Meal Planning

What We Love at Trader Joe’s


I get asked a lot about Trader Joe’s and what we buy there.  I have a post from two years ago on the blog.  And another one here.  But, since things like “House Whip” have been discontinued at Trader Joe’s I thought I would update the list.  (BTW, if you want Cool Whip with more natural ingredients, you can still purchase “House Whip” under the name “TruWhip” at many stores.  It was always the same stuff with a different label.)

First, I have to mention my new favorite sunscreen!  It is chemical free.  It is not sold at Trader Joe’s though…  I have only seen it available online.  I found it through the EWG and their guide to sunscreen.  I have tried for years to find a sunblock (not to be confused with sunscreen) that won’t make us look like a ghost clown.  Blue Lizard Sensitive works right into the skin like regular sunscreen, but this one is full of the two approved sunblock components:  zinc oxide and titanium dioxide.  Plus, the bottle turns blue in UV light- how cool is that?  No, they don’t pay me to write this.


(I’m sorry for the flash and photos… St. Louis had rain for an entire week straight and you may have heard of all the flooding that is still going on here.  So, lots of clouds = not so good photos of Trader Joe products.)

Why We Love It:

Now onto Trader Joe’s!  Why do we love this place?  Why do some people drive 1 hour out of their way to go there?

#1  Super nice employees.  I have read of two stories on the internet where employees actually handed a customer a small bouquet of flowers because he or she needed it.  Who else does that??

#2  Small store.  Yes I love this about the store.  I don’t need to buy 60 different salad dressings.  I want a good one.  I go get it, end of story.  If it doesn’t taste good, it won’t be on the shelf.  I can be in and out of the store much faster than metropolis stores.

#3 New items.  They have many items rotating in and out.  It’s fun to try new things and I love always finding one that we have never tried before.

#4  Return Policy.  You can’t buy their stuff anywhere else, so you pretty much don’t need a receipt.  It is handy to have though.  They will return anything for any reason – kind of like Costco.

#5  Kid Friendly.  Every time we go, the kids go in search for the stuffed animal that has been hidden in the store.  They tell the checker and get a small organic lollipop for a prize.  So, the kids are occupied and have fun too.

#6  Can’t find anywhere else items.  Many of the items I love I can’t find anywhere else.  Or anywhere nearby.

#7  Cheaper than many stores.  I can’t say it is cheaper than Aldi.  But, it is cheaper than most grocery stores and Target here.  And you can’t really compare the two – the Aldi cocoa powder and Trader Joe cocoa powder are totally different.  Chocolate chips are 30 cents different and again the nutrition is different.  Aldi doesn’t sell baking powder without aluminum, etc. etc.  There is a place for Aldi, but I don’t think it is a fair comparison.

Definitely cheaper cheeses and nuts.  Their brie is half the price of our local store.

#8  Free samples!  The sample lady is very nice and helps you with questions and where to find things.   There is always one drink and one food item.  On busy Saturdays, they have wine tastings.

#9  Trader Joe’s label = not having to wonder whether it has high fructose corn syrup or artificial colors, artificial flavors or preservatives.  These are not present in any of their Trader Joe labeled food!

List and Photos of Favorites:

Trader Joes-3139 on Whisk Together


Spinach and Kale Greek Yogurt Dip – think of spinach artichoke dip in a healthier form.  Dip chips, crackers, carrots, celery, your finger…. it’s all good.

Trader Joes-3116 on Whisk Together


Everything Crackers:  My son’s favorite crackers.  We love to pair them with Trader Joe’s double cream brie cheese.  Easy appetizer or snack.

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Cinnamon rolls:  no added artificial anything.  Five enormous cinnamon rolls ready and waiting in less than 20 minutes.  But, if you have a store nearby that carries Immaculate brand cinnamon rolls you are in luck – they are they exact same cinnamon rolls.

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Joe’s O’s:  15 ounces of Cheerios for $1.99

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Pineapple Salsa:  I have liked all of their salsas including peach and regular.  I am not a fan of canned salsa…. fresh is just so much better.  But this is really good actually and tastes great with chicken as well.

