The Gourmet Grocery I Buy at T.J. Maxx for $6 or Less (and Chefs Do Too)

published Apr 21, 2024
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About five years ago, I met this amazing chef at my local farmers market, and I got to talking with her about where she shopped for her groceries. She was kind enough to let me in on a little secret. Her spice shelf was filled with finds from … T.J. Maxx.  

I was stunned. I’d shopped at the department store chains for years — I’d picked up sweaters, throw pillows, and the occasional bath bomb, but not spices.

The next time I visited, I strolled straight to the back corner (where some grocery items are shelved) and, lo and behold, there was a whole spice section. I’ve since shopped there many times just for the spices. Although the specific kinds rotate in and out of the store, here are five I buy whenever they’re in stock.

Credit: Jeannette Hurt

1. A Spice Affair Smoked Paprika, $4.99 for 3.5 ounces

This was the first spice I ever purchased at T.J. Maxx, and it was the one the chef singled out. Good-quality smoked paprika can sometimes be hard to find, and not every grocery store carries it. This version from A Spice Affair is the real deal, and when you open the canister, you get a whiff of smoke. It’s got a subtle heat, too, and while I use it regularly in all sorts of tapas dishes, I also love adding it to scrambled eggs, grilled chicken breasts, and casseroles of all sorts

Credit: Jeannette Hurt

2. Essential 84 Gourmet Pink Himalayan Sea Salt, $4.99 for 40 ounces

There’s a whole shelf of sea salts at T.J. Maxx, and on it you’ll find flavored salts, ones in grinders, and others sold in salt and pepper sets. The Essential 84 Gourmet Pink Himalayan Salt, fine grind, is my favorite. I haven’t found similar quality sea salt that’s cheaper than this. 

It’s exactly what you’d find in any high-end culinary store, and I sprinkle this in just about everything I cook. It comes in a whopping 40-ounce canister, so I only have to buy one. I cook almost all our family’s meals at home and bake a lot from scratch and it lasts me more than a year. Because it’s so reasonable in price, it’s also absolutely perfect for any salt scrubs or homemade body products, too. 

Credit: Jeannette Hurt

3. Olde Thompson Organic Ground Saigon Cinnamon, $5.99 for 4.1 ounces

I just adore fragrant cinnamon, with a kick of spice. I use it in oatmeal, baked goods, and even pasta sauce or lasagna (yes, you read that right). It’s one of those spices I use year-round and, as such, I go through quite a bit. Olde Thompson’s organic cinnamon is quite good, and when you uncork the top, you catch a heady whiff of cinnamon sweetness. I also really, really like the company’s Saigon cinnamon sticks — especially for fall cocktails.

Credit: Jeannette Hurt

4. Olde Thompson Organic Cayenne Pepper, $3.29 for 1.7 ounces

Another product by Olde Thompson, this cayenne pepper is perfect for chilis, tacos, enchiladas, and any sort of barbecue, especially pork. It’s organic and has a lot of heat. When you open up a jar, the scent practically tickles your nose. It’s reasonably priced, and one jar will usually last me a year.

Credit: Jeannette Hurt

5. The Gourmet Collection Roast Vegetables & Fries Spice Blend $3.99 for 5.9 ounces

At any given time, T.J. Maxx sells a lot of different spice blends. I’ve tried quite a few — Cajun, Italian, and others. One of the more unique ones is this Roast Vegetables & Fries Spice Blend from The Gourmet Collection. The blend of salt, bell pepper, onion, cumin, coriander, sage, paprika, and a touch of sugar is, as the name suggests, really good sprinkled on vegetables and fries, adding a little extra oomph to whatever it touches. I think it also adds a nice flavoring to poultry, especially turkey burgers.

What groceries are you buying at T.J. Maxx? Tell us about it in the comments below.