If you live near Trader Joe’s, you probably live at Trader’s Joe’s. For me, it is one of the only places where grocery shopping is invariably interesting and enjoyable. And, with the notable exception of Sunday evenings when the lines tend to be interminable, it is my go-to stop for sips, snacks and sweets – as well as for the building blocks of great, easy meals.
If you are a fellow Trader Joe’s fan, you know that the stores are smaller than typical grocery stores, and that they often carry seasonal items. When those are gone for the year, they are gone – and you have to sit on pins and needles, hoping they’ll be back next year. I have indicated below if an item is typically seasonal, but all products are subject to availability.
Here are my current top Trader Joe’s picks for drinks – for adults and kids.
Sparkling berry lemonade: B’s favorite variety of this shelf-stable, bottled offering
White grape juice: Mr. Diggy’s favorite – I stock up when it’s available. (pro tip- the light-colored juices like this and the apple are MUCH easier to clean up when they are flung all over the house – just saying.)
Spiced coconut latte cold brew: Perfect for fall – when you still want a chilled beverage but welcome the warm spices.
Spiced cider: I buy several gallons as soon as this fall favorite is released, and we drink it on chilly fall and winter afternoons. Perfect for a family-friendly hot drink without caffeine.
Peach sparkling wine cans: A (wine) cocktail in a can. Light, refreshing and slightly sweet – it’s a single-serve celebratory drink for your next brunch, or mom’s night, or Tuesday evening.
Here are my current top Trader Joe’s picks for snacks – which is a semi-professional sport in our house.
Corn chips: These are so popular in our house that we have named them after Mr. Diggy. Like “are you going to Trader Joe’s? We need Mr. Diggy Chips” They are crunchy, corny and perfectly salty.
Pub cheese: B loves the sharp cheddar variety (the jalapeno version is great for adults). He probably eats a couple of tubs a week – which is a filling source of calcium – and some protein – especially when you eat more than the serving size, like B always does.
Social snackers: A crispy, buttery-tasting club cracker that is B’s go-to for dipping in the above-mentioned pub cheese. Basically a MUCH tastier version of those little plastic boxes with the red spreader sticks that you vied for in you elementary school lunch box.
Creamy hummus: Possibly our favorite grown-up snack from Trader Joe’s – I have spent hours honing my own hummus-making skills, but the creamy mediterranean hummus from Trader Joe’s is hard to beat.
Pita crackers: These round, crispy crackers are great with the hummus (and the pub cheese) and crunchy enough for Mr. Diggy to polish off if we run out of chips.
Here are my current top Trader Joe’s picks for quick and easy meals.
Hawaiian rolls: Make mini-sliders, pulled chicken or pork sandwiches, or just eat them on their own. They also make quick work of leftover holiday roasts – like ham or roast beef – by turning them into a self-serve sandwich bar.
Gyros and Tzatziki: Dinner that cooks in literally 20 seconds? Yes, please. Now I often will take the time to make some homemade pita bread (I use a recipe that is close to this one), but you can just as easily serve this with store-bought pita bread, or over rice, as a salad, or with pita crackers (see above) as a sort of Greek nachos.
Diced pancetta: A great building block – crisp up these little cubes and add them to just about anything – pasta, of course, like I did here, but also eggs, salads, or pizzas.
Cuban wrap sandwich: Trader Joe’s offers dozens of packaged sandwiches and wraps, but the Cuban wrap sandwich is the most popular in our house.
Cilantro chicken wontons: Bite sized frozen snacks that cook up in a few minutes. Serve with rice for a quick, kid-friendly meal, or pop in chicken broth for an easy soup.
And last, but not least, my top Trader Joe’s picks for sweet treats.
Mint Chip ice cream: All of their ice cream is good, but this is the go-to choice in our family. A refreshing mint flavor with shards of dark chocolate.
Honey mints: Did I mention we like mint chocolate in our house? These three-ingredient treats make me feel (slightly) less guilty about popping a couple in my mouth. They contain only chocolate, honey and mint – but taste surprisingly rich and complex (and not altogether unlike another foil-wrapped mint treat that contains significantly more ingredients.
Butter toffee pretzels: Exactly how they sound- a buttery, toffee coating on salty pretzels – a match made in heaven.
Dark chocolate peanut butter cups: There are dozens of tubs of chocolate options in the candy aisle at Trader Joe’s. It’s hard to choose just one, but the dark chocolate peanut butter cups are a great option for mid-afternoon pick-me-up.
Dark chocolate raspberry sticks: Located just next to the checkout area, these are an easy – and slightly dangerous – option to pop into your cart at the last minute. There are three options, but the bright pink one with the dried raspberries is the one to try first.
What are your top Trader Joe’s picks? Comment below with yours.