What to Buy at Trader Joe’s
Have you ever wondered what to buy at Trader Joe’s? Yeah, me too. And I always like seeing what other people buy at certain stores so I figured hey, why not share my top picks from Trader Joe’s.
To see my up-to-date Trader Joe’s favorites, head to my Instagram and check out my Trader Joe’s Faves highlight!
I tried my best to get a good photo of the product and the price (keep in mind that some prices may be different depending on where you live) while entertaining my 18 month old, Owen, and not appearing to be a total weirdo taking photos of her groceries.
Tip: by turning your phone to silent people won’t hear the camera shutter sound, thus drawing less attention to yourself taking photos of grocery store items.
Alright, here we go: what to buy at Trader Joe’s.
Owen really likes the apple & cinnamon (top right) and maple brown sugar instant oatmeal (lower left). I like it too because it’s fast and easy to make.
When I was nursing Owen, I ate this oatmeal almost every day for breakfast and sometimes for an afternoon snack. I’m guessing it did the trick because we all know my kid had some major baby cheeks and rolls. So nursing and future nursing mommas, take note– eat all the oatmeal.
Tip: Speed up the cooling process (because toddlers are super demanding, especially when it involves their food) by popping the oatmeal in the freezer for a few minutes. I set Owen’s bowl on this.
The waffles are also great for quick toddler/kid breakfasts. And for sometimes adult breakfasts when you just can’t bring yourself to eat one more damn egg.
Warning: the blueberry waffles caused all of the food in our deep freezer to smell like blueberries, so I now keep the blueberry waffles quarantined in a one-gallon Ziploc bag in our fridge freezer.
Emmett likes their gluten free and dairy free pancakes. Warning: they’re very hot straight out of the microwave.
Owen also loves their silver dollar pancakes. He also loves Trader Joe’s cereal bars for a quick breakfast (strawberry, apple, blueberry).
Tip: I put a little butter on the pancakes, and then I add a light dusting of powdered sugar, which is much less messier than syrup.
Trader Joe’s has a great selection of frozen fruits.
The regular frozen blueberries (lower far left) are my favorite. I use them in our Saturday morning pancakes, or I’ll defrost them in the microwave for a few seconds and then eat them with Greek yogurt. But I’m sure they’re great in smoothies and baked goods, too.
Speaking of pancakes, we love their pancake mix. It’s ten times better than all the major brand name pancake mixes.
Since Owen doesn’t like any form of milk (cow, almond, coconut, etc.) I have to make sure he gets his calcium from other sources. Thank goodness he loves Greek yogurt.
Tip: If you have a picky toddler, who especially doesn’t like meat, keep Greek yogurt in the house as a backup. There’s typically anywhere from 12-14 grams of protein in each container.
Lunch & Dinner Foods
I LOVE the tomato soup and the roasted red pepper and tomato soup. Both are great solo or with grilled cheese. I also like to sprinkle in some crunched up parmesan crisps.
Since we have a small deep freezer in our garage, I typically stock up on their bags of frozen chicken breasts. The cashier always makes a comment because I buy 5-6 bags at a time. My go-to response is that we’re preparing for the zombie apocalypse.
We switched to these chicken breasts from Tyson a few years ago, and we immediately felt better after doing so. Sorry, but chicken breasts shouldn’t be the size of my size 11 feet.
I always prepare an entire bag at a time. So I’ll thaw all the breasts, use a few in whatever meal I’m making that night, and then I usually bake the remaining chicken breasts to use in a different meal another night.
Sometimes Owen eats these chicken nuggets, sometimes he doesn’t. I like them because they’re made with real chicken breasts.
If you do buy these, keep in mind that they’re raw and require 20 minutes to bake.
We’ve been buying the Mandarin orange chicken from Trader Joe’s for years. It’s great for those hectic nights because it’s ready in less than 30 minutes. But like most frozen Asian food, it’s packed with sodium, so I wouldn’t recommend dining on this all the time.
We always eat the orange chicken with the vegetable fried rice. I like to think the vegetables make up for all the sodium in the orange chicken.
I keep a couple mushroom risottos in the freezer for a quick side dish.
I haven’t tried it yet, but Trader Joe’s carries cauliflower rice. Which is amazing because it’s a real PITA to make cauliflower rice. I bought a couple so I’ll report back after I try it.
