Trader Joe's is a godsend for people who appreciate a good deal but devolve into an anxiety spiral at enormous big-box stores. Small and friendly, Trader Joe's doesn't make me feel like I'm in Alfred Hitchcock's filmVertigo. And there are tons of things at Trader Joe's you didn't know you could buy for less than you're paying somewhere else. While I like to buy local meat and fish, and I get my produced delivered from local farms, Trader Joe's is a hidden treasure trove of can't-live-without things like beauty and skincare items, wine, cleaning products, toilet paper, and those delicious crispy crunchy chocolate chip cookies.
If you're still buying these items at a regular grocery store, then you are totally missing out. I'll admit that most of the time I choose convenience over a deal. For example, when I lived on the sixth floor of an apartment building I usually got my groceries delivered. To be honest, I loathe shopping — except when it comes to my beloved Trader Joe's. Luckily, I live pretty close to a Trader Joe's so I can go there on the regular to stock up on all of my favorites. If you're ready to make your shopping list, here are 16 things you should be buying at Trader Joe's.
1. Crispy Crunchy Chocolate Chip Cookies
Trader Joe's Dress Circle Crispy Crunchy Chocolate Chip Cookies, $3.99
These are, hands down, my absolute favorite cookies. According to Trader Joe's, these little cookies are "packed with prodigious amounts of chocolate chips. Certified kosher (dairy), they’re delish dunked in cold milk or hot tea, and downright dazzling crumbled over your favorite ice cream." I totally agree on all accounts.
2. Toilet Paper
Trader Joe's Toilet Paper, $3.99-$4.99
If you're a Seinfeld fan, then you definitely remember the toilet paper episode. Buying your TP at Trader Joe's will leave you squares to spare because you can grab a six-roll pack for less than a four-roll pack somewhere else.
3. Frozen Gnocchi
Trader Giotto’s Gnocchi al Gorgonzola, $2.99
Good gnocchi is hard to find, especially for $2.99. If you love you some gnocchi, then you're going to want to check out the gnocchi selection at Trader Joe's ASAP. "An Italian pasta maker, headquartered near Rome, crafts this center-of-the-plate-worthy dish for us using Gorgonzola that’s made according to traditional methods, using milk from cows raised in the Milano region," Trader Joe's wrote about its Gnocchi al Gorgonzola. This is a must try.
4. Chicken Tikka Masala
Chicken Tikka Masala, $3.49
As far as frozen meals go, Trader Joe's has an edge on almost everyone else. Case in point: Chicken Tikka Masala. This is one of my absolute faves because it's affordable, and it tastes amazing. "This classic, Indian(ish) dish (made exclusive for Trader Joe's) features chunks of chicken that have been roasted in an oven, or tandoor, and served in a creamy, mildly spicy, tomato-based, curry flavored sauce," Trader Joe's noted on its blog. I eat these all the time, and they're so good that I don't feel like I'm depriving myself by eating a frozen meal.
While it may be best know for it's super affordable Charles Shaw Wine, also known as two-buck Chuck, Trader Joe's has an amazing wine selection that includes many great bottle of vino for less than $10 that you won't be embarrassed to bring to a dinner party. If you need wine to cook with, two-buck Chuck is a great option to keep on hand.
6. Bath & Body Products
If you're someone who walks into a drug store to buy paper towels and leaves 30 minutes later with $100 in beauty, bath, and body products, then you need to check out Trader Joe's ASAP. The best thing about getting your bath products at Trader Joe's, aside from the amazing prices, it that they are all cruelty free, and many of them are vegan. This can save you a lot of time reading labels. You can get everything from face wash, to body lotion, to shaving cream, and even anti-aging serums for a fraction of what you pay at the drug store.
7. Olive Oil
Olive Oil, from $5.99
Olive oil is so expensive that if I buy it at a traditional grocery store I usually end up buying the smallest bottle they have. Not so at Trader Joe's, my friendlies. Trader Joe's has a huge selection of olive oil starting at $5.99, and you won't leave with a bottle small enough to toss in your purse. They even have a guide for choosing olive oil, because there is a lot of know.
8. Icelandic Style Yogurt
Icelandic Style Yogurt, $139
I went to Iceland last year and had skyr for the first time, and this Icelandic yogurt is a must try. "Just like traditional skyr — which has been a staple of the Icelandic diet since it was brought over from Norway a millennium ago— our Icelandic Style Nonfat Yogurt is strained so that it’s exceptionally thick and creamy," Trader Joe's noted on its blog. "It’s reminiscent of nonfat Greek yogurt, but even smoother and with slightly less bite." Trust me, this is the best yogurt you'll ever have.