Trader Joes-3120 on Whisk Together


Viennese Lemon Tart:  A seasonal item that should not be missed.  For $6.99 this tart will feed 8 people and tastes just like homemade.  Probably because the ingredients are exactly what I would use myself.  Since it would cost me about $10 in butter, lemons and sugar to make this myself, I think it’s a great deal.

Trader Joes-3133 on WHisk Together


Pound Plus Chocolate:  These bars come in 72% dark chocolate, dark chocolate, and many others.  They are all $4.99 and all weigh over 1 pound.  Excellent deal and divided into little squares, so you can get your chocolate fix and stash it away.

Trader Joes-3130 on Whisk Together


Dunkers!  I am not allowed to go to Trader Joe’s without picking these up 🙂  You think I’m kidding… I’m not.

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Tomato Soup:  We love this quick and easy tomato soup which is perfect when making it fresh is not possible or the tomatoes are not in season.  Juliana LOVES this with a grilled cheese sandwich.

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Green Tea:  I don’t like most green tea.  It is usually too acidic or the manufacturer adds funky flavors.  This is just plain green tea, perfect balance and 48 bags for $1.99!

Trader Joes-3127 on Whisk Together


Joe Joe’s:  $2.99 for 20 ounces of Oreo cookies.  Oreo go on sale for that price sometimes.  These have always had no trans fats.  Oreo changed their formula a few years ago and removed the trans fat in their cookies.  We like the vanilla creme ones, too!  They also make these gluten free.

Trader Joes-3126 on Whisk Together


Honey O’s:  Honey Nut Cheerios basically.  But always cheap.



Island Soyaki Sauce:  I use this with chicken, pork, beef, veggies, everything.  Anything that needs a little Asian flair.

Trader Joes-3136 on Whisk Together


Seasonings:  I don’t have a photo, but the 21 Season Salute is very popular.  The Coffee BBQ rub is awesome, too.  They have smoked paprika for $2!  You can’t find that price anywhere else hardly.  On Amazon, it is $6.


Stuff That Got Eaten Before Taking a Photo or Only Carried during a Season:

Hot Dogs – Nitrate, Nitrite and Preservative free (and the ingredients are made of real food!)
Chocolate Covered Salted Almonds
Organic Lollipops
California Roll Brown Rice Sushi (Most people don’t care for it.  Hubby and I like it)
Pizza Dough Balls
Italian Sausage
Fruit and Nut Mixes (especially the blue one with cranberries, blueberries etc. and called Antioxidant mix
Brownie Truffle mix
Berry scone mix
Shortcake – Just like homemade!  Soo good.  In the bakery section
Peanut butter crackers
Chocolate chips
Frozen mango
Frozen Mozzarella sticks
Carrot Juice
Orange juice
Cat School Cookies
Windmill Cookies
Shortbread cookies
Frozen orange chicken
Superfruit Jam
Frozen Mac and Cheese
Frozen French Fries
Mini Mint Ice Cream Sandwiches
Mini Ice Cream Cones
Chocolate Chip Ice Cream Sandwiches
Fruit Bars (This “Strawberry” walk into a bar)
Crisp Cereal!!!  (Rice Krispies but without the BHT and BHA!!)
Mint Joe Joe’s
Peppermint Bark
Multigrain Pancake Mix
Cheese Crackers
Pop Chips
Caramelized Onion and Feta Bites
Raisin Bread
English Muffins
Fruit, veggies, and Broccoli Slaw
Asian dressing
Kansas City BBQ Sauce

I’m sure I forgot some…. but this is a pretty good start 🙂  I will have to post again in the Fall when their pumpkin items come out.

What we didn’t care for (because not everything is super fantastic… but most of it is!):
Chicken sausage is okay
Chicken maple breakfast sausage is okay in a pinch
Cold soups in the refrigerated section were meh
Trader Joe BBQ sauce and Enchilada sauce were a little too spicy for my tastes…. a medium hot.
But that’s about it.

Have a GREAT day!

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