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Regardless of where you live, someone you know is most likely a fan of Trader Joe’s — and for good reason. From speciality frozen products to affordable wine and anticipated seasonal drops, there’s a lot to love about this California-based grocery store. However, whether you’re a seasoned shopper or a complete newbie, finding the best things at Trader Joe’s isn’t always easy. So we reached out to Shanon Whittingham, a registered dietitian, nutritionist, owner of The Nourish Center in Brooklyn, New York, and Trader Joe’s enthusiast, to get get her favorite picks.
Trader Joe’s can be a more affordable option for organic fruits and vegetable than Whole Foods. However, if you’re looking to budget a bit more and get better value, Whittingham suggests sourcing your produce from another grocery store and opting to head to Trader Joe’s just for the speciality items.
And while her picks below are all staples that are typically available year-round, Whittingham recommends keeping your eyes peeled for any new and exciting products that may pop up week-to-week. New products appear on the shelves on a regular basis and only stay there for a limited time, making the seasonal drops one of the most fun aspects of shopping at Trader Joe’s.
Shanon’s Favorite Plant-Based Trader Joe’s Items
Vegan Kale, Cashew & Basil Pesto
This spread is a famous Trader Joe’s product — and for good reason. Whittingham says this pesto is good by itself, so she likes to keep it simple in her cooking, adding it to a pasta or vegetable noodles. When she wants to get a bit more decadent, she adds cherry tomatoes and dairy-free parmesan cheese, as well. (Full disclosure: This is also one of my all-time favorite products from Trader Joe’s.)
Chicken-less Mandarin Orange Morsels
Searching for a meatless alternative for a quick and easy family dinner? Whittingham recommends these chicken-less morsels. She typically eats them with brown rice and a leafy green vegetable. However, when she wants to be a bit more creative, she says she’ll mix in some red lentils and seasoning.
These aren’t your ordinary diner hash browns. They’re Trader Joe’s hash browns. Whittingham says she’ll make these in her air fryer with garlic, olive oil, and dill seasoning. “That just takes it to another level because now I have garlic hash browns, like garlic mashed potatoes, but garlic-dill hash browns,” she says. Are you hungry yet? (We are.)
Everything But the Bagel Seasoned Bite-Sized Crackers
The beloved Trader Joe’s seasoning, Everything But the Bagel Sesame (EBTB) Seasoning Blend, now comes in cracker form. Whittingham says she loves to top these crackers with tuna or an easy chickpea salad — just mash up chickpeas with lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper, and you’re ready to go.
Vegan Cream Cheese Alternative
Another great topping to add to your EBTB crackers? This vegan cream cheese. Whittingham recommends trying it on toast with jam or, instead of your traditional sourdough bread, add this spread to sweet potato toast. If you have a sweet tooth, add some sliced banana on top. If you lean more toward saltiness, add some chives with salt and pepper.
Non-Dairy Oat Beverage
Whether you’re vegan or trying some non-dairy alternatives to milk, Whittingham recommends this oat beverage from Trader Joe’s, especially for golden milk. To make this warm beverage, heat up the oat beverage on the stove with your sweetener of choice (maple syrup, brown sugar, or coconut sugar), turmeric, cinnamon, black pepper, and a hint of nutmeg. Sipping this drink while snuggled under a cozy blanket? We can’t think of anything better.
Dark Chocolate Strawberry Bar
Don’t forget to add a sweet treat to your cart for those late-night chocolate cravings. As a lover of dark chocolate, Whittingham says she always adds this new Trader Joe’s bar to her shopping list. “It’s literally good by itself,” she says. “[That] with a good Netflix series — and I’m a happy camper.”
Garlic Indian Style Flatbread
It’s pizza night — and Whittingham’s using this flatbread as her base. She says she’ll top this flatbread with tomato sauce, vegan mozzarella, olives, and some spices before baking it in her oven. “It’s so good,” she says. “You have the flavor coming in from the flatbread and everything else you add on top.”
Organic Coconut Water
Due to her Jamaican heritage, many members of Whittingham’s family grew up drinking fresh coconut water. While Wittingham says she personally doesn’t love the taste of plain coconut water, she loves adding it to her smoothies or rice to get the nutritional benefits.