9. Cornbread Crisps
Trader Joe's Cornbread Crisps, $2.49
With the polar vortex bearing down on the U.S., it's the perfect time to make a pot of chili, and you're going to want to top it with Trader Joe's Cornbread Crisps. These little bites of heaven are made from actual cornbread. "Yes, the traditional, fluffy, flavorful cornbread. We use cornmeal, sunflower oil, and sugar for this step," Trader Joe's noted. "Then, the cornbread is flattened and cut into small diamond shapes. Into the oven they go, and out come crunchy bites of cornbread." Yes, please!
10. Just Coconut Chunks
Trader Joe's Just Coconut Chunks, $2.49
If you're not into shelling your own coconut, and you don't want to spend half of your paycheck buying fresh coconut, Trader Joe's Just Coconut Chunks are an ideal addition to your morning smoothie. "Our supplier hand punctures the coconuts to collect the water; the coconuts are then hand peeled to remove the brown outer skin, and cut by a mechanical cutter to ensure (relatively) uniform, square-ish pieces of firm, sweet coconut meat," Trader Joe's noted. These are definitely going on my list.
11. Spud Crunchies
Trader Joe's Spud Crunchies, $1.99
A bag of frozen French fries that actually taste like French fries and are cheaper than a large fry at MacDonald's? Um, where do I sign up?! "Trader Joe’s Spud Crunchies are essentially salty, crunchy, shelf-stable French fries made from just three ingredients: U.S.-grown Russet potatoes, expeller pressed canola oil, and salt," Trader Joe's noted. I'm going to grab a lot of these.
12. Milk Chocolate Lover's Chocolate Bar
Milk Chocolate Lover's Chocolate Bar, two for $1.69
Let's face it, good chocolate is expensive. It's also a must-have. If you buy your chocolate at Trader Joe's, it won't cost you the same price as a bottle of wine like it will at other places. According to Trader Joe's, "Each Milk Chocolate Lover’s Chocolate Bar is carefully crafted from simple ingredients to become distinctive milk chocolate with delicate milky undertones, sweet and caramel-like notes, and the sweet, creamy mouthfeel you would expect from the best milk chocolate." Personally, I always leave Trader Joe's with a lot of chocolate.
13. Gluten Free Pizza
Gluten Free Cheese Pizza With A Cauliflower Crust, $4.99
A lot of gluten-free pizzas taste like cardboard. The secret to a tasty gluten-free pizza is something you might not expect: Cauliflower. "The crust here uses a blend of cauliflower, mozzarella cheese, potato flour, chickpea flour, and brown rice flour to replace the wheat flour you’d find in an ordinary pizza crust," Trader Joe's noted. "It cooks just as a good pizza should, with a soft bite in the center, and just-the-right-crisp around the edges." If you want to make you own gluten-free pizza, you can grab a cauliflower-pizza crust for $3.99 and add your own sauce and toppings.
14. Chocolate Filled Crêpes
Trader Joe's Chocolate Filled Crêpes, seven for $2.69
These are the bomb, and much cheaper than a similar product at another speciality grocery store you're familiar with. "Trader Joe’s Chocolate Filled Crêpes are as divine as the crêpes sold in fine crêperies," Trader Joe's noted. "They’re something special—a sweet, creamy chocolate filling is rolled into a soft, golden crêpe dough, then carefully sealed to help keep the chocolate from oozing out once it's been heated." Seriously, these are on my favorite's list, and I usually eat them all in one sitting.
15. Greeting Cards
Trader Joe's Greeting Cards, $.99
Greeting cards have got to be the most overpriced thing at the drug and grocery store. I'll let you in on a little secret. You can get adorable greeting cards for $.99 at Trader Joe's. Seriously.
16. Flowers Bouquets
Flower Bouquets, from $3.99
If you like to have fresh flowers around, or you need to grab a bouquet for a friend or family member to go with your greeting card, Trader Joe's is the place to snag flowers on the cheap. Additionally, according to Trader Joe's, there's lots of reasons to be buying flowers on the regular — both for yourself and others. "According to scientific research conducted at Rutgers, receiving and being in the presence of flowers make people happy — happy so that you smile with your mouth, cheeks, and eyes. Happy!"
From cereals to soups to specialty foods to all-natural cleaning products, there are dozens of other hidden treasures to be discovered at Trader Joe's, and I'm going to head over there ASAP, because writing this is making me hungry.