If you have a Trader Joe’s near you, consider yourself lucky.
This popular specialty grocery store features prepared and convenience foods, organic foods, inexpensive wines, health supplements, produce, flowers, and some odds and ends.
Some TJ’s fans drive hundreds of miles to visit the store.
When to Shop
First, I’ll tell you that Trader Joe’s is not our weekly shopping trip; this is a “once every couple of months” excursion for us.
But besides our Cleveland stores, I also visit Trader Joe’s while I’m in Boston and Chicago. In these large cities where food is expensive, TJ’s is a mandatory visit, even if just to stock the hotel room.
What to Buy
I am frequently asked what I buy at Trader Joe’s. Some people are just mystified by the whole experience.
I’ve had good and bad luck with the meats; and mostly bad luck with the fresh produce (at least in our area).
So, to answer the question about what we buy, here are some of our favorite products.
Crackers, Chips, and Nuts
The crackers and nuts are priced right and are of good quality. Rice crackers and multigrain crackers (with black sesame seeds) are especially tasty
Bagged nuts, like pine nuts and toasted, blanched almonds are convenient for salads and other recipes.
Trader Joe’s tortilla chips are also a good buy. We like the flax seed variety. They are festive looking and come in a mixed bag of red, gold, and green colored-chips.
Spreads, Honey, and Jelly
Hot pepper jelly, natural peanut and almond butters, and red pepper spread must be some of the best selling products in this market. We love the hot pepper jelly on ham sandwiches and served with grilled pork roast.
TJ’s also offers raw honey at a great price.
My daughter loves TJ’s Harvest Blend Herbal Tea. I bought her some when I was visiting her in Chicago. To be honest, I picked it up because I thought the box was adorable!
Triple Ginger Snaps and Ginger Chews (stomach soother)
Triple Ginger Snaps are so addictive. They are crispy and crunchy (my favorite kind of cookie), but when you hit a bit of crystallized ginger, you get a flavorful chewy crumb. Yum.
After gorging on the cookies, try TJ’s ginger chews (in the supplements aisle) to settle your stomach.
Quinoa, basmati rice, tomato paste in the tube, and chicken and vegetable broths are all priced right and are of great quality. These are good items to stock up on.
Tomato paste in-the tube is great for recipes like Annie’s Turkey Chili.
Chocolate-covered almonds and TJ’s yogurt with honey are two sweet selections for a special treat. I wouldn’t want to buy these products all the time, but once in awhile they are the perfect dessert or snack, plus they both have some nutritional value.
More about Trader Joe’s
There are a lot of TJ fans out there. If you enjoy podcasts, “Freakanomics” did a wonderful episode on the history of Trader Joe’s, and interviewed employees and fans of the grocery chain.
My son, who now calls Boston home, is a loyal Trader Joe’s shopper. He finds the prices better than many grocery stores around him. His favorite products (in addition to those above) include multigrain sourdough bread,
Trader Joe’s falafel mix, and chunk cheeses.
Have you visited Trader Joe’s? Do you have favorite products? Send us an email and let’s add to the list.
Trader Joe’s Shopping List
- Multigrain crackers
- Rice crackers
- Bagged nuts, like pine nuts and toasted, blanched almonds
- Red pepper dip
- Hot pepper jelly
- Tortilla chips
- Natural peanut butter
- Harvest Blend Herbal tea
- Triple Ginger Snaps
- Ginger Chews (stomach soother)
- Basmati rice
- Tomato paste in the tube
- Chocolate-covered almonds
- Yogurt with honey
- Chicken and vegetable broths
- Multigrain sourdough bread
- Trader Joe’s falafel mix
- Trader Joe’s cheeses