Trader Joe’s Essentials

This week I did my grocery shopping at Trader Joe’s for the first time in AGES. It reminded me why I love the place – – so many things there that I love that are so much cheaper than at any other grocery store. I thought it would be a fun post to show you (most of) my essentials when shopping at Trader Joe’s. Here we go!

1.) Lite Shredded Mozzarella Cheese – $3.99

This cheese is really good for light cheese. It melts really well, is super versatile, and has only 1 pt+ per serving. It’s my go-to for shredded mozz and I get it every single time I go to TJs.

2.) Goat Cheese Medallions – $3.79

Though these aren’t the cheapest, I think longterm they balance out because I always waste so much in the normal goat cheese tubes! These are portioned out, so they are not messy at all and make it so easy to bring goat cheese to work! Each medallion has 1 oz of soft goat cheese, which is 2 pts+, and 6 come in the package. I’ll bring them a lot of times to crumble over a salad, sometimes using just half of it if I’m running low on PointsPlus for the day.

3.) Whole Wheat British Muffins – $1.59

These are some of my favorite “English” muffins, and are waaaaay cheaper than Thomas’! At the standard 3 pts+ a piece, these are hearty and a lot denser than the Thomas’ version.

4.) Whole Wheat Mini Pitas – $2.29

These are so versatile and cute! I use them to scoop up hummus, to make mini pita pockets stuffed with tuna or egg salad, or to make mini pizzas if I’m feeling creative. 6 of these little guys have 3 pts+.

5.) Baked Blue Corn Tortilla Chips – $1.99

These are really mildly flavored and super crunchy. I love to use them to scoop up salsa, make healthy nachos, or to crumble on top of taco/Mexican salads. 16 chips (1 oz) have 3 pts+ and these are WAY cheaper than other brands of baked tortilla chips!

6.) 70% Dark Chocolate Bars – $1.99

These are perfectly portioned at 100 calories, and are actually a decent amount to cure a chocolate craving. I do much better with the portioning already done for me, rather than buying a large bar and trying to keep myself to eating just two squares. 3 pts+ for each of these and they come 5 to a package.

7.) 100% Liquid Egg Whites – $1.79

Not much explaining to do here – – 1/3 cup is 1 pt+ and I love how much cheaper these are than the same thing at Whole Foods.

8.) Soy Milk Creamer – $1.49

I love this stuff. It gets your coffee SO creamy and is just 1 pt+ for 2 tbsp. It has a really long shelf-life and is one of my favorite coffee creamers.

9.) Organic Polenta – $1.79

This ready to heat and eat tube of polenta is awesome. You can slice it up, fry it in a pan with nonstick spray, add some marinara sauce and cheese, and you have yourself a meal in 5 minutes flat. It also makes a great side dish, and the entire tube is just 8 pts+. I like to have one of these on hand at all times.

10.) Taco Seasoning Mix – 79 cents

At under a dollar with not one but TWO regular packets worth in here, this stuff is the best taco seasoning mix I’ve ever had. I use it for any kind of tacos or chili I’m making and is wonderful with nothing added except spices. The entire packet has 1 pt (which is 12 servings).

11.) Greek Style Nonfat Plain Yogurt – $2.99

At full price, this greek yogurt is cheaper than any other brand I’ve found. It has the same creamy, thick consistency as other kinds, and works great for breakfast or as a substitute for sour cream. 1 cup has 3 pts+, and if I’m having it as part of breakfast I usually use 2/3 of a cup for 2pts+.

Not bought in this trip, but I also always make sure to get…

    • 3-grain tempeh – $1.79. Literally the exact same thing that is sold at Whole Foods and Harris Teeter for $3.99 by me. I would have stocked up but they were completely out when I was there!
    • Frozen Fruit – my freezer was full this time, but usually I load up on frozen mango chunks, strawberries, and the very berry blend.
    • Frozen Edamame – I always have both shelled and in the pod edamame on hand in the freezer. Both are already in stock otherwise I would have picked some up!

