• a registered dietitian shares her top 14 items to buy at trader joe's

14 Items to Buy at Trader Joe’s

A Registered Dietitian shares her favorite 14 items to buy at Trader Joe’s and her favorite healthy ways to use them.

If you follow this blog or my social media at all, then you know I am a die-hard Trader Joe’s fan.

a dietitian's top 14 items to buy at trader joes

I do about 85% of my weekly grocery shopping at good old TJ’s and just love trying out their new products.

People that are not TJ shoppers often ask what the heck I buy when I go there, so I thought it would be fun to do a post on my favorite (current) items to buy Trader Joe’s.

The Items I Always Buy at Trader Joe’s

1. Cruciferous Crunch Collection

cruciferous crunchy collection bagged salad mix from trader joes

This has become my go-to bagged salad mix. I like that it’s hearty, which makes a really good base for winter salads. It’s also packed with healthy, nutritious greens like kale, brussels sprouts, and broccoli so I feel good when I eat it.

2. Shaved Brussels Sprouts

a bagged of shaved brussels sprouts from trader joes

Brussels Sprouts were everywhere in 2017 and I became a fan, but only if they are shaved or cut very small. I don’t care for whole brussels sprouts, so I really like these shaved brussels from TJ’s because it saves a step and they come out so crunchy when roasted in the oven. This recipe for Braised Brussels Sprouts with Lemon Garlic Aioli from Hunger Thirst Play has become a favorite at our house…so good!!!!

3. Carrot Ginger Miso Dressing

bottle of carrot ginger miso salad dressing from trader joes

This dressing is handy to have on hand and full of flavor. It packs a bit of a punch and truth be told comes out very thick, but also has a similar taste to miso dressing you get at Japanese restaurants. I also really love that it is made with fresh, simple ingredients. That being said, it doesn’t last very long once you buy it and it is little pricey (in my opinion), ringing in at almost $4 a bottle. But it’s hearty enough to use for dressing up kale and other fibrous greens.

4. Steamed Lentils

steamed lentils from trader joes

I am totally team lentil. They are hearty, nutritious and make Meatless Mondays super easy. That being said, a lot of dry lentils require a long cooking time. These steamed lentils from Trader Joe’s are pre-cooked and can be found in the refrigerated section (by the produce). They can be eaten cold (great on salads) or warmed up in the microwave for 3 minutes.

One of my favorite ways to prepare them is with Curry Caramelized Onions or simply to heat them up in the microwave and then add prepared bruschetta (see next item) and serve.  So simple and so good!

5. Prepared Bruschetta

bruschetta sauce from trader joes

The perfect blend of tomatoes, basil and garlic, this sauce is so good! I add it to cooked lentils (see above), scrambled eggs or on pasta. In a pinch it’s great on grilled chicken to make a delicious dish!

6. Fresh Lemons

fresh lemons from trader joes

I always throw a couple lemons in my cart when grocery shopping, even if they aren’t on my list. I add them to water, make vinaigrette, or use on grilled chicken or salmon.

The lemons at Trader Joe’s are always less expensive than my local larger grocery store so I pick up a couple every time I go.

7. Ground Turkey/Chicken

ground turkey from trader joes

I can’t count the number of times that ground turkey or chicken has saved me at meal time. It goes great with scrambled eggs in the morning, making turkey/chicken burgers for lunch or meatballs for dinner. It cooks quickly and the whole family likes it so it’s a win-win for me.

8. Balela

balela bean salad from trader joes

This middle eastern inspired bean salad is so tasty and great for you! An easy way to add protein and fiber to your meals, I typically just eat right out of the container and pair it with a salad at lunch or serve alongside steamed salmon for dinner.

9. Frozen Wild Salmon

package of frozen salmon from trader joes

We are huge fans of salmon in my house and the frozen filets from Trader Joe’s are so handy! Relatively inexpensive, they fit nicely in our budget (~$6 per 8oz portion) and make dinner delicious and simple. We have had this salmon baked, formed into burgers and grilled, roasted, broiled and everything in between. You can always find one in my freezer and it’s a staple on my grocery list.

10. Everything But the Bagel Seasoning Blend

everything but the bagel seasoning blend

A cult favorite at Trader Joe’s. I’ve written about this delicious seasoning blend before, but it deserves another mention. Plus it’s only $1.99!

This seasoning blend is so full of flavor and adds great flavor to so many dishes! I love it on top of scrambled eggs but it also adds so much great flavor to grilled chicken, on top of salads, and on avocado toast. Do yourself a favor and pick up a bottle of this if you see at your local store.

11. Latin Style Black Bean Soup

latin soup from trader joes

My friend Sarah got me hooked on Latin Black Bean Soup years ago and it has become a staple in our meals. When I don’t have time to make a batch, the packaged soup from Trader Joe’s is my equally as good stand in. So much flavor and it’s so creamy and thick without having any added cream.

