The Underrated Trader Joe’s Find That’s Going to Make Your Entire Summer

updated Jun 23, 2020
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Credit: Joe Lingeman

In case you don’t know, teenage boys consume a tremendous amount of liquids —particularly in the summer. I know this because when I was growing up, my older brother covered an entire wall in his bedroom with a stack of empty orange soda cans over the course of a few months. However, as my own son crept toward teenage-hood, I kept my eye out for something that wasn’t a calorie-laden, caffeine-enhanced, artificial dye-laced concoction. If he was going to be hydrating all day, I needed to come up with an alternate plan.

Lemonade seemed like an okay choice — that is, until I started looking at the labels. Most mainstream lemonades I found had more than 26 grams of sugar. (That’s an entire day’s allowance of sugar in one eight-ounce drink!) Because I’m not a fan of most artificial sweeteners, my options were dwindling rapidly. Then I went to Trader Joe’s and, like a lighthouse in the storm, a bottle on the shelf caught my eye: Trader Joe’s Low Calorie Lemonade.

It comes in two versions: regular and pink, and each 64-ounce bottle costs just $2.99. The best part is the nutrition label: 40 calories per 8-ounce serving, 9 grams of sugar, no dyes (the pink version uses black carrot extract for coloring) ,and the sweeteners are cane sugar and stevia. Certainly not as great as say, water, but definitely better than most of the other options I was seeing.

Credit: Patti Woods

I bought one of each type to give them a try. Please, please, please be good, I thought when I unpacked them from my bags. I poured my son a glass, added some ice cubes, and waited. When he gave his enthusiastic approval, I thought, Hallelujah! Then I decided to try it myself. 

I was expecting a huge hit of cloying sugar like other lemonades, but instead found that it was light, refreshing, and, best of all, tart. I love sour and this skewed just slightly more sour than sweet. It is sunshine in a glass. I’d finally found something to appease both of us. This lemonade is now a staple in our house. I buy six bottles at a time to make sure we always have it on hand. While my son drinks his straight-up, I’ve learned to doctor mine up to suit the occasion. 

Credit: Patti Woods

When I feel like having something extra, I mix three parts lemonade to one part seltzer to give it an extra zip. When it’s time for happy hour, I’ve gotten a little experimental. I’ve found that it’s great paired with vodka, and I especially love it with gin and tonic water. For a brunch drink, I’ve mixed the lemonade with Prosecco and popped a raspberry in the bottom of the glass. One day I wondered what would happen if I froze the lemonade into ice cubes. I discovered that they freeze beautifully and give an extra burst of flavor to my homemade sangria. I’ve even made a dessert out of the cubes! I give them a quick spin in the food processor to turn them into a sort of slushy situation, with a splash of limoncello and a mint leaf; it makes me feel like the queen of summer. 

Honestly, I only have one question: Why aren’t more people talking about this stuff? It truly is the most underrated find at Trader Joe’s and it really will make your summer!

Have you tried Trader Joe’s Low Calorie Lemonade?