What’s not to love about Trader Joe’s? There’s chocolate-covered everything, wine that costs $3, friendly staff, and quirky snacks you never knew you wanted but suddenly need. It’s even fun to read the labels. And while it’s nearly impossible to pick out just a few products that are the best, Her Campus UFL has some crucial recommendations for you:
1. Cowboy Caviar: I’ve always been a Paul Newman’s mango and peach salsa kind of girl. I was never really into those southwest-style dips, but Cowboy Caviar changed everything. Once I sampled that tangy blend of savory flavors, I had to make a major life transition. Red peppers, black beans, and corn with just enough zing can spice up any meal. Sorry Paul, but I’m seeing TJ now. It’s not you; it’s me.
2. Frozen Mango Chunks: The bag says the only present ingredient is mango, but I’m pretty sure Trader Joe’s forgot to mention that it adds a thin layer of crack — or maybe love — or magic. Whatever witchcraft is at work here, there’s just something about those cubes of yellow-orange icy heaven. They’re like melt-in-your-mouth hunks of tropical sherbet, but they’re good for you because they’re still classified as fruit. You can add them to smoothies, puree them into cocktails, or leave them at room temperature for other recipes. Once you pop one of those candy-like nuggets into your mouth, it won’t be long before you see the bottom of the bag.
3. Green Plant Juice: If you’re a Naked “Green Machine” juice addict but can’t afford to have it regularly, you’re in luck. For the same price as a measly 15-ounce bottle of the popular brand, Trader Joe’s has its own larger – dare I say more delicious – version of the healthy jade-colored booster drink. Purchasing any of the other wacky flavor combos, such as beet and purple carrot or vitamin-rich juices, is probably a safe bet; however, the green plant juice is the real jackpot. Never did a sickly olive-colored drink taste so good.
4. Indian Frozen Meals: Finding authentic Indian food in Gainesville can be pretty difficult. Kebab House on University Avenue makes a decent attempt at reasonably priced meals, and Indian Cuisine on 34th Street makes an impressive lunch buffet. But they’re not exactly worth the big bucks that Indian food usually demands. Although it’s not the same as a homemade okra pakora, Trader Joe’s frozen meal section offers a pretty good variety of Indian meals for even better prices. Heaping chunks of lamb come in the Goa-influenced vindaloo, and the chicken tikka masala will satisfy your craving. No other exotic frozen meals compare to these TJ creations.
5. Crunchy Cookie Butter: The best was saved for last. Arguably synonymous with the Trader Joe’s brand, Speculoos Cookie Butter is one commodity that can’t be replicated. This product should come with a warning because you might need three jars of it in the back of your pantry for life support once you’ve tried it. With the texture of peanut butter and the flavor of gingerbread cookies, this stuff is addictive. What do you eat it with? Well, I don’t know; I’ve only ever eaten it by the spoonful. Sure, you can fool around with the hundreds of Pinterest recipes out there, but its pure form is the way it’s truly meant to be eaten.
Trader Joe’s honorable mentions include green tea mints, orange chicken, multigrain bread, and coconut chips. But as mentioned before, there are so many products to try, and we can’t list them all. The only way to know what’s best is to try them out yourself. What’s your favorite Trader Joe’s product, collegiettes™? Let us know in the comments below!