Trader Joe’s Must Haves

Peanut Butter and Jelly Rice Cakes
Peanut Butter and Jelly Rice Cakes

Since it’s Labor Day I get to be home to watch the Today Show and currently a boy band is on that I’ve never heard of. I’ve never felt so old in my life watching hundreds of teen girls with braces singing every word to these songs I’ve never heard before. What happened to my hipness? This was this morning’s breakfast, which is rare because I don’t have peanut butter often because of fat content, but my pantry is running low! It’s peanut butter and jelly on brown rice cakes with a sprinkle of Everything but the Bagel Seasoning.

I’m going to make my weekly Trader Joe’s run today, which is always part of my weekly routine because let’s face it, Trader Joe’s is a vegan’s greatest grocery store. One of my friends was asking for some of the best things to buy from TJ’s since she doesn’t go very often and I started rapid fire shooting things off that are my favorites, so I figured I would make a list of my must haves. One of my first posts ever was a Trader Joe’s list, but I’ve probably found some new goodies since and want to share what I get almost weekly. Trader Joe’s is affordable, good quality, and they have ethnic and fun things that other big chains don’t carry. Their frozen section is amazing, and you can find great wines for cheap. They also have a beautiful variety of flowers for under $10, potted succulents, orchids, and cute cards for all occasions.

Must Have Trader Joe’s Buys

Fresh Flowers- I always have a bouquet of fresh flowers on my bar in the kitchen because it just makes everything feel nicer. It’s a habit I picked up from my mom and luckily with bouquets at $3.99, $5.99, and $9.99 I don’t feel like I’m breaking the bank.

Breads- Most weeks I get some kind of bread from here whether it is their California Sprouted Grain sliced,  Whole Wheat Pita, Whole Wheat Lavash, or Ciabatta Rolls. I use these all of the time! Usually the Sprouted Grain for breakfasts, Lavash for pizzas or veggie sandwiches, pita for sandwiches, pita chips, or soup dippers, and the ciabatta rolls are my favorite for burgers and I use them as buns.

Fruit– My weekly fruit haul usually includes bananas, medjool dates, watermelon, mangoes, apples, and raspberries/blueberries.

Veggies– Since going vegan most of my groceries are produce items so I load up on whatever I need for my weekly recipes. The usuals are broccoli, spring mix, onions, mushrooms, zucchini, scallions, asparagus, eggplant, grape tomatoes, shredded carrots, kale, bell peppers, persian cucumbers, and mini gold potatoes.

Savory Thin Mini Rice Crackers Multiseed with Tamari Soy Sauce- These are THE BEST snack. I always have a bag on hand because after school I’m always craving these small, crunchy, and soy sauce flavored rice crackers. Plus you can have 37 for 120 cals.

Pretzel Slims- These are just like Pretzel thins and they’re great for hummus, or my usual (salsa, weird maybe?) and are also a great lunch side.

Teas and Kombucha- They have a great variety of teas and carry the best TJ’s brand kombucha. I love the Mango flavor because it’s not vinegary and has a fruity flavor. I also like the Gingerade kind.

Raw Cashews- I use these cashews to make so many creamy sauces that I always have them in the house. Raw cashews have a sweet taste and they’re softer so they just require a quick hot water soak (10 min) and they’re ready to blend.

Pasta- They have several kinds of brown rice pasta that I use and also some whole wheat and regular white variety. The important thing to know with brown rice pasta is rinse really well after draining before adding to a dish or it gets gummy. I also get my Brown Basmati Rice from here.

Spices/Condiments- I get my garlic, garlic powder, cumin powder, pink himalayan salt, pepper, ginger, and Everything but the Bagel Seasoning here. Everything but the Bagel Seasoning should really have its own category because it’s so amazing! Picture the taste of an everything bagel that you can add to whatever you want. I sprinkle it on my morning jelly rice cakes, salads, sandwiches, and on top of hummus. SO GOOD! I also get a bag of Nutritional Yeast as any addition of “cheesy” flavor I need on top of pizza, pasta, soup, or in sauces.

I also buy jars of tahini to make hummus, low sodium soy sauce, Coconut aminos for a subtler flavor and to use in my no oil teriyaki, Organic Brown Sugar BBQ sauce for a sweet and smoky no oil BBQ sauce, Sweet Chili Sauce for a gyoza dip, and my favorite semi-spicy salsa is Salsa Authentica. A more sweet salsa is the Mango Peach salsa and it’s tasty as well.

Beans- I stock up on garbanzo beans for hummus, stir fries, beanballs, etc. I also get black beans for burrito bowls, tacos, burritos, and soups. Their Fat Free Refried beans are really tasty in simple grilled tacos. I get Cannellini beans for rosemary dip and soups.

Tofu and Tempeh- I always buy my tofu and tempeh here because it’s so affordable! The package of organic tempeh is only $1.99 and I use it as “sausage” crumbles on pizza, or filling in gyros. The tofu is so versatile and I use it in asian stir fries, crispy with bbq sauce, in ramen, or made into a ricotta for lasagna or baked ziti.  I usually buy extra firm tofu because it stays together when it’s cubed and baked.

Frozen Goodies- I barely have any room in my freezer and we don’t have frozen meals often but they have yummy frozen fruit and veggies. Some of my favorites to have on hand are the Shredded Potatoes because they’re JUST potatoes and I add them to a waffle iron to make a crispy hash brown breakfast. I get the bag of asian veggies for a quick stir fry and the Roasted Corn is the only corn I ever really use as an addition in burrito bowls, taco salads, burgers, etc. I used to buy the box of brown rice and box of quinoa before I got my rice cooker to make rice in the microwave in a few minutes. One of the employees gave me a pack of their Frozen Garlic to try and it’s so handy. It’s pureed garlic frozen into cubes and you just pop them in and it’s one cube per one clove. It looks like a little garlic ice cube tray!

The Thai Vegetable Gyozas are a MUST have- they are so delicious. I pan fry them dry in a nonstick pan and then add water and cover to steam. They’re so tasty dipped in soy sauce or sweet chili sauce and they’re a quick meal for tired or busy nights to add to a stir fry. I’m planning on using them this week for a quick wonton soup.

Water and Wine- I get a pack of the Raspberry Lime sparkling water in a 6 pack and they have my favorite prosecco, La Marca, for cheaper than our neighborhood chain.

Dark Chocolate Bars– Before I check out, I grab a pack of 72% Dark Chocolate Bars as a weekly treat. I don’t buy every week because I usually don’t have some every night but whenever I’m craving a bite of chocolate this is what I tend to grab.

Household Goods– I just started buying some of the household goods. I bought laundry pods, dishwasher pods, and the dehydrated veggie base sponges that you rehydrate to make full size sponges. They all seem to be working really well for a nice price. I’ve also bought our toothpaste and soap from here.

As you can tell, I’m a big fan of the products at Trader Joe’s and love the savings I get from grocery shopping here. I usually check out under $90 for our weekly grocery haul, which being plant based helps that because it’s cheaper, but the prices are really good. I enjoy going every week and getting my favorite foods, and the employees are always really friendly. If you don’t go to Trader Joe’s regularly, I would definitely recommend trying it out because once I got in routine and tried their products regularly I was hooked. I hope this post helps you find some new favorites!


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