Trader Joe’s Must Haves

After I shared my Costco Must Haves I got more emails saying, “Yeah, appreciate your obsession with buckets of hummus but, What are Trader Joes?!”trader joes

So, after kickboxing I fueled up with an apple and headed to TJ’s to give ya the scoop.IMG_9879 (800x600)

1. Salad Dressing. They have a lot of great options, but I am obsessed with the Spicy Peanut Vinaigrette.spicy peanut vinaigrette

2. Dips, salsa and hummus (if you don’t mind eating something less stellar than Sabra). That Spinach Sour Cream one on the right is amazing. trader joes sauces

I have been known to drink this salsa verde. It’s on the shelves not refrigerated. tjs salsa verde

3. Nuts and dried fruit. Joe has the best nuts! Tons of options at good prices. Stock up.trader joes nuts

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4. Nut butter! They have the basics…trader joes peanut butter

Plus, the fancier options like sunflower seed and almond butter for (relatively) cheap.tjs sunflower seed butter

5. Greek yogurt. If you have been avoiding it because of the price, try it here.greek yogurt

6. Wine! Two buck Chuck.IMG_9896 (800x600)

Yes, it’s really 2 dollars for a bottle of wine. Ben likes to point out that it’s cheaper than juice!

But, they also have fancier wines at great prices.two buck chuck

7. Breads. Their Whole Wheat Tuscan Pane and Sourdoughs are my favorites. sourdough bread

They also have competitive prices on whole wheat pastas and whole wheat couscous!IMG_9909 (800x600)

8. Fancy Cheeses – a lot of them are sold by weight. It’s easy to take a chance on a new cheese here because you can often choose a smaller block of it and not spend too much.fancy cheese

I always eye this While Stilton and keep meaning to try it!IMG_9901 (800x600)

9. 21 Seasoning Salute is what I make green bean fries and roast veggies with. This is definitely a must have!21 seasoning salute

10. Last, but not least – the treats! They have chocolate covered everything. It’s overwhelming at first, but try to only buy 1 thing at a time.IMG_9903 (800x600)

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My brother had these at his place recently and I almost died. So Good.dark chocolate almonds

Extra credit – Seltzer! My addiction.IMG_9907 (800x600)

I ate a piece of sourdough on the way home. Then, lunch was the most random mix ever. I couldn’t make my go-to salad because we’re out of romaine! #ShoppingFailIMG_9913 (800x600)

In the bowl: green beans, onions and broccoli, chopped turkey burger, beans, guacamole, cashews and those new chips I love.IMG_9914 (800x600)

Dessert.IMG_9915 (800x600)

Final Trader Joes Tip: DO NOT take pictures in the store because TJ’s HATES any type of positive or negative publicity.  They have no social media presence and apparently like it that way.

Or, if you get caught taking pictures in the store – Lie. A TJ’s associate asked why I was taking pics and I said for my blog. Nope. The worker said I cannot take pictures for anything but a reminder of the product/cost for myself. What are your Trader Joes must-haves?!


  1. says

    I love the salsa verde too! Their trial mix with cashews, dried pineapple and macadamia nuts rocks, love their wraps, all the hummus and of course the wine :) Too bad the closest one to me is 12 plus hours!

  2. Kristie says

    OH MAN! Nice of you to bring them some biz at least 😉 Well, I just want to say thank you for the inspiration with this blog, it motivates me a little everyday. Everything on that list is right on sista. Random note Id like to share here: Id like to start making an effort to chew my food slower and more thuroughly.

  3. says

    The chocolate covered almonds by far are my absolute favorite! Way way way too addictive, but oh so good. The Trader Joe’s in Jersey doesn’t sell wine. :( When I lived in San Diego, I took full advantage of those cheap wines. Can’t beat those prices!

      • says

        SHUT THE FRONT DOOR! Where do you live? Princeton is about an hour away from me, but good to know if I make the trip down there. Thanks girl for letting me know this! HA!

        • Tina says

          I lived in the Princeton area until last March and now live in Bucks County, PA. The Princeton trader joe’s is definitely worth the trip. If you’re in Princeton another great place is Lululemon! They have some of the best athletic wear ever for men and women. I have purchased 5 or so items from there and they last forever! High quality goods I must say. Also, if you’re in the fitness industry you can become a rd (forget what that stands for) and get a 10 or 15% discount every time you shop.

