Here's What You Should Buy On Your First Trip To Trader Joe's

There are so many aspects that make a trip to Trader Joe's worthwhile, from the tropical Hawaiian aesthetic to the interesting, limited-edition products that rotate every season. This fun vibe is part of the original mission crafted by the brand's founder Joe Coulombe. According to Retail Wire, Coulombe aimed to serve a seemingly niche but inclusive target market of young, post-college-age consumers, whom he called "the overeducated and the underpaid." He aimed to provide products that satisfied the desire for quality food, exotic tastes, and a wider selection of adult beverages, all without hitting a high price point.

Regarding products, the store has a fairly lenient return policy, as well as some leeway in trying products before fully buying. These practices help keep TJ's on trend and in pace with items that will satiate consumers. To further engage its shoppers, TJ's uses colorful signs and frequent product rotations for seasonal items. Just this spring the brand revealed the names of new products ready for release, as well as returning favorites, on their podcast Inside Trader Joe's. They include coffee and dark chocolate variations of their popular Joe Joe's cookies and the returning jalapeño limeade that is perfect for crafting spicy margaritas. However, their staple products, which are constantly available, are enough to make any casual shopper a lifelong fan. To get the full experience on your first trip, these items should be added to your cart immediately.


There is no right or wrong time to buy yourself or someone you care about flowers. According to BestLifeOnline, multiple studies show that keeping flowers in your home has numerous benefits, from reducing stress and boosting positive energy to strengthening relationships. Luckily, Trader Joe's happens to offer a beautiful selection across all locations. Typically the floral offerings are stationed close to the entrance of the store, perfect for picking out right away. More important, though, are the selection of flowers offered in the floral section and how they hold up against individual stems and whole arrangements.

The floral section at TJ's is outfitted with bouquets and single stems that fit any type of occasion or decor need. Stores are also able to accommodate a large order of fresh flowers if you can speak with the head order writer at least three weeks ahead of time. TJ's have pre-made floral arrangements at varied prices, however, the individual stem bundles are great for mixing together your favorites — from focal flowers and fillers to more exclusive/seasonal stems. Overall the quality of these bunches is very good, and undoubtedly fresh as new flowers are delivered every morning. Their seasonal bunches come in a range of colors and price points and are the best deal for the freshest floral options. Grabbing something on your first trip will no doubt help you add a little something special to your home when you return.

Orange Mandarin Chicken

In the 2023 Trader Joe's Customer Choice Awards, the Orange Mandarin Chicken was voted into the distinguished Product Hall of Fame as both Favorite Overall and Best Entrée. This dish is based on the popular Mandarin chicken dish that uses orange juice in the sauce, differentiating it from the more Americanized version of orange chicken that only utilizes the peel of an orange in the sweet and sour sauce. The slight difference in TJ's version is that their version utilizes dark meat pieces, instead of the traditional white chicken breast meat, in order to stay more juicy and tender.

This entrée is beloved for multiple reasons, one being how easy it is to prepare. Brand leaders and staff recommend baking the chicken in the oven first, then adding the sauce right at the end to caramelize the sweet, tangy coating with the heat of the crispy chicken. Reddit's Trader Joe's sub-category is filled with comments and tips for admirers of this tasty dinner, noting how well it pairs with TJ's fried rice and ways to enhance the flavors of the meal. One commenter recommends putting the chicken in the air fryer, "then thicken the sauce in a pan and toss the chicken afterwards." No matter your preference, this delicious entrée is equally as delicious as your favorite Chinese takeout, at a discounted price.

Organic Creamy Tomato Soup

It's hard to argue against a delicately delicious bowl of tomato soup. Luckily for shoppers Trader Joe's has an amazing boxed version that is as easy to make as any plain, canned version. This Organic Creamy Tomato soup is as easy to make as it is to eat: Just pour it into a pot and heat it on the stove until hot. Plus the boxed version leaves out any unwanted metallic flavor usually associated with canned soup. TJ's version includes rice flour instead of wheat, meaning that this version of the classic tomato soup is gluten-free unlike other popular brand-name versions, including Campbell's.

The beauty of TJ's version is that the large portion and contents also give enthusiastic cooks the chance to diversify how they use this box of tomato soup. One Reddit user claims this soup is perfect for adding in extra ingredients, including gnocchi or other vegetables. With a lower calorie count compared to other name brands, one can afford to customize their bowl with their favorite toppings, whether it's a handful of cheddar cheese, a splash of cream, or an entire box of pasta.