Do you have a Trader Joe’s by you? If so, what’s your favorite product they carry? I’m always looking for new things to try! If not, what is your go-to grocery store?

66 Comments on Trader Joe’s Essentials

  1. Kerry
    October 11, 2011 at 8:38 am (9 years ago)

    Love Trader Joe’s! My usual purchases include the fat-free feta and the whole wheat pizza dough. They usually have the best price on Dr. Praeger’s veggie burgers too.

  2. Stephanie @ The Cookie Battle
    October 11, 2011 at 8:56 am (9 years ago)

    By far, the very best thing they carry is the pumpkin butter. It’s amazing and so much cheaper and more delicious than any other brand I’ve tried. I hoard it every fall!

    I love Trader Joe’s so much.

  3. Kimberly
    October 11, 2011 at 8:58 am (9 years ago)

    I love Trader Joes. You mentioned alot of my fav things. I also love the veggie fried rice & manderin/orange chicken both in the frozen section. Such an good easy meal!

  4. Megan S.
    October 11, 2011 at 9:03 am (9 years ago)

    I used to leave in Columbus and had a Trader Joe’s 10-15 minutes from my place! Now where I live they will be opening up in the next few months and I can’t contain my excitement!

    I love their whole-grain crackers and hummus dips as well…and can’t forget about the Jo-Jo’s

  5. Meg
    October 11, 2011 at 9:05 am (9 years ago)

    I LOVE all of TJ’s cheeses…the goat is awesome, agreed 😉

  6. Lindsey
    October 11, 2011 at 9:11 am (9 years ago)

    No Trader Joes near me, closest one is 14 hours away! But when I do get there I make sure to stock up 🙂 Love their wraps, chocolate, wine and trail mixes!

  7. Gretchen @ Honey, I Shrunk the Gretchen!
    October 11, 2011 at 9:26 am (9 years ago)

    Great breakdown! You know how much I love The Joe. I agree that their deals on greek yogurt are the best you’ll find. Also, olive oil! EVOO is far, far cheaper at TJ’s than at Giant, and there are so many different kinds and varieties… love.

  8. Amy B @ Second City Randomness
    October 11, 2011 at 9:33 am (9 years ago)

    You definitely know I’m down with the taco seasoning! I use it in everything! And alot of their other spices are cheaper than the regular grocery store, too. Everything adds up…

  9. Karen
    October 11, 2011 at 9:50 am (9 years ago)

    Love me some TJ’s! I just tried those goat cheese medallions and wow. I am in love. Also they have spiced apple cider now (yum!) and the boxed soups like butternut squash and sweet potato bisque are to die for!

    My one gripe about them is that it is hard to shop there for a family. One of the reasons prices are lower is that the sizes are smaller, and having a hungry man husband (who also refuses to eat anything ‘weird’) means shopping there exclusively would put me rapidly in the poor house. That said, I don’t want to live somewhere that is more than 30 minutes from one. Spoiled? Yup!

  10. Lauren
    October 11, 2011 at 10:13 am (9 years ago)

    I love TJ’s! I always stock up on: frozen masala veggie burgers, vegetable gyoza, eggplant garlic dip, edamame hummus, frozen shelled edamame, seasoned tofu, tempeh, whole grain English muffins, vanilla unsweetened almond milk, olive oil popcorn and the low-carb tortillas.

    • Beth
      October 11, 2011 at 3:01 pm (9 years ago)

      I have heard such good things about the masala veggie burgers but have never tried them!

    • Lauren @ Oatmeal after Spinning
      October 12, 2011 at 7:38 am (9 years ago)

      The masala burgers are AWESOME! And have you seen the sprouted tofu that comes in two divided portions? Genius!

