Trader Joe’s: The 25 Must-Buys and 25 Must-Nots From Your Favorite Grocery Store

Trader Joe’s is definitely one of America’s favorite grocery stores. The chain carries all kinds of products, from food to moisturizer to vitamins. People enjoy shopping at Trader Joe’s because they have a wide variety of their own products and it’s a lot cheaper than the other health food chains like Whole Foods.

If you happen to shop at Trader Joe’s or want to start, here are some products you should know about. We have a list of must-have items that are a really great bang for your buck as well as a list of products that are better left not purchased. Curious to know what they are?

We’ll start with the must-buy products!

#1 Frozen Naan


This Indian bread is an awesome versatile food that goes really well with all kinds of meals and snacks. Don’t think you can only eat naan with traditional Indian food. Frozen naan is a great thing to have in your freezer for you to take out and defrost whenever you need. You also won’t find it at any Indian grocery store.

#2 Hummus


Trader Joe’s has a selection of hummus that everyone should try. It’s a healthy dip to snack on, or you can even use it in other recipes. Really, Trader Joe’s has some of the best hummus you’ll find outside of the Middle East. One of their best kinds: the cilantro hummus dip and their tomato basil dip.

They also have some great chicken broth…

#3 Organic Chicken Broth


Another perfect pantry staple is chicken broth. It’s just one of those ingredients that you can use for more than just its intended purpose. Other than making soup, you can use stock for rice, quinoa, casseroles, and pretty much any other food that needs seasoning. And when each box is just $1.99, you know you found a good deal.

#4 Nut Butter


Trader Joe’s has a great selection of nut butter, from the original peanut butter to almond butter. Anyone who’s bought their nut butter before can attest to how good they are and that they continue to buy them. While peanut butter is plain delicious, almond butter is tasty as well and a whole lot healthier.

Next – a product for all the sweet tooth’s out there!

#5 Triple Ginger Snaps


If you happen to be someone with a sweet tooth that just can’t end a meal without having something sugary in the end, Trader Joe’s Ginger Snaps are a perfect choice. They’re crunchy and made with fresh ginger, ground ginger, and candied ginger. That’s a combination you just can’t find anywhere else.

#6 Frozen Chocolate and Almond Croissants


As you know, Trader Joe’s makes prepared and processed foods. One product in their frozen food section is their frozen chocolate almond croissants. Pop them in the oven and enjoy the freshly baked amazingness that results.

For the gluten-free, next is a great product to look out for!

#7 Gluten-Free Rolled Oats


These rolled oats are available in large packs and are a great bang for your buck. They may be gluten-free for those who need it, but anyone can enjoy these rolled oats. Make some oatmeal, cookies, or cake with these oats, and you’ll be a happy camper.

#8 Roasted Red Peppers


Shoppers love Trader Joe’s cheap canned and jarred foods because they do it right! Which brings us to this product that you need to get your hands on – their roasted red peppers in a jar. It’s the best way to spice up any recipe that you’re making.

Not only food but kitchen products too! See the next great product…

#9 Pop-up Sponges


Trader Joe’s carries more than just food. To shift the focus from food to kitchen products, you should know about Trader Joe’s pop-up sponges. They’re popular among shoppers because of the low price but high quality.

#10 Cheese


Who doesn’t love cheese? Get the best fancy cheeses for a good price at Trader Joe’s. You can find small cuts of your favorite cheeses, like Bellavitano and Brie, for less than $5! And trust us, the quality is fantastic.

Cereal lovers, embrace! Next….

#11 Cereal


If you’re looking for a change in your morning routine or if you want to change the brand of cereal you have every day, you should try a box of Trader Joe’s store brand cereal instead of going straight for the big brands. For instance, Joe O’s barely cost $2, and the fancier ones never go over $5.

