The first time I heard about Trader Joe’s was in 2006. I was looking for wedding food and Trader Joe’s popped up. Being a lifelong Texas resident I had no idea what Trader Joe’s was or where to find one. It’s a CA favorite and at the time not any where in my drivable vicinity. In 2012 a location opened in Plano, Texas and I was curious what all the hub a bub was about. The parking lot crowed and the store completely full I was initially turned OFF by the store. It was small, I didn’t recongize the brands and wasn’t impressed with the 5 dollar sushi I picked up. What changed for me is learning about GMO’s and on a quest to improve my eating habits. Looking for ‘clean’ products and organics I was reintroduced to Trader Joe’s. I loved whole foods but let’s face it, it’s called “Whole Paycheck” for a reason. The place will take your money faster than a slot machine. So I went back to TJ’s… during the week, when it’s far less busy and in the evening when I could take my time. This trip I would be reading labels and taking a good look at all the products. After that trip I was hooked. I picked up the typical go to items like Cookie Butter and Frozen Orange Chicken. I started going to Trader Joe’s every week along with Tom Thumb or Kroger. Let’s face it TJ’s doesn’t have everything a small family needs. *diapers*
Now that I’ve shopped the store for 7 years my must have items have changed. We are a family of 5, 2 of my kids barely eat more than macaroni and the other one will eat anything.
- Frozen Garlic Naan– I love this stuff and I haven’t found a dupe for it anywhere. It’s found in the freezer section. It makes the perfect personal pizza or dipping bread. My kids will eat it. It’s a win and it is currently sold out at my store.
2. Japanese Fried Rice– I prefer this over the vegetable fried rice. Do not get intimidated by the words seaweed and tofu. They are finely diced and add a nice flavor to the rice. It already has sesame oil in the mix and the whole thing is vegan. Add some more veggies like broccoli and it’s a winner.
3. Cinnamon Rolls- Another vegan option. The cinnamon rolls are so easy and good. I love that they’re actually rolled and not some cinnamon biscuit *cough pillsbury*. I also really like that the frosting is in a small plastic tube that can be cut and easily drizzled over the top instead of smeared on with a knife.
4. Langostino Shrimp– the best shrimp- it takes like lobster. So good and makes the knock of ceviche dip I make even better! It’s already cooked so it’s a thaw and you’re good to go type of product.
5. Mango & Cream Yogurt (Or Lemon & Cream) – this is a dessert. Seriously, I love this yogurt and prefer it over Noosa… which is also a dessert yogurt in my opinion. The lemon flavor is probably my favorite but I’m not sure if that is a staple product or seasonal.
6. Hold the Cone Ice Cream or Key Lime Pie– We have a big sweet tooth in this family. One of the things I really like about Trader Joe’s is the frozen dessert selection.
7. Quinoa Cowboy Burger- I crisp mine up in the oven. I like it as a veggie burger option or just to cut in strips and add to Stella’s lunch. This has a nice flavor and not a meat substitute which I’m typically turn away from.
8. Jalapeno Artichoke Dip– This dip is so good and I haven’t found a dupe for it anywhere else. It is good hot or cold, with corn dippers or tortilla chips… ya know whatever you want to dip in there. Even bell pepper strips if you want to be healthy like that. I’m usually picking this over the salmon dip or typical spinach artichoke dip.
9. Chocolate Croissants– Another sweet breakfast option. I told you we have a sweet tooth. This one my friend told me about and I didn’t realize how much I would love these. Found in the frozen section. You let them rise overnight and bake them in the morning. They have a dark chocolate center and flaky exterior. So good and I just stumbled upon the Whole Foods version for 7.00… again Whole paycheck.
10. Flowers– Bouquet, small potted plant, Basil, Succulents. whatever. Do yourself a favor and buy yourself or someone you love some flowers from Trader Joe’s. The pricing is the best, they last for a solid week and really bring some positive energy into a space. I typically go for the 5.99 bouquet with a lily that blooms throughout the week.
I really have so many favorite products… i could probably do favorite breads, protein bars, mixed nuts, frozen sweets, frozen prepared meals, etc. I might have to do that another day.