21: Daily life | My current favorite Trader Joe’s items

It’s not a secret that I love Trader Joe’s. Did you know that Trader Joe’s is owned by Theo Albrecht, one of the two brothers that own the popular German chain store Aldi (which has expanded to the US by now, but has not made it to California yet. What gives?)? Anyway, Trader Joe’s has been one of my favorite grocery stores ever since I moved to US and we’re lucky that we have a couple of TJ’s stores in Sacramento and it’s always one stop (of three) during my weekly grocery haul.

I thought I’d round up some of my favorite Trader Joe’s items for you (because I know that people are always interested in that kind of stuff). I tried to pick stuff that is specific to Trader Joe’s – it doesn’t mean that you can’t get something similar at another store, but these items are popular and well-known among TJ enthusiasts.


Vanilla & Cinnamon Black Tea. This is a seasonal item and they just got it back in stock a couple of weeks ago. I usually eat and drink anything with vanilla and cinnamon all year round, so I usually stock up on this when I can. 

8 Mini Croissants (in the freezer section). You guys, these are SO GOOD. You take them out of the freezer, let them rise over night and pop them in the oven in the morning for a delicious breakfast treat. 

Gingerbread Coffee. This is also a seasonal item (obviously), but I’m usually looking forward to this coffee for weeks and weeks before the holidays. If you haven’t tried it, you have to pick some up the next time you visit Trader Joe’s.


Unsweetened Almond Milk. I usually buy the original, but the vanilla variety is also pretty good. What I love about this almond milk is that it’s unsweetened and carageenan-free!  This can’t be said for all almond milk out there. Have you checked your labels?

Speculoos Cookies. Those cookies are delicious, especially when you dunk them into your coffee or tea. They also remind me of home.

Kettle Cooked Olive Oil Potato Chips. If you like salty snacks (like me!), you need to try these potato chips. They’re delicious!!


Crumbled Goat Cheese. I am a big fan of goat cheese and this crumbled kind can be spread on a piece of bread, but also sprinkled on your favorite salad. It’s super-creamy and just melts in your mouth.

Organic Brown Rice Pasta Fusilli. For the longest time, I was hesitant to try brown rice pasta (I had heard that it was even ‘chewier’ than whole grain pasta, which, by the way, we have gotten used to and like), but this pasta is really, really good.  

French Cornichons. Most pickles that you can get in the US, I don’t really like, because they’re not crunchy enough for me and somehow too sweet?!  I usually buy the German kind at the World Market, because I like my pickles really crunchy and sour. But these little cornichons are a great alternative, and a great snack!

Now, tell me one of your favorite Trader Joe’s items! Or, if you don’t have a Trader Joe’s where you live, which one of these items would you like to try the most?

  1. Aldi will soon open in California. Just google it!

    1. Well, they’ve been saying it for a while and it looks like the first few Aldi stores will open in SoCal, so I am not holding my breath right now.

  2. I totally agree on TJ’s and have no idea how I would survive without one nearby. Among other things, we like their cheese selection, plain yogurt, dried fruits, nuts, crackers, and guacamole (the low(er) fat version with Greek yogurt is super yummy!). I also appreciate their international holiday treats — Lebkuchen, Stollen, Advent calendars, and so on. Aldi, on the other hand, is a different story. I don’t like to shop there except for a few select items, and while groceries are really much cheaper, especially by U.S. standards, I often find their quality poor, especially when comparing it to Aldi in Germany.

    1. I only hear good things about the Aldi stores here in the US… but I haven’t been able to see for myself.

    2. I felt the same way about H&M when it first came to the US as you do about Aldi now! (And I agree on Aldi. I wasn’t impressed, and I really WANTED to be.)

  3. You and I have very similar tastes – many of your favorites are my favorites, too :-)

    I love the tub of the mini ginger snaps. I basically can’t buy them anymore because I will eat them all in one sitting.

    I love the individual packets of chevre/goat cheese, and the jar of fig butter – spread both on some crackers or a nice baguette and I’m a happy woman!

    All the olives – the garlic stuffed, jalapeno stuffed, and bleu cheese stuffed.

    In the frozen section, I love the pot stickers and the chicken chile verde burritos.

    There are plenty of others that I can’t think of off the top of my head…

    I love Trader Joe’s!

    1. Oh, since we have such similar taste… I want to try all of the things that you suggested! Thanks!

  4. I wish there was a Trader Joe’s closer to me. The ones in the Minneapolis area are so inconveniently located (for me). They are going to open one in my neighborhood in the next 2-3 years but I will likely have moved by then. :/ I used to go to TJ’s when I lived in Charlotte, though, as it was right by the Target I went to. I really love their french macarons which are in the frozen section! Of course they are not as good as the ones from a bakery but they were pretty darn great for a frozen product!!

    1. Oh, you think you’re going to move again from your new place soon?

  5. I love cornichons so much and actually bought a jar just recently! I do love TJ’s except for their produce section – their stuff doesn’t last much and we’re usually better off buying produce from Wegman’s or Whole Foods (do you guys have Wegman’s?).

    We actually have Aldi here, but I wasn’t too impressed with the options at the one near us (it isn’t very big). Others that are around might be better but I haven’t been to them to see.

    1. I totally agree on the produce! Produce at our TJ’s is usually a pretty sad affair. Surprisingly, I’ve gotten decent produce at Aldi’s before though. I’m lucky to be able to split up my grocery shopping and go to different stores for different things, although it can be time consuming.

      1. Oh bummer. I only had good experiences with TJ’s produce…. in fact, if I don’t get to the Farmers Market, I buy most of my produce at TJ’s. Maybe it’s different because we’re in CA?

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