#12 Eggs


Talk about a food staple – eggs are in everyone’s house (aside from the vegans of course). And while we’re on the topic of breakfast food, you should know about their great deals on fresh eggs. Their eggs are cheaper than the ones you’ll find at Walmart and probably a whole lot healthier, too.

If you like your coconut oil products, check out the next one!

#13 Coconut Oil Spray


The Trader Joe’s Coconut Oil Spray is a nice alternative to other cooking and baking sprays. Especially considering that vegetable oil is really unhealthy for you. This coconut oil spray is wonderful for baking kale chips and other leafy greens.

#14 Greek Kalamata Extra Virgin Olive Oil


Speaking of oils, Trader Joe’s has a whole lot to choose from. Their Greek Kalamata extra virgin olive oil is probably the best of their line and the most popular among their shoppers. Olive oil expert Tom Mueller says it has a ‘nice mature fruit flavor.’

If you love sweet and salty together, you need to buy the next product…

#15 Sea Salt & Turbinado Sugar Dark Chocolate Almonds


Another awesome pick from the sweets aisle is the yummy chocolate covered almonds coated with sea salt and turbinado sugar. It’s the perfect combination of sweet and salty. Eat them as a dessert or put them on a tray and serve at your next party.

#16 Baking Chocolate


This one’s more for the avid bakers. If you love to bake, you should give the Trader Joe’s baking chocolate a try. It just might be the ingredient you’ve always been looking for to make the perfect batch of chocolate chip cookies that you’ve wanted to wow your family with.

The next product is a healthy snack for everyone to enjoy…

#17 Dried Fruits


If you’re not eating dried fruit every day, you need to start. Trader Joe’s Dried Fruits are healthy and a fantastic snack that everyone should have in their pantry. They have a great variety of these natural fruit snacks. The Turkish apricot mix is by far one of the best.

#18 Thai Chili Lime Cashews


Are you looking for fancy yet affordable snack foods for your next get together? Grab some of these Thai lime and chili cashews from Trader Joe’s. It’s as simple as emptying the packet into a bowl. Your guests will finish the bowl fast, so it’s best you grab a couple of packages.

Ever tried cookie butter? Maybe now you will…

#19 Cookie Butter


You might love having a jar of regular old peanut butter in your pantry, but when you start to buy this Cookie Butter, you’re never going to go back. And your kids will love you for it. Pretty much everyone who tries Trader Joe’s Cookie Butter loves it, and you will too.

#20 Frozen Pizzas


Let’s revisit the frozen section. Starting at only $4, you can get a delicious frozen pizza that feeds a family of four. That’s an amazing price! Just make a side of salad, and you have yourselves a full meal.

Have you tried their wines? They’re worth it…

#21 Wine


If you haven’t yet purchased a bottle from Trader Joe’s wine selection, you’ve been missing out. Not only do they offer high-quality wines for under $15, but they also have their famous “Two-Buck Chuck” (which is $2.99). These wines are perfect for stocking up for a dinner party date night in.

#22 Gluten-Free Pastas


If you have a gluten intolerance, Trader Joe’s has a selection just for you. They offer quite a few great gluten-free options, but their gluten-free pasta are called out many times for being extra tasty. Try their gluten-free egg fettuccine for only $2.99 for a 16-ounce package!

Trader Joe’s has flowers too! Check them out…

#23 Fresh Flowers


Fresh flowers can be super expensive! But, not at Trader Joe’s. They have smaller, less fancy bouquets for only $3.99. A dozen roses will cost you $6.99. If you compare that to Whole Foods at $12.99, you’ll only buy flowers from Trader Joe’s from now on. And they also have potted plants and herb.

#24 Healthy Pizza Crusts


Nowadays, people are constantly looking for healthy options, as they should! What’s popular are the keto and low-carb diets. Don’t worry; Trader Joe’s has you covered. Offering tasty selections like cauliflower pizza crusts and broccoli and kale pizza crusts, Trader Joe’s is a haven for low-carb eaters.

