5 Groceries I’ll ONLY Buy at Trader Joe’s, According to a Former Trader Joe’s Employee

published Jul 4, 2022
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Credit: Lauren Masur

Trader Joe’s is known for a lot of things, but being a one-stop shop is not usually one of them. And that’s fine! We all have our strengths! Personally, I go to Trader Joe’s for novelty, for surprise, and for all the items I can never expect to find at another grocery store: Pickle hummus! $7 wine that’s drinkable! Truffle BBQ sauce! There are always some delightfully tasty stowaways in my cart every time I visit, too. I never know how those Cacio e Pepe puffs get into my cart, but I don’t ask questions.

I also love making as few decisions as possible when I go grocery shopping. I personally don’t want to decide between 18 brands of yogurt, 36 different cereals, and 87 different chocolate bars. Trader Joe’s makes that whole process a whole lot easier: Because the grocer only stocks so many types of, say, frozen blueberries, that means the ones I pick up are likely going to be pretty high-quality.

Besides frozen fruit, there are a few things that I will only ever buy at Trader Joe’s. What are they? Let’s take a look!

Credit: Mackenzie Filson

1. Bacon 

Having worked at Trader Joe’s, I 100% complimented anyone who had this in their cart. It’s one of my favorite products that improves any array of dishes: shrimp and grits, a BLT, black beans, and yes, breakfast tacos. This Uncured Black Forest Bacon is thick-cut with a thick crust of spices that’s reminiscent of a honey-baked ham. It puts all of the other bacon to shame. I love how well this works if I’m fresh out of pancetta, too; I’ll chop it up finely and use it to make pasta all’amatriciana, one of my favorite weeknight dinners. I am one of those “overcooked bacon that’s almost salty ash” people, but even if you prefer a less crispy bacon, this is the bacon you’ve been dreaming of. 

Credit: Mackenzie Filson

2. Lemonade 

Being the daughter of a former baseball player, most of my childhood was spent sampling the best of the concession-stand favorites. My favorite? Ballpark lemonade. If you’re not familiar, ballpark lemonades are typically very XXL, loaded with fresh lemon slices, and come in a fun cup with those accordion-style straws that make a whistle sound as you try to drink up every last sip of your lemonade. So when I had a taste of this Fresh Squeezed Lemonade at Trader Joe’s, I was shook. It tastes just like the ballpark lemonades of my childhood, with the right amount of sweet-to-tart flavor that comes from only lemons, sugar, and water — no powdery ingredients in sight. I love muddling this with a bit of mint or basil, but my summertime standby is mixing up a half-and-half lemonade & iced tea with this and freshly brewed Mango Black Tea.

Credit: Mackenzie Filson

3. Wild Boreal Blueberries

Every summer, without fail, I become a smoothie bowl artist. Maybe even a smoothie bowl scientist. I’m always trying out new frozen fruit combinations to make the most ideal, balanced bowl. Trader Joe’s not only stocks affordable frozen fruit, but there are also some true hidden gems that really take my standard smoothie bowl to another place. One of those is the Wild Boreal Blueberries. Smaller and sweeter than your standard blueberries, these Wild Boreal Blueberries add so much concentrated flavor to smoothies and oatmeal. My favorite smoothie bowl combination is blending up these blueberries with the frozen mango and frozen cherries, topping with the Grainless Granola, and a hearty scoop of peanut butter. 

Credit: Mackenzie Filson

4. Frozen Shrimp 

Take everything you thought you knew about shrimp and kindly set it aside. Upon first bite of these Red Argentinian Shrimp, you will absolutely find yourself saying, “Wait, am I eating lobster?” because these meaty shrimps are incredibly luxe, rich, and sweet. After you do a double take, you’ll start dreaming of all the ways you can cook with these gems of the sea. You really cannot go wrong here, and they couldn’t be easier to cook up for a weeknight dinner that’s sure to stun. Take the aforementioned Black Forest Bacon and make the best shrimp and grits of your life, grill these on skewers with your favorite glaze, or add to a creamy risotto or your next seafood paella ASAP.

Credit: Mackenzie Filson

5. Road Trip Snacks 

With a full tank of gas, themed playlist ready, and, yes, a proper road atlas, I’m nearly always ready for a road trip. My last stop before hitting the road is Trader Joe’s, and I’ve been known to plan pit stops around when I can stop at the grocer to re-up my snack supply. I curate my snacks much like a well-balanced playlist: Crunchy, sweet, salty, surprising, energizing, and a little indulgent are what I aim for. My MVPs? I love alternating handfuls of the Thai Chili Lime Cashews and Honey Sesame Cashews, and I always have a healthy stash of Chomps Jalapeño Jerky Sticks, Dried Mango Slices, Cotton Candy Grapes (or any of the fun seasonal grapes, especially the Honey Pearls), Chocolate Covered Espresso Beans, and Fruit Jellies. There is no shortage of options — no matter how picky your trip mates are.

Do you have anything that you only buy at Trader Joe’s? Tell us in the comments below!