Frozen Garlic Naan

To up your leftovers or takeout game, grabbing a bag (or three) of Frozen Garlic Naan from Trader Joe's will definitely be worth your while. Each resealable package contains 4 pieces of naan, great for both serving a family or making one at a time, depending on your needs. At less than $5 a package, each naan is much cheaper than what you'd order from your favorite takeout joint.

Regarding the bread itself, the texture is pillowy and soft, but not too thick. This allows for the bread to crisp up slightly in the oven, but still remain flexible to fold up. The garlic flavors of the bread go well with whatever entrée you pair it with, even if it's not Indian food. As noted by Trader Joe's fans on Reddit, one great way of transforming the bread is to use the naan as the crust for a personal pizza or flatbread. Whether you're dipping it into a thick, rich sauce or slathering it with a few brushstrokes of butter, these are definitely worth grabbing to top off any meal.

Frozen Brown and/or White Rice

With a wave of meal prep recipes on the rise, having an easy grain to include in the base of your pre-portioned meals is ideal. One product that comes to mind to fulfill this need is Trader Joe's Organic Jasmine Rice and Brown Rice, a box of three frozen 10-oz bags of premade rice that you can heat up in the microwave. Both kinds of rice are precooked, which cuts down the time it would take to make regular rice. This is especially helpful when choosing to make the brown rice variety, which is naturally a tougher grain and takes longer to cook compared to TJ's white rice or rice medley.

These boxes of rice packets vary in price, between $3 and $5, and are perfectly sized for single-serve portions. These of course work great for meal prepping, but can also be used to accompany leftovers, thrown into soups, or even mix with cheese and seasonings into a makeshift risotto. Aimed to please customers who need low-effort meals, these frozen rices are great for keeping in your freezer for just-in-case circumstances.

Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups

Chocolate and peanut butter: A timeless combination. For an elevated version of this wonderful duo, you have to grab a box of Trader Joe's Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups. Going for the dark chocolate variety over the milk chocolate might be controversial, but the slight bitterness of the chocolate is a good contrast to the saltiness of the roasted peanut butter. Altogether the crafted cups offer a rich, delicious treat that is easy to pop in your mouth — though harder to stop.

The "addictiveness" of these sweet candies is palpable to TJ's fans everywhere, as noted by commenters on Reddit. From someone who "keeps a tub of these at work" to others who can't resist eating a good portion on the way home from the store, these are guaranteed to satisfy your sweet tooth. Chopping these cups into pieces and topping a few scoops of ice cream would also be a heavenly way to spruce up your dessert. Some commenters recommend tossing a few of these in the fridge or freezer to keep them from melting, and eating them later for a cooler, crispier texture that's cold to the touch. Plus keeping them out of sight means these might last longer than a day or two.

Elote Corn Chip Dippers

Both a Trader Joe's customer and crew favorite, the Organic Elote Corn Chip Dippers are an irresistible snack chip that brings the taste of Mexican street food to your own home. Elotes are a roasted ear of corn smothered in mayo, cotija cheese, chili powder, and lime juice, and these flavors are used to create TJ's crisp, sturdy scoop-sized chips. It's the chip's construction, as well as its flavor, that makes this particular chip stand out against name-brand corn chips like Fritos. The texture of the chip is both puffy and crispy, light to eat but crunchy enough to satisfy the need for something savory.

The flavors of cheese and tangy mayo balance perfectly with the habanero pepper dusted on top, with a hint of lime to brighten the taste. While you can eat these with your favorite queso or pico de gallo, one Reddit user notes that these even taste great with fresh avocado. Speaking of avocado, the bag of chips showcases a bowl of chips alongside a serving of guacamole, another great choice of dip to serve with these delightful snacks.

Charles Shaw Wine, aka Two-Buck Chuck

One item from Trader Joe's shelves that is iconic to the store itself is Charles Shaw wine, AKA "Two-Buck Chuck." There are several varieties of Charles Shaw wine available in TJ's stores that carry wine and spirits, including both red and white wines. While there are plenty of more refined, expensive brands and flavors available, choosing something as simple, cheap, and renowned as Two-Buck Chuck can eliminate making hard choices. For a more full-bodied flavor with bold notes, the Cabernet sauvignon is a good choice, while something like the pinot grigio is ideal for mixing into a light, white sangria.