#25 Corn and Chile Tomato-less Salsa


Salsa without tomatoes? Who knew that was even possible? It sounds strange for salsa to have no tomatoes, but their tomato-less salsa is truly amazing. It goes with anything from chips to burgers, hot dogs to salads, and the list goes on. Do grab some jars. You won’t be disappointed.

Now, as we promised, we’re going to show you the products that are better left on the shelves. And not because the products are bad, but because they’re just not good deals.

#1 Lactose-Free Milk


We’re doing a 180 here and talking about what products are better left not purchased at Trader Joe’s. Trader Joe’s lactose-free milk is better left on the shelf because it’s not a very good deal at all. For the smart and savvy shoppers among us, it’s better going to get the Walmart version of this milk which costs almost a dollar less.

#2 Nuts and Fruits in Honey


It may seem like a delicious and even healthy treat, but it’s really not. The truth is it’s bathed in honey. This deceivingly nutritious snack gets up to 300 calories per quarter cup. And it also has 26 grams of sugar. Think about that for a second…

The next item is a little too pricey…

#3 Zoodles


The best bet would be to save your money and make some homemade zoodles at home instead. TJ’s Zoodles go for as much as double the cost of a whole squash. So why not buy squash and make some noodles with it? It’s more fun anyway to try it out yourself!

#4 Sunscreen


You need sunscreen, yes. But buy some at another store instead. A can of spray-on sunscreen at TJ’s costs about $5.99. It’s not a good deal. If you look around at other stores, you can find packages of two bottles of sunscreen for the same price.

Better not to buy their tortilla chips either…

#5 Tortilla Chips


Trader Joe’s tortilla chips may be really yummy, but they’re a lot more expensive than generic brands. And to be honest, those generic brands taste pretty much the same. So why not save some money and buy those instead?

If you were thinking of buying their marinated meat, think again…

#6 Marinated Meat


Marinated meat may be convenient to have in your freezer for the lazy days that we all have, the packages from Trader Joe’s aren’t very popular among the regular shoppers. According to those who bought them, the meat is just way too salty. Sometimes the marinade you make yourself is just better.

#7 Frozen Veggies


Frozen veggies are another freezer staple that you can use almost daily. According to the ‘Kitchn,’ one shopper said that she chose to stop buying frozen veggies at Trader Joe’s because “it’s either just the stems or leftover pieces from veggies used for some other purpose.” That doesn’t sound too appetizing.

Speaking of frozen foods…

#8 Frozen Pie Crusts


Their frozen pizzas are definitely a must-buy, but their frozen pie crusts are must-not buy if you ask us. Shoppers have commented on the product, saying that these premade crusts are prone to breaking and even melting down when baking. Who wants that?

#9 Corn Tortillas


Just like their tortilla chips, you’re also better off buying corn tortillas somewhere else too. These tortillas have gotten a bad rep. Why? Because they happen to smell a little ‘off.’ The texture isn’t so great as well. And with all the places you have to buy tortillas, you can find better ones elsewhere.

The next product is better left done at home…

#10 Sliced Fruits


As a general rule of thumb: do your own slicing at home. It’s always best to buy the whole fruits and do the cutting yourself than to buy pre-sliced fruit packages. That way, you’ll get more bang for your buck, and besides, cutting fruit is fun!

#11 Coconut Oil


While we did highly recommend their coconut oil spray for its amazingness, we can’t say the same for TJ’s coconut oil. Like the other products we mentioned on the latter part of this list, you can find better deals elsewhere. Coconut oil is just about everywhere these days. So buy some at your next stop!

Burritos are also better off left on TJ’s shelves…

#12 Burritos


Sure, burritos are yummy. But it’s best to buy them freshly made at a restaurant than to buy them pre-made at TJ’s. If you look at the nutritional content, you probably won’t want to ingest nine grams of fat, and 800 mg of sodium in one sitting. And that’s only for half of the entire burrito!