          • Aleks says

            I went back to Princeton in May, and visiting TJ’s and Lulu were my #1 priorities (well, that and Reunions). I can’t believe they both opened a year after I graduated! I’d definitely go to TJ for groceries, instead I was going to Wegmans and Whole Foods.

  4. says

    No-Pudge brownie mix
    TJs whole grain crackers
    Ak-Mak crackers
    roasted gorgonzola crackers
    sesame thins crackers
    flatbread crackers with seeds
    mini toasts
    grilled vegetable tapenaude
    brushetta – mixed olive – sundried tomatoes – tomato
    eggplant and garlic spread
    red pepper spread
    roasted peppers in jars
    dried cranberries
    dried apricots
    dried cherries
    dry roasted edemame
    whole wheat couscous
    dried tortellini
    Pad Thai noodles with sauce
    cookies – ginger cats, Captain’s
    TJs soy milks – coffee, chocolate, strawberry, fat-free original
    reduced fat cheesies
    pita chips, especially the cinnamon and sugar coated
    canned artichoke hearts

    $2 Buck Chuck is pretty good – like the Shiraz the best.

    We always visit a TJs when in the U.S. – don’t have them in Canada.

  5. Shanna says

    I’ve had that stilton at a wine + cheese party a few years back and thought it was amazeballs! I bought it again later on and thought it was too sweet though (the apricots in it are super sweet). Maybe it only has to be eaten with white wine… which is more than fine for me!

  6. Jen G. says

    TJ’s chocolate covered edamame is one of my favorite things in the world. My hometown is getting one next year, and it’s only made me want to move back more. (The nearest TJs/Whole Foods/anything is 2 hours away right now.)

  7. says

    Oh, if I had the money, I would shop only at TJ’s. My staples right now are the Reduced Guilt Mac & Cheese (frozen meal), Reduced Guilt Tortilla Chips (notice a theme?), greek yogurt, turkey meatballs, Masala Simmering Sauce (oh so delicious), frozen chicken breast, frozen pepper mix, and bananas. When I feel the need, I pick up brown rice California Rolls, too. Okay….now I’m hungry.

    • says

      I have a drinking problem. Like, I drink a lot a lot. So, I think seltzer is “only water”. But, it is a nice change up for me with my meals. I wish I didn’t love it so much because again, it’s only water, but it costs more!

  8. says

    Does Trader Joe’s have chocolate covered coffee beans? WF carries them near me but they’re so expensive, I’m sure Trader Joe’s would be cheaper if they had them. There isn’t one near me so I’m thinking of asking my parents to bring some down next time they see me.

  9. Sarah K B says

    I live in Canada, so no Trader Joes for me. I did win some of their Sunflower seed butter a while back and it is SO GOOD! I have been eating it slowely but it is almost gone :(

    Does anyone know how sunbutter compares? I have a jar of it, but I am afraid that it won’t live up to the awesomeness that is Trader Joes Sunflower seed butter.

  10. Sarah says

    I think its kind of disrespectful of you to post pics of the store when they explicitly asked you not to. I love Trader Joes!

  11. says

    Trader Joe’s is great and I go there at least every other week.

    You turned me on to the peanut dressing (amazing) and I also love the salsa verde. Other must haves are the frozen fruit (smoothies, cobblers), nuts, dried fruit, couscous, High Fiber cereal, tri-tip (so good!), brown rice (ready in 3 minutes), and their boxed soups in the winter.

  12. Sara says

    My number one TJ’s staple is the tomato-less corn salsa. I put it on everything. EVERYTHING.

    Also love the sweet potato gnocchi.

  13. says

    Oh, I LOVE the Whole Wheat Tuscan Pane bread too! And I’m currently on a time out from those dark chocolate pretzel slims. Oops. :) Their new coconut milk is really good (and cheap compared to other brands) and they have these new s’mores gelato frozen sandwiches that are sooooooo good. That store just has too much good stuff!

  14. Jessica J. says

    You need to add TJ Ketchup to your next shopping trip. It’s $1.99 for a bottle of organic ketchup. The stuff is amazing! The difference between it and regular Heinz is like comparing home grown tomatoes to store bought.
    Try it. You’ll love it and become a ketchup snob who complains when you dine out that any other ketchup isn’t good enough for you.

