Pro-Tip Tuesday: Shopping at Trader Joe's

11:12 AM

Trader Joe's is my favorite grocery store of all time. So when Nicole from Writes Like A Girl told me they were opening a Trader Joe's in Austin this week, I knew just what to write about for Pro-Tip Tuesday. Without further ado, my top 10 favorite products from Trader Joe's and some helpful tricks and shopping tips...

Opening day at TJ's on the Upper West Side; Photo by Japp1967

1. Assorted Macarons: At $4.99 a dozen these are among of the best macarons I've had (and I've had a lot). Sold frozen, simply defrost for 30 minutes and enjoy. Flavors include caramel, coffee, cassis, raspberry, pistachio, and orange. I bought 4 boxes on Tuesday and they're all gone.

2. Mango! Mango! Fruit & Yogurt Gummies: I have a major sweet tooth and these mango flavored gummies are a favorite. They're a nice break from the Trolli Crawlers that plague typical supermarkets. I sent these to Nicole in a care package and I'm pretty sure she loved them.

3. Dried Fruit Bars: Kind of like a fruit roll up with out all the junk, and you don't feel like a fool for eating a children's snack. These yummy bars are perfect to grab with a pasty in the morning, and I love tossing them in with my lunch. Flavors include raspberry, boysenberry, strawberry, apricot, and passion fruit. Also available as "Ends & Pieces," an assorted bag of well, the ends and pieces they didn't use when manufacturing those perfectly rectangular bars.

4. Farfalle with 4 Cheeses & Spinach: Hands down the best frozen pasta dinner I have ever had in my life; it's incredibly creamy and delicious. At just $1.99 it's often the staple for my lunches at work. I add frozen chicken, steak, or veggies to spice it up.

5. Organic Tomato & Roasted Red Pepper Soup: Another great lunch item, this smooth tomato soup is perfect to have on hand during the cooler winter months or to complement a spur of the moment grilled cheese. Great flavor, and it comes in a box, not a can so you get 32 ounces of soup in a resealable container, no Tupperware necessary. 

6. Uncured Bacon Ends & Pieces: Perfect for soups, sandwiches, salads and more these are scrap ends and pieces from their traditional uncured bacon. I love their bacon and the small pieces make it a breeze to cook with. Their sliced Uncured Applewood Smoked Bacon is my favorite for breakfast. It has a great flavor I've yet to find elsewhere. 

7. Creamy Spinach & Artichoke Dip: When I work shorter days I like to pack this dip for lunch. However, I must say, while there are no oven directions on the package, this creamy dip comes out much better when heated in a small dish in the oven for ~30 minutes. I think it's too watery in the microwave. I prefer this spinach & artichoke dip over the dip at popular restaurants.

8. Quinoa and Black Bean Infused Tortilla Chips: These chips are the perfect match for the spinach & artichoke dip above. The black beans and quinoa give these tortilla chips an edge over your average Tostitos. A bag of these never last long in my house, my boyfriend loves to eat them by themselves. 

9. Carribean Fruit Floes: These popsicles are so fruity and delicious. I love the combination of coconut and pineapple with chunks of other fruit. Perfectly refreshing on a warm day. Also available in lime, strawberry, chile mango, and coconut water.

10. Marinated Mozzarella: Perfect for flatbreads, salads, and sandwiches, TJ's marinated mozzarella is just slightly spicy, but filled with rich flavor. I love it as a snack with crackers, but it's tough to find at the Trader Joe's I frequent most. 

When shopping at Trader Joe's here's a few helpful tips and tricks...
  • Avoid peak hours, especially if your local Trader Joe's is a smaller store. You'll end up shopping while you're waiting in line and inevitably forgetting something and screwing up the line.
  • While Trader Joe's has some of the lowest prices in town, certain items like individual pieces of fruit, veggies, and meat can be more expensive.
  • Olive oil & balsamic is always cheaper (and of higher quality) at TJ's than at your typical grocer.
  • They stock some items seasonally so if you really love a product, make sure to ask if it's something they regularly carry.
  • Popular products like those French Macarons and frozen Farfalle pasta almost always sell out immediately after being restocked at my local TJs. Know which products sell quickly so you can stock up when they're available.
  • Don't be afraid to try something new. If you don't like it, TJs will take it back and give you a full refund. 
  • A note about their bread: it's free of preservatives so if you don't intend to eat it within 3 days, don't buy it. 
  • Their flowers are awesome, cheap, and last quite a while if you change the water frequently. I love when they carry ranunculus in the Spring!

I could go on and on about Trader Joe's and their awesome products, so I'm excited that some of my Texan friends get to join in on the fun! Did I overlook your favorite Trader Joe's product? 

p.s. Evie says their chicken and brown rice dog treats are her absolute favorite treat, and not just because they have a chihuahua on the bag.

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