The Must-Needed Guide to a Shopping Day at Trader Joes

I can’t help it — I’m a Trader Joe’s enthusiast. But, how could you not be? Have you been to one? It’s the nautically themed grocery store of your dreams. Just picture it: Aisles stocked full of innovative meals and snacks, fresh flowers that welcome you to the store, hand-painted signs and murals, and delicious seasonal food. What could be better?

Even though it’s hard to walk out of a Trader Joe’s without feeling successful, there are some products that just don’t hit the mark and some that are hidden gems you’ll be rebuying each time you make a trip. It’s easy for me to lose myself in the aisles and leave with way more than I planned on. Almost every time I go to Trader Joes, I leave with my usual items and try something new.

Wondering whether some of the well-known items are a bust or a must? Here’s my ultimate guide:

Seasonings/Dressings/Beverages

1. "Everything but the Bagel" seasoning: MUST

Probably one of the most well-known products at Trader Joe’s, the "Everything but The Bagel" seasoning consists of a mix of sesame and poppy seeds – and it does not disappoint! I don’t think I go a day without adding this seasoning onto one of my meals. It goes well with just about anything! If you’re looking for inspiration about what to add it to, some of my personal favorites include eggs, bagels and salads.

2. Miso ginger dressing: MUST

As a sushi lover, I’m constantly looking for Asian-based condiments. Let me tell you: This dressing is something I never knew I needed, but now I can’t live without it. Whipping up a salad for lunch or as a side can sometimes be unsatisfying for me. However, adding the miso ginger dressing is a game-changer.

Meals

3. Vegetable-based gnocchi: MUST AND BUST

This might be one of the most talked-about products at Trader Joe’s, and I’m here to tell you that it could be a hit or a miss depending on how you prepare it and which version you buy. I absolutely love the cauliflower-based and sweet potato-based gnocchi when they’re cooked well. I personally enjoy cooking them in an air fryer to get them as crispy as possible. On the other hand, I am not a fan of the kale gnocchi, even when cooked right, because it doesn’t taste like gnocchi at all.

4. Jicama wraps: BUST

I was so excited to try these wraps made out of jicama; nonetheless, I can’t deny that I was disappointed. I was expecting them to be soft wraps, but they were too crunchy, and I couldn’t find anything to put inside the wraps that I enjoyed. Although the jicama wraps had potential, in my opinion, they’re overrated.

5. Mandarin chicken bowl: MUST

I can’t express enough how much I love this item. I never leave Trader Joes without at least three of these-- I’m not even joking!

After five minutes in the microwave, this premade bowl is ready to go. Filled with mandarin chicken, rice and vegetables, this bowl is extremely satisfying, filling and definitely not overrated.

6. Sweet & spicy beef and broccoli: MUST

Yet another Asian-based meal made this list, and I’m not complaining about it. This bowl tastes like it came fresh out of your favorite Chinese restaurant. I enjoy this meal best with a bowl of white rice. I could seriously eat this every day. Definitely add it to your cart next time you go to Trader Joe’s.

7. Cauliflower pancakes: BUST

It’s rare for me to truly dislike a meal, especially one with cauliflower in it, but I have to admit that this purchase did not meet my expectations. I’m known to obsess over any cauliflower-based meal; I find myself fascinated by every combination, and this one was no exception. However, these cauliflower pancakes just didn’t work, in my opinion.

8. Turkey burgers: MUST

Simple, yet needed. These burgers are absolutely delicious, and they’re so easy to make. I never miss a week without eating these because they are the perfect college dinner. You can pair them with just about any side dish as well.

Snacks

9. Buffalo chicken dip: MUST

As a fan of all things spicy, I knew I’d be a fan of this dip. Not only is this dip low in calories, but it’s delicious whether it’s heated up or cold. Trader Joe’s buffalo chicken dip goes well with vegetables and chips, and it’s a great addition to a tailgate or a "Bachelorette" watch party spread.

10. Cinnamon bun spread: BUST

I always look forward to the seasonal options that Trader Joe’s offers, but I was disappointed after trying the cinnamon bun spread. After trying this spread in a yogurt bowl, I thought the spread was overly sweet and didn’t satisfy my cravings.

11. Chocolate blueberries: MUST

During one of my many shopping sprees at Trader Joe’s, I stumbled upon this snack and have bought it every time since. This is the perfect snack or dessert, and it satisfies my chocolate sweet tooth.

12. "Gone Bananas": BUST

This might upset some people, but this is not one of my favorites. These chocolate-covered bananas are known for being the perfect dessert. However, you can find much better chocolate-based options if you really navigate your way through Trader Joe’s.

13. Chocolate hummus: MUST

At first, I was skeptical of this item because I wasn’t sure if I would like the combination. However, the blend is a huge hit. This spread is the perfect snack that goes well with anything from fruit to crackers.

Regardless of what finds its way into your shopping cart, you’re bound to find some delicious items and feel successful after a trip to Trader Joe’s. Some of the most popular items are absolutely worthy of the hype, whereas some of the underrated items need more hype. Next time you go to Trader Joe’s, I hope you try some of these must-have items and find some of your own favorites to obsess over.