Update: I had the cauliflower rice, and it’s delicious. SO MUCH easier than making it yourself. Well worth the $2 per bag in my opinion.
As you can see, there weren’t many bags left so this is clearly a popular product.
Tip: Want to try something new at Trader Joe’s? Look for the items that are sparse. There’s usually not many left because people snatch them up.
We love grilling pizzas on our outdoor grill during the summer, and Trader Joe’s pizza dough, fresh pizza sauce, and Calabrese salami are our faves.
I wrote a post on pizza grilling tips here.
Tip: The pizza dough, pizza sauce, and salami freeze well, too. I put the dough in freezer bags and toss them in our deep freezer.
I always keep a couple jars of the tomato basil marinara in our pantry.
The Corn Chip Dippers are great. And the newer Elote Corn Chip Dippers are amazing.
Kids love the Veggie Crisps.
Our kids are all about fruit and veggie pouches. I keep these small pouches in the diaper bag. They’re nice to have when toddler hanger sets in in the middle of Target.
I LOVE their cheese selection. Some of my favorites are: unexpected cheddar cheese, parmesan, double cream brie, and herbed goat cheese.
Their coconut oil spray is a staple in our house. I started using it back when I did Whole 30, and subsequently lost 20 pounds, and I’ve stuck with it.
The sun dried tomatoes are good too. I like them on salads.
The pineapple salsa is good.
Trader Joe’s has a great selection of cheeses. Back when I ate cheese more often, I loved their parmesan, double brie, unexpected cheddar, and herbed goat cheese.
They also have tons of wine and beer for great prices. I’m not a fancy wine person so I usually go for the $6 bottle of bubbly pink moscato.
Like some other grocery stores, you can mix and match their beers if you’d like to try some before investing in a full 6 pack.
I always have to grab a container of these dark chocolate almonds. They’re somewhat healthy because there’s almonds in there.
And at least one package of these chocolate covered almond toffee. These are also somewhat healthy because there’s almonds involved.
And you have to grab a Kringle. My number one favorite is raspberry. Pecan and cheesecake are pretty good too.
We even get Jack’s dog treats at Trader Joe’s.
I buy this particular flavor (they carry peanut butter flavored dog treats, too) because I like the unimpressed springer spaniel-looking dog on the front.
The flower selection is great.
Alstroemeria are my favorite grocery store flowers because they last forever– a great bang for your buck.
The potted orchids and herbs are also very reasonably priced.
I love this time of year because they bring out my second favorite flower– daffodils.
You better believe that I scooped up five bundles.
I also LOVE their greeting cards! They’re beautiful, and they only cost $.99 each! And my store recently added little flower bouquets by the greeting cards.
I keep this Tea Tree Tingle shampoo, conditioner, and body wash in our guest bathroom shower for our guests.
I recently grabbed these wool dryer balls, which are great.
That concludes my Trader Joe’s suggestions. I hope you enjoyed this post and found something new you’d like to try.
Keep in mind that the customer service at Trader Joe’s is top notch. So feel free to ask them questions about products, or what their favorite picks are.
What are your favorite things to buy at Trader Joe’s?
Did I recommend anything you think you’ll try?
Thanks for this post! I have gone in Trader Joe’s and the only thing I ever end up buying are pretzel rolls!
I’ve never tried their pretzel rolls! Mostly because carbs aren’t my friend. Are they as good as Costco’s pretzel rolls?
I totally agree with you with buying the items that are sparse in their bins.
When I first started on my health kick, I would go there and follow around the ladies in their workout clothes. See the items they bought 🙂
I found alot of good items that eay, I know it was probably stalking but oh well found some great stuff, their turkey burgers are great but my favorite is the veggie pizza burger, it’s great on a salad.
OMG – that is an awesome tip (I mean trick! LOL) I hope those ladies didn’t catch you….
That is absolutely BRILLIANT!!
Thanks for today’s post! I get in such a supermarket rut that I tend to focus my shopping in 1 store and skip Trader Joe’s altogether….even thought both stores are opposite each other! I am going to make it my mission to get to TJ’s this weekend!
I hope you found some good stuff at TJ’s, Beth!
