Thursday, January 17, 2013

Trader Joe's: The Staples

I've been meaning to do this particular post for awhile now, if only because I have a serious fascination with other people's grocery habits and weekly food picks. Specifically, Trader Joe favorites. I am always anxious for word of something fantastic that I haven't tried before, and some of my very best experiences with new meals have happened because of a friend (or friendly cashier's) enthused recommendation.

This afternoon, with 20 minutes to get through a mid-week food run, I found myself shifting into autopilot and mindlessly weeding through the store for all the "must have" staples I depend on to keep this family up and running. Below, I've listed 20 of my absolute go-tos at Trader Joe's: Items I use daily, and feel barren without.

I was hoping that you might feel moved to share some of your own. 
Like I said, I love finding out what's in your fridge. 
Tell me I'm not alone?

1. low fat T.J granola cereal with almonds: a breakfast favorite for the boys.

2. low fat wholegrain frozen French toast 

3. chocolate drizzled granola bars - these are a sometimes treat in Arlo's lunch and possibly his favorite treat of all. I, however, am not so fond of them.

4. t.j's beef chili - the perfect no-fuss meal when I've nothing else to throw together. We eat this a lot. On baked potatoes, over chips, or with a slice of toasted sourdough.

5. t.j's refresh citrus shampoo & conditioner. I've never been one to buy fancy hair products, so this does the job just fine and smells pretty great too.

6. penne arrabiata - this I make for myself regularly, with fresh mozzarella and some cayenne pepper.

7. t.j medium roast unground coffee. Number one one my t.j must haves. For the price, it's the best coffee I know.

8. t.j Salsa Verde. I use this on everything - burritos, eggs, guacamole, chicken marinade, ect. I'm usually stocked up on this one.

9. organic sweet corn. I sneak this into all kinds of meals.

10. 4$ flowers. I adore their cheap flower selection. It's a weekly splurge I look forward to on every run.

11. cajun style black beans makes the best bean & cheese burrito.

12. low sodium organic chicken broth - for mash potatoes and the chicken vegetable soup I make at least once a week during these cooler seasons.

13. rustic sour dough loafed bread. I could live on toasted sour dough. I don't. but I could.

14. t.j organic vanilla yogurt. A nice after school snack with sliced apples and praline granola mixed in.

15. little critters veggie vitamins - rex once ate an entire bottle while I was showering. we almost have to keep them locked up next to the whiskey.

16. t.j's organic hot cocoa mix 

17. t.j's organic white corn tortilla chips. THE BEST. period.

18. t.j tomatoes. always nice & ripe.

19. t.j's restaurant style salsa especial - I think I've recommended this one to just about everyone I know. A bit too hot for some, though, I've heard.

20. joe joe's sandwich cookies. because Arlo likes to complain that he's the only kid with "nothing sweet" in his lunch box.

There you have it.
What are yours?

* items not pictured: frozen veggies, T.J. Cashews, Simple Times beer, T.J organic apple juice, soyaki island sauce (which Mike uses to "fix" all my meal mishaps. He'll put on anything)


  1. I make rice bowls with black beans and corn topped with avocado, cheese and tomatoes once a week. Could not live without the organic brown rice in the freezer section. 3 minutes in the micro and hot steamy rice to add to beans. Try it xo

    1. Ok, that sounds delicious. I need to grab that brown rice and I have all the rest. Dinner tomorrow! Thanks :D

  2. omg, i've been meaning to write all this down, too! i'm obsessed with people's trader joes staples! so funny that someone else is, too. so, trying to think off the top of my head: i love that they have mache in their bagged greens, the ready-to-go beets and lentils in the salad section, the full-fat frozen mac&cheese, the breakfast bratworst and applewood smoked bacon (it's a perfect portion for two people), mini brie cheeses, mini goat cheeses (to go with the beets!), quacamole hummus, the jar of meat bolognese spaghetti sauce (my absolute fave spaghetti sauce ever, better than homemade haha), at thanksgiving their cornbread stuffing mix made with chicken stock and fresh sauteed celery and onions and baked in the oven is the best stuffing, their giant cans of lentil soup, the frozen eggplant cutlets made with fresh mozz and parmesan and spaghetti sauce baked in the oven, jasmine rice, the jarred curry/simmer sauces are great (with the jasmine rice and chicken), and there are always various other impulse buys that ALWAYS get me! christmas time is crazy. their christmas cookies and candies are the tastiest and their gingerbread houses are the cutest and cheap.

    i am going to have to try the chili and the hot cocoa mix. i might even have to go tomorrow now! haha. ps, rex lay off the vites :)

    1. I have a can of the lentil soup I'll try this weekend, and the curry simmer I have to try! thanks for all the great imput kati :D

  3. slightly embarrassed to say i go to trader joe's 4-5 times a week :) it's my fave. some of our staples are the chunky olive hummus, pre packed brussel sprouts, red quinoa (if it's in stock!), organic grass fed beef, mini goat cheese, soft baked snickerdoodles (i've eaten a whole box in one sitting before), light kettle corn, organic beef jerky, 21 seasoning salute (the best!)

