The 10 Things You Need to Buy From Trader Joe’s
Red alert: Trader Joe’s is in the area.
Unless you’re living under a rock, you’ve probably seen the scours of adults fist-pumping over the brand new Trader Joe’s in Orem. Maybe you’re a Utah native with little experience of the nationwide phenom, wondering what the hype is about. Or maybe you’re a Trader Joe’s veteran, like me, ready to worship every Trader Joe’s employee in your path, turning your food storage into Speculoos cookies, crying that a week’s worth of groceries costs a pretty $25.
If you don’t have a clue why this store matters a ridiculous amount, let me explain:
Trader Joe’s is an experience. With incredibly low prices on common whole foods, a full range of organic options, and a brand that produces only delicious products, it’s impossible not to feel a rise in seratonin as you walk through the doors. As far as grocery stores go, Trader Joe’s is the elite. I’ve never griped about going there–I’ve never needed to.
So, as you head to Orem to experience this ultimate blessing (seriously, college students, your bank accounts are going to breathe a sigh of relief), we’ve equipped you with a full-scale grocery list of our favorite TJ bites. Fret not.
Corn and Chile Salsa
(and Quinoa Black Bean Tortilla Chips)
The salsa section of Trader Joe’s is not easily navigated. Since TJ’s changes up their products seasonally (don’t get me started on the fall harvest salsas), the range of products might be intimidating. But, if you’re going to reach for anything on that shelf, nab the yellow corn salsa. The rich, sweet, tangy flavors will have you reeling. And those Quinoa Black Bean Tortilla Chips? They do the trick.
I’ve never been a dried fruit fan until I fell hard in love with TJ’s dried bananas… and got the rest of my family hooked on them. And, by popular demand, I was smuggling (well, taking) them in flight from California back home for Christmas. Hoards of them. TSA was not amused. Nonetheless, the range of dried fruit is spectacular, and makes the perfect alternate for the boxes of Oreos you may be hoarding (although–Jo Jo’s). Our favorites: the coconut slices, and the banana chips.
Yes: this seems like a random category, but all of Trader Joe’s cauliflower products–which swap out for flours and make for a good ole gluten-free dinner–are ridiculously cheap grabs. On top of the frozen cauliflower fried rice, they have fresher, packaged cauliflower rice to swap out under curries and dishes, as well as a top tier cauliflower pizza crust for when you’re feeling a pizza mood without the bustle of a homemade crust (I feel that, deeply).
If you haven’t heard of Trader Joe’s “Everything But the Bagel” seasoning, you are officially in on the secret. I recently read a rave review on salt, on its dangers, on its yatta yatta yatta. Even though it’s probably a bit of baloney, I swapped our salt out for an “everything” seasoning and haven’t looked back. Apart from this grand addition, all of Trader Joe’s seasonings are largely cheaper than the seasonings you’ll buy in a Walmart. Did you hear that? Hugely, importantly, magnificently cheaper.
Okay, I’m a poor plant mom. But the reason I’m still a plant mom is because Trader Joe’s wide variety of herbs–at $1.99 apiece–makes it impossible not to keep fresh sage and basil in our windowsill. Plus, as the season turns, Trader Joe’s fills up with super cheap pumpkins, holiday garlands, and all the delicious, beautiful flora and fauna you need to keep your home full of CO2. Big yes.
This one may not fare well with Utah locals, and I am not an obsessive tea drinker, but the Trader Joe’s brand of Ginger Turmeric Herbal Tea knows how to keep my tummy at ease. These herbs regulate and offer a late night calm. Plus, at under $3 a box, you’re basically stealing from TJ’s. Well done.
Despite my primarily vegan diet, when you marry a Frenchman (who lived in cheese capital Switzerland), you marry into a cheese culture. And a fancy one. So, when holidays hit and baguettes are aplenty, we get to indulge in fresh, organic, whole cheeses, and I’ll only buy them at TJ’s. The hefty price on good cheese is worth its weight (especially when you only eat it sparingly). Don’t buy the ugly, bagged, sliced kind. Our favorites? Gruyere, for simple palettes who are looking to wave goodbye to boring old American cheddars. Gouda, if you like a rustic taste. Pepper jack, if you want an herby kick. Brie, if you like soft, subtle, and buttery texture.
I’m betraying my vegan beliefs for a second to let you know that there is a number of cookies on those long shelves which may make your life a little better. First–Jo Jo’s. Not overrated, surely, but not always my first choice. There are so many flavors! And–major spoiler–you can ask the help desk for a sample of any of them. True story! Speculoos cookies: the absolute breadwinner. Since going vegan, these are the one TJ’s indulgence I miss more than anything. I walk past them like a wounded Girl Scout. Next: Salted Caramel Coconut Cookies. I’ll let you decide.
TJ’s strawberry licorice is famous. Or, at least, I thought it was, since my mom stocked up on bags upon bags whenever a TJ’s was in close range. Now I know: it’s not the hottest item on the market, but we can’t get enough. Highly recommended road trip snack.
I’m just going to say it: Trader Joe’s chocolate is the best in the world. There. Cadbury might be a close second, but the Trader Joe’s chocolate is going to throw you for a loop. Apart from my favorite 100-calorie milk chocolate bars, their popular favorites in the chocolate department are: Birthday Cake White Chocolate Bar, the much-loved Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups, and those Dark Chocolate Covered Almonds. I can’t vouch for all of them–when I do stray from my vegan diet, it’s sparingly, but if sales are any indication of desire, we know which products really make Trader Joe’s shine.
This list is far from vegan, but I let myself indulge every once in awhile. Enough to know, of course, which products you should be putting in your grocery cart as you scale the aisles of Trader Joe’s.
But, listen: if there’s anything you can’t beat, it’s those deliciously low prices. We saved a pretty penny last year, living in an uber expensive beach town, being newlywed students, and shopping exclusively at Trader Joe’s. It comes highly, highly recommended.