The first time I walked into a Trader Joe's, my heart skipped a beat. The doors opened with the sound of angels, crew members danced in Disney parade fashion and I never wanted to leave. My heart and life had never felt so full.
OK, not really. But it was pretty close.
I had a TJ's in my hometown growing up, but never ventured in. Fast forward to my sophomore year of college. One of my roommates was going grocery shopping and I decided to tag along. I took one step inside and my life changed for the better.
Before you go thinking this is a sponsored post, it's 100 percent not. I'm just a crazed fan. Why? Well, let me tell ya!
They offer a variety of produce and organic options at a great price. They also have an incredible selection of prepackaged meals and several Trader Joe's staples you can't find anywhere else. I'd honestly be scared to get everything I get at Trader Joe's at another grocery store and look at my receipt after. So. Many. Good. Deals. Plus, everything with a Trader Joe's label has no artificial flavors, colors or preservatives, no MSG, no added trans fats and no genetically modified ingredients. Hallelujah.
Whether you're a Trader Joe's virgin or Trader Joe's fanatic, I compiled a list of my favorite items. These are products I purchase the most and often in bulk (ahem, see item No. 1) in no particular order.
Maybe it's just me, but despite the name, I don't feel like it tastes like an everything bagel? ... but this stuff is MAGIC. Everything bagels tend to be heavy on the onion for me, but this seasoning balances the sea salt, garlic and onion just right. I love putting it on a veggie or turkey sandwich or using it to top off an avocado bagel. I also enjoy it on asparagus and if you eat eggs, I'm sure it'd be great on those, too. When I lived in SoCal, this item was often low in stock so anytime I'd see it, I'd grab as many as possible — it's that good. (I just opened the one in the picture below this past week and it's almost gone ... oops).
2. Truly Handmade Flour Tortillas
Ever been to Chevy's? They always have cooks in the dining area making the softest homemade flour tortillas I've ever tasted ... until I discovered these. As a Latina who's had her fair share of tortillas, I give these an A+. I've even frozen and then defrosted some in the fridge and they're still great! Bravo, Trader Joe's, bravo.
3. Soy Chorizo
I grew up on chorizo. Chorizo with potatoes, chorizo with beans, chorizo with eggs. When I learned what it was made out of, though, I may have thrown up a little in my mouth (sorry for that visual). Enter Trader Joe's Soy Chorizo: vegan-friendly and cholesterol-free. Also, did I mention it tastes like the real thing?! Minus all the extra fat and oils, of course.
THIS IS THE BEST GRANOLA I HAVE EVER TASTED AND I'VE HAD A LOT OF GRANOLA. Sorry for the yelling, but it's with good reason. With yogurt. On top of an açaí bowl. In milk. This is hands-down the best granola that's ever existed on a grocery store shelf. I've even made my own granola and it still didn't compare to TJ's Pecan Praline goodness. Not too sweet, just the right amount of clusters ... this is granola in its prime.
While this guac is extra, it doesn't cost extra. (Hah. Hahaha.) At least, I don't think. As an avocado aficionado, I've tasted a lot of store-bought wannabes. Usually they're not spicy enough and taste like they've been refrigerated for who knows how long. Trust me when I say you'll try this guac and never look back. Fair warning, though — it's a wee bit spicy.
6. Kung Pao Chicken
I feel like TJ's Mandarin Orange Chicken gets all the attention but the Kung Pao is the real MVP. As to be expected, it's spicy (the spice kicks in after a few bites). It's also completely microwaveable which is great for a quick dinner option. I love it on top of TJ's frozen brown or jasmine rice. Panda Express has nothing on this.
Honorary mention: TJ's BBQ Teriyaki Chicken — I enjoy this either by itself or mixed with broccoli, carrots and bell peppers, all over brown or jasmine rice.
If I could eat açaí bowls for breakfast, lunch and dinner, I would. I'll be using these packets until the end of time. Not only are they sugar-free, but they're also organic (if you're into that). I mix half a packet with my smoothie favorites and top with TJ's Pecan Praline Granola for the greatest açaí bowl I've ever tasted. You're welcome in advance.
When I was in college, I spent day and night in the campus newsroom. These burritos saved my life. They were my best friends in times of need. They had me at hello. OK, not literally, but they were a great choice when I needed something quick. Pop 'em in the microwave for a few minutes and you're good to go. (Pro-tip: I love this burrito with a side of the Chunky Spicy Guac).
9. Greek Honey Yogurt
I love a good Greek yogurt with fruit or granola. TJ's Greek yogurt — notably the honey flavor — is by far my favorite. Not too thick, not too sour, not too sweet. This Greek yogurt hits the mark.
10. Hold The Cone!
Just look at these little guys! Aren't they so cute?! They're exactly how they look, too — a mini, little delicious drumstick that you're bound to buy over and over again. They come in vanilla, chocolate and during fall, pumpkin!
BONUS: ORGANIC VIRGIN COCONUT OIL
There's no way this list could be complete without including Trader Joe's Organic Virgin Coconut Oil. I love using it in place of any other cooking oil (in dinner, baking items, etc). I also love it as a beauty product — I use a small amount on my face at night rather than morning because I'm too impatient to let it sink in hah. There are all sorts of uses for coconut oil and of all the brands I've tried, TJ's is by far my favorite *insert clapping emoji*
Narrowing down my Trader Joe's favorites was brutal. So here are five more that happen to be seasonal:
OK, OK, I know these sound extremely questionable but aren't you the least bit curious?! Last Thanksgiving I saw these on the shelf and finally gave in. The bag was gone in less than two days and I have no regrets. Remember the Everlasting Gobstopper from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory? Where it's basically a full-course meal in one piece of gum? This is exactly like that but in chip form. An entire Thanksgiving meal in a single chip. You need these, the world needs these, everyone needs these.
2. English Toffee with Nuts
You'd think that since these come in a big canister, they'd last longer. Yeah, good luck with that. This seasonal treat consists of toffee pieces dipped in chocolate and covered in chopped nuts. They're seasonal so go nuts.
3. Fully Cooked Oven-Roasted Turkey Breast
If you're having a small Thanksgiving, I highly recommend the TJ's Turkey Breast. Store it in the fridge until you're ready and pop it in the oven for 40 minutes or so. Voila! You have yourself a super easy and delicious Thanksgiving-ready centerpiece.
4. Breaded Turkey-Less Stuffed Roast with Gravy (aka tofurkey)
For my vegan or vegetarian pals, my mom gave TJ's turkey-less stuffed roast rave reviews. I've tasted it, too, and have to admit I was rather impressed. Who said vegans can't have fun, too?
5. Spiced Cider
If you threw autumn in a blender, you'd get this. It tastes like cinnamon and apples and pumpkin-spiced candles. Minus the wick and smoke and stuff. Enjoy this beverage hot or cold. You won't regret this seasonal purchase.