  15. says

    It didn’t register until now, but you’re so right–TJ’s DOES have chocolate-covered everything! Just one more reason I love it…

    I actually first shopped at TJ’s in California where my relatives live (I live in NY). We didn’t have one near me, so I’d only get to have it when I visited my relatives or if I found one while on a road trip somewhere along the East Coast.

    But, finally, one is opening in my town! It was supposed to open this summer, but was still being built when I left for school, so hopefully it’s done when I return!

  16. says

    THE FROZEN AISLE!!!! I have a TJ’s breakfast burrito everyday before work while I walk to the train. I am obsessed with their orange chicken and have it probably twice a week. I’m not that impressed with their produce, but there is a Safeway and a Whole Foods really close to my TJ’s, so I tend to do a 3 store loop.

  17. says

    My nearest Trader Joe’s is about 40 minutes away, so I usually go to Whole Foods. But last time I went to TJ’s I got these garlic fries that were amazing! My husband and I reeked liked garlic all night…it was great.

  18. Rachel says

    love the spicy asian dressing! Also love;

    caramelized onion dip
    tomato basil hummus
    garlic hummus
    chocolate covered edamame
    meatless meatballs
    pumpernickel pretzel rods
    individual nut packets!
    thick sliced turkey
    half salt canned tuna
    BBQ sauce

    ..a better question would be what don’t I get at TJs…

  19. says

    I wouldn’t even know where to begin…I sort of go into a bit of a dizzy frenzy for about an hour when I enter the store, and then somehow my cart is overflowing, and the hippy (I use the term hippy with all the love in the world, my dad is an ex-hippy) at the checkstand asks me if I found everything okay and I look at him or her as though they lost their mind, then I try not to look at the total, and then my checking account is basically empty. lol

    I almost hate to mention it because it is like crack, but the blue cheese roasted pecan dip with the salt and pepper rice crisps for dipping is rediculous. so addicting. so fattening. so amazing.

    also the omega 3 trail mix.

    and orange chicken

    and the little Persian cucumbers served with baguette, peppered salami and brie

    okay i’m stopping now. too hungry


    • says

      Exact same thing happens to me every time! I grab an “arm basket” and end up having to put it in a shopping cart because it’s so full!

      PS. I call people Hippies too! It’s kinda a compliment to me :)

      • says

        Oh my gosh, that is so what happens to me! I try to be “good” and use a basket but I always end up needing a cart. Glad i’m not the only one! :)

        Yeah I think Hippies are awesome…it’s definitely a compliment :)

  20. says

    Have you tried the Avocado Salsa Verde? It’s in the refrigerated section. The goodness of Salsa Verde with avocado. Our grocery stores can’t sell wine. Only beer. (stupid CT blue laws).
    Their uncured turkey bacon is fantastic. I like to throw the TJ candied pecans on a salad with some goat cheese. They have grilled peppers and onions in the freezer section. It’s great for omelets. Just throw a bit in the microwave while I make my turkey bacon then throw in the omelet. Great for peppers and sausage. It’s pretty inexpensive too. I think cheaper than buying fresh.

  21. Terri says

    Thanks Monica! Loved the “must-haves” from TJs even better than the Costco one. TJs social media is their Fearless Flyer! :-)

  22. Ida says

    I love the frozen grilled peppers and onions. I also just tried the red and green curry tuna packs- SO GOOD. But really TJ’s can do no wrong.
    Interesting about their aversion to social media. There is a whole website called

  23. Jill says

    Is there anything at TJ’s that is NOT good? I’ve been delighted with everything I bought there.
    The Stilton with apricots is beyond amazing. Caution: break it into small chunks and ration it, or you may risk eating the whole piece at once. It’s like the very best cheesecake ever.
    Two-buck Chuck is a legend, and actually fooled some of the snobby wine critics. In a blind taste test, they liked it as well if not better than some much more expensive wines.
    TJ’s have the best dog treats, according to my dogs (but they eat cat poo too, so their opinions may be unreliable).
    Check out the Tea tree oil shampoo and conditioner too.

  24. says

    I feel as though my Trader Joe’s-free life has been one of deprivation and sadness after looking at this post.

    Why, oh why have they not opened one in Florida yet?

