Here’s my list of what to buy at Trader Joe’s. (Pin it for later here!) I LOVE to grocery shop. Like there all these memes about Target being the happy place for mommies… mine is the grocery store.  I could wander and check labels and pick produce for hours. And I certainly don’t get all my groceries at Trader Joe’s, but it is my FAVORITE store to wander for sure.

I love that it’s small. That there aren’t a million brands or options for each item but the ones that are there, you know are good. It’s full of gems. And I’ve found my gems of what to buy at Trader Joe’s.

But I get a comment every once in a while from someone who doesn’t live by one and is making a trip and needs to know what to buy at Trader Joe’s! So here are some of mine. Excuse the partially eaten items… I decided I didn’t need to buy a new one to show you what it was!  Let’s just call it proof that we use it. Ha.

My Trader Joe's must-haves.

What to Buy at Trader Joe’s:

  • Queso – Crazy low in fat and I love to throw it on my lavash nachos or just dip anything chippy in it.
  • Chipotle Black Bean Dip – Yummy as the base for tostadas or a mexican pizza on lavash… or however you like your pizza! Here’s a link to lavash pizza that’s not Mexican but I love to use this as a base, a little jack cheese, caramelized onion, and chicken… and then topped after cooked with lettuce, pico, avocado and chipotle cream etc…
  • Love that green salsa in the carnitas or the honey cilantro chicken, or these enchiladas.
  • Bruschetta – love it mixed with Trader Joes Lentils and fat free feta for an ugly but DELICIOUS dip with pita chips or homemade lavash chips.  Love it in this garlicky shrimp over mashed cauliflower.  Also on pasta or spaghetti squash or all things Italian.  Just a couple of tbs goes a long way for a couple fat… and this one has better macros than the fresh one… and is easier to trust the 2 tbs portion since it’s more mixed up.  Also yummy with cottage cheese as a dip.
  • Balsamic Glaze–I LOVE THIS STUFF–drizzled on almost any pizza, flatbread, and salad… like this peach and blue cheese flatbread, or these BLT Salad Flatbreads, or on this watermelon salad, or pretty much any other salad… High in carbs but five to ten grams will do the trick! Great when you’re running low on fats for a salad…
  • Fig Butter – another FAVE in our house. If you’re into sweet and savory (I AM!!) it’s so good paired with prosciutto on pizza or flatbreads, and my favorite is on this fig and blue cheese turkey burger. MY VERY FAVORITE BURGER.  Even Ross puts it on his burger every single time.
  • Love the TJ red enchilada sauce. Use it for these creamy enchiladas and these quick chilaquiles. 
  • The Sweet Chili Sauce only has 7 carbs for a tbs when every other one I find has 10! And sweet chili sauce is delicious on everything… dipping shrimp or crispy chicken etc… but to keep the portion low, we mostly use it to baste our chicken at the end of grilling for this cilantro sweet chili chicken. SO good.
  • If you like green salsas, and you like hot sauce, this green dragon is a must. Ross has it in his egg burritos right now most mornings.
  • Green Goddess Salad Dressing is a MUST. Killer macros – 2 fat.  It’s herby and lemony and fresh and somewhere between chimmichurri and salad dressing… I love it on salad but maybe more on sandwiches and pitas. Like these egg white pitas.
  • Their Spicy Peanut Vinaigrette is the BEST if you’re into asian salads. I can’t bare to waste my time making my own peanut dressings because I LOVE THIS so much. It’s not as light as some but still only 4 fat and 9 carbs for 2 tbs. If I can’t afford as much as I want, I love to mix it with Newman’s Own Sesame Ginger dressing.  I use it for this (my favorite) thai salad, or this chopped cauli rice asian bowl, or with these thai lettuce tacos.  So GOOD.
  • I always grab their olive oil spray. For obvious uses but also when I just need a little moisture on some simple greens aside my dinner but don’t have room for dressing in my macros. I do a spritz with salt and pepper and maybe a squeeze of lemon.

My Trader Joe's must-haves.

Worst lighting ever sorry.

  • San Marzano Tomatoes – if you were ever obsessed with watching cooking shows like me, you know these are pretty much the best canned tomatoes from the Campari Region of Italy. I don’t even mess around with other canned tomatoes. So I love that Trader Joe’s has them.
  • Tomato Paste – I used to have to buy this in a can and then figure out what to do with the other 7/8ths of the can after I opened it. So I was thrilled when Traders started carrying the tube! A few tablespoons brought back to life in hot pan with your onions and carrots for a good bolognese… essential to deepen that tomato flavor.
  • The pound plus milk chocolate bar is pretty much the best milk chocolate ever for this low price point, and I’m not a huge milk fan. But if I’m dipping strawberries, making Christmas toffee, or being nice to Ross and chopping it to throw it in the cookies– it’s ALWAYS gonna be this milk chocolate bar. I always always have one on hand.
  • Dry toasted slivered almonds– I’m telling you there is something about this exact bag of almonds that is better than all other almonds to me. The texture and shape– especially out of the freezer where I store my nuts– so good and crunchy! I love a little bit sprinkled on oatmeal, ice cream sundaes, yogurt bowls etc… always always in stock in my “special toppings” bin in my freezer.
  • Frozen brown rice– I haven’t made rice the “old fashioned” way in ages. Ha. We live on this. Three minutes in the microwave for good real rice. Nothing like minute rice that falls apart like sand. This is legit. The jasmine is great if you prefer white. I like both, carbs are all about the same, but my family is hooked on brown… love it for rice bowls, on the base of my tostadas, or thrown in salads if I’ve got the carbs.
  • Farro– I love farro. This is my favorite grain for salads. So fat and chewy… I love it in this farro and arugula salad, or ….
  • The Maple Donut One bars are at my Traders now! They’re the cheapest I’ve seen there too.  My third favorite protein bar after the G2G bar (I buy on their site) and the snack sized fit crunch I get at Costco. But I go through phases where this is my go-to. Lower fat than the G2G but not chocolate like the fit crunch for when I don’t want to worry about melted chocolate in my lap on a road trip or in my teeth— I think this is an old people problem and I’m entering a new phase. bleh.
  • Dried wild blueberries– not so much something I eat, but the best place I’ve found to get these for blueberry muffins or pancakes for my kids.