I really like the Mandarin Orange Chicken.l I also like the Broccoli-Kale slaw mix, that also has dried cherries, dried blueberries, sliced almonds and sunflower seeds with a yummy dressing. I prepare the chicken WITHOUT the orange sauce and eat it with the prepared salad. It’s a great (somewhat healthy) lunch or dinner!
I love their Almond Champagne! Pretty much everything at TJs rocks my socks.
Almond champagne? I never knew such a thing existed. I’ll have to add it to my list!
One of the best things ever!
Thank you for this post! I had no idea what to look for at Trader Joe’s, but now I’ll have a great list to take with me for my next trip. I’m looking forward to trying the orange chicken and fried rice, along with a few other things. Let us know how the cauliflower rice is when you do get to try it.
You’re welcome, Julie! I tried the cauliflower rice tonight, and it was delicious! I’ll never make my own cauliflower rice ever again.
So good to know! Thanks for sharing that update. I will look forward to never making it again as well. 🙂
I have been following your blog for awhile and love how diverse your posts are. I am a grandma to four kiddos and I have forwarded a few to my youngest daughter who also has a boy named Owen. My family all love Trader Joes! The frozen cauliflower makes great mock fried rice. I always go in for a few items and come out with a cart full. Thanks for sharing all of your great advice 🙂
Thanks so much! I’m glad you like the variety! And thank you for forwarding posts on to your daughter. I love when people share my stuff with their loved ones. I actually tried Trader Joe’s cauliflower rice tonight, and it was delicious! I’ll never make my own cauliflower rice again.
LOVE me some TJ’s! My husband and I must make a stop there at least twice a week. Another great thing to get there are the bagged nuts and trail mix. Great prices and a great selection. We did a Whole30 last month and the almonds were a necessity! Also, their whole chickens are a good price too. Thanks for the other ideas… I definitely have a few more things on our shopping list now!
Yes! I like Trader Joe’s cashews and Brad likes their almonds. Although he’s told me to stop buying them because he ends up eating too many. Hah! I hope Whole30 went well for you! I need to get back on the wagon so I can hopefully drop the rest of this baby weight that’s hanging on.
At our TJs (Denver), you get more oz/$ if you buy the chocolate covered almonds in the individual packs rather than the big pack. It’s a 3 oz pack for $1, or the bigger pack is 10 oz for $4 (I think) so you get 2 extra ounces for free by buying the individual packs. Plus they’re super handy for throwing in your purse/work desk drawer. 🙂
How has no one yet mentioned the cookie butter??? I go to TJs just to get that!
Good to know!
To be honest, I’ve never tried the cookie butter for fear of becoming addicted. I don’t need more sugar and carbs in my life. Hah!
Trader Joe’s is a fabulous place to shop! They have a lot of variety and are good if you’re concerned with what you eat (non-GMO, organic, etc.). They have a large selection of ready-to-eat foods and the flowers ARE fabulous–most of them open up and bloom right after you get them and so last a really long time!
Yes, the cookie butter is great–and the cowboy bark, and the chocolate covered pomegranate seeds 🙂
Yes! I always love shopping there. I think the friendly, helpful staff makes a huge difference. Well, the staff at the store I frequent often is like that– I can’t speak for every store.
I’ve never tried any of those but I’ll add them to my list. I am kind of scared to try the cookie butter for fear of becoming addicted. 🙂
We don’t have a Trader Joes in Canada but when I go to the States I always try to visit one! I will definitely try those pancakes and I seriously CAN’T believe the prices of flowers there!
I totally agree with Evelina! I too visit TJ’s every time we’re in the States…wish they were north of the border! Some of the items I stock up on and bring back to Canada are: garlic infused olive oil, raisins/cranraisins, chocolate and spices (super cheap!). If we are holidaying then we buy our groceries there and love their ice cream! I too CAN’T believe the prices of flowers there (for something similar here it would be more than double!).
I wish Trader Joe’s was north of the border for you guys, too. And yes, I totally forgot about the spices! I buy a lot of mine from there.
Yes, definitely try the pancakes– frozen and the mix!
Love, love Trader Joes. Unexpected cheddar, dark chocolate covered ginger, bananas, dk chocolate pretzels, many of their chips, pomegranate seeds, many of their salads (they even supply forks and napkins if you are on the go) prewashed lettuce,spinach etc, roasted pepper tomato soup, rainbow trail mix, many nuts, mini caffe twists, try the cheeses–Saint Andrea is my favorite soft cheese, I could go on and on. Have a great weekend.