  25. Tia says

    That place seems like a haven! I live in a little town in the middle of NOWHERE in Canada so my grocery shopping options are so limited. We only have like chain stores (Safeway, Superstore, Sobeys, Save-On Foods) etc and the closest town that has any sort of organic or specialty shops is a good 4 hour drive. If you go to jail, I’ll send bail money, after all I do need something to read! That Greek yogurt is SUCH a good price, I pay $7.99 here for that same size container :(

  26. Ryah says

    Yum! That’s funny about the pictures. Some of my favorites include:
    -The Wine (I’m in college and I never buy wine anywhere else), like Half Moon, Two Buck Chuck and Bordeaux Briot.
    -Parmesan Cheese
    – Garlic Herb Pizza Dough
    -Gourmet Pepperoni
    -The sweet, savory and tart trail mix granola bar
    -The vanilla almond chewy coated and drizzled granola bar (Warning: This is a rice crispy treat posing as a granola bar, but it’s delicious.)
    -Reduced fat cheese puffs
    -Pirates Booty
    -Tofu for just $1.29
    -Frozen hot wings
    -Frozen Orange Chicken
    -Baby spinach in the resealable bag
    -Bananas for just 15 cents each
    -Apple Cider
    -Cranberry Apple Cider
    -TJ’s dark chocolate covered peppermint jojos (!)
    -Peppermint jojo ice cream!!! (Yeah, this stuff is like crack. I buy it every week until they run out.)

  27. says

    I love Trader Joe’s, but the one near me in RI doesn’t carry wine or beer. Sometimes, we’ll make the trek to one of the MA locations that does – but only a few do. Things are complicated in New England!
    It’s funny, our two buck chuck is actually $3, probably because it travels all the way from CA. I’m going to try to get a picture next time I go.
    My favorite things at TJ’s are the tortilla chips, organic frozen fruit & veg, chicken egg rolls, white bean basil hummus, nuts, seasonings, general tso sauce (amazing!), chocolate chips, organic beans, nut butter & dried fruit. They also have great prices on bars and stuff like peppermint soap.
    I’m not a usually a big fan of the produce or meat in the RI store and the bread (which I LOVE) is usually a day or two from expiring. That makes me sad.

  28. says

    The last time I was at a TJ’s I realized there wasn’t much there for me that wasn’t at some of the much closer grocery stores. But I have to shop there keeping in my mind all of my various food intolerances so basically I’m a pain in the butt when it comes to grocery shopping!

    Oh! And I had heard mention of this “two buck chuck” only to find that at the TJ’s here the cheapest wine is $3. But “three buck chuck” doesn’t have the same ring to it.

  29. says

    Last time I was at Whole Foods, they had $2 wine (“Chuck the Chuck”) to compete with Trader Joe’s. There goes the whole point of shopping at Trader Joe’s…

    In the winter, the white chocolate-peppermint covered pretzels are AMAZING. So much so, my little sister has officially nicknamed them “Amazing Pretzels.” We buy cases as soon as they come into the store. Soooooo worth it.

  30. Brandie says

    Thank you for this post! Seeing all this yumminess inspired me to go to TJs and stock our freezer and pantry with goodness. THANK YOU for mentioning the Mandarin Orange Chicken in these comments… that stuff is super grubbin’ and will totally be a regular purchase for us now. I must have buzzed by it a hundred times never knowing what I was missing! And you’re totally right… they have chocolate covered everything! The dark chocolate caramels are the best.

  31. Fiona says

    I work at Kitchen Manager of my dorm/house, and I have to let you guys know that TJ’s and Costco carry the same products, under different brands. I am currently working on a spreadsheet to compare the prices. Also, TJ’s specializes in buying the lower quality merchandise that other vendors reject, which is how they get their prices so low. That being said, I am still a regular customer and I certainly appreciate their cheese aisle.

  32. says

    I love the cheap wine. I didn’t realize how fairly priced their stuff was until I moved out to CA and that was the only grocery store near me. Not really a fan of all of the packaging they use for some of their fruit, but hey, it’s all good!


  33. Rachel says

    The greek yogurt guac dip!!!!!! With the thick corn chip scoops. OH YUM. The premade mexicali salad. Frozen chocolate mochi. THE FROZEN MAC & CHEESE, oh my!! The sourdough sliced bread, we call it yummy toast at our house, slather it with butter and die happy. I no longer shop anywhere else BUT TJ’s except for a very rare Safeway run for produce that sometimes is hit/miss at TJ’s.

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