Any day that includes a trip to Trader Joe’s is a good day for many people. This beloved specialty grocery chain, which first opened in 1967, is well-known for its friendly atmosphere, affordable prices, and high-quality products, most of which carry the Trader Joe’s brand name. TJ’s places an emphasis on organic food and is a great destination for finding unique snacks that you can’t easily find everywhere.
With a loyal fanbase, this store has repeat customers who find it easy to come back again and again thanks to a diverse and healthy product selection. However, if you’re not a regular shopper here, its many products and overall environment may feel intimidating. Not to fear. Here is a selection of Trader Joe’s must-haves often found on devoted customers’ shopping lists.
Dark Chocolate Peanut Peanut Cups
It’s okay to run to the grocery store with the sole purpose of buying peanut butter cups, right? Who am I kidding, if it’s wrong I don’t want to be right. It’s hard to go wrong with peanut butter cups, but these from Trader Joe’s are next level. The only issue is that they tend to only last a few days at most. Worst comes to worst, you’ll have to make another trip back to TJ’s to stock up on your stash.
Everything but the Bagel Sesame Seasoning Blend
I absolutely love this seasoning blend from Trader Joe’s. Based on “everything” bagels, this features a delicious mix of garlic, onion, sea salt, and poppy and sesame seeds. While “everything” seasoning can be found at many different locations (aside from Trader Joe’s), in our opinion the bottle from Trader Joe’s is one of the best on the market.
Use this seasoning to take your salad or avocado toast up a notch, or add it to your popcorn. You can also use it as a rub on chicken or a baked potato. The possibilities are endless.
Speculoos Cookie Butter
Speculoos are a traditional kind of cookie from the Netherlands that feature a rich gingerbread-esque taste and texture with brown sugar, cinnamon, and sometimes hazelnut or nutmeg. Speculoos Cookie Butter consists of ground up Speculoos mixed with oil. It is absolutely delicious. Spread it on toast or eat it by the spoonful like true fans do.
Pro tip: Shopping with a list is a great tip to spend less on groceries. Just don’t forget to add treats, too.
Spicy Mochi Rice Nuggets
Not looking for sweet snacks? Maybe savory snacks are more to your taste. Or maybe you even have an appetite for spicy snacks.
If you’re looking for something with a bit of kick, Spicy Mochi Rice Nuggets are in Trader Joe’s shoppers carts very often. You’re probably most familiar with mochi as a sweet dessert commonly enjoyed in Japan, but it can also be made into a savory snack. These nuggets are crunchy and incredibly satisfying. Definitely a must-have for anyone who can take the heat.
Mandarin Orange Chicken
One of the best Trader Joe’s shopping hacks is to know which items to buy. Shoppers know that a lot of the frozen meal options taste very similar to restaurant take-out. You’ll just have to heat and eat, and the best part is that they will cost you a fraction of the price and tend to be a lot healthier for you, too.
One great example of this is TJ’s Mandarin Orange Chicken, which is found in the frozen foods section. A delicious combination of breaded chicken and a classic sweet and sour orange-infused sauce, this chicken is easy to prepare and tastes perfect in a stir fry. A wonderful option for a filling weekday dinner.
Trader Joe’s may not be the first place that you go to to pick up some cheese, especially if you have a good artisan shop in your area. However, devout shoppers know of the existence of “Unexpected Cheddar.”
Unexpected Cheddar tastes and looks like an aged cheddar cheese, but it also has a crumbly texture that is reminiscent of parmesan. This cheese is renowned for its rich taste and is a common recipient of the Trader Joe’s Customer Choice Awards.
Here’s a great option for any vegetarians or vegans who are reading this list. Actually, if you’re a meat-eater, we highly recommend that you try out this product as well. Whether you’re trying out “Meatless Mondays” in your house or are looking to cut down on meat to help your budgeting, we’re sure that you will enjoy the versatility and taste of Trader Joe’s famous soy chorizo.
Based on the classic chorizo sausage, this soy-based alternative is known for mimicking the dynamic taste of the “real deal.” This can be used in tacos, burritos, or even omelets.
Gluten-Free English Muffins
Anyone who follows a gluten-free diet knows how hard it can be to find high-quality GF products at a reasonable price that don’t taste like cardboard. Fortunately, Trader Joe’s comes to this rescue with these gluten-free English muffins.
Made from an enticing blend of starch, rice flour, chickpea flour, and tapioca, these English muffins feature a unique mouth-watering taste with a delicious slightly chewy texture. These are excellent for breakfast and delicious as a burger bun.
I’m always looking for new and unconventional desserts to brighten up my life. So trust me when I say that these chocolate-covered banana slices from Trader Joe’s are completely worth trying.
You’ll certainly go bananas for these aptly-named treats. Found in the frozen food aisle, Gone Bananas! are great to keep on hand for whenever you need a little pick-me-up. You don’t even need to defrost before enjoying them.
You either don’t know of Magnifisauce, or you are completely obsessed with Magnifisauce. But you must know. This tangy sauce isn’t mustard, relish, or ketchup, but it has a hint of all three. It will also replace all three of these condiments on your hot dog or hamburger. It’s just that delicious. This might be truly the best thing that you could ever possibly dunk your French fries in.
Need an easy-prep meal that can help you to save money by not ordering takeout? This asparagus risotto, from the frozen section, is another great example. Vegetarian (but not vegan), this meal comes with a blend of rice, parmesan cheese, and of course, asparagus. The “secret sauce” is the additional ingredient of creme fraiche.
There is just something about Trader Joe’s that makes people feel excited about grocery shopping. Whether you’re making the trip to stock up on some of your favorite snack foods and condiments, shopping for necessities, bargain hunting, or going to see what cool new designs their reusable bags are making, Trader Joe’s is a happy place for many.
Okay — you can admit that you are really just going there for the stickers (an employee did tell me once that it’s mostly adults who ask for the stickers at the check out, so you’re not alone). This list of highly coveted items certainly are a big draw. Happy shopping!