Thanks for the recommendations, Kathie! I added some to my shopping list!
Thanks for the statement on the eggs! I have been trying to focus on upping the protein at breakfast and I am starting to get burnt out on eggs for sure! …the price of trying to be healthy.
Ugh. I’m definitely right there with you. I’ve been eating eggs for years. It’s so easy to get burnt out on them. I try to mix things up once in a while by adding different things to them but it still gets old at times.
I laughed out loud at that comment too. And I love how you justified the chocolate covered almonds! TJ’s prices are really comparable to other grocery stores.
Oh mercy! I’ve never been, but we have one opening here tomorrow! We’ve been trying to get one for years and it’s finally time! My family tries to eat healthy, and I was trying to decide if they carry enough of what we eat to justify going. After reading this post and comments I’m just hoping we leave with a little of our paycheck left.
I like this idea of yours, to share about different stores, and their products. It helps a lot of newbies, and also maybe take a re look at certain items which I thought was not for me.
As if I wasn’t already grouchy enough that our nearest Trader Joe’s is almost an hour away. Thanks for adding to my misery 🙁
Ok, hang on now, I just looked it up and it’s actually 38 minutes. That doesn’t sound so bad, right?! I think I might plan a trip for next week 🙂
Wasabi peas, pineapple salsa, coconut milk, the vegan Chinese noodle dishes (Lo mein, satay, kung pao), cheese!, the multivitamins, and much much more! There isn’t one around me so when I visit in-laws, who live a mile away from TJ, I stock up. Oh and also tartar sauce. absolutely love that store and I always give the cashier my zip hoping they will open one here soon.
Great post! I ❤️ Oatmeal recommendation.
I don’t live near a Trader Joes but visited one in Florida a year or so ago. I bought their Pumpkin flavored Pancake mix but made Waffles with them. It was October and I think they only carry it in that month and maybe November. It was so awesome!
I like the roasted red peppers from Peru. Nice and sweet.
Their sun-dried tomatoes are the best! And the blue corn tortilla chips, yum. Oh, and the roasted garlic salsa. I could live at Trader Joe’s.
We don’t have a TJ’s super close to us (about 30 minutes) so we’ll do a once a month load up at Tj’s. We love it, and wish we had one closer to go more often.
Our favorites are the ice-cream cookie sandwiches – not good for you at all but SO GOOD. My husband and I will cut them in half and split them. 🙂 I love all of the risottos (mushroom, asparagus and butternut squash), cowboy salsa and sweet potato chips. Love almost all of their pasta sauces. The cheese with truffles in it…soooo good. We eat fish a lot (i’m pescetarian), and feel they have great quality salmon. Their pre-made bruschetta is great for entertaining. So many more, but I think you get the idea.
I’m hungry now. 🙂
LOL zombie apocalypse! Nice response!
We don’t have a Trader Joe’s in Ottawa which sucks but I remember when I lived in Maryland, I loved buying the fried rice on days I was too tired.
I never heard of cauliflower rice so now I am intrigued. I have to look for it !
This is WONDERFUL information — thanks for sharing!!!! I get so overwhelmed when I am in TJ’s. This will definitely help to keep me focused and go straight to the “winners”!
The cookie butter is FABULOUS. Our favorite is the cookies and creme.
Love the frozen chicken and pork Gyoza, the frozen veggie mix with balsamic butter, and just discovered the frozen chocolate and almond croissants!!Yummmmmmmm!!
I absolutely love their peanut butter, and the broccoli florets are a must. I love that it’s all ready to cook but not frozen.
We love a lot of the sales you recommend. But you left one really important item from your list…. Their Tortilla chips! We’re addicted. Especially their unsalted version. My husband was skeptical at first but now loves them so much he doesn’t like the salted version anymore!
Some of the things we really love are their crumpets, crab cakes, maple leaf cookies and caramelized onion dip. I will have to buy the cauliflower rice and pancake mix on my next trip.
Hey, I loved your post but you forgot to include the best thing about Trader Joe’s, their delicious seasonings in grinders! Their “Everyday Seasoning” should be a staple in every kitchen! Their lemon pepper, garlic salt, and rainbow peppercorn grinders are amazing also! Plus they are only $1.99!
