A surprising number of people I have gushed to about Trader Joe’s have never been there, and this is a problem that I feel I need to fix. Trader Joe’s is a food store which is filled with friendly folks in Hawaiian shirts and even more importantly, tons of unique and very, very delicious specialty items. My whole three shelves of food in my college dorm-- yes, three full shelves, don’t judge-- is filled with wonderful Trader Joe’s delicacies. To share the love, here’s a list of all of my favorite items you can find at the magical land that is Trader Joe’s.
1. Cookie Butter
I’m going to begin with Cookie Butter because it is without a doubt my all time favorite Trader Joe’s item. I’m a little obsessed. It’s made from ground Speculoos, a European spiced biscuit cookies. If you’ve ever had Biscoff spread, Cookie Butter is pretty much the same thing, but better! Cookie Butter is like peanut butter and Nutella’s hipster cousin, and you can use it the same way you would use peanut butter or Nutella (which for me usually means eating it straight out of the jar with a spoon!). There are three different varieties; original, crunchy, and cocoa swirl (there might even be more now?), and I love them all (but crunchy is the best, just saying).
2. Mac & Cheese
Who doesn’t love mac & cheese? Trader Joe’s microwavable single serve mac & cheese is waaay better than Kraft and almost as good as homemade mac & cheese! It’s all the ooey gooey, melt in your mouth, cheesy goodness you could ever want in a mac & cheese. It also comes in “reduced guilt”, which is surprisingly just as good!
3. Literally anything covered in chocolate.
Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups, Chocolate-Covered Ginger, Chocolate-Covered Espresso Beans, Chocolate and Coconut Covered Almonds, Chocolate-Covered Pomegranate, and the list goes on… I try to limit myself to one chocolate-covered item each time I go, but does this ever really work? Take a guess.
4. Literally anything pumpkin-flavored.
I’m not your basic Pumpkin Spice Latté girl, I promise, BUT when that sweater weather season rolls around and Trader Joe’s brings out their pumpkin-flavored everything, I am all about it. They come up with new pumpkin items each year and each one is more delicious than the next.
5. Breaded Eggplant Cutlets
My freezer at home is just not complete when it is missing these breaded eggplant cutlets. They’re pre-cooked and they make so many meals a ton easier. I love using them in a caprese salad, in pasta with other veggies, in an egg sandwich with provolone cheese (sounds weird, but try it OMG), layered in lasagna, and of course in eggplant parmesan!
6. Sesame Honey Cashews
I love snacking on these candied and sesame coated cashews! These crunchy, salty, sweet nuts are practically perfect in every way!
7. Vegan Meatballs
Okay, so you’re never going to get a vegan meatball to really taste like a real meatball, but these have the texture of regular meatballs and they’re a yummy and healthier alternative! I love them in pasta with lots of sauce, and you can dress them up in your favorite way to make them really spectacular! I am by no means vegan, but these are akways a staple in my house because they’re so good!
8. Dorot Frozen Basil/Garlic Cubes
Yet another staple in my house, these genius items are such life-savers for when you don’t have fresh basil or garlic (or if you’re just too lazy to chop it up!). They’re little ice cubes that you can pop into any sauce, pesto, pasta, or anything else!
9. Cowboy/Cowgirl Bark
These are such great snacks to satisfy my sweet tooth! And if you love things that are salty and sweet as much as I do, this is definitely the snack for you! Cowboy Bark is dark chocolate with bits of toffee, pretzels, Joe Joe cookies (which are Trader Joe’s version of Oreos), peanuts, almonds, and a sprinkling of sea salt, and Cowgirl Bark is white chocolate with crispy rice, gingersnap cookies, pretzels, dried cranberries, almonds, and peanuts. So many wonderful things in one or two bites!
10. Breakfast Trek Mix
On weekdays, I’m a very on-the-go breakfast person, so these are great! Crunchy granola clusters, Greek yogurt chips, and roasted almonds are a yummy breakfast or snack! There are a bunch of yummy variations on Trader Joe’s trail mix and I strongly encourage you to try them all.
11. Vegan Tikka Masala with Cumin Rice
This is soooo good. It’s a frozen single serve meal that you just heat up in the microwave and enjoy! They use soy protein which is like a meatless meat and they douse it in a slightly spicy Indian inspired tomato, garlic, coconut milk tikka masala sauce! I love mixing in the rice and slurping up all that delicious sauce.
I almost always use this Indian flatbread as a side to the Vegan Tikka Masala to soak up the yummy sauce! I’ve also used it as a base for a crispy runny egg and even as a crust for pizza! I especially love the Paneer Naan, which is extra special because of its flavorful patches of garlic and paneer cheese nestled inside the chewy bread.
13. Chili Spiced Mango
This snack is so unique and definitely something you can only find at Trader Joe’s. It’s sweet dried mango generously dusted in spicy chili powder for a delicious kick and it’s so addicting.
14. Pinks & Whites Cookies
These bring me back to those nostalgic Frosted Animal Cookies I loved to eat so much growing up. These delightful shortbread cookies are shaped like flowers, coated in a sweet yogurt frosting, and dotted with colorful sprinkles!
Now go and enjoy all these wonderful, wonderful foods! Have more favorites? Comment and let me know!
(original post written for http://theperkyfoodie.com)