I remember the first time I went to Trader Joe’s. I was visiting my sister-in-law in Chicago and stopped by the adorable corner store to see what all the hype was about. It was love at first visit for me, even though I bizarrely chose to get the dried seaweed which I then ate on the train much to my in-law’s befuddlement. Trader Joe’s arrived in Baton Rouge in the fall of 2015, and it was one of the happiest days of my life. Am I joking? Not sure.
One of the best things about TJ’s is the constant rotation of new and seasonal items. Right now it’s Pumpkin Palooza–pumpkin-flavored everything– and it’s a super fun vibe to shop there. I bought the Brown Butter this week just because it sounded cool and the Maple Butter because it’s a fall-only item. The kid-friendly experience is a major plus, with mini shopping carts as well as stickers and suckers at checkout. The customer service is excellent—several times while pregnant, I was given free flowers, and employees always seem to be happy to help search for a product.
In order to be a true Trader Joe’s aficionado, you first need to be part of a couple of TJ’s social media communities: Trader Joe’s Meal Ideas for Busy Moms is a Facebook group where you will find both helpful ideas as well as hilarious commentary. My two favorite Instagram accounts are Trader Joe’s List and Trader Joe’s Food Review. Both of these ladies have consistently great content and reviews.
Ok, without further ado, here are my Trader Joe’s Must-Haves:
Spices: Everything But the Bagel seasoning is the absolute best seasoning ever. I love putting it on scrambled eggs, avocado toast, and sandwiches. We also love their Onion Salt and the new Green Goddess blend.
Treats: On the frozen aisle, there is an endless selection of chocolates like the chocolate-covered almonds and the dark chocolate peanut butter. The chocolate croissants and the almond croissants in the frozen section will transport you to France. The many seasonal varieties of “hold the cone”—mini ice cream cones—are the perfect late-night treat. We also love the Gone Bananas-chocolate covered frozen bananas. The Almond Flour Chocolate Chip Cookie mix is really good.
Frozen Foods: The frozen white rice, brown rice, and quinoa boxes are wonderful for when you’re in a pinch. The black bean tamales are another easy meal. I love the Egg Frittata with Swiss Cheese and Cauliflower for breakfast or lunch. We enjoy the frozen fruit for smoothies: our favorites are the Organic Tropical Fruit Blend and the Pitted Dark Sweet Cherries.
Dips: My favorite of the many hummus options is the Original Hummus and the Roasted Garlic hummus (although some find it too garlicky). The jarred salsa verde and red salsa are yummy and not too spicy. The Herbed Tahini sauce is great as a veggie dip or with falafel.
Cheese: the cheese selection and prices are unmatched. Our favorites are Unexpected Cheddar and Asiago Cheese with Rosemary and Olive Oil. The Grated Parmesan Cheese (look for the round container with a green label) is a weekly staple.
Cauliflower items: if you’re a gluten-free eater, TJ’s has your back with all their cauliflower items. The cauliflower slims (found in the refrigerated produce section) popped in my toaster for a couple of minutes to make a great bread sub for sandwiches. The cauliflower gnocchi is excellent when pan-fried (try this recipe). Our family enjoys the riced cauliflower as a rice substitute, cauliflower crisps with cheese or hummus, and the gluten-free cheese pizza with cauliflower crust–add pepperoni before baking.
Sauces: Allepo Sauce is a spicy and savory honey sauce that packs a punch, Jalapeño Sauce (the green one) is perfect on tacos, Organic Coconut Aminos are great on sushi or with the potstickers (another great frozen item), the Peri-Peri sauce is extremely spicy but delicious on roasted chicken or any veggies. The Crunchy Chili Onion is great on scrambled eggs and tacos.
Snacks: So. Many. Options. Plantain Chips and Plantain Crisps are staples in our house, as well as the Grainless Cassava and Coconut Tortilla Chips for my husband who is allergic to corn. I love the Restaurant Style White Corn Tortilla Chips which have the BEST crunch. My kiddos love the World’s Puffiest White Cheddar Corn Puffs as an afternoon snack. The Everything Bagel Nut Duo is snacky perfection.
Non-food items: I love to stock up on the 99 cent greeting cards to have on hand, they’re always really pretty and fun. It’s hard to beat the prices of the flowers! The wool dryer balls are a great clean alternative to dryer sheets.
Ok, I feel like this barely scratched the surface of Trader Joe’s glory! I didn’t even mention wine. Next time. What are your Trader Joe’s Must-Haves?