Cooking for a family, while making family time

Trader Joe’s Favorites

Trader Joe’s Favorites
I’m some what new to the Trader Joe’s obsession. However, over this past year it has become a staple in our household. So much so that we don’t even have a store locally, I drive 45 minutes out of town to get our fix. I usually go every other month and stock up on all of our favorite goodies. Curious how I keep things fresh for that 45 minute drive home? I put a giant cooler with ice packs in my trunk and fill it in the Trader Joe’s parking lot after shopping. Then I’m ready to drive home keeping everything at perfect temperature. It can be overwhelming going into a new grocery store, even more a specialty grocery store. So I hope that this relieves that stress for you and that you enjoy some of the items I’ve picked out as much as I do! I’ve broken it down into a few different categories to help you while you’re shopping.

 

Frozen Foods

The freezer section at Trader Joe’s is chock-full of delicious options. On busy weekday nights a freezer can be a Mom’s best friend to feed the family quick.
  • Hash browns
  • Frozen burgers: buffalo, angus beef, chili lime chicken
  • Breaded chicken tenderloins
  • Chicken cilantro mini wontons
  • Mandarin orange chicken
  • Kung pao chicken
  • Cold brew coffee dessert bars

The hash browns make a perfect addition to those “breakfast for dinner” kind of nights. We usually pair ours with scrambled eggs, yogurt and fresh fruit for a quick meal. Also if being made in the air fryer they come together in 10 minutes and taste just like a certain golden arched fast food chains breakfast hash browns.
The burgers are all really nice in size and flavor however they will need to be taken out a few hours to overnight before cooking so be sure to plan accordingly for that. My favorite thing about their frozen burgers is that they are individually wrapped, this is perfect if you’re just cooking for one or if you don’t need to thaw out all of them at once.
The chicken tenderloins have become one of my most used Trader Joe’s items. They’re like really big, really yummy chicken nuggets. When cooked in the air fryer they’re done and perfectly crispy in under 15 minutes! Plus a good crunchy piece of chicken pairs perfectly with just about anything. Slice it up over a salad, dip in different sauces or serve with your favorite sides.
To get the most out of the chicken cilantro wontons I strongly suggest making the sauce (recipe is on the back of the bag). It pairs perfectly for dipping and makes these an easy scrumptious snack.

 

Cookies and Sweets

It might seem odd but at Trader Joe’s they keep a lot of their cookies and treats ABOVE the open freezers. So while you shop for the things I mentioned in the frozen food aisle, don’t forget to look up!
  • Triple Ginger Snap cookies
  • S’mashing S’mores cookies
  • Cinnamon Schoolhouse cookies

The Triple Ginger Snap cookies are amazing! They have crystallized ginger in the cookies and they’re somehow both sweet and spicy, crunchy and soft. They never last long in our house.

 

Other Sweets & Snacks

These snacks will be found in other aisles not above the frozen foods.
  • 3 Seed Sweet Potato and Beet Crackers
  • PB and J Bars
  • Organic Frosted Toaster Pastries
  • Speculoos Cookie Butter, smooth or crunchy
All of the above snacks are loved by my kids. They request the PB & J bars regularly and if they come along on the shopping trip with me they’re always their snack of choice for the ride home. The PB& J bars are also individually wrapped which is perfect for throwing into a lunch box.
We love to use the cookie butter on frozen waffles, on a sandwich, or just by the spoonful.

 

Refrigerated Section

I have become really fond of a lot in their refrigerated section. First off they have a MASSIVE array of cheeses that are both affordable and versatile. Another staple, their pre-marinated meats take a lot of stress off weeknight cooking. All the flavor with none of the time or prep work!
  • Carne asada beef
  • Pesto genovese chicken
  • Cubed pancetta
  • Mascarpone
  • Mini brie bites
  • Pesto gouda
  • Cotija
  • Green Goddess dressing
Both the carne asada beef and the pesto chicken come pre-marinated and cut. By being cut smaller they cook fast, and being vacuumed sealed in their marinades they’re packed FULL of flavor. Perfect for busy schedules when you still want a dinner to satisfy your taste buds.
The cubed pancetta is a key ingredient to a favorite dinner of ours, that also comes together in a flash!
Mascarpone cheese is an italian style cream cheese, we use it to top all of our favorite pasta dishes. It adds a richness and creaminess to any dish without overpowering it.
Cotija is a Mexican soft cheese, with a really salty bite. I use it in all of my Mexican street corn dishes as well as to top the carne asada mentioned above.
Mini brie bites have become my favorite snack/ lunch on a busy day! I usually pair them with an apple and crackers and it makes a perfect healthy but filling midday bite. Also these bries are individually wrapped, so perfect for packing in lunches or on the go!

 

Spices

Trader Joe’s has become known for their everything bagel seasoning and there is a reason for that, it’s amazing!! However they have quite a few other spices that are worth a try!
  • Everything But the Bagel
  • Garlic Salt grinder
  • Chili Lime seasoning
  • 21 Season Salute
The garlic sea salt grinder has become my new favorite. It’s perfect on garlic toast, butter pasta, on top of a slice of pizza or to season some chicken.

 

Produce, Bakery, Booze & More

Trader Joe’s has a lot to offer, this section is more miscellaneous items I’ve tried and liked. The prices on their bakery breads and wines can’t be beat! They have a lot of great produce items, as well as canned goods and condiments.
  • Sourdough bread
  • Pretzel roll buns
  • Moon brand wine
  • Tri color carrots
  • Olive tapenade
  • Tomato basil marinara
  • Green Dragon Hot Sauce
  • Champagne Style Vinaigrette
  • Bruschetta sauce (fresh or jarred)
  • Cold brew coffee/ coffee concentrate

For anyone that likes spice, with some real heat, the Green Dragon Hot Sauce is what’s up! It’s both spicy and flavorful which any spice lover knows is hard to find.
The Moon brand wines are all under $10! MoonX, Velvet Moon, Honey Moon, etc. The moon names change with the type of wine you prefer. 
Alright guys, I know that was a lot of information. Thanks for sticking with me through this long post. Pretty much if you go for the bagel seasoning, stay for the affordable wines and cheese and be sure to try a few of their quick dinner options, you won’t be sorry.
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