My Trader Joe’s Grocery Essentials


My Trader Joe’s Grocery Essentials

This week I decided to try a different kind of blog entry. Instead of writing about a specific recipe, I wanted to talk about my grocery shopping habits, specifically the pre-prepared meals that can be found in my pantry and freezer. One of my favorite places to go for such things is the ultimate cool mom mecca and hipster hangout, Trader Joe’s. For those unfamiliar, Trader Joe’s is a national grocery chain with a Southern California mindset. Their goal is to carry good, wholesome food at a reasonable price.


We have 3 stores in our area and each one is at least 20 minutes from the house. That is quite a trek for me…and don’t even get me started about the parking! I go about once a month to pick up a handful of specific items. If it’s a Saturday morning when there aren’t as many people shopping Chris will go with me, but otherwise he’d rather stay away from the crowds.

 Disclaimer: All the opinions listed here are mine and mine alone. No one in the Trader Joe’s organization encouraged me or compensated me for this blog post.


Here is the list of my Trader Joe’s necessities:

Trader Ming's Beef and Broccoli

Trader Ming’s Beef and Broccoli

Beef with broccoli: This is by far one of the best prepared freezer meals I’ve ever found. It takes 15 minutes to put together and tastes just as good as our local Chinese take-out. The only thing missing from the bag is a bowl of white rice and a fortune cookie (and the rice is easily remedied). It’s really great for those nights when I’m teaching late and Chris is in charge of dinner.

Egg Pappardelle and Tomato Basil Sauce

Egg Pappardelle and Tomato Basil Sauce

Pappardelle pasta and Tomato-basil sauce- If you’re a loyal reader of this blog you know about my love of pasta. I love the plain egg pappardelle as well as the slightly spicy lemon pepper variety. They are super light and delicious, especially with some of the store’s tomato basil sauce. The jarred sauce is fresh, balanced, and for under $2 a bottle, I’m happy to stick a jar or two in the pantry for those lazy pasta nights.

Frozen Chicken Tikka Masala

Frozen Chicken Tikka Masala

Farfalle with 4 Cheese and Spinach

Farfalle with 4 Cheese and Spinach

Frozen Lunches: I started making regular trips to Trader Joe’s because of their frozen lunches; it’s something the store does better than anyone else. One of my favorites is the Indian takeout classic, chicken tikka masala. It’s, warm, spicy and the perfect size for lunch at my desk. It satisfies my craving for Indian food on a regular basis (big surprise, Chris isn’t a fan). My other favorite is the farfalle with 4 cheeses and spinach. It’s bow-tie pasta, a cheesy sauce, and spinach…I mean how can that be bad? It only takes 5 minutes to heat up in the microwave, and it’s devoured within next five. Both of these frozen lunches are delicious and so much better for my health and my wallet than me running out for fast food everyday.

A good wedge of Parmesan Cheese

A good wedge of Parmesan Cheese

Parmesan Cheese: Speaking of cheese, TJ’s is where I get my hunks of Parmesan. I love this cheese and I use it at least in one dinner per week, if not more. This item is priced for much less what I can find at my usual grocery store. Mmmm, writing about all this cheese and pasta makes me want to cook my carbonara recipe!

Trader Joe's Turkey Corn Dogs

Trader Joe’s Turkey Corn Dogs

Turkey Corn dogs: Ok, these are sort of my dirty little secret, but I love them! I made homemade corn dogs a few years ago, and now every few weeks I get a hankering for them. These frozen turkey corn dogs satisfy my tummy without destroying my kitchen (breading & frying is really messy work). I usually indulge in these puppies when I’m dining home alone. A pair of corn dogs with a squirt of Dijon mustard, and I’m a happy girl.

some very good bubbly

some very good bubbly

Sparkling Wine: Ok, so it’s not a meal unless you’re Coco Chanel, but every time I go to Trader Joe’s I pick up a bottle or two of the Louise d’Estree. It’s a great bubbly on its own or as a mixer for champagne cocktails like mimosas. It’s priced around $10 per bottle, which is really great for my budget, since wines can get costly fast. And really, what meal isn’t made better by a glass of sparkling wine?


So there you have it, my list of required household purchases from Trader Joe’s. Do you have a store nearby? If so, what are your go-to purchases? I hope you’ve liked this week’s little post. Next week, we’ll be back to our regular cooking and cat stories!


10 thoughts on “My Trader Joe’s Grocery Essentials

  1. Megan Buchanan

    Hey girl!! Your blog is great and I plan to try to keep up with it better. We have a TJ’s about 20 minutes away in Lexington, KY and I LOVE it!!! Too many faves to really list them all, but we really love their pizza sauce, buffalo burgers(frozen), ground pork, gluten free jo-Jo’s(not quite Oreos, but they hold me over on cravings, and so many other things that I can’t think of. Miranda is 4 and loves the store too, especially since they hide a stuffed horse named Lex and when kids find him they get suckers and lots of stickers, she also really likes they’re baked goods. We found a Cuban wrap that my hubby thinks is amazing for lunch. My doctor is having me take a tablespoon of flaxseed oil and eat 2 Brazil nuts each day as we are trying to avoid expensive and lifelong medications and I buy both at TJ’s because they are such great quality, package size and SO much cheaper than whole foods or other health food stores. But our number 1 fave TJ’s item is their BOURBON!!! We are in Kentucky, surrounded by distilleries on all sides and the best of the best in quality and I will take a $15 bottle of TJ’s bourbon over Blanton’s any day of the week(Blanton’s was always my first choice, but it’s $50 and its been moved to second place). Sorry to ramble, but you’ve know me since we were 14, so you know I can talk, lol.


    • Megan,
      Thanks for all the favorites, I may have to try some of those. We aren’t able to get liquor outside of ABC stores in NC…so I’m intrigued by the bourbon. My favorite is Buffalo Trace. Thanks for all the support and hugs to Miranda!


      • Megan Buchanan

        Buffalo Trace is not a bad choice at all. We toured the distillery a few years back and had a plan to do the whole Bourbon Trail, but that’s not easy with a kiddo, maybe we will get back to it one day. The TJ’s Bourbon has brown sugar in it, so it’s a little bit sweeter, but so perfect.


  2. letsliveyall

    Love Trader Joes frozen section! Interesting that I’ve never tried these! My favorites are the mandarin orange chicken, Kung pow chicken, the frozen veggies and for dessert the mochi balls!


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