frozen brown rice packets. I am 100% sure I would NEVER mess with actually cooking brown rice myself….these make it so easy.
    The whole wheat naan bread is awesome for making pita pizzas! I recently discovered this: I made carmelized onion/gorgonzola pitas w/ it and they were SO good! Liberal amount of olive oil as well.
    New discovery: the Apple Cinnamon Snack Sticks by the chip/snack row. They are tasty! Not necessarily terribly healthy, but not so bad either (-:
    I could go on & on, obviously….but I will stop there!

  17. Just found your blog recently and wanted to say how wonderful it is!

    There are just so many TJ’s products to chose from. The tomato and roasted red pepper soup is just delicious and it makes other soups taste so boring in comparison. Their reduced sodium chicken broth is great. I also pick up granola bars for my bf’s lunches, baby spinach, carrots, etc. I always find new things to try while I’m there. I’m lucky enough to have one 15 minutes from me and another pretty close as well. Otherwise I would have to find one and pack some coolers.

  18. So, dumb question, but is TJ’s really all natural and no preservatives? I always thought that, but when I actually looked around at their site one day I realized I couldn’t actually find anything like that anywhere. I haven’t been in a while, but I seem to remember looking around at labels the last time I was there and being a little unimpressed in that area. I mean, I’ll definitely still shop there, but it seemed to just have more natural/organic options than somewhere like Kroger, not a blanket ban like Whole Foods.

    • They definitely don’t have a rule like Whole Foods, but if say the vast majority of it is natural. But like I said, even in that naturalness, there is a ton of junk!

      • They do guarantee if it says Trader Joe’s “no msg or gmo’s”. I tell customers we are more of a “unique” grocery store. I love the company. Great place to work and shop!

  19. Do any of you know where I could find a list of TJ’s products online? I have a disabled friend who would like to shop there and I would love to pick up some things for her, but I don’t know how to tell her what’s there. There’s a very limited list on the TJ’s site, but I’d kind of like to give her a more exhaustive set of options. Any help?

    • No, I’ve never seen a comprehensive one. Sorry!

      • Cassie,
        Trader Joe’s will provide you with a list of specific products — in my case for vegan foods. You have only to ask and you will be presented with several printed pages of all the vegan products they carry. I am sure they have othe lists as well. Maybe sugar-free, etc. Ask next time you are there!
        Julie

    • I think the products that a specific store carries can vary from week to week based on production and whatnot. One time I was looking for a specific product, and a store employee said that they don’t always carry the same products, and he didn’t even know when/if that product would be back in stock. I guess it depends on how much they manufacture and where they are the highest demands. So, long story short, even if they had a list on the website, it wouldn’t be guaranteed to be carried at your store. :(

      That being said, I love TJ’s too! The chicken sausage is a staple in our home, and I also love the Latin black bean soup… I use it as a base for a hearty black bean soup made with ingredients that can all (always) be found at Trader Joes. I also adore their cute little names, like Trader Jose for the Mexican foods.

    • They have a monthly “Fearless Flyer” that details the seasonal products they are featuring. By no means does it contain all their products but it would give you a decent starting point. Here’s the link…

      http://www.traderjoes.com/fearless-flyer/

  20. I love their whole grain dijon mustard. And wine.

  21. I love love love love love the edamame hummus (yes it needed that many loves)

  22. I’m sorry but that dark chocolate at the end there, is to DIE for! Literally. Just discovered it on my last trip and now I am rationing it until I can make it back. It puts all other dark chocolate to shame. Sadly, I am in Canada so it’ll be awhile until I make it back but you better believe I’ll be stocking up now that I know it’s that good. :)

    • Also, it doesn’t have a “may contain nuts” warning, which is nearly impossible to find on high-quality dark chocolate. I live in Canada too, but load up on that stuff whenever I’m south of the border.

  23. If you love the tomato/pepper soup (which I do!!), you might love the roasted corn and poblano pepper soup, too. It is absolutely wonderful!! And so are the vegetable pot stickers! I just hate that we live in Bloomington and have to trek clear up to the north side of Indy just to get our fix. Fortunately, we have family up there and plenty of excuses to sneak in little trips here and there.

  24. I absolutely love Trader Joe’s! My favorite products are the pretzels stuffed with peanutbutter and the fresh ravolli stuffed with lobster using their lobster bisque as a sauce-totally a spurge meal but totally delicious when you just don’t feel like making a homemade dinner!

  25. I would like to compete with you for biggest fan of Trader Joe’s! I do pretty much all of my food shopping there, and I have to drive 20+ minutes to get to one (there are closer grocery stores…)

    My favorite things vary from visit to visit and between seasons, but here are my current top three: 1) Sweet corn and roasted pepper boxed soup. (I like the tomato/red pepper one, but this one is far superior in my book!) 2) TJ’s tempeh. 3) TJ’s fresh brussel sprouts…but I haven’t seen them in a huge bunch like you are holding in the photo! I usually get the bagged variety.

  26. I flippin’ LOVE when bloggers post about Trader Joe’s products!!! I need to go in there and take photos of things and do a similar post. So yeah, basically stealing your idea.
    I haven’t bought it lately (because of the whole vegan thing) but their goat cheese crumbles are insanely good. And I would always buy my Fage there.
    I have NOT tried the TJs sprouted grain bread- but I love Ezekiel so I’ll give it a shot! The naan breads make for great pizza crusts (again though- unfortunately they’re not vegan) and we always stock up on TJs canola oil spray, the pink sea salt and flower pepper grinders, balsamic vin, frozen fruit (love the organic wild blueberries!), and the ROASTED RED PEPPER TAPENANDE. Omg- it will change your life. Add it to crushed red peppers for pizza sauce. YOU’RE WELCOME!

  27. GREEN SALSA! I always have 3 jars of it on hand, and I live 3 blocks from Trader Joe’s.

  28. I love this post. I love tj’s and I am lays looking for new “staples”. I try to do all my shopping there, but the distance makes it tough for ths city gal. I love the corn salsa- I add it to everything! And I just discovered the Jo jos. They are better than Oreos..I do believe. I hear there will soon be Christmas ones that makes me super happy.

  29. Ha! Next time someone asks me what’s so great about Trader Joe’s that I drive 2.5 hours to shop there, I am going to point them to this blog!!!! My very favorite thing is the HUGE bottle of Grade B Maple syrup! Yummy! But the slivered, toasted almonds are pretty happy making, as is the hard Parmesan, oh, OH!!!! They have little goat cheese medallions and BRIE medallions!!! I’d better go make supper now!

  30. Currently loving how cheap all their fall/winter squash is. They sell it per piece what every other grocery store sells it per pound. If I ever move a requirement will be a Trader Joe’s.

  31. Love to make quick pizzas with TJ mini pitas topped with TJ fig butter and TJ goat cheese. Bake at 450° for eight minutes. Top with thinly sliced TJ pear, TJ prosciutto, and a little handful of TJ arugula. Yum.

  32. I just posted a roundup of my favorite Trader Joe’s products too…Even though yours is from a few months ago, I still loved reading it. And you’re SO right about the tomato soup. BEST EVER!!!

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