Trader Joe’s is known for its signature products and unique offerings — every few weeks or so, the grocery chain releases a set of new and trend-setting options, announced in their Frequent Flyer. Matcha green tea? They’ve got it in both a to-go powder and a convenient can. Seasonal cookies and snacks? Always on their shelves. Name any food trend and there’s a good chance Trader Joe’s sells it.
Their unique shopping experience and constantly rotating lineup of products has definitely earned them a following. But perhaps what people love most about Trader Joe’s is the incredibly low prices.
Of course, some Trader Joe’s products are a better deal than others. And, as we learned from other grocery chains like Costco, sometimes the markdowns of these budget-friendly stores are a careful illusion. You have to know which products are worth the buy and which you could actually find cheaper elsewhere.
Plus, some Trader Joe’s products sound really fun but aren’t actually that practical. Who really needs slices of Pastrami-Style Smoked Atlantic Salmon, for instance? Sure, every now and then it’s fun to splurge on an interesting product or two. But that’s where Trader Joe’s gets you — you walk in needing just one practical purchase and walk out with a microwavable skillet cookie.
With all of these factors in mind, we came up with these 15 must-have items you should always pick up from Trader Joe’s.
These chicken sausages are a lazy cook’s dream come true. They come already cooked and are made with the most basic ingredients — without fillers or unnecessary additives. For just under $4 a pack, these are the perfect staple to keep around the house for quick dinners. You can chop them up and sauté them into an omelette, add them to pasta sauce, or place them atop a homemade personal pizza.
Trader Joe’s is always coming out with new and interesting crispy and crunchy snack options. Whether you’re a lover of popcorn, potato chips, or crackers, you’re bound to find something you want to snack on at Trader Joe’s. For the healthy foodies of the world, there are Three Seed Beet Crackers. For the cheese-obsessed, there are Cheese Puffs. And for the adventurous palate, there are all kinds of flavors of potato chips, from Honey Butter to Ghost Pepper.
Some dried fruit can be overly sugary and sweetened — not to mention expensive. But at Trader Joe’s, there are a myriad of unsweetened options at a lower cost than at most other grocery stores. They come in resealable plastic bags for your snacking convenience. We recommend their Just Mango slices — mangoes are so sweet, they don’t need added sugar!
If you love bread, cheese, and finger food of any and all kinds, you need to visit Trader Joe’s freezer section. Their appetizer options are always changing, and while they may not be the healthiest option out there, they are simple to make, low-cost, and always a hit. Not all of them are equally tasty, but don’t worry — we tried them for you, so you know which appetizers to buy and which to skip.
Meat is one of the most expensive items on your healthy grocery list. But buying them frozen from Trader Joe’s can shave hundreds of dollars off your yearly budget. They sell frozen fish for as low as $4 per pound, frozen chicken breasts in bulk, and grass-fed frozen beef for just under $6. For the markdown, we think it’s well worth waiting for these meats to thaw.
Fresh produce is expensive — and frozen produce is just as nutritious as the fresh options. The freezer aisle of Trader Joe’s has some steals if you know where to look. Brussels sprouts are 99 cents per bag; broccoli comes in affordable two-pound bags; and potatoes come roasted and ready to serve as a ready-made side to a nutritious dinner. Simply heat up your cheap, pre-cooked vegetables and voila! Dinner is served.
Whether you eat gluten or not, these oats are a bargain. While gluten-free oats usually sell for around $3.50 per 18-ounce canister, Trader Joe’s sells a bag that’s twice the size for around the same price. Follow some of these sure-fire ways to spice up your morning oatmeal and your $4 bag can feed you healthy breakfasts for weeks.
It’s not just for breakfast anymore — Greek yogurt can add protein to any meal or snack. Use it in a savory recipe or blend it into a smoothie. Plus, Trader Joe’s sells Greek yogurt in 32-ounce tubs for just $4.99. If you replace your single-serving individual cups with a tub of whatever yogurt you like best, you can save up to $2 every grocery trip. That might not sound like a lot, but it adds up!
At many grocery stores, hummus sells for around $4 to $6 per tub. But Trader Joe’s own hummus sells for cheaper — while you’re sacrificing the variety some other vendors offer, Trader Joe’s Tomato & Basil, Mediterranean, and Sriracha flavors are enough to keep your taste buds entertained.
When some tasters at the Huffington Post did a side-by-side of Trader Joe’s Organic White Shells and Cheddar Mac and Cheese with Annie’s Homegrown, they discovered that these two items were the exact same product. The only difference? Annie’s sells for $3.29 and Trader Joe’s sells for $1.49.
Healthy snacking can get expensive. But the nuts and seeds sold at Trader Joe’s help make it a little bit easier. Their shelf-stable roasted nuts and seeds come in enticing flavors at a low price. Buying them in bulk helps you keep your grocery bill down while still getting all kinds of healthy fat-filled snacks to take on the go.
If you haven’t heard the hype about Trader Joe’s Everything But the Bagel Seasoning, you’ve been living under a rock. That stuff is crack — it makes even the blandest foods taste like an everything bagel. If that’s not the epitome of culinary innovation, we don’t know what is. But that’s not the only seasoning you should be buying at Trader Joe’s. Their Chili Lime Seasoning, Everyday Seasoning, and 21 Seasoning Salute are favorites of Trader Joe’s shoppers. The best part? They’re just $1.99 each.
Trader Joe’s sells all kinds of soups, in both cans and cartons. Their canned chili reportedly tastes exactly like Annie’s brand — but sells for around half the price. The same goes for their cartons of tomato soup — they tasted nearly identical to the more expensive name-brand products!
Tea, especially the fancier blends, can take a serious toll on your grocery bill. Trader Joe’s has tea for under $3 a box — and we’re not talking just green tea and peppermint. They keep their teas new and interesting, offering seasonal blends and fun flavors. The most recent favorite is their Ginger Turmeric Herbal Tea. When we tried it, we knew we’d found our new favorite cozy blend — when we tried some other products, however, we weren’t as pleased. Before you go to Trader Joe’s, read our reviews of their products we think you should never buy.
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