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Jocelyn Hsu / Spoon

My Top 10 Trader Joe’s Items That Won’t Break the Bank from a College Student

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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at UCD chapter.

I LOVE TRADER JOES. If Trader Joe’s has 100 fans, I’m one of them. If Trader Joe’s have 50 fans, I’m one of them. If Trader Joe’s has only one fan, I am that fan. I think Trader Joe’s has done a great job making food delicious and fun while also not forcing people to break the bank (which is incredibly important for college students!). 

There are so many options at Trader Joe’s. The question is, what should you buy? Here are my top picks from Trader Joe’s that I absolutely love and remain a staple every time I shop there.

  1. Trader Joe’s Fried Rice ($3.79-$5.49)

I’ve tried all the fried rice and you can’t go wrong with any of them. From the Bulgogi Beef Kimchi to the Japanese style fried rice, you’ll be pretty satisfied. Not only are they bursting with flavor, but contain good sources of protein. Fry it up with some egg to include even more protein. This is an easy meal that satisfies you!

  1. Trader Joe’s Pork/Chicken Gyoza Potstickers ($3.99)

Heat them in a microwave, pan fry them, or boil them; either way, they taste delicious and are easy to prepare. They are so juicy and have a good balance of meat and vegetables inside. For only $3.99, they are a steal!

  1. Trader Joe’s Chicken Tikka Masala ($4.49)

I always grab this when I’m at TJ. Just pop it in the microwave, and in a few minutes, your meal is ready! The sauce is so creamy, flavorful, and not too spicy; the chicken tender and moist. Again, another great source of protein!

  1. Trader Joe’s Vegetable Pad Thai ($3.49)

If you’re looking for vegan options, look no further than their Pad Thai. It’s packed with bean sprouts, onions, and tofu. The sauce is sweet and tangy and the noodles are perfectly chewy. 

  1. Trader Joe’s Mushroom Ravioli with Mushroom Truffle Sauce  

If you love mushrooms, the mushroom ravioli is divine. The sauce is so rich and creamy, and has a nice umami flavor. The filling is nice and creamy as well. It also has no meat, so it’s a great vegetarian option!

  1. Trader Joe’s Everything Ciabatta Rolls ($2.49) or Trader Joe’s Sliced French Brioche ($4.49)

Their bread selection should not be slept on. I really like the Everything Ciabatta Rolls and the Sliced French Brioche. The Everything Ciabatta, which comes in a pack of four, are large and have the famous Everything But the Bagel Seasoning on top. Good brioche is hard to find in stores, so when I tried it from TJ, I was blown away. It’s soft, extremely buttery, and sweet. I usually eat these plain (I’m weird) but these are great for sandwiches or french toast. If you’re in a rush, these make for quick breakfasts. 

Christin Urso / Spoon
  1. Trader Joe’s Mini Sheet Cakes ($5.99)

The sheet cakes are honestly a gift from the heavens. My go to is the lemon sheet cake, which  is perfectly moist and has a nice hint of lemon. The frosting is a cream cheese frosting (you can never go wrong with that) which is not too sweet unlike many store bought cakes. The vanilla chantilly is also to die for.

  1. Barebells Creamy Crisp Protein Bars ($2.29)

These aren’t Trader Joe’s brand, but they sell these protein bars. When I tell you these taste exactly like a candy bar, I’m not lying. Akin to a Snickers bar, it has caramel, a filling similar to nougat, and is covered in chocolate and topped with crispy puffs. But unlike a Snickers, it has 20 grams of protein! These make a great snack especially if you’re in a rush. A protein bar that actually tastes good and is high in protein? Yes, please!

  1. Trader Joe’s Popcorn with Herb and Spices ($2.99)

This stuff is so addicting! If you’re tired of regular plain popcorn, this will hit the spot everytime. I love eating this as a snack after my classes. 

Popcor Popped
Kirby Barth / Spoon
  1. Trader Joe’s Dried Fruit: Soft & Juicy Mandarins ($2.29)

One of my favorite snacks (I really should say candy) of all time. It’s sweet and tangy and alway satisfies my sweet tooth. Be careful though, these have quite a bit of sugar! 

I hope this helps anyone looking to buy something from TJ! Happy shopping!

Evelyn is currently a first year Cell Biology major at Davis. While she is not stressing over her classes and suffering in lab, she loves to bake, play piano, read (fantasy novels especially!), and binge watch shows (she recommends Community).