We just moved to a city with a TJ’s (Spring, TX!) and I’ve been in there a couple of times but I always get so overwhelmed!! I love this list from a toddler mom’s perspective! I will definitely go back and get those chicken nuggets since those are regular in our meal rotation and the are SO much less expensive than at the grocery store. Thanks for this awesome list Chelsea!! 🙂
Their red curry sauce is GREAT!!! I buy like 5 bottles when I go, nice and spicy!
Thanks for the blog and all the comments. I live 4 hours from a Trader Joe’s, but there is one close to my daughter’s house, so I stock up when we visit. I just added items from all you suggestions!
Some products I love are these: 21 Seasoning Salute, Sweet Italian chicken sausage, Coffee, Whole Wheat Buns, Cherry Preserves,. and Cuban style Black Beans.
Their greeting cards!! I can’t leave without buying 10 or 12 each visit! They’re only $1/each, are made of heavy cardstock and feature beautiful artwork. And they are the perfect size to use as artwork in 5×7 picture frames.
Our favorites are the frozen crab cakes, maple cream cookies, and crumpets.
They have the BEST macaroni and cheese. It’s frozen, says “Joe’s Diner,” on the box, and it is much easier than making it yourself. BUT, it is almost as good. And you can microwave it or bake it in the oven.
The other thing we always buy is the sprouted-grain bread. We put all but one loaf in the freezer. We don’t live too far away from TJ’s, but we only go once a month or so.
I’ve been shopping TJ’s over 35 years. The Masala Simmer sauce makes the best chicken curry, I like to add frozen peas or spinach, bake some rice, our fav quick meal. Sunflower butter is to die for. Cans of dolmas, stuffed grape leaves, are an easy extra for an app tray. Carmelized onion cheddar cheese is a current favorite as well as the prepared curry chicken salad, great on whole grain bread for sandwiches. Anything chocolate is good and they’ve recently added baking chocolate for $2 a bar, half the grocery store price. But my all time must have is the grated Parmesan Romano blend cheese, I always get a stack of them. Oh and the soaps and lotions, I love the Refresh citrus body wash, only like $2.49, and my mom uses their laundry soap with her gray water system as it’s safe for plants. So many good things, love that store!
Yes their curry simmer sauce is great. I add carrots and peas to mine and sometimes even a couple of potatoes, it’s fool proof. I forgot to mention before their nuts are also a very good price. We did a lot of price comparison and found their prices are best.
I agree with you their tomato soup is fantastic. I usually serve it with garlic croutons or FF and it makes for a great lunch. I love it so much I have also added to risoto with great results. I find their organic chicken broth and all their cheeses are great buys, I usually load up on blue and goat cheese. Their beef tamales, with a cup of cofee, make for a good and quick breakfast. I’ll give the cauliflower rice a try.
Can’t live without the frozen organic brown rice! Three pouches per box, pop one into the microwave for 3 minutes and viola! Delicious brown rice that actually tastes like rice! I also make my own trail mix with Cinnamon Puffins cereal, PB-stuffed pretzel nuggets, dry roasted low sodium almonds, walnuts, orange flavored dried cranberries and dried coconut chips. A nice salty/sweet/crunchy mix. I change it up with other dried fruit and nuts found at TJ’s. I agree with the comments about the greeting cards and dog and cat treats, too. I now use TJ’s laundry detergent which is eco-friendly and it does a fine job.
My favorites are their chicken tikka masala and chana (chickpeas) masala. They’re so delicious. I also love their frozen brown rice and their bean and chicken burritos. Their fresh salsa in the refrigerated section is great and we can’t go without picking up some hummus- we change up the flavor each time. Their yogurt is great and their kefir is cheaper than other grocery stores. Definitely a win there. The grass fed beef is cheaper in their frozen section than that in their refrigerated section. That works for us.
We love their mini Chicken Tacos! The vanilla ice cream is amazing! The Deep Dish Pepperoni Pizza! The Pirate’s Booty-esque White Cheddar Cheese Puffs – The fruit bars “Strawberry walked into a bar, blueberry walked into a bar…” are a staple at our house. The toothpaste! Specialty soaps and lotions at Christmastime! My son will only eat their whole milk yogurt. And their organic milk is cheaper than organic in the other food stores.
