Trader Joe's Favorite Finds
Grocery stores...you either love ‘em or you hate ‘em, am I right?
I fall into an altogether separate category: fanatic. Alex always jokes that he never sees me as overjoyed as when I’ve just gotten my groceries (we usually have them delivered). I’m that weirdo who has ranked grocery stores and preferences about what products I buy and where.
Trader’s Joe’s is at the apex of my grocery store favorites. Like a kid of Christmas, I am absolutely giddy over the idea of just going to Trader Joe’s.
I listened to an amazing Freakonomics podcast about Trader Joe’s that describes why shopping there is so enjoyable (highly recommend a listen for all your TJ’s fanatics). Long story short, Trader Joe’s curates your shopping experience by minimizing options thus streamlining the shopping experience. Essentially what they do, they do well.
One of my favorite things about Trader Joe’s is the stay up on trends; for example, pink pasta sauce (made with beets and cream) are on trend in the Foodstagram-sphere and on my most recent trip to TJ’s I saw a Creamy Pink Primavera Pasta Sauce.
Trader Joe’s dedication to food trends, affordable prices, and quality over quantity is what creates legions of devotees, just like me. In this blog, I’m talking about some of my Trader Joe’s favorites and costs of these items. I usually stop by Trader Joe’s once-a-month (because it inspires me to over-spend, so I have to keep myself on a short leash) to check-out new products and stock up on the following essentials.
Starting at $3.99 for a bunch to say Trader Joe’s sells affordable flowers is an understatement. Trader Joe’s sells an entire bouquet for the price that you would pay for a single stem at a flower shop.
I’ve even seen bouquets for sale (although these have a higher price tag). What's fun about the affordable price for a bunch of stems is that you can buy several bunches and arrange your own bouquet. Because the only thing your mom will appreciate more than a surprise bouquet is one you arranged yourself.
Also of note, Trader Joe’s sells good quality plants for affordable prices too - I’ve gotten 3 great succulents for <$5 each that are still alive and thriving.
Alex is crazy for Medjool dates and I love using dates as a natural sweetener for smoothies, baking, etc. So, these are a staple in our household; we need to make sure we have enough dates for Alex to snack on and for me to bake (seriously, no one wants an argument over who used the last date). The problem? Dates can go for a pretty penny at other grocery stores. A pound of dates goes for $5 at Trader Joe’s, which is less than the cost of 1/2 a pound at Whole Foods.
3. Sourdough Bread
I usually stay away from regularly eating bread because it makes me feel lethargic and upsets my digestion. The caveat: sourdough. The old world baking routine (and lack of yeast) of sourdough makes it easier to digest (including for those with gluten-sensitivities). My preferred loaf is either the San Francisco-style and the stone-heart sourdough boule, which both cost around $2.99.
Everything But the Bagel (EBTB) seasoning needs no introduction or explanation. I think they call this Everything But the Bagel because you’ll want to add this to everything: avocado toast, soft-boiled eggs, fresh tomatoes, etc. Umami seasoning is my favorite way to add a savory touch to dishes. I love adding umami seasoning to soups, mushroom dishes, creamy sauces, etc. We do our weekly shopping at Whole Foods, and seasoning can be >$3, so I try to stock up on our favorites and essentials during our monthly TJ’s haul.
5. Condiments & Pantry
I also like to stock up on my favorite condiments during our Trader Joe’s haul including coconut aminos, coconut oil, and tahini. If you’ve watched my stories, you’ve heard me sing the praises about Trader Joe’s almond butter, AKA liquid gold. Honestly, I eat this on oatmeal, in smoothies, on AB&Js, I spoon it directly into my mouth. A jar of it will last me anywhere from 2 - 3 weeks, and seriously I eat AB several times a week if not every day. It’s a little runny - so perfect for drizzling! Skip the expensive, “artisan nut butters - this ISH is worth the $6.99. Another favorite is raw honey. Sometimes I’ll buy local honey from the farmers market, but 6 ounces of this for >$10, so $5 for 16 ounces for fair-trade organic raw honey from Brazil is music to my ears.