As noted by Food & Wine, the price of Charles Shaw wine hasn't always been $2 or less and can fluctuate depending on one's location. The exact makeup of the wine each year is also somewhat of a mystery as well, as the vineyards owned by Bronco Wine Company aren't descriptive about their winemaking practices. However, the idea of an accessible and tasty table wine for a good price is the real draw behind the name. As the original founder of Bronco, Fred Franzia, once said, "You tell me why someone's bottle is worth $80 and mine's worth $2 ... Do you get 40 times the pleasure from it?" (via NYTimes).

Thai Curry Sauce

If you're looking to satisfy a craving for Asian takeout, but don't want the cost of the bill, Trader Joe's offers a variety of Thai curry sauces that are incredibly tasty and ridiculously easy to use. The instructions simply say to cook the main protein and/or vegetables of choice, then pour the sauce into the pan to simmer/warm through. Dinner becomes as simple as that, a perfect option for busy nights, weekends, or late-night cravings.

Stores can carry up to three varieties of curry sauce, yellow, red, and green, which contrast slightly in flavor and spice levels. Traditionally green curries are often more intense in fragrant, herbaceous flavors, though mild in spice — similar to yellow curries. The red curries, utilizing red chilies as a main ingredient, are often found to be the spiciest. Many tasters note that the red is slightly spicier than the yellow version, according to Reddit, though overall the spice levels seem to be comfortable for those with both adventurous and cautious palates.

Organic Jumbo Cinnamon Rolls

A sweet craving can come at any time, whether it's late at night or bright and early on Sunday mornings. For the perfect baked treat to satiate the need for something flaky and delicious, it's best to grab a can of Trader Joe's Organic Jumbo Cinnamon Rolls. An ideal finger food perfect for weekend brunches, these cinnamon rolls are incredibly fluffy with thick layers of bread and cinnamon-sugar swirls in between. Each can contains 5 rolls with organic ingredients — there's no dairy, making these treats vegan-friendly.

While you can bake these rolls as you would normally, there are several ways to elevate these cinnamon rolls, including pouring heavy cream overtop to make the rolls extra gooey, or even drizzling over a different topping such as caramel, sprinkles, or cake frosting. These larger rolls also give you the option to reshape how you want, either squeezing into a mold or cutting each roll up to make a puffed, single-layer cake.


While these aren't food, any trip to Trader Joe's can be topped off with a special treat for your home: Scented candles. Chosen as this year's #1 Household product by Trader Joe's Customer's Choice Awards, the TJ's line of scented candles has become known for showcasing fragrant, seasonal scents. The range of candles come in a variety of soy wax blend and beeswax blend. The tins are also reusable, either to make new candles or to store smaller items in the 5.7-ounce container.

Most burn upwards of 20 hours, filling the home with strong fragrance profiles, such as sweet, floral, citrus, woody, spicy, fruity, and so on. Because the scents are seasonal, specific versions are only available at exclusive times during the year, but you are able to purchase candles pretty much whenever. In the past TJ's has even made a collection pack of 2.5-ounce candles during the holidays, under the 12 Days of Scented Candles promotion. One reviewer noted how the collection was a great gift idea, but with larger sizes available throughout the year, any of TJ's candles are great to throw into a gift bag or basket (via Trader Joe's Reviews).

Seasonal Pumpkin Butter

Though this product is not available year-round, out of all Trader Joe's fall-themed, pumpkin-flavored products sold, the brand's Pumpkin Butter happens to be one of the most popular. The combination of puréed pumpkin, warm spices, honey, and a touch of lemon juice create a delicious topping that is perfect for adding an autumn flare to your favorite dishes. It is essentially a spreadable pumpkin pie without heavy sugars, oils, or flours.

For how and when to use it, the possibilities are fairly endless. You can use this to replace butter on your favorite pastries or toast. Because of its sweetness, it can also sweeten more hearty, sturdy dishes such as a bowl of hot oatmeal, or even plain items like Greek yogurt, as one reviewer notes (via Trader Joe's Grocery Store Reviews). The butter is also great when creating baked goods, whether it's spread into a batch of homemade pumpkin cinnamon rolls or the filling of a dozen ginger snap pumpkin butter cookie sandwiches. While pumpkin butter is fairly easy enough to make at home, the time it takes to make it can easily be gained back by buying it at TJ's when it's stocked.