summer

The 10 Must-Have Trader Joe’s Buys for Summer

updated Jul 30, 2019
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Credit: Joe Lingeman

Summertime means cookouts, camping trips, picnics, and no-fuss foods that don’t require an oven. Which means Trader Joe’s is the best place to shop. (Because the chain is known for quirky seasonal snacks and cult-favorite, ready-to-heat meals that don’t disappoint.) If you’ve never been to a Trader Joe’s, consider this your starter pack for shopping there this summer. If you’re already a regular shopper, make sure you add these to your list.

These are the 10 most iconic and best groceries to get at Trader Joe’s this summer.

Credit: Lauren Masur

1. Beef Sirloin Taco Kit, $10 for six tacos

Here’s everything you need for a taco party in one handy box: marinated beef, guacamole, salsa, cheese, and jalapeños. Tote it to the campsite or beach house, fire up the grill, and you’ll have six tacos in no time. 

Credit: Danielle Centoni

2. Gyro Slices, $4 for 8 ounces

These heat-and-eat slices of pre-cooked marinated beef and lamb are ready to get wrapped up in lavash or flatbread, or even strewn on TJ’s par-baked flatbread pizza crust ($3.49) with a slather of tzatziki ($3.49 for 12 ounces).

Credit: Danielle Centoni

3. Spanish Cheese Tapas Sampler, $4.49 for 5.29 ounces

Trader Joe’s has a great cheese selection, but this one gets our vote for its picnic-friendly packaging. Plus, it’s an instant cheese board. Just add a baguette or crackers. 

Credit: Danielle Centoni

4. Ketchup-Flavored Spud Crunchies, $2 for 4 ounces

There’s nothing like a summer road trip to make you crave weird snacks, and these new crispy potato sticks covered in tangy-tomatoey powder are a perfect fit. They’re like freeze-dried French fries, and we are surprisingly into them.

Credit: Lauren Masur

5. Patio Potato Chips, $2.29 for 6 ounces

Having a cookout and can’t decide between salt & vinegar-, dill-, barbecue-, or ketchup- flavored potato chips? No problem. Trader Joe’s put them all in one bag for you. Reaching in is a gamble every time, in a good way. 

Credit: Danielle Centoni

6. Popcorn in a Pickle, $2 for 5 ounces

Every summer, TJ’s trots out this quirky dill pickle-flavored popcorn and customers go wild for it. And it’s no wonder (think: salt-and-vinegar chips spiked with dill, but in healthy popcorn form).

Credit: Danielle Centoni

7. Watermelon-Cucumber Cooler, $3.49 for 64 ounces

Few things are more refreshing than cucumbers and water, which is why this juicy drink is such a great thirst-quencher. It’s like watermelon agua fresca, with a cool cucumber hit. Serve it on ice with a squeeze of lime. 

Credit: Danielle Centoni

8. Southwestern Chopped Salad Kit, $3 for 13.6 ounces

This cool, crunchy salad hits the spot in the summer. We love it as a side for a cookout or even a cheap weekday lunch.

Credit: Danielle Centoni

9. Bloody Mary Salsa, $3 for 12 ounces 

Bloody Mary salsa! Need we say more? You’ll be able to taste the horseradish, jalapeño peppers, and Worcestershire sauce. Just know that it’s pretty spicy and the heat hits you hard.

Credit: Danielle Centoni

10. Peaches and Cream Tarte, $5.49 for 16.9 ounces

Fruit tarts are made for summer, but not everyone wants to make one from scratch. Enter: this rustic galette. The buttery, flaky crust holds a luscious sweetened cream cheese filling topped with ripe sugared peaches. The whole thing is already cooked, so all you have to do is gently reheat in the oven, microwave, or even a pizza stone on the grill. 

What are your summer essentials when it comes to Trader Joe’s?