6. Gluten-Free Norwegian Crisp-bread Crackers
I recommend these to everyone in my life. They have the perfect crispy texture and are flavorful without being overwhelming. I love to use these in place of bread or rice cakes. I’ll use these as a base for avocado toast or Almond Butter & Jelly or as a topping for soups and salads. There nutrient-dense so they’re filling and satisfying. I usually pick up two bags of these to last me through the month.
Add nuts to the list of “basics” I pick up during my monthly TJ’s hauls. In case you’ve missed it, I’ve been on a homemade nut mylk kick lately using my Ellie’s Best nut bag; Trader Joe’s is hands-down the best place to pick up bulk nuts without breaking the bank. My faves are hazelnuts, pistachios, and macadamia nuts.
Note: I always prefer to buy my nuts raw, unsalted, and unsweetened, and add salt, seasoning, etc. myself.
8. Baking supplies
Trader Joe’s baking supplies rock: this includes both basic essentials (flour, coconut sugar, etc.) as well as pre-packaged mixes.
Baking supplies I restock from Trader Joe’s
All Purpose Gluten Free Flour
Marshmallows (these are vegan)
Bourbon vanilla extract
Trader Joe’s also stocks some awesome seasonal pre-packaged essentials, especially in the Fall; drown me in the gluten-free Pumpkin Pancake & Waffle Mix.
9. Vegan Butter and Cheeses
It’s pretty amazing how far the food industry has come with regards to dairy-alternative. I’m talking beyond milk alternatives; dairy-free cheeses, cream cheese, etc. have reached a whole new level! Trader Joe’s sells some of my favorite vegan/dairy-free products including Miyoko’s Creamery butter and Un-Lox Your Dreams Cream Cheese as well as the Trader Joe’s brand Almond Mozzarella-Style Shreds. You can find these proximal to their dairy counterparts in the refrigerated section.
11. Individual Guacamole (Avocado’s Number)
As I get ready for my clerkships, I’ve been focusing on finding (and developing) packable snacks and meals that I can bring to clinic. I love the individual portions (2 ounces) of this guacamole, because it’s enough to satisfy my appetite and I don’t have to worry about browning. Love packing these with baby carrots or carrot chips, tortillas chips, plantain chips, etc.
12. Soy chorizo
This meat-replacement is perfect for vegetarians and omnivores alike. The soy chorizo is so hearty and flavorful that even the most vehement of carnivores can’t believe it’s not real chorizo! I made a breakfast bake (with biscuits) for a tailgate with this chorizo and it went faster than the sausage-based breakfast casserole. I’ll throw this in anything for a little Tex Mex-flair: shakshuka, chili, tacos, omelettes, etc.
13. Egg fettuccine
I love a thick, rich noodle - and the egg fettuccine is an absolute delight. I usually get this only every once in a while as a treat. Happy slurping!
Note: these noodles are gluten-free but do have egg in them.
14. Cauliflower gnocchi
IYKYK: cauliflower gnocchi is a big week-day dinner move. I (and the rest of Foodstagram) stock up on TJ’s gnocchi for rainy days…sunny days…every days…
Looking to up your gnocchi game, try my favorite Creamy Shroomie Miso Sauce.
15 Dr. Praeger’s California Burgers
Dr. P’s is, without a sliver of a doubt, my favorite veggie-burger! Their burgers are easy-to-cook and boast some pretty amazing flavor combos. Their signature California burger is always stocked at TJ’s and as a result always stocked in my freezer for adding to bowls or serving straight off the grill. As with the other products I shared, the Trader Joe’s price is the best price I’ve found so far for these burgers.
Are you a Trader Joe’s fan? What are your Trader Joe’s faves? What products can you not live without?
Drop me a line in the comments.
Catherine (One Hangry Millennial)