  11. Christy
    October 11, 2011 at 10:20 am (9 years ago)

    I always get their frozen wild rice mix (great for quick dinners), bagged chopped kale (too lazy to chop it), and bananas. I am going to have to keep my eye out for those British Muffins…they sound great!

    • Beth
      October 11, 2011 at 3:01 pm (9 years ago)

      Ohh I’ve never tried any of their frozen rice products but I’m hearing a lot about them in the comments – I’ll have to check them out!

  12. Jennifer
    October 11, 2011 at 10:42 am (9 years ago)

    I love Trader Joes so much!! Here are my staples:
    – Organic fruits & veggies
    – Organic Frozen Brown Rice
    – Lite Havarti cheese
    – Hummus (3 layer is awesome)
    – Organic veggie broth
    – Organic tomato sauce
    – Pizza Olympiad – it’s so stinkin’ good! 2 per pkg and I make 1 a week.

    Other things I buy sporadically: goat cheese medallions, medjool dates, nuts (so much cheaper!), Tuscan pane bread, pumpernickle pretzels, wine!

    I love all the suggestions! I didn’t know about the tempeh so I will look for that next time.

    • Beth
      October 11, 2011 at 3:00 pm (9 years ago)

      Pizza Olympiad – what is that??

      • Jennifer
        October 11, 2011 at 3:38 pm (9 years ago)

        It’s a greek pizza. It has roasted red peppers and kalamata olives, but not too many so that the pizza is overly salty. It also uses both feta and mozz cheese. Really good! I think it’s 12P+ for the whole pizza.

  13. Cait @ Beyond Bananas
    October 11, 2011 at 10:51 am (9 years ago)

    I love TJ’s honey wheat pretzels as well as their Fiberful Bars!

    • Beth
      October 11, 2011 at 2:44 pm (9 years ago)

      I’ve never tried either of those things!

  14. MaryBeth
    October 11, 2011 at 11:19 am (9 years ago)

    I wish I had a Trader Joe’s nearby! However, I live where Wegmans was founded so I am pretty spoiled with always being near a Wegmans!

    • Beth
      October 11, 2011 at 2:36 pm (9 years ago)

      Oh Wegmans. How I love thee!

      • MaryBeth
        October 16, 2011 at 1:28 pm (9 years ago)

        Actually.. just announced on Friday.. my city is getting a Trader Joes! Yahooo!

  15. Haley
    October 11, 2011 at 12:03 pm (9 years ago)

    The closest TJ’s to me is over an hour away =(! However, my mom lives near Richmond, VA, and she comes to visit me (in TN) at least once a quarter to see her granddaughters, and she brings me my requests. She’s coming this Friday and is bringing me some more TJ’s Sunflower Seed Butter, their seasonal Fig Butter, and anything else she thinks I’ll like! I shared your list with her on FB, just in case she needs ideas of other things to try from there!

    Also, congrats on your weight loss success. I’ve been a WW Lifetimer for almost 7 years now and still follow the program for maintenance. I tell everyone I know – who asks or expresses interest – that WW is the most practical, lifestyle program! I thought I’d be able to get used to maintenance and not “track” my food for the rest of my life, but after 6+ years, I still do! I’m not complaining, though, b/c it is a habit and not an inconvenience. Our health is never an inconvenience! =)

    • Beth
      October 11, 2011 at 2:36 pm (9 years ago)

      Hi Haley! I haven’t tried the fig butter but I just noticed how much cheaper Sunflower Seed butter is there ($3.99) than anywhere else yesterday!

      And thanks for the congrats! I love how WW is so longterm, and I’ve finally gotten to a point where I’m OK with the idea of having to count points for a loooong time to come, for the most part. I think as long as you look at tracking as a tool rather than a chore, it has its benefits! Congrats to YOU on maintaining for 7 years – no small feat!