My Trader Joe's must-haves.

  • The 3 cheese lite mexican blend is a little lighter than normal grocery store brands. Love it for egg burritos or all things Mexican.
  • I love these Mahi Burgers for a quick dinner! So good on a hollowed out kaiser or a delicious brioche with a pepper jack laughing cow cheese, some chipotle cream and burger toppings… or cilantro lime slaw! I went thru a phase when I started macros where I ate these every day. Often two for dinner! I’d hollow out one big bolillo sandwich roll like I use for my favorite sandwich, and cut it in half and get two full burgers for great macros!
  • My favorite fat free cottage cheese… lower carbs than other fat free brands.  I use it all the time for bowls like this one or this one in this full day of eating post.
  • This spinach and kale greek yogurt dip isn’t a regular purchase for me but I liked it with homemade lavash chips for a yummy after church snack with the fam.
  • Fat free feta is a STAPLE for one of my all time favorite meals… the Greek Pork Pitas with Cucumber Salsa!  Also good in this watermelon salad
  • Tomato Basil hummus is a great lower fat hummus at only 2 fat… A go to for those greek pork pitas… or greek nachos or just good old post-church dip-fest.
  • Healthy Ham– love it because it’s got ZERO fat. For when you need protein but can’t afford a single gram of fat. Great of course in the egg quiche or egg white burrito or in place of sausage in the egg white pitas, or anything sandwichy!
  • Love with sweet onion bacon vinaigrette on a good dark green salad… it’d be great with this chopped kale one, or this arugula waldorf, or this one with farro, arugula and herbs.  It’s hard to find good light vinaigrettes that don’t taste too low-fat. Love this one. I think it’s 5 fat. Not the lowest but still good.
  • Frozen Dorot basil and garlic cubes are MY WHOLE LIFE. HOW DID I EVER CHOP MY OWN GARLIC. I still chop lots of fresh basil. I just use the frozen basil cubes occasionally in a sauce and ALWAYS for the basil aioli in these roasted tomato basil chicken and bacon sandwiches and this chicken pesto panini. It’s AMAZING. But I pretty much exclusively use this garlic now. Game changer.  No more stinky garlic fingers for days.
  • If you haven’t bought their sweet potato fries you’ve been buying garbage. Unless you don’t even buy them at all then maybe you’re not buying garbage. But these are by far my favorite store-bought frozen sweet potato fry. Way better than Alexa … so crispy and good…. of course we sprinkle with a bunch more salt afterwards, drizzle with honey.. and dip in the chipotle cream. And now I’m hungry.

A few more things to add to the list:

Just because these items didn’t make the photo, I still HAVE to talk about them! These items are definitely what to buy at Trader Joe’s. (Along with the above list, of course.)

  • Toscana Cheese soaked in Syrah-It’s the firm white cheese in a wedge with the purple rind. It’s not light or anything… but it’s AMAZING chopped up in salads or on paninis… definitely included on any cheese board I make.
  • Everything bagel seasoning– This has gotten so popular so there’s a good chance you’ve seen it. I LOVE it on every sandwich/pita/panini situation. Pretty much anything I would add tomatoes or avocado too… I also want the bagel seasoning. Particularly these turkey pita paninis, my every day turkey sub and the egg white pitas.
  • Cornbread mix-not macro friendly… and probably full of sugar because it pretty much tastes like yellow cake but it’s SO GOOD. Our favorite cornbread… so it’s hard to bother making some from scratch. I’ll sub oil for applesauce and make lower fat cornbread waffles to top with bbq pulled pork. HEAVEN.
  • Arugula– obviously you can get this at most stores but I swear there’s is the best. And I feel like it keeps longer.
  • Rustica red sauce– If you can’t get Costco’s Victoria, this is my second favorite with the same great macros. Only 6 carbs per serving.
  • I like their semi sweet chunks for cookies when I don’t want to chop a dark bar and want the rough melty chocolate in my favorite chocolate chip cookies.
  • YUZU hot sauce– It’s a small bottle described as “simultaneously spicy and citrusy fragrant”. It’s got zero macros and adds such a good fresh kick to my sandwiches, wraps, pitas, burritos, etc.

OK, I’m just gonna stop. Because I keep wandering the isles in my head and I’m sure if I wander too long I’ll keep thinking of something new you don’t really need.

Or maybe you do. Hey, I’m just helping you know what to buy at Trader Joe’s. I LOVE THIS STORE.

Did I miss something you love? I’m all about coming together in knowing what to buy at Trader Joe’s! Let me know if there’s something I HAVE to grab.