12. Single Serving Manzanilla Olives

package of green manzanilla olives from trader joes

I love green olives…to me they offer the perfect salty bite. These prepackaged olives are the perfect snack on the go. They are shelf stable, so you can just throw a pack (or 2) in your purse and have them when you get a craving for something salty or just need a little snack to tide you over. Plus they cost about $0.99 each, so you can grab a few and stock up.

13. Dijon Mustard

jar of dijon mustard from trader joes

I great up in a mayonnaise family…I felt like we bought it in bulk. Once I got older, I tried to break my mayonnaise heavy sandwich addiction and this dijon mustard totally did the trick. It’s semi-spicy which makes it stand out compare to there dijon mustards I’ve tried. It adds so much flavor to sandwiches, tuna salad, roasted chicken and baked salmon. You can always find a jar of it in our fridge.

14. Shredded Unsweetened Coconut

bag of unsweetened coconut from trader joes

I had the hardest time finding unsweetened coconut at my local grocery store but good old Trader Joe’s always had this in stock, at a reasonable price.

I love added this coconut to my morning smoothies, or sprinkling over sliced apples topped with peanut butter. If you are coconut fan, you will love this unsweetened version that offers the same great coconut flavor, without the added sugar.

bag of dietitians top 14 items to buy at trader joe's

To keep it real, I also would like to share the items that I always buy at other grocery stores (usually Safeway)…

Items I don’t Buy at Trader Joe’s

  • Sliced Bread – I’ve tried a few different types of bread from TJ’s and I am not a fan. I find them too dense and also find that their baked goods don’t have a very long shelf life.
  •  Peanut Butter – my kids just don’t like “natural” peanut butter or almond butter and that is the only type that Trader Joe’s carries.
  • Fresh Fish – I am a big fan of the frozen fish selection at TJ’s but their fresh fish is not my favorite. It’s pre-packaged and a bit limited. So I purchase fresh fish elsewhere so that I can have a bigger variety and also select the amount I want to buy.
  • Italian Parsley – this might seem very specific but my local TJ’s only sells the curly type of parsley which I can’t stand. I use a lot of italian parsley in recipes, so I end up getting it somewhere else.

Are you a fan of Trader Joe’s? What are your go-to items to buy at the grocery store when you go?

15 Comments

  • comment-avatar
    Farrah January 19, 2018 (3:35 pm)

    Trader Joe’s is one of my favorite places ever to shop–I’m so glad they opened one near me! <3! Great picks! (I can't believe the Everything but the Bagel seasoning blend is only $2! Definitely gonna need to pick that up!)

    • comment-avatar
      Brynn McDowell January 21, 2018 (9:30 pm)

      most of their spices and dried herbs are only about $2 each…such a deal!

  • comment-avatar
    Sara January 19, 2018 (6:49 pm)

    You picked so many of my favorites too! Love that store! Thanks for the fun post!

  • comment-avatar
    Rachael Schirmer January 20, 2018 (11:22 am)

    I have never shopped at Trader Joes! But this post makes me want to start. The black bean soup looks tasty.

  • comment-avatar
    Jodi January 21, 2018 (6:57 am)

    I wish I had Trader Joes! Would buy all of these :).

  • comment-avatar
    Cara @ Street Smart Nutrition January 21, 2018 (8:33 am)

    I’m still behind on trying the “Everything but the Bagel” seasoning but I’ve heard so many raving reviews about it! Adding to my list for next time I shop there

    • comment-avatar
      Brynn McDowell January 21, 2018 (9:29 pm)

      I was skeptical too, mainly because I don’t even like “everything bagels” but it is good and goes on everything!

  • comment-avatar
    Kristina Todini January 21, 2018 (11:11 pm)

    Those shaved brussels are a lifesaver! On my grocery list every week.

  • comment-avatar
    Abbie Gellman, MS RD CDN January 22, 2018 (6:04 am)

    This is great, definitely making a TJ trip soon!

  • comment-avatar
    Kathryn Pfeffer January 22, 2018 (5:52 pm)

    I am jotting all of these down! TJ’s is my second home!

  • comment-avatar
    Catherine Brown January 24, 2018 (7:18 am)

    I’m SO happy to be near enough to shop at Trader Joe’s again! That Carrot Ginger Miso dressing is one item I’ve yet to try, and it looks delicious! I’ll have to pick that one up next time I’m there. My family loved the Chile Lime Seasoning too, so we also get that one along with the Everything But the Bagel Sesame Seasoning…. YUM! 🙂

  • comment-avatar
    Meredith January 25, 2018 (6:47 pm)

    Great list! Add me to the “Everything But the Bagel Sesame Seasoning” fan club… it is delicious sprinkled on top of avo toast. My other TJ’s favorites: their tahini, coconut milk, and toasted sesame oil… definitely staples in my kitchen!