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Trader Joe’s Top 12 Favorite Items

Trader Joe's Staples

My Trader Joe’s Favorite Items

The other day on my Instagram story I asked if I should do a post about my weekly Trader Joe’s haul. Well, it was a resounding yes– I’ve never had so many “yes” answers in a poll! So, here it is, my ride or dies, pick-up-every-time-I’m-out, must-have-in-my-kitchen, use-every-week Trader Joe goodies.


Trader Joe's Staples

1. Green Goddess Salad Dressing

This is my favorite dressing of all time. For the first time in my adult life I had to start packing my lunch every day. I almost always pack a salad with mixed greens, shredded carrots, radish slices, black or kalamata olives, sunflower seeds, and of course, this dressing. It’s light, vegan, and pretty much the closest you’re going to get to a store-bought, healthy dressing.

Tip: If I’m out of pesto (see next item) then I’ll use this on my hot or cold pasta dishes!


Trader Joe's Staples

2. Vegan, Kale, Cashew and Basil Pesto

Did you know that cashews are one of the biggest substitutes to cheese for vegans? Now, if you aren’t vegan and you’re rolling your eyes, just hear me out. This stuff is incredible. I’m a huge, huge (but who isn’t) fan of pesto, and I swear I could eat it every day of my life. So, enter TJ’s pesto. It’s guilt-free and tastes just like real pesto! I use it in dips, pasta salads, hot pasta, appetizers, cheese boards.. Like, so many things! I keep thinking, especially when the house is done, should I share some of my favorite dishes and things to make from everything I buy at Trader Joe’s? Yes? No? Let a girl know…


Trader Joe's Staples

3. Bruschetta Sauce

Up next, and keeping with the Italian theme, is Trader Joe’s Bruschetta Sauce. Now, I know, nothing beats homemade bruschetta but this comes pretty dang close. It’s garlicky, zesty, the tomatoes are kept perfectly chunky, but still so fresh. Not only do I use for entertaining on dip platters and crostinis, etc. I love it baked on zucchini or squash, and my boyfriend loves it baked on chicken. Add a little basil and mozzarella and voila the most delicious Caprese chicken.


Trader Joe's Staples

4. Pico de Gallo Salsa

This has replaced salsa almost entirely for me. It’s. So. Good. As a dip on its own or, and this is my favorite discovery, tip, trick, quick fix, best-kept secret, etc. of 2018: Mix it with fresh avocado, a little salt, and you have the best guacamole EVER. Because this already has the lime juice, tomatoes, onions, all that jazz, it is the solution to the easiest guac ever. I may just do a whole post on how easy but more importantly, freaking delicious it is.


Trader Joe's Staples

5. Cajun Black Beans

Going vegetarian/sometimes vegan this year meant experimenting and figuring out recipes that I could replace meat with. It was also super important that I love what I’m eating, I wouldn’t forego enjoyable mealtime for veganism, believe me. More about that when I do my “The Real Reason I Went Vegetarian” post coming soon. One of the recipes I found were these incredible Southwest Cauliflower Tacos by Alexandra from Occasionally Eggs. I have kind of put a spin on a lot of the recipe as a whole, and using these black beans for my version of cajun refried beans has changed my life. I’ll do a big batch, keep it in the fridge and eat it (with tacos or without) throughout the week to ensure I’m getting my protein.

6. Corn Tortillas

These corn tortillas were a perfect substitute for the homemade ones Alexandra shows you how to make. They are gluten-free and the perfect size for a couple (or few) tacos for dinner. Joe and I use them for mini breakfast tacos too!!


Gluten Free Olivia Quinlan Blog

7. “These Peanuts go on a Date” Bars

These right here are my absolute favorite snack bar. I can’t call it granola or protein or any of those bars because it’s seriously just dates and peanuts. Simple, healthy, but filling. I take one with my almost every day for lunch. I made a HUGE mistake last week and made Joe try a bite. Let’s just say I don’t get more than half if I open one now. Secretly I’m smirking because the Trader Joe’s vs. Wegman’s battle has been a slow but steady one, and I think I’m now winning……

P.S. Take an extra look at the packaging, it’s just darling and so clever!! The graphic designer in me just dies!!


Trader Joe's Staples

8. Everything but Bagel Seasoning

Well, this might be the most millennial, modern-day, bowing to the masses type seasoning there is. It’s literally everything but the bagel of an everything bagel. Talk about clever? I need to know what these Trader Joe’s marketing and designers are drinking at breakfast every morning because they are so darn creative. Maybe it’s something I can add to this list….

Tip: Do you make popcorn on the stovetop? Well you should just to put this on it– amazing.


Gluten Free Olivia Quinlan Blog

9. Gluten-Free Pasta

Yeah, yeah, yeah. You Italians out there might kill me for this one but I will (and pretty much do) eat this every night of the week, GUILT FREE. It’s made from brown rice and quinoa so I get my carb-like energy for the next morning’s workout, it cooks quickly, and tastes delicious in every and any pasta dish. Plus, it holds up better than any gluten-free pasta I’ve ever known, and I used to work in a restaurant! I swear by this stuff and keep 1-2 bags in my cupboard at all times. Leftover veggies? Throw it all together and make a cold pasta salad that can sit in the fridge for a few days as a snack or quick lunch or whatever! I’ll be sharing my go-to, TJ pasta salad soon!


Gluten Free Olivia Quinlan Blog

10. + 11. Black Bean Soup & Tomato Crackers

So I started having this in the winter when I was vegan and gluten-free and I became obsessed. Obsessed with the creamy, tad spicy flavoring, but also with the ease of it. I love slaving over homemade soups in the winter but sometimes it’s nice to, well, not slave. Joe sometimes adds chicken, I add these tomato crackers. Gluten-free but such a down-home earthy flavoring that balance out the spiciness of the soup. My favorite TJ combo for sure.


Trader Joe's Staples

12. Chocolate Covered Frozen Bananas

So, I saved my dearest, old, most yummy Trader Joe’s item friend. I used to buy these when I lived in Charleston. Before I lived around a Trader Joe’s here in the north. Naturally, in such a beautiful, fun, energetic place I started the summer a little rowdy. About halfway through I was like okay relax on the drinking, and crazy eating, and I started to buy the good stuff at TJs. However, regardless of how well I’m eating I’m not giving up the sweet tooth. I have one you just can’t tame. While looking for something other than coconut cake, pralines, and peach cobbler that seem to be everywhere down there, I found these chocolate-covered bananas (I know, my mouth is watering too) that you keep in the freezer. Now, almost 6 years later, they are a solid staple in my house.


Thanks for listening, er, reading along! I always feel like I’m talking to someone when I write these so I want to say listening! Anyways, I hope you like these goodies as much as I do. Let me know if you have any questions or more suggestions!!

Leave a Comment


  1. Auntie Anne wrote:

    Love this list! I’m going to take it with me to TJ’s (my favorite store ever!) I have gotten the corn tortillas many times, but haven’t tried the other stuff — looking forward to the vegan pesto and some of the other goodies. VERY FUN, Olivia, to read your well-written and good humored blog, full of healthful ideas 🙂

    Posted 8.25.18 Reply
    • oliviaquinlan1 wrote:

      Thanks Aunt Anne!! You will love everything– TJ’s is the BEST! xoxo

      Posted 8.28.18 Reply