People often ask “what are the best things to get at Trader Joe’s?”. I don’t think there’s a hard and fast answer for that. Trader Joe’s offers such a wide selection of seasonally changing things that unless you are there weekly it’s hard to keep up! It’s no secret I am a huge fan of trying new things, so I have a love/hate relationship with their ever-changing lineup of products. On the one hand, I love trying new things and finding new favorites. On the other, it’s soul-crushing when your favorite gets discontinued (WHY Trader Joe’s, oh why did you ditch my beloved Orange Vinegar!?!?!?)
However, some things DO stick around and become staples in our house. Following is a great big, but hardly exhaustive, list of 50 or so of our favorite things to grab at Trader Joe’s. Almost all of these products are available year-round so you should be able to find them any time.
Without further ado, Here are my 50+ Best Things to Get at Trader Joe’s
There’s no rhyme or reason to the order here, just a tour thru the store if you will. And in some categories, I’ll also share a few things we tried and decidedly did NOT like. Not that my tastes are the same as everyone else’s, just sharing one friend to another! 😁 And I suppose I should also say I am just a fan – not an employee or affiliate of Trader Joe’s.
Probably the first thing you see when you walk in any Trader Joe’s is the fresh flower and plants display. Trader Joe’s is a great place to pick up inexpensive and generally decent quality fresh flowers. I often see people stocking up for events there (at least that’s what I assume they are doing with carts full of flowers!)
I have great luck with Alstroemerias, Roses, Fresh Eucalyptus boughs, and my personal fave, Stock.
Always look for flowers that aren’t fully opened up, and check the stems. People pick thru the flowers so much that sometimes a bouquet doesn’t get put back in the water properly which dries out the stems.
Hmmm, okay, not gonna lie, I don’t grab tooooo much produce at Trader Joe’s since their sister store, Lidl opened up a few minutes away. I tend to grab “special” seasonal things here like fresh figs, artichokes, and Thomcord Grapes. [Psst – those Thomcords are a key ingredient in my Blueberry Grape Jam, which is amazing!]
One thing TJ’s has that I DO love and always grab a few of is their Salad Kits. Our faves are: the Broccoli Kale Slaw with dried cherries and blueberries (to which I add blue cheese crumbles), Chopped Salad with Curry Lime Dressing, and Southwest Chopped Salad.
One Very Special Seasonal Produce Product to Look Out For
Every winter, usually starting in January, Trader Joe’s stocks Heirloom Navel Oranges. Oh. My. Word. Best oranges EVER! I grab bag after bag and we eat them like fools. I keep them on my attic landing where it’s nice and cool and they last for months. I’ve never seen this product anywhere else, so definitely worth checking out at TJ’s.
Candy and Sweets
I am married to a major sugar freak, so we’ve tried pretty much the whole range of the sweets they offer at Trader Joe’s. Their peanut butter cups are yummy – more like homemade ones than a Reeses (which is a plus as far as I’m concerned).
However, the king of the candy aisle here is the range of Pound Plus Bars. They are humongous Belgian chocolate bars (over a pound of it, thus the name 😉) – milk, dark, with and without almonds. Our absolute favorite is the Milk with Almonds. I always have to remind my hubs of the calorie count per square because he can seriously pound them down (see what I did there?). Worth every last calorie. Swoon.
Good grief why is cereal so pricey at the supermarket!? Well, it’s not at Trader Joe’s. They have a good selection of grown-up and kid-friendly cereals that aren’t too sugary. Our faves are the Bran Flakes and the Peanut Butter Puffins. The latter are like a healthier version of Peanut Butter Captain Crunch. Not gonna lie – I never eat them with milk. They are one of my fave sweet snackies!
Nuts and Dried Fruits
Trader Joe’s offers a huge selection of nuts and dried fruits. If you have a Costco or BJ’s membership you can definitely score things like walnuts, pecans, and almonds at better prices there. However, TJ’s kills it with the more “specialty” things they offer. Someone in our house goes through copious amounts of dried fruits and nuts so each trip I grab bags of sunflower seeds, pepitas (shelled pumpkin seeds), and blister peanuts. TJ’s also has great dried apricots and organic raisins.
Another thing TJ’s has at a good price is freeze-dried berries. I use their dried raspberries and strawberries when I make my mixed berry liqueur.
Spices and Seasonings
Now, this is definitely one of the best things to get at Trader Joe’s! Two of my favorite things meet at TJ’s spice aisle: quality and value. Shopping for seasonings here is one of my best tips for saving money on spices and seasonings. The selection of usual suspects like Oregano, Thyme, and such are somewhat limited, but they likely have most of what you need.
However, the spice blends are where Trader Joe’s really shines. I’ve been grabbing the Onion Salt for years, but my new favorites are Furikake (a Japanese seasoning blend we shake over our weekly Poke takeaway bowls), Ajika (an amazing blend of things like coriander, fenugreek, and marigold) and Cuban Style Citrusy Garlic Blend (packed with tons of flavors like lime, garlic, cilantro, coriander, cumin, and oregano). Both are killer on popcorn, corn on the cob, meat, potatoes, and *ahem* homemade Chex mix.
On the minus side, I’m not a fan of the Multipurpose Umami Mushroom Blend (meh), Green Goddess Blend (saaallllty!!!), or the Pumpkin Spice Blend (tasty, but you can make your own custom Pumpkin Spice Blend in a snap)
Oils and Vinegars
I don’t go too fancy with the oils I use, but my regular EVOO is Trader Joe’s President’s Reserve EVOO. Vinegars however are my jam. TJ’s carries so many great everyday faves and seasonal fun ones as well. Their Organic Apple Cider (with the mysterious mother), Balsamic of Modena, and Natural Rice vinegars are always on hand. Recently I snagged a bottle of Raspberry Vinegar which makes the BEST dressing for spinach salad evah!