    1. haven't seen the organic grass fed beef. MUST TRY. thanks jenny!

      Oh, and I agree - 21 seasoning a the BEST.

  4. i love trader joes!! they also have great prices compared to ralph's and other big stores. one of my favorite things about tj is that they don't have isles of junk food like the big stores. they do have chips and cookies and soda but not an isle dedicated to it. and they're a slightly healthier version sometimes. i get their coffee but i always switch around, the coffee creamer, milk, pre-made salad bags, bananas, frozen pasta that comes in a bag with bell peppers, i pack it for my sons lunch when i help out at his preschool, juice boxes, two buck chucks are a must every visit- we get the shiraz bottle. and the sweet ice tea is my favorite from there. oh man, i could go on and on. i should just do a post like yours :)
    but i also like seeing what people buy and at the grocery store i can't help but be nosy and look into their cart.

    1. I think they're really reasonable too Lizzie. I buy two of every packed meal (because our family needs it) and it's still WAY cheaper than vons or any major g. store. That's one of the reasons I love it most.

  5. Reading simple food lists in novels always fascinate me. I think this is such a good post idea. Also, you want to try the sesame covered delicious.

  6. Those tortilla chips are the best!! I love the pecan praline granola- I sprinkle it on my yogurt every morning. My younger son isn't a big sandwich guy, so he eats the cereal bars at lunch. They love the granola bars as well. I also stock up on the pizza dough, the frozen brown rice (I mix some with black beans, the salsa verde and a dollop of sour cream for a quick lunch or dinner)
    Sweets- we love their Gluten Free Crispy chocolate chip cookies (and we're not gluten free), & the non-pareils (LOVE those)
    And, I love their honey wheat pretzel sticks and cheese crunchies :)

  7. Trader Joe's has the best stuff and I love it that if you don't like something you can always return it, no question asked.

    Their products are great and their workers are always so friendly.

    1. their workers make it that much more enjoyable. always friendly, always super helpful and full of love for the product they are in charge of.

  8. Shocked no one has mentioned the chocolate croissants from the freezer section...proof on a baking sheet overnight and it's like you've gone to Paris in the morning!!! And no secondhand smoke!
    The frozen turkey meatballs are my favorite emergency dinner ingredient-with marinara and melted provolone on a roll they make the best meatball sandwich, or I'll slice onto a frozen TJ's cheese pizza or a la IKEA served plain with mashed taters.
    Also, for mama's special night cheese moments, there's a new aged cheddar (called something like "really special cheddar"?) that's a cross between aged cheddar and really good parmesan. Add sharp knife, wine, and the cover of darkness.

    1. WHAT!? me too. I've never even seen them, now I feel like I must get my hands on one.

      Turkey meatballs sound great too. My boy's would love those. And Mike is a big fan of a meatball sandwich.

      Oh, and aged cheddar: I'm all over it.

      Thanks Summer!

  9. I love TJ favorite posts! We also stock up on t.j Salsa Verde. I literally buy 8 jars at a time. 2 jars + 2 uncooked chicken breasts in the crockpost = unlimited dinner possibilities.

    1. * crockpot, not crockpost ;)

    2. that just might be my dinner choice tonight Marci :D

      Thank you.

  10. I love Treader Joe's as well and I enjoyed reading what other people like to stuck up on :)
    I usually go there to buy some snack for my daughter. She loves white cheddar corn puffs, 'pieces and ends'- ends and pieces of dried fruit bars, dried cranberries, 'strawberry walks into the bar' cereal bars,gummy bears, hummus and little just doesn't end.
    I buy the same coffee and shampoo as you ( but I am ready to explore tea tree tingle shampoo and conditioner ). The must have in my fridge is TJ's sparkling water, It comes in different flavors and I just love it!
    Oh and one more thing... I think that their wine and beer selection is fabulous and you can't ever bit their price :) Take care!

  11. Replies
    1. Have yet to taste it Marissa.
      But: Will do.

  12. I am with you in the grocery list/budge fascination! Ever tried their frozen corn roasted?? Its da bomb!

  13. the sunflower seed butter is my favorite nut butter and is fine to use for kids in nut-free class rooms and schools

  14. I'm so glad I saw this post (albeit a bit belated:))! I just moved back to the states after living overseas and it's the first time I have lived near a Trader Joe's. We are loving the wine, chocolate, cheese and pizza dough. I love learning about other people's favourites and I will be trying out your recommendations!