  16. Lauren @ Oatmeal after Spinning
    October 11, 2011 at 12:07 pm (9 years ago)

    I drive from Frederick to Gaithersburg to hit Tjs (about 30 miles). I could go on forever about my staples, but here’s a short list:
    – Crumbled goat cheese (though I sometimes get the medallions)
    – Oatmeal (it’s the ONLY place I can find MY brand!)
    – Canola oil spray
    – Grinders (flower pepper, pink sea salt, choc+coffee, lemon pepper and everyday seasoning)
    – Skinny Fries
    – TJs Greek Yogurt (1 tub each o% and 2% plain)

    I could go on, but I’ll stop there.
    Oh – and have you tried either the Wild Blueberry pie or the Strawberry Rhubarb pie? Both are 170 calories for 1/6 of a pie (!!!!) and taste AMAZING. I always bring one to Thanksgiving at my mom’s.

    • Beth
      October 11, 2011 at 2:31 pm (9 years ago)

      Ohh their canola oil spray is another one of my favorites! Never tried the skinny fries or the grinders – i’ll have to get on that!

      And that pie!! Wow! I can’t believe it’s so low!

  17. Jenny
    October 11, 2011 at 12:16 pm (9 years ago)

    Which TJ’s do you go to? There aren’t any around me in DC. I went once and had to head way out in Maryland. I love it, though, and wish there was one closer!

    • Beth
      October 11, 2011 at 2:27 pm (9 years ago)

      There’s a TJs right on 25th and L near Foggy Bottom! I used to go to the one out in Tyson’s Corner sometimes when I lived in VA, but the one downtown is much more convenient for me now. There is a garage you can park at for free!

      • Jenny
        October 11, 2011 at 2:33 pm (9 years ago)

        Ahh, sweet, sweet parking! Thanks for the tip, I’m totally doing my shopping there tonigth!

  18. Evan Thomas
    October 11, 2011 at 12:37 pm (9 years ago)

    I’m surprised the egg whites are so cheap at your trader joe’s. Here they’re at least $3.
    I mostly go for their produce, fresh and frozen. They have great prices on squash right now and I love how they don’t weigh them.
    My biggest complain is that their tempeh isn’t gluten-free. If it were, then I wouldn’t have to shop at Trader Joe’s AND Whole Foods every weekend. And it’s so much cheaper there, too.

    • Beth
      October 11, 2011 at 2:26 pm (9 years ago)

      I love how they charge a flat fee for squash too! One of the things I got was a huuuuge spaghetti squash, and it was $2.79 – same price for all of them!

  19. Sabah
    October 11, 2011 at 12:49 pm (9 years ago)

    I love trader joes! Everything is so cheap! How much did you spend on your total grocery trip?

    • Beth
      October 11, 2011 at 2:25 pm (9 years ago)

      I know it’s so awesome how cheap everything is! I got a lot more beyond what is pictured and the total was about $55. Not too shabby!

  20. Jessamyn
    October 11, 2011 at 1:00 pm (9 years ago)

    I have to drive nearly 2 hours to the closes TJ’s, but it’s totally worth it. You actually mentioned several of my go-to products- I especially love their polenta and soymilk creamer. I also enjoy their flourless sprouted bread, especially when I’m not in the mood to pay for ezekiel bread.

    • Beth
      October 11, 2011 at 2:25 pm (9 years ago)

      The Ezekiel bread is also way cheaper there than other places, but it IS $3.99/loaf which isn’t cheap!

  21. Sara
    October 11, 2011 at 1:04 pm (9 years ago)

    I just hit up Trader Joe’s for all my favorites yesterday! I LOVE their marinated ahi tuna steaks (4-5 pts+ a serving…can’t remember!), the chile lime chicken burgers (3pts+ each!), their unsweetened vanilla milk (the one already cold in the fridge aisle), the creamy goat cheese in the little tub (1pt+ per serving), their peppered turkey bacon, cage-free hard-boiled eggs and the fiberful fruit bars (1pt+ each)!

