Trader Joe’s is somewhat an amusing establishment. Some of their goods have “created by AI” vibe about them, while most are excellent and only available at Trader Joe’s. I’ve loved and hated many TJ’s favorites over the years (shout out to Sir Strawberry and the Picholine olives), but I just can’t stay away, even with the unfair, unjust product discontinuations. These are the foods that keep me returning and coming back for more.
This is probably the most boring item I purchase from Trader Joe’s. Yes, I am capable of making a pot of lentils, but I am rarely enthusiastic about doing so. (It’s just not fun to prepare them!) These steamed lentils are tender and well-seasoned, and they’re always on hand when I need a boost of protein in a salad. Sometimes, I put them into wraps.
If I’m going to buy carrots, they should at least be attractive. Have you ever tried cutting a purple carrot into slices? It’s a beautiful sight to behold. (I won’t give anything away, but the color yellow plays a role.) My favorite way to prepare these carrots of many colors is to slice them on the bias and roast them in animal fat. This is what I did recently with the fat from my Easter ham. They were delicious (and very fun to look at). I really like grilling them.
Sometimes, I eat this for breakfast. The batter is sweet, the dogs are salty, and the preparation time is minimal. Before I knew they were turkey, I purchased them five times. To ensure that the insides are hot and the outsides are crisp, I like to start them in the microwave and finish them in the air fryer (and also hot, obviously).
I eat a lot of mini tomatoes, and these “San Marzano” small plum tomatoes are by far my absolute favorite. (However, they are not real San Marzano tomatoes, which are cultivated in volcanic ash.) Outside of tomato season (July and August), tiny tomatoes are the only tomatoes worth eating, and these hothouse beauties are reliably sweet and flavorful. I chop them in salads, grate them for tiny tomato toast, and eat them with cottage cheese.
Since I was in my twenties, I have been eating these Vegetable Masala Burgers. I’m not sure how “authentic” the spices are, but they’re really tasty. Since they are so potato-heavy, I think of them as more of a seasoned potato patty than a burger. For a simple yet quick breakfast hash, I like to chop them up in the pan.
This bagel seasoning blend has black and white sesame seeds, which gives it an advantage over other bagel seasoning blends. It’s great on potatoes, asparagus, or tomatoes for breakfast, and I love it on eggs, particularly hard-boiled or scrambled. It’s also good on cream cheese bagels, even though they’re already seasoned. (I’m a wild and crazy person!)
Not only are these the best inexpensive cornichons available, but I believe they are also the best cornichons available outside of France. They are actually better than any of the more expensive French pickles I’ve had. They are deliciously sour, garlicky, and flavorful, and their brine makes a fantastic dirty martini. They are perfect complete ten out of ten.
I cannot get enough of this rich, creamy cheese. Simply put, it’s brie with mushrooms in it, and I enjoy all of those things on their own. I’m not normally a fan of cheese with inclusions, but the wild mushroom bits add umami, and I love umami. (Try this with the crackers on the following slide.)
On a cheese board, figs and olives go well together, and these sweet and savory crackers make snacking easier by incorporating them into each slice. Plus, they look the part, and I love an aesthetic cheese plate.
I only buy Veuve Clicquot twice a year: on my birthday (to celebrate myself) and at Thanksgiving (to commemorate surviving another turkey season), but when I do, I buy it from Trader Joe’s because they have the most competitive pricing in the area. Their $6 Blanc de Blancs satisfies my other bubbly desires (sparkling wine made entirely of white grapes). It’s from “somewhere in France,” it’s unbelievably dry, and it’s way better than it should be for the price. (Yet, although it may have been a fluke, I drained the whole bottle in the hot tub the other night and awoke feeling surprisingly not hungover.)
This is yet another Trader Joe’s commodity that I have loved for decades. The sugar is rich and buttery, and the dark chocolate is somewhat salty but not so bitter that it doesn’t count as “candy.” I can only eat one of these caramels at a time because they are so rich, which is a good thing. I sincerely hope they are never phased out. I don’t believe I will bear it after losing my beloved olives.