The 5 Best Trader Joe’s Hacks We Learned This Year

published Dec 17, 2022
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Trader Joe's Retail Strip Mall Location. Trader Joe's is a chain of specialty grocery stores in the U.S. II
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This year, like last year (and the year before that), food enthusiasts came through with a seemingly endless stream of clever hacks. We found the key to next-level muffins (it’s probably already in your pantry) and easy kale-leaf removal (check your drawers!). And we learned how to shine our flatware in the dishwasher with … a ball of aluminum foil. Along the way, we also picked up several smart tips from one of our go-to grocers: Trader Joe’s. 

Cohosts of the TJ’s podcast, fellow store employees, and frequent shoppers all shared their top grocery-inspired hacks in 2022. So, of course, we rounded up a handful of the very best ones. The ones that made our food lives easier, more fun, and more flavorful. The ones that can help us all in 2023 and beyond. First up: A cookie-dough hack that also involves a muffin tin!

Credit: Rochelle Bilow

1. Bake your chocolate chip cookie dough in muffin tins. 

If you haven’t tried baking cookies in a muffin tin this year, the countdown is officially on. Cohost of the Inside Trader Joe’s podcast and TJ’s employee Matt Sloan recommends you skip the baking sheet and instead use a mini muffin tin to create muffin-shaped cookies with a special chocolate peanut butter cup twist. Simply drop the pre-portioned dough in the tin, bake them, and — when they’re fresh out of the oven and still warm — gently press a peanut butter cup into the cookie muffin. “I’d go regular size, dark chocolate, peanut butter cup,” says Matt.

2. Open your bag of Ghost Pepper Potato Chips from the bottom. 

This hack is the best kind of hack — so simple and so ingenious. Flip your Ghost Pepper Potato Chips bag upside down and open it from the bottom. Why? “So that all the goodies float to the top and cover the bigger pieces at the top,” says Jenny, a TJ’s employee from store 715 in Woodbury, Minnesota (she shared another one of her favorite hacks in a TJ’s podcast episode from this summer). Of course, this tip applies to bagged snacks of many kinds.

Credit: Joe Lingeman

3. Cut and smash your flower stems.

Fun fact: Grocery store flowers are some of the freshest and most affordable flowers around. And if you want them to stay fresh for as long as possible, you’ll want to make a few cuts … to the stems, that is. Shorter stems equal longer life, explains Maggie, the grocer’s category manager for flowers and plants. “The less of a distance the water has to travel to the head [of the flower], the more direct shot it has towards the head,” she says. She also recommends smashing the bottoms of woody stems (this opens the pores and allows the branch to take up water).

Credit: Anna Lisa A.

4. Buy the pre-cut, marinated meats. 

TJ’s carries several different marinated meats that seem tailor-made for busy weeknights. This marinated, pre-cut chicken, for example, is a favorite of the creator of @traderjoes5itemsorless, an Instagram account filled with recipes that use no more than five Trader Joe’s ingredients. Just take it out of the package, throw it in the air fryer or oven, and you have flavorful, juicy chicken to use in dozens of low-effort meals — wraps, nachos, salads, or simply paired with rice and whatever vegetable you have on hand.

5. Crisp up your stale baguette by running it under cold water. 

This old trick brings new life to stale bread, which is why it’s worth repeating. Both TJ’s podcast hosts agree! They recommend running older or hardened bread, like TJ’s organic baguette, under cold water for a few seconds — so that it’s just damp on the outside, not soaking wet — and then heating it in the oven at 450°F directly on the rack for a few minutes to create “a shatteringly crusty crust.”

Do you have a favorite Trader Joe’s grocery hack? Tell us in the comments below.