    • Beth
      October 11, 2011 at 2:24 pm (9 years ago)

      Ohhh I’ve never tried the ahi tuna steaks! I shy away from the frozen fish for some unknown reason but really need to get on that!

  22. Sarah
    October 11, 2011 at 1:17 pm (9 years ago)

    We love trader joe’s!

    I usually pick up their marinara sauce, pizza dough, rice and veggie burgers there. I usually try not to grab the Joe-Joe’s… but their halloween themed right now, so I could resist last week.

    • Beth
      October 11, 2011 at 2:22 pm (9 years ago)

      Ohh their pizza dough is another great one!

    • Sarah
      October 11, 2011 at 2:50 pm (9 years ago)

      oops that should be couldn’t resist the halloween joe-joe’s (they have little pumpkin faces).

  23. Maria
    October 11, 2011 at 1:22 pm (9 years ago)

    I love the greek yogurt with their lemon curd…sooooo….goood!

    • Beth
      October 11, 2011 at 2:13 pm (9 years ago)

      I’ve never tried the lemon curd!

  24. Alexa
    October 11, 2011 at 2:02 pm (9 years ago)

    These are a lot of the same things I get at Trader Joes, and now I want to do a Trader Joes Essentials post, (warning: I will do that and copy you!), but I’ve never tried that Potlena, going to need to!

    • Beth
      October 11, 2011 at 2:04 pm (9 years ago)

      Copy away! =) The polenta is GOOOOOOOOD!

  25. Mollie
    October 11, 2011 at 4:18 pm (9 years ago)

    Tomato and Roasted Red Pepper Soup has been one of my staples for YEARS. It’s great on its own and also makes a delicious addition of liquid to soups, stews, etc. Try rice, beans, TRRP soup, and cubed roasted butternut squash. Top with a dollop of Greek yogurt and a sprinkling of cheese if you’re feeling fancy!

  26. Erin @ A Girl & Her Mutt
    October 11, 2011 at 4:22 pm (9 years ago)

    I’ve beent hinking about trying out the medallions. I can never get through a big ol’ tube of goat cheese before it goes bad. Great list!

  27. River
    October 11, 2011 at 5:31 pm (9 years ago)

    Wow, I wish we had a store like that here. The one or two we do have don’t have much variety, and the prices are INSANE. 1 bag of blue corn chips = $8

  28. Paige
    October 11, 2011 at 5:44 pm (9 years ago)

    I always get my olive oil and almond butter from TJ’s. So much cheaper than other places!

  29. Kathi
    October 11, 2011 at 6:40 pm (9 years ago)

    I love to get their peanut butter, tofu, hummus and whole wheat tortillas chips

  30. LoriV. @ For the Run of It
    October 11, 2011 at 7:57 pm (9 years ago)

    I LOVE TJ’s. I have only been able to visit one that’s 5 hours away and wasn’t able to buy any of the frozen or chilled foods because of the drive back home, however, I have still settled on some favorite items.

    -Guiltless pita chips
    -multigrain tortilla chips
    -Serrano salsa (this is chilled, but I made an exception)
    -Cats Cookies
    -Roasted/salted nuts
    -the new crackers (can’t remember the name; they are like Ritz and way healthier)
    -graham crackers

    I’m super stoked that TJ’s is finally opening in my town on October 28th!! I will be a frequent shopper. With a family of 3, I find the portion/serving sizes to be perfect! Love the prices!

  31. Chetney
    October 11, 2011 at 8:00 pm (9 years ago)

    I have never shopped at Trader Joes because no matter how many times I see you buying from there and at VERY reasonable cost I was still skeptical. I have GOT to make a trip asap! Everything you showed made my mouth water!

  32. Hilary
    October 11, 2011 at 8:17 pm (9 years ago)

    I WISH I had TJ’s nearby…but sadly they are not in Canada. In fact, that was one of my favourite excursions while in Philly for HLS. So my go-to grocery store is the Real Canadian Superstore. And they actually have a fairly decent natural foods section, so I can’t complain.

