Everything You Need to Know About Shopping at Trader Joe’s in 2019

updated May 24, 2019
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(Image credit: Photo: Joe Lingeman; Design: Kitchn)

We’ve been writing about Trader Joe’s in great detail for many, many years now. But this year, our coverage seemed deeper and more useful than ever. So we decided to round up some of our best stories and lessons from the last 12 months. Whether you’re about to make your first trip to Trader Joe’s or you’ve been a loyal shopper for a long time, this post can be your cheat sheet for everything you’ll need to know for 2019.

1. We have a list of the must-buy staples everyone should try at Trader Joe’s.

Between the crowds, the attention-grabbing new products, the free samples, and everything else going on, it’s hard to know where to start. Our suggestion: Try the 10 groceries on our essential list. Each item is classically Trader Joe’s and an example of what the grocery chain does best.

(Image credit: The Kitchn)

2. And a few other more specialized lists.

In addition to the classic items that we think are totally essential, there are all sorts of other groceries that have made some of our more specialized shopping lists. For example, we have a list of the best salad kits, the best snacks to sneak into the movies, the best frozen foods, and more.

Some More Trader Joe’s Grocery Lists

(Image credit: Lauren Masur)

3. The wackier the new grocery item, the better.

We don’t know how the folks at Trader Joe’s do it, but they always manage to come up with surprising groceries that you just won’t see anywhere else. And from our experience, the wackier the item sounds, the better it is! Blue cheese mustard? Yes, please!

A Bit on Trader Joe’s Newest, Most Surprising Groceries

(Image credit: Faith Durand)

4. Inventory is not guaranteed.

Because Trader Joe’s is constantly coming out with new products (see above!), that sadly means that some other products might have to come off the shelves in order to make room. So if there’s something you love and you can store it for a bit, stock up.


(Image credit: Danielle Blundell)

5. The beauty stuff is worth checking out.

Yes, this is a food site, but Trader Joe’s is a grocery store that also stocks beauty and self-care items, so we’ve been covering those sorts of things a lot lately, too. And we’re glad we’ve started paying attention, because there are some seriously good skincare products to be found!

More on Trader Joe’s Beauty Items

6. There’s a best time to go.

Hate the crowds? Staff writer Lauren Masur used her powers of observation to figure out the best time to go. Plan your 2019 shopping trips accordingly.

(Image credit: Jeff Bukowski)

7. And one key thing to do before you go.

No matter what time you plan on going, there’s one thing you really should do before you head out. You’re gonna have to read the story to find out what it is, but here’s a hint: It involves going to the store’s website.

(Image credit: Dana McMahan)

8. There are a few things at Trader Joe’s you should skip.

As much as we rave about Trader Joe’s, the store isn’t perfect and we have come to find a few items that are better off purchased elsewhere.

The Trader Joe’s Groceries Worth Skipping

9. Trader Joe’s and Aldi are not technically owned by the same company.

There are a bunch of rumors out there, so we set the record straight this year. If someone tries to tell you otherwise in 2019, just send them this link.

(Image credit: Lauren Masur)

10. Trader Joe’s is lousy with cauliflower.

Kitchn editors joked that the grocery store should change its name to Cauliflower Joe’s because of the sheer number of cauliflower-based products. (There’s the gnocchi, the rice, even latkes for Hanukah!) If you haven’t already, you should definitely try the gnocchi next year. Just read these stories first.

More on Trader Joe’s Cauliflower Gnocchi

(Image credit: Rachel Joy Barehl)

11. The cat’s out of the bag on some of the store’s insider secrets.

Trader Joe’s has a podcast, Inside Trader Joe’s, which covers all sorts of insider-y secrets about the store. You should listen! If you don’t have time, we often write about the best episodes and little factoids here.

Our Best Posts on Inside Trader Joe’s

(Image credit: Joe Lingeman)

12. You can get a preview of the soon-to-be-released 2019 products.

That very same podcast recently spilled the beans on some product releases that will launch in 2019. We’re especially excited about the fifth item on this list.