#13 Lemonade


Listen, lemonade is actually very easy to make! When you buy lemonade, chances are they put way too much sugar in it, and it ends up being too sweet and too fattening. Better off buying some lemons and making your own! It’s a great activity for the kids to get involved in too.

Cheese lover? Don’t buy shredded mozzarella at TJ’s…

#14 Shredded Mozzarella


Speaking of making your own at home, shredded mozzarella is great for making pizza or nachos, or eggplant parmesan, as well as many other dishes. But Trader Joe’s shredded cheeses are not their best deals. The same size bag of shredded mozzarella cheese will cost you a dollar less at Walmart.

#15 Fresh Meat


All it takes is a few shoppers who said they had a couple of bad experiences with Trader Joe’s fresh meat. When it comes to meat, it’s not worth taking the risk. The quality may surely vary from store to store, so check out what people say about their meats before you buy some.

Next – a household staple which is better purchased somewhere else…

#16 Bread


Here’s the problem with Trader Joe’s store brand bread: they tend to get moldy faster than other brands. So if you happen to live alone or just don’t eat lots of bread daily, TJ’s brand of bread is not the best choice.

#17 Fresh Produce


Similar to their bread, TJ’s fresh produce aisle may better be left as is when you pass by it. Their fruits and veggies have a reputation for spoiling easier and faster. You don’t want to have to throw away all the fruits and veggies because they get rotten before you’re even able to eat them.

Cold cuts at Trader Joe’s? Not so much…

#18 Cold Cuts


Trader Joe’s selection of cold cuts lacks some freshness. Like we said earlier, when it comes to meat, you want fresh and good quality. You don’t want to end up getting sick from a bad piece of meat. You’re better off buying cold cuts elsewhere.

#19 Salad Dressing


This is an item where the jury’s out: TJ’s salad dressings. Some shoppers find them delicious and convenient while other shoppers hate them because they’re taste is just too sweet and too syrupy. So you can go ahead and buy some and be the judge. See who you end up agreeing with…

If you’re a sushi fan, you’ll want to buy sushi from the right place…

#20 Sushi


At the end of the day, supermarket sushi is just not a good idea. And it’s not just TJ’s. It doesn’t matter which store you get it from. Supermarkets are not going to provide the freshest pieces of sushi. Trader Joe’s sushi is not so bad, but they don’t have much taste. Go to a sushi restaurant instead. They’re everywhere!

#21 Seafood


This is in line with their fresh meats – it’s best to avoid buying seafood at Trader Joe’s. First off, it’s more expensive than other stores. And secondly, the quality isn’t the best. Just like with meat, buy your seafood at places where you know it’s coming in fresh.

Rice is another item that Trader Joe’s doesn’t have good deals on…

#22 Rice


Trader Joe’s isn’t the best place for buying rice. Compared to other stores, TJ’s rice is on the pricier side. Whether it’s already cooked rice (and sold frozen) or uncooked, you’re going to be spending double than you would at other major chains, like Walmart for example.

#23 Vitamins


Vitamins can be pretty expensive, regardless of where you buy them. Trader Joe’s has a 100-count bottle of vitamin B tablets for $5.99, but Target sells the same amount of Nature Made vitamin B tablets for $4.67. And then there’s Walgreens for $4.75.

Are you a fan of quiches? See what quiche not to buy at TJ’s…

#24 Broccoli and Cheddar Quiche


Trader Joe’s broccoli and cheddar quiche might be yummy, but it’s got way too much sodium. In fact, it has nearly half of your recommended daily intake (910 mg). And if you factor in the 15 grams of saturated fat, you’re way over the ideal nutritional intake. Don’t bother buying this quiche.

#25 Wraps


Here’s another Trader Joe’s item that doesn’t taste bad, but the problem is they average around 700 calories each. And that’s a lot for one piece of food! Normally, people think wraps are a bit healthier, but that’s just not always true.