Top Ten-ish Trader Joes Picks

I don't think there's a day that goes by that we aren't consuming Trader Joe's products.  I have extra love for the store because my big brother is a TJ's captain (store manager) and, as I've mentioned before, he always says 'thanks for feedin' his kids' when we shop there.  Anyhow, I always seem to find myself having conversations with people about their favorite products.  Just the other day, a friend texted me to see if I could wheedle some pumpkin spice coffee from my bro because all of the stores near us were done carrying it for the season.  Um, why didn't I know how amazing this coffee is?  I want some, too!  Alas, when something is done for the season, it's, as my brother put it: dunzo.  So right now I'm stocking up on my Christmas favorites:

We have regular Peppermint Joe Joe's, too, as well as dark chocolate covered star cookies.  A friend just told me that they make Peppermint Joe Joe's ice cream.  Gotta get on that...

It's so fun for me to hear how passionate people are about the products and it's a great way to discover new items - through a friend, or a blog!  When Jessica at How Sweet It Is (one of my favorite food bloggers) shared her picks, I thought it was high time I put together a top ten list.  First off I have to single out my number one item I would just go into a depression without:

1. Salsa Especial is THE BEST salsa you can buy.  Period.  It's so fresh tasting (sold in the refrigerated section with all the yummy dips, hummus, guacamole, etc.) and has the perfect amount of garlicky-ness and spice.  We love to make tex mex food at home (I also highly recommend the TJ's carne asada) and this salsa is always in the fridge.  Well, until I plow through it; I could eat a whole tub on it's own with a bag of chips for lunch.  Not that I've ever done that... ahem.

OK, on to the rest with some extra faves throw in:

2. We put blue cheese on almost every salad we make and TJs has the best - not too strong and perfectly creamy, unlike a lot of grocery store brands that are dry and downright chalky.

3. It seems the running community is very pro peanut butter filled pretzels and I finally gave them a try after the Labor Day 4 Miler when my teammates heartily sang their praises.  Aaaaand now they are a staple in my pantry.

4. Vanilla nonfat Greek yogurt.  Normally, I'm not a fan of fat free stuff, but this yogurt is an exception.  It's sweet, but not sickeningly so, and is a perfect breakfast or snack with TJ's pumpkin butter or cranberry apple butter, or really any other fruit 'butter' they sell.  Plus, it's a great in smoothies and as an oil substitution when baking.

5. We love to make a number of Thai dishes (I even have a new one on the menu this week) and I pick up a can every time I'm in the store, so we always have it on hand.  It's hard to find light coconut milk in the grocery store, and when I do find it, it's at least three times the price of TJ's.

6. I get all our nuts from TJ's and these sweet and spicy nuts are DANGEROUS.  I do try to stay away from them until this indulgent time of year, but I usually cave and pick them up throughout the year anyway.  Perfectly balanced sweet and spicy and a must have on all of our holiday salads, or as a small snack.  Well, you can attempt to make them a 'small' snack...

7. I'm slowly, but surely, replacing as many jars as I can in my spice rack with TJ's spices.  The price point is ridiculously low (around $2) and how can you resist a cinnamon sugar grinder?  I sure can't and the kids love it on toast or waffles.  Speaking of kids...

8. TJ's is one of the kids favorite places to visit.  Our store's mascot is Freddie the Frog and if they find the fuzzy frog hidden amongst the aisles, they get to pick a piece of candy from the sample station.  My kids also love the pint sized carts and, of course, the food.  Turkey meatballs from the freezer section are high on the list, as are white cheddar corn puffs (their version of Pirate Booty), bags of organic apples, granola bars (especially the 'strawberry walked into a bar' ones), squeezable organic yogurt, waffles, frozen organic fruit for smoothies, and all varieties of Puffins cereal.  It's also the perfect store for when you are 'snack mom' and have to cater to kids with different allergies or intolerances; TJ's carries a great variety of vegetarian and gluten free goodies.

9. I also pick up a lot of produce on my visits, but I gather that these things can vary from location to location.  If you get a good selection in your store, I highly recommend the grape tomatoes - best I've tasted.  I also pick up bagged spinach, salad, bell peppers, avocados, citrus fruits, asparagus, onions, and bananas from our produce section.

10. Lastly, they carry so many brands that can also be found at the local grocery store, just with a much friendlier price point: the Puffins cereal I mentioned, wine, beer, energy bars, Emergen-C, and my favorite oatmeal - McCann's.

I just realized I skipped over the personal care items, so I'm gonna add a bonus number 11.

I keep this moisturizing cream by the kitchen sink and apply it every time I wash my hands; with two small kids in the house, there's a lot of hand washing going on and this stuff is awesome.  It's also unscented, and my husband certainly appreciates not having to smell fruity or flowery when his hands are dry.  (FYI, I also agree with Jessica's assessment of the coconut body butter, if you're in the market for an inexpensive, yet luxurious body lotion.)

Okay, I don't usually pose questions at the end of my posts, but I really would love for you to tell me your favorites!  That way, I can buy even MORE stuff on my next visit.


  1. I love the Wasabi Wow mix. Also peppermint joe joe's (even though I skipped an entire trader joe's trip because I didn't need to buy them, you know because it's poor race prep to only eat cookies for lunch). And I love the packs of palak paneer. Super easy to heat and eat with leftover rice for lunch. Yum!

  2. Hubby has loved the PB Pretzels for years, there mandatory on his sailing races. I forgot about those Peppermint Joes, definitely time for a trip to TJs! I love the plain frozen yogurt, super sour and slightly sweet. Delicious. Not for everyone, but I love it.