Guest Post: 5 Trader Joe’s must-haves

Happy Thanksgiving Week!

I’m not going to do a normal weekend recap today because my weekend basically consisted of feedings, diaper changes, snuggling with the baby, and doing laundry. 

Very exciting stuff.  😉

I’m going to do a different kind of post today instead.  Well, different for my blog.

It’s a guest post by Tali, the author of Wee Picket Fences

I actually don’t do guest posts very often because I like to keep my voice and messages consistent.  However, I just couldn’t resist sharing this post with you today because it is all about Trader Joe’s (one of my very favorite subjects).

Tali is a total sweetheart and blogs about life as a new homeowner, projects around the house and efforts in the kitchen.  During the day, Tali works at Zillow as a Charlotte account manager.  She loves everything food related and challenges herself to make her restricted diet full of flavor.

Without further ado, here are Tali’s 5 Trader Joe’s must-haves…


Trader Joe’s grocers have popped up all over the country providing average folks with exotic foods at great prices.   It all started back in 1958 with Pronto Markets convenience stores.  The original Trader Joe changed the name and business model in 1967 into the grocers we know today.   Trader Joe’s is my one-stop inexpensive shop for ripe produce, flavorful sauces, pantry basics and dairy-free alternatives.

I could write all day about how convenient and ideal Trader Joe’s is in my life.  The stores have everything from eggs, fish and fresh vegetables to desserts, wine and prepared meals.  However, I’d bet the only complaint anyone could come up with is that they wish a store were located closer to home.  So, let me focus on my Trader Joe’s must-haves.


Spicy Hummus Dip

Trader Joe’s has multiple flavors of hummus but the spicy hummus dip is by far the best.   I will gladly eat this at anytime of day on pita bread, cucumbers, carrots or on a sandwich.  The spicy hummus has a thicker, chunkier texture, like it hasn’t been whipped quite as long as the other styles.  It’s full of garlic, a little heat.


Enchilada Sauce

This is a great sauce to have on hand.   I almost always have frozen chicken and tortillas in the house, plus this sauce.  I toss a couple of frozen chicken breasts in the crockpot with chicken broth and the Trader Joe’s enchilada sauce before work.  That evening, I fill the tortillas with the cooked meat and drizzle with more sauce before baking for 30 minutes.  The enchilada sauce is packed with spices to wow guests and my taste buds time and time again.  Tip: This recipe does not need additional salt.


Curry Simmer Sauce

Again, this sauce packs a punch of dynamic flavor.  It tastes like traditional Indian cuisine with heavy garlic rich aromas.  I mix it with cubed chicken, onions and broccoli, and serve over rice.   This sauce makes creating dinner quick and easy.  I keep a jar in the cupboard at all times.


Tahini Sauce

Since I’m limited to a dairy-free diet, I rely heavily on this tahini sauce.  It’s fresh and light tasting, with tart lemon and powerful garlic flavors.   It’s also thick and creamy.  I eat Trader Joe’s tahini sauce as a dip for veggies or crackers, as well as a warm sauce on pasta or meat dishes.   An extra benefit is that this sauce lasts for several weeks in the refrigerator.


Steamed Lentils

These lentils are ready to eat warm or cold.  They are perfect for lentil soup since they don’t absorb all of the broth.  My lentil soups generally get too thick, but with these lentils the soups remain liquid-based.  These are such a Trader Joe’s favorite that they are often gone by the time I get to the store.


The following recommendations don’t qualify for my top 5 must-haves, but I highly encourage trying the pizza dough for a last minute dinner.  Also, the Thai Green Curry sauce has been a pantry item for years because it works wonders on baked or sautéed chicken.

Other items I always keep in the pantry are Trader Joe’s Low Sodium Chicken Broth, Light Coconut Milk and Fat Free Refried Black Beans.  As you can imagine, the broth and milk can be added to just about any recipe, and the beans make a tasty dip or side dish.

For those with a sweet tooth, try the absolutely delicious Trader Joe’s cinnamon rolls.  Simply open the tube, place on a cookie sheet and bake.  Plus, where else can you find a dairy-free cinnamon roll?  Lastly, hang a lip over a bowl of Trader Joe’s Strawberry Coconut Milk Frozen Dessert.

The bottom line is that nearly everything I’ve purchased and tasted from Trader Joe’s has been impressive.  I’m constantly finding new favorites.  The extra benefit is that I am willing to keep trying new products because they are affordable.  Expand your palate and find a new Trader Joe’s favorite to share.



I hope that you all enjoyed her post.  Be sure to go to her blog and show her some love!

What are some of your Trader Joe’s essentials? If you’re a regular reader, you know that mine are frozen mango chunks, tomato & basil hummus, organic butternut squash soup, and sprouted wheat & rye bread. I haven’t been to the store in a few weeks though, and I am going through major withdrawal!




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  1. Thank you for this list!


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