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10 Things You Should Never Buy Anywhere but Trader Joe’s

Be sure to pick up flowers, wine, cheese and more!

Published on: January 24, 2024

Fresh flowers at trader Joe's
Fresh flowers are a must-buy at Trader Joe’s. Photo credit: Amber Guetebier

From weekly shops to party prep, Trader Joe’s used to be my one-stop shop. Even though I’ve moved to a place where there isn’t a Trader Joe’s on every corner, there are certain things I will make the trek for and won’t buy anywhere else. Here’s my list of the things you should always buy at Trader Joe’s.

1. Spanakopita

There’s just something so consistently good about this appetizer-sized spanakopita from Trader Joe’s. They are the perfect two-bite size, keep forever (because they’re frozen) and also make a good quick meal when served with a salad and some cottage cheese. I have been buying these from Trader Joe’s for nearly 20 years and I have never had a bad batch. I’ve tried other brands from other stores and they just aren’t the same.

"Spanakopita at Trader Joe's"
Frozen spanakopita makes a great snack or side dish. Photo credit Amber Guetebier

2. Sweet Apple Chicken Sausage

I am a vegetarian and have been for more than 30 years so I asked someone I know who is also a Trader Joe’s devotee what meat products she recommends. Without hesitation, she said these sausages. Made with real Vermont maple syrup, they’ve been a bestseller at TJ’s since 2004.

3. Wine

Not only will you find the famous “two-buck chuck,” you will find many high-end wines at great prices. Look for familiar labels like Kendall Jackson and other small wineries. They also have one of the best selections of Italian wines I’ve seen around, including Barolo and Amarone.

"Wine from Trader Joes"
Grab a great bottle of wine to go with dinner. Photo credit Amber Guetebier

4. Mandarin Orange Chicken

While we’re on the subject of meat, the frozen Mandarin Orange Chicken seems to appear on every must-buy shopper’s list. It’s even in the Trader Joe’s product Hall of Fame. As a vegetarian, I always opt for the Chicken-Less Mandarin Orange Morsels. Similar products, if you can find them, often cost $1 to $2 more at other stores.

5. Olives

Specifically, Trader Joe’s Colossal Stuffed Olives. In most grocery stores, it seems like you have two choices: cheap, salty olives to drop into a martini glass or big, stuffed olives that cost $10 or more for barely enough to satisfy guests. I always stock up on the garlic-stuffed Colossal Olives. At under $4, you have guaranteed flavor and quality without having to spend twice that at other outlets.

"Olives at Trader Joe's"
Pick up a jar or two of savory olives. Photo credit Amber Guetebier

6. Enrich Moisturizing Facial Lotion

This simple, lightweight moisturizer feels very similar to Oil of Olay’s Daily Moisturizer but at half the cost. It has a very mild smell (it’s labeled as fragrance-free) and broad spectrum SPF 15. If you’re in the market for an affordable non-comedogenic daily moisturizer with vitamins A, C and E, give this a try. I like that it comes in a nice 4-oz size because it fits better on my shelves, but I always buy two!

7. Brie

So much brie! Trader Joe’s always has a solid selection of cheese, including its award-winning Unexpected Cheddar, but I always nab some brie whenever I’m at Trader Joe’s. There’s often a new import added to the selection and the prices are significantly lower than other stores near me. Recently, I saw the same brie at another store for nearly double the price. Buy the brie.

"Brie from Trader Joe's"
Indulge in some soft, delicious brie. Photo credit Amber Guetebier

8. Honey Mango Shave Cream

I am here to tell you that there is no better shave cream in the world. Even if you live in an unforgiving, Trader Joe’s-sparse tundra that wreaks havoc on your skin in the winter, this moisturizing shave cream is amazing. It smells great and costs very little—around $4.50 for 8 oz. Because it’s so creamy, you don’t need much, so it lasts a long time, especially if you can hide it from anyone with a beard who might want in on it.

9. Fresh Flowers

With maybe the exception of Whole Foods’s floral department, Trader Joe’s is unrivaled for grocery store bouquets. I am an avid plant nerd and professional gardener, and I have never been disappointed in Trader Joe’s flowers. They’re beautiful, fresh and well-priced. Beyond lively seasonal bouquets, you can also get orchids, succulents and more.

"flowers at Trader joe's"
Pick up a beautiful bouquet. Photo credit Amber Guetebier

10. Hashbrowns

I didn’t think I’d end on breakfast food, but when I started to really think about something I go out of my way to buy every time I’m near a Trader Joe’s, these frozen hash brown patties fit right in my cart next to sparkling wine and roses. You get 10 of them for less than $3 and kids love them. They crisp up nicely, like a big flat tater tot.

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