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Have you met my friend, Joe? I think you’re gonna like him.
The nearest Trader Joe’s is about a half hour from us, which is probably a good thing. I alternate my regular grocery shopping between Aldi (do you love Aldi as much as I do?!?!) and the Super Walmart, with an occasional trip to other local groceries.
I also hit Costco about once a month or every other month to stock up, and Trader Joe’s about the same. I don’t usually do my main shopping at either of these places, but at each, have items that I always pick up.
If you’re not familiar with them, Trader Joe’s is different from other grocery stores. It’s pretty much made up of all ‘store’ brands, and they pretty much have one of each product. What that means is that instead of 6 brands of chicken broth, there is one.
So What Are Trader Joe’s Best Products?
In no particular order…
Coconut Oil Spray. This non-stick pan spray is equally good for baking and for stray, frizzy hairs. Yup, a tiny spritz smoothes hair in the most lovely way. (Greg was slightly taken aback one Sunday morning when, before heading out for church I stopped by the kitchen pantry to fix my hair.)
Trader Joe’s makes homemade pizza night top notch. They have bags of pre-made pizza dough for (I think) $1.29. Their pepperoni tastes better than other brands, meatier. And their shredded mozzarella cheese…not only yum, but it seems like there’s more in the bag than other brands.
And speaking of cheese…
These aren’t your typical cheese sticks. They’re fresh mozzarella, I’ve usually only seen them sold in large or small balls. We eat these as snacks, and I chop them up to add to pasta dishes too.
Quick mac and cheese that’s better than the blue box. And the white cheddar shells make a great lunch for Greg and I with some leftover cooked ground beef stirred in. It’s better than any ‘Helper’, that’s for sure!
Hot dogs that actually taste good. It’s true. They are the best tasting hot dogs I’ve had. These are the perfect canvas for chili dogs, or thrown on the grill when it’s warm outside.
This marinara sauce is the perfect blank slate. I use it for spaghetti, in lasagna (and veggie lasagna, and lasagna soup), and any other pasta dish. It’s not heavily seasoned, and so you can doctor it up just the way your family likes it. I usually throw in one of my frozen basil cubes, some Italian seasoning, red pepper flakes and garlic powder.
I use this coconut cream to make my healthy chocolate mousse. (Shhh, my kids still don’t know that it’s made with coconut)
We don’t use a lot of sesame oil, but it is a one-of-a-kind ingredient that tastes like nothing else. I use it when I make teriyaki chicken and sesame noodles. A little goes a long way…just the tiniest drizzle will suffice.
These flash frozen chicken thighs are just about always in my freezer. They are perfect to throw in the crock pot.
We don’t eat a ton of fish. I wish it wasn’t so, but of the four of us, we have just two seafood lovers. In the summer we eat fish that we catch at my parent’s lake cabin, battered and fried up. But if I do buy fish or shrimp, it’s usually from Trader Joe’s. They have these huge steaks of flash frozen tuna, salmon, tilapia and more. During grilling season, I’ll pick up a couple for the fish-eating kid and myself to grill so the other two can’t complain about the ‘fishy smell’.
Also in the freezer section, Trader Joe’s cheesecakes are wonderful to have on hand. While this New York Cheesecake for $6.99 is fantastic, my favorite (and an amazing deal) is when they have seasonal flavors. like pumpkin and cookie butter.
I am all about delicious and easy. You are welcome to disagree with me, but I do not make homemade pie crusts. These pre-made pie crusts are every bit as good (better, really) than any crust I’ve ever made. I’ll say, something has changed in their recipe, I think. I’ve noticed that they fall apart quite a bit more than they used to. They are easy to press back together, but still—Trader Joe’s, if you’re listening, go back to the old recipe. And compared to other popular brands of pre-made crust…there’s really no comparing. These are waaaayyyyyy better. Way better.
There are lots more things I like to pick up at Trader Joe’s. So here’s my ‘honorable mention’ list. No pictures, sorry.
- Asian Style Spicy Peanut Vinaigrette
- Freeze Dried Fruit, Dried Fruit, and Nuts
- Beef Jerky
- Truly Handmade Flour Tortillas
- Corn and Wheat Tortillas
- Pineapple Juice
- Frosted Maple & Brown Sugar Shredded Wheat Cereal
- Mandarin Orange Chicken and Frozen Pre-Cooked Rice
- Triple Ginger Snaps
- Stock in a Box (Chicken and Beef Stock)
- Chocolate Chips and Chocolate Chunks
- Any of the Chocolate Covered Nuts.
- And the wines selection … yes, please!
Do you have a favorite Trader Joe’s product that I missed?