Unlike many people I know, I actually love grocery shopping. I would go as far as saying that it is one of my favorite past times. Even though I always go in with a list of everything I need, I still enjoy walking down every aisle to see if I spot any new items I may want to try. And because I love grocery shopping so much you better believe I have a favorite grocery store: Trader Joe’s. I had never been to Trader Joe’s until they opened in Tulsa, Oklahoma in February 2016, but I had definitely heard all about their amazing products and prices. When the doors first opened I was eager to see what all the hype was about and I imagined I would leave with a cart full of goodies. But I ended up being a bit overwhelmed and only managed to grab a jar of cookie butter and a few other items that I can’t remember. The Trader Joe’s shopping experience was different than what I was used to at my local grocery store. I was not familiar with the stores brands, therefore I felt intimidated to grab items off the shelf. Luckily a coworker of mine was familiar with their products and she was able to make a few suggestions and unlike me, my mother-in-law is not afraid to try new things so she is always introducing me to great items from Trader Joe’s. Now, after four years of shopping there I have accumulated quite a list of favorites that I want to share with you.
- Whole bean and ground coffee: I started buying their coffee a couple of years ago because it was cheaper than the coffee I had been getting from my local grocery store. My favorite is the Joe’s Dark coffee but really all of them are good. Whole beans are $4.99 for 13oz and ground is $3.99 for 13oz.
- Sparkling Coconut Water with Yuzu: If you live somewhere that have Sonic Drive-Ins and have had their Ocean Water, this is the grown up version of it. It’s light and not overly sugary but so flavorful.
Dips and Spreads
- Cookie Butter: It seems like every time I talk to someone about Trader Joe’s one of their first questions is “Have you had their cookie butter?” and the answer is “Absolutely!” I always have a jar of it in my pantry. My favorite way to enjoy this popular spread is on another must have Trader Joe’s item, Sliced French Brioche. One 14.1oz jar runs at $3.69.
- Buffalo Chicken Dip: This dip is so delicious. Shredded chicken and cheese in a creamy buffalo sauce. It’s spicy but not overwhelming hot. A perfect dip to pick up and bring to a watch party or just a hang out with a couple friends. Great with celery and carrots or potato chips (like Ruffles) or pita chips.
- Spinach Artichoke Dip (frozen): My mother-in-law is the one who first introduced me to Trader Joe’s frozen spinach artichoke dip. You just pop it in the microwave until it’s hot and enjoy with pita chips, crackers, or vegetables. The only down side is that it comes in such a small portion. If you plan of serving this at a get together you will need to buy several because it is going to go fast!
- Chicken Tikka Samosas: If you love the flavors of Indian food, the Chicken Tikka Samosas are a must try. These are currently in my Top 5 Trader Joe’s must haves. You can find them in the freezer section next to the other Indian frozen meals. If you don’t eat meat, they also come in a vegetable version.
- Spanakopita: Yet another appetizer my mother-in-law introduced me to, the spanakopita is a must try especially if you like spinach dip. These are little puff pastries filled with spinach, ricotta and feta cheese, also found in the frozen section. Honestly, you could probably make this from scratch but why do that when you can buy them pre-made?
- Shrimp Gyoza: I don’t think I have ever had a bad gyoza but these from Trader Joe’s are really great. And, again, if you do not eat meat there is a vegetable option.
- Beef and Broccoli: This pack actually has a few more steps than your typical frozen meal, but it makes the beef crispy and flavorful to mimic a tasty Chinese takeout dish. You can serve with a side of rice but it’s great on its own.
- BBQ Chicken Teriyaki: This reminds me of mall chicken, but in a good way. The chicken has great texture and flavor. I love making it with some steamed broccoli or green beans and rice for a quick weeknight meal.
- All of their Indian Meals: I haven’t found one I don’t love. They’re easy and filling and seem fairly healthy. My favorites are the fiery chicken curry and the paneer tikka masala, a vegetarian curry with Indian cheese.
- Pink & Whites: These cute flower-shaped shortbread cookies are delectable. I promise your sweet tooth will be satisfied.
Chips, Crackers and Bread
- Ghost Pepper Waffle chips: If waffle fries and Ruffles chips had a baby, that’s the texture of these and they’re so good. These are actually surprisingly hot. So if you like spicy chips, this is great for you. I love to eat them plain, but I particularly love them with TJ’s buffalo chicken dips, double the heat.
- Pancake Bread: Think of a coffee cake but a little moister with maple syrup flavoring. It’s the perfect thing to pick up when you’re wanting something sweet with your morning coffee.
- Sliced French Brioche: If you have not had the Sliced French Brioche from Trader Joe’s you are not living your life to the fullest. This bread never lasts long in my house and if we are down to the last slice a fight might break out (not really but it is that good). The slices are thick and it is just slightly sweet which makes it pair well with Cookie Butter or with meat and cheese to get that sweet and savory combination.
- Everything But the Bagel items (seasoning, nuts, crackers, dip): Unless you have been living under a rock I imagine you have heard about Everything But the Bagel seasoning and you better believe Trader Joe’s has the best. But they didn’t just stop at the seasoning. Oh no! They also have Everything Nuts, Everything Crackers, and Everything Dip just to name a few. I love to make avocado toast, topped with a fried egg and then covered in Everything But the Bagel seasoning.
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil: The biggest reason I always get the Trader Joe’s EVOO is because it comes in such a large bottle and I seem to use it every time I cook. It also comes with a nice little pour nozzle perfect for drizzling.
- Flowers: I never leave Trader Joe’s without a bouquet of flowers. They are affordable, $3.99-$9.99, and last at least a week if not longer.
What I love most about Trader Joe’s is that they seem to have something for just about everybody. It is so easy to find items from other countries and if you don’t like to cook they have one of the best frozen meal selections. I also love to grab a pre-made salad or wrap to have for lunch anytime I’m there.
If you have a Trader Joe’s in your area what are some of your favorite items?