Cauliflower rice! I am thrilled you wrote about this! I am going to Trader Joe’s today to buy all they have. ha ha. Can I ask, how many people do you think the Mandarin Chicken would feed? I’ve got 5 people (three teenagers!) so I was wondering how many to get.
I’d say 2-3 bags.
Dark chocolate PB cups…so good! My dogs love their treats…especially the brown rice and chicken sticks. Our closest TJs is 40 min away, but totally worth the drive.
My TJs is only about 30 minutes away but I am required to go monthly for “cookie snacks” for the canine kids. I have one very picky Boxer mix that will only eat the cookies from TJs…they also like the canned dog food. We supplement their dry kibble with organic sweet potatoes, green beans, and chicken. Yes, they are a bit spoiled. 🙂
Frozen seasoned rack of lamb is truly amazing, thaw, brown quickly in a cast iron pan. Follow baking direction on package. The best!!!
One of the Trader Joe’s employees created a fabulous meal out of 3 products. I wish I knew her name to give her credit for the outstanding and very easy recipe!
1) Latin style black bean soup (carton)
2) 1 can of organic black beans
3) 1 package of frozen TJ’s Peruvian style Chimichurri Rice
Directions: Heat Latin Style soup and can of black beans. Then add package of chimicurri rice (frozen) to pot and heat for 4 – 6 minutes on medium.
Done!!! Tastes amazing!!! I add frozen chopped onions, a sprinkle of shredded cheese and a handful of crushed tortilla chips on top. I also serve this with cornbread (TJ’s mix, of course).
How did you eat the cauliflower rice? I was excited to try it but not crazy about it when I ate it with marinara sauce. Thanks in advance!
They have great produce. I love fresh Romaine, baby carrots, roma tomotoes. Cucumbers, the best apples. Great salsa and various chips, strawberry preserves. Love their quality and service.
TJ’s produce is really good and really decently priced. My husband and I love picking up an occasional box of frozen chocolate croissants (fun to make too, but need to know that you want to make them well in advance). The strawberry preserves are the BEST I’ve ever had besides home-made! One of my absolute favorite products of theirs. The granola bars are fabulous, as are the cereal bars (strawberry, blueberry, and seasonal pumpkin are my favorites). Pumpkin season is AMAZING in TJ’s. I’ve started going there more and more frequently as time has gone on. Comparatively affordable and they have great customer service.
I just found your blog and love it! Just wondering about the coconut spray, how/where do you use it?
Thank you 🙂
I love all the posts here! I have worked at Trader Joe’s in Brentwood, CA and San Antonio, TX. I have tried just about everything in the store and I love it all. We just got back from a 3 year tour in Germany. I will be making a stop there this weekend. I used to have my mom send me things to Germany. I am now in North Carolina, the location is about a 40 min drive, but its so worth it!
Trader Joe’s has super chocolate chips!
My all-time favorite item is their coconut body butter!!!
A lot of the things you posted are staples in my TJ shopping list. We also love: A Fig Walks into a Bar breakfast bars (all of them are good, but my 4 year old always wants fig), frozen brown rice, turkey corndogs, their frozen potatoes with bell peppers and onion, sweet apple sausage, strawberry & cream and banana & cream yogurt, and string cheese. Oh, and the mango lemonade is addictive!
Does the pizza dough freeze well? I’ve always just bought and used same cause I didn’t think it would freeze.
We love their spinach-artichoke dip and their pumpkin bread pudding!
What’s with the comment that all Asian food is high in sodium? That strikes me as highly biased and inaccurate
I love Trader Joe’s! Fun to shop there the yogurt cheeese is great!
Just had TJ’s “cinnamon croissant bread” toasted for breakfast. Now there’s not much cinnamon flavor (it’s nothing like their cinnamon raisin bread in that regard) BUT it’s just as delicious as you’d imagine croissant toast would be. Flaky, buttery…I didn’t care about the lack of big cinnamon flavor. Although there’s got to be some sugar/cinnamon in it, because it toasts up quite dark…but if you’re a croissant lover and don’t want the hassle of baking some up — this is one delish alternative. I’m freezing the rest of it to make French Toast with in near future. THANKS Trader Joe’s! YUM.
Nice post, btw.