Soups and Sauces
When my husband transitioned to working from home last year I knew we had to find some quick solutions for lunches. Trader Joe’s offers a great selection of soups, stews, and pasta sauces. A few of our faves are Tomato Roasted Pepper Soup (sooooo good!) and Jaipur Veggies (great over leftover rice or quinoa).
Their pasta sauces are a good buy too. The ones I reach for most are Arrabiata, Rustico, Traditional Marinara, Tomato Basil Marinara, and 3 Cheese Pomodoro (this last one’s a bit on the salty side).
We eat a metric TON of cheese around here. And some of my favorite things to get at Trader Joe’s are in the cheese case. In fact, two of them are cheeses I never liked till I started getting them at TJ’s: feta and ricotta. Most feta, to me, is over salty and dry. And ricotta tends to be bland and gritty. But, y’all! Trader Joe’s feta and whole milk ricotta are amazing!!! Their feta is super creamy and just-right salty and tangy. The ricotta is a tub of milky heaven. My sister and I have been known to just eat it with a spoon.
My other go-to cheeses at TJ’s are their whole milk mozzarella and fresh mozzarella (again, both super creamy and tasty) and basically any of their goat cheese logs. The plain Silver Goat cheese is great for everyday use and the flavored ones they carry seasonally have all been cheeseboard winners.
The only type of cheese I avoid at Trader Joe’s are any of the ones that are loosely wrapped in cellophane. I don’t know what is going on there, but whenever I buy those cheeses they always get covered in mold, sometimes before I even open them (and well before their sell-by date!)
We don’t eat a lot of meat, but one thing we are gaga about at Trader Joe’s is their Bavarian Brats. My grandparents were Bavarians so maybe it’s in my DNA but these are truly the only sausages I like. These beasties are great on a bun with Trader Joe’s fresh sauerkraut, served “naked” with traditional German sides like sweet and sour red cabbage and roasted potatoes, or when we’re feeling fancy – with scrambled eggs for breakfast.
Coffee is a significant part of my personal quality of life. I reaaaalllly look forward to the one cup I have every morning and I am very fussy about it. Surprisingly enough, Trader Joe’s sells some pretty good coffees! Of the coffees they always carry, Organic Fair Trade Shade Grown Ethiopian is by far our fave. In fact, whenever we try a new coffee we tend to measure it by this one – “eh, it’s not as good as TJ’s Ethiopian” 😁.
Their Columbian Supremo, Guatemalan and Honduran coffees are also solid choices. But the real coffee treats at Trader Joe’s are their ever-changing Small Lot offerings. They are a little pricier, but for the most part, we’ve really enjoyed them. Besides, it’s fun to try coffees from different regions! We haven’t liked any of the light roast varieties, but light roasts aren’t my faves anyway (too sour and “fruity” for my palate). The only downside here is once something sells out (and it will very quickly) you’ll never see it again. 😔
Now if you know me and my coffee snobbery, this next part will be a surprise. I prefer to buy whole-bean and I don’t care for flavored coffees. Flavored coffee syrups (like my Pumpkin Spice Latte Syrup or Gingerbread Latte Syrup) yes! Actual flavored coffee, not so much. A couple of years ago I read an article on some snooty coffee site and they said that Trader Joe’s preground, flavored coffees were really good. Whaaa? Well, yes they are! I always snag a can of Pumpkin Spice, Gingerbread, and Winter Blend when they make their annual appearance. 🤷🏻♀️
Beverages & Mixers
One seasonal item that is an absolute must for me at Trader Joe’s is their shelf-stable Honeycrisp Apple Cider. Gaaaah! It’s gorgeous. It makes the best hot cider and hellllooo fall cocktails! This year my store sold out before I snagged my supply so I had a girlfriend in another city grab some for me. Priorities!
Some other solid beverage choices at TJ’s are the Margarita Mix, Cranberry Juice, Fresh Pineapple Juice, Moroccan Mint Tea, and Irish Breakfast Tea (both good for hot and iced tea).
Trader Joe’s is kinda famous for their frozen items, and seriously, I fall into a vortex when I hit the frozen aisles there. Too many choices! 🤣 A few things I always come home with, tho, are the Regular and Hatch Green Chile Mac and Cheeses (100% better than box mix), the Almond or Chocolate Croissants (crazy good) and the Hash Brown Patties (tacky-licious).
While no store-bought pie crust is ever going to be better than homemade, Trader Joe’s Frozen Pie Crust is pretty darn close. The only thing that drives me bonkers about their pie crust is that it always, always has unincorporated big hunks of butter in it. That means you have to do a patching project if you don’t want a gaping hole in your crust when it bakes. 🙄
While we have a lot of faves in the freezer case (in fact it almost deserves it’s own list) this is also where we’ve found the most clunkers. All the pizzas, frozen meals (other than mac and cheese) and bowls we’ve tried have been, ummmm, ick. Sorry! I would also say for the most part I find their frozen appetizers to sound and look good while tasting very meh. 🤷🏻♀️
Soaps & Lotions
There are two reasons I love to buy my hand soaps at Trader Joe’s – the great soaps themselves, and the bottles. Yeah, the bottles. I like making my own foaming hand soap with castile soap and essential oils, and these bottles are perfect to reuse. I buy one or two bottles a year of their yummy Sweet Basil and Botanical Bounty foaming soaps and reuse the bottles the rest of the year. Win-win!
Our other faves are the Tea Tree Tingle Shampoo and Body Wash and the French Liquid Orange Blossom Honey Soap (smells JUST like orange blossom honey!)
There you have it, my personal list of the best things to get at Trader Joe’s 😁
Be sure to let me know in the comments if I didn’t include one of YOUR faves that I should try!