Johnna’s Essential Guide To Trader Joe’s

December 3, 2014

Screen Shot 2014-12-03 at 7.35.56 AMI’m not your average Trader Joe’s shopper, and I’m more than a frequent visitor or a loyal customer. If there were a Trader Joe’s frequent-flier club, I’d be double-platinum. I’m not telling you this to brag, but to instill confidence that the recommendations I’m about to share have been significantly and sufficiently taste-tested.

My expertise in Trader Joe’s product offerings stems from the fact that I live above a store. With the only downside being the mass chaos and parking-lot rage that comes from those driving to Trader JoScreen Shot 2014-12-03 at 7.37.49 AMe’s, it’s pretty much the best location ever.

To anyone shopping at TJ’s for the first time, it can be rather overwhelming. First off, the staff is super-friendly and more than eager to help you. This bizarre experience of excellent customer service is often attributed to the fact that Trader Joe’s employees are treated very well – which I think means they’re paid in cookie butter (more on that later).

The second thing you may notice about Trader Joe’s is that all the products are TJ-branded. This can be very confusing, and often leaves shoppers wandering the aisles wondering deep questions, like, “Are Joe-Joes really the same as Oreos?”

The real secret to shopping at Trader Joe’s is trial and error. And, as I mentioned, I’ve done plenty of that.

I have many beloved Trader Joe’s products, and many that I would steer you away from — like the frozen poutine. As tempting as poutine in a bag sounds, it’s just not good. But, today, I’m going to share with you my essentials. If I were limited to only five products at Trader Joe’s, these are the ones I would choose – and I’m saving the best for last.

Screen Shot 2014-12-03 at 7.16.11 AMGyoza Potstickers

Everyone knows apps are the best part of any meal! I think it’s safe to say my fiancé and I eat a bag of potstickers a week. They’re easy to make (pan fry! Do not microwave, no matter what the bag says) and you can eat seven of them for only 200 calories. It’s nice to save calories somewhere, because you’ll need them for the rest of my essentials.

Screen Shot 2014-12-03 at 7.17.49 AMMovie Theater Popcorn

Popcorn is my go-to late-night snack, and nothing tops TJ’s Movie Theater Popcorn. It’s salty with a medium butter flavor, and no kernel popping is required. While it’s delicious and thoroughly enjoyable on it’s own, mix it with Trader Joe’s White Cheddar Popcorn for a savory and cheesy snack.


Chuncky ChocScreen Shot 2014-12-03 at 7.21.03 AMolate Chip Cookies

I used to believe that frozen cookie dough was for the birds, until I tried the gooey wonder that is TJ’s Double Chocolate Chip Cookies. It’s frozen dough that, when baked, unlocks a tasty treat so powerful that even the strongest willed calorie-counter will find him- or herself eating the whole sleeve.

Applewood Smoked Bacon

Screen Shot 2014-12-03 at 7.22.40 AM

This is one of the hottest products at my Trader Joe’s. It frequently sells out at my location because I guess my neighbors also realize this bacon is far superior to any bacon on the market. If you happen to pick some up, buy two packages. You won’t regret it.

Cookie butter
Screen Shot 2014-12-03 at 7.26.26 AMCookie butter should come with a “highly addictive” warning label. If there were a recovery program for cookie butter lovers, I would join — and take fellow Pony Natalie with me. She also recently discovered the glory of Cookie Butter, and she’s hooked.

It’s so freaking good.

You may be wondering: What the heck is cookie butter? It’s essentially Speculoos cookies (which are like the spiced cookies they give you on Delta) in spread form. It has the consistency of peanut butter and is available Screen Shot 2014-12-03 at 7.32.11 AMin smooth or crunchy. But don’t ask if cookie butter is as good for you as peanut butter, because it’s not.

Once you try cookie butter, you will find any excuse to use it. Cookie butter on an English muffin. Easy. Cookie butter on cookies? Done it. Melted cookie butter on ice cream? Yep. Cookie butter straight from the jar? Can’t stop, won’t stop.