  33. Kelly @ No Thanks to Cake
    October 11, 2011 at 9:51 pm (9 years ago)

    I soooooo wish we had TJs here in Colorado. We have a fantastic selection of Whole Foods, but I looooove the deals you guys talk about at TJs. One day, I hope!

  34. Mel @ Mel a la Via Paradiso
    October 11, 2011 at 10:17 pm (9 years ago)

    Have you tried the Trader Joes buttermilk pancake mix? It’s delicious! We don’t normally shop at Trader Joes but when we do I like to stop up on the obscure kinds of things! I bought a basil plant from there recently!

  35. Allyson
    October 12, 2011 at 7:53 am (9 years ago)

    I love everything I have tried from trader joes. My absolute favorite is their pumpkin bread mix. I sub in applesauce and it is so moist and delicious.

    We also get a lot of their frozen stuff for lunches.

    Fruit is always excellent from there.

    LOVE LOVE LOVE the Joe.

  36. The Mrs @ Success Along the Weigh
    October 12, 2011 at 10:43 am (9 years ago)

    We loooooooove TJ’s!! (Did I express our love accurately enough?)

    Our faves are: Chipotle Hummus, Creamy Polenta with Spinach & Carrots, Quinoa Duo, Broccoli Slaw, Italian Loaf (cut into slices from round bread), Tandoori Naan, Lite Kettle Corn 6 pack, Low Sodium Red Pepper Tomato Soup, Peach Salsa, Unsalted Organic Tortilla Chips, Apple Chicken Sausage, Low Cal Lemonade, Spiced Cider (Seasonal). Okay, I should stop!

  37. Emily
    October 12, 2011 at 10:59 am (9 years ago)

    We are supposed to get a Trader Joe’s here in Houston….I hope it comes through!!!

  38. christine
    October 12, 2011 at 11:13 am (9 years ago)

    Absolutely love TJ’s. Over at Danica’s Daily she has supplied her grocery list for TJ’s. She has listed some great ideas. Note that she is CA so your local TJ’s may not carry what is on her list. The breaded chicken tenders are great I love their pizza dough, all their cheeses and breads. Danica also suggested a pastry pizza which I have not tried yet but plan to look for it this weekend.

  39. Lisa
    October 12, 2011 at 12:53 pm (9 years ago)

    Trader Joe’s has an excellent (and affordable) cheese selection. I also buy things like hummus.

    We buy our meats there too because they aren’t treated with hormones and they just taste better.

  40. Ang
    October 12, 2011 at 3:25 pm (9 years ago)

    I’m 4 hours from the nearest Trader Joe’s! I wish there was one closer but I don’t see it happening. Anytime I travel I bring a cooler to get cheese, yogurt, and raita. I also grab almond or sunflower butter, lemon curd, pumpkin butter, mango chutney, lentil soup, chocolate, and tea tree shampoo and body wash! Not to mention anything else I see that pops out at me! lol

  41. Kristi
    October 12, 2011 at 5:35 pm (9 years ago)

    I got a taste of Trader Joe’s in Boston and now wish we had them in Colorado!!! You’re so lucky! 🙂

  42. Shannon [Tropical Eats]
    October 19, 2011 at 9:29 pm (9 years ago)

    Mmm those mini pita things do look great!

    i mainly go their for cereal (can’t beat $1.99!), boxed Green Curry Tuna (weird, but SO good), nothing but banana flattened, chicken breast, baby bellas, and other random goodies.

  43. Karen
    November 1, 2012 at 8:49 am (8 years ago)

    I also love TJ’s. I’m vegetarian and find loads of choices. Some of my favorites are the Tofu & Edamame Nuggets, the coffees, nuts, vegetarian chorizo, soycatash, their coffee and recipe tasting station, their great prices, and the employees’ cheerful helpful attitudes.


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