The 5 Products Trader Joe’s Employees Always Buy for Themselves
We have shopping cart envy.
Updated Sep 10, 2018 5:17 PM
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Store employees hold the key to a lot of knowledge. Their advice is how we learned to always pick from the large dishes at the Whole Foods hot lunch bar, and how we know to arrive at an IKEA 30 minutes after opening time to beat the crowds. At Trader Joe’s, the employees are privy to a particularly useful tidbit of information: our dream grocery list. A recent podcast episode revealed TJ team members’ all-time favorite products, and suffice to say, we’re walking away with more than enough inspiration for our next shopping trip.
From sweet treats (pro tip: you’ll want to stock up for summer) to veggie-friendly options, here are the best Trader Joe’s products—according to its employees.
Peanut Butter–Filled Pretzels
According to Dave, a team member who has been with the company for 51 years, this salty-meets-sweet snack is an all-time fave—and if his long tenure isn’t the ultimate ringing endorsement for a singular product, we don’t know what is. “It’s a classic,” says Dave in the latest podcast episode.
Try it out: This snack was meant to be taken on the road. Whether this means to your desk; as an emergency stash to break out when that 4 p.m. slump hits; or literally on the road, as a crunchy, easily portable snack, these pretzels are great to have on hand.
Green Dragon Sauce
An unnamed crew member loves this spicy sauce so much, she apparently keeps a full stock at all times. “She has a whole cabinet at home…you open it up, and it’s just Green Dragon,” teases another TJ employee in the episode. If you’re a hot sauce devotee, swap out your normal product for this green blend, which marries sweet tomatillos with zesty lime juice for a nuanced condiment that definitely deserves a spot in your fridge.
Try it out: As with regular hot sauce, there’s a myriad of ways to utilize the Green Dragon sauce—but you’ll get the most use out of it as a brunch staple. Add some to a breakfast wrap with scrambled eggs, peppers, tomatoes, and lots of cheese (we’re all about the healthy-ish lifestyle) to shake up your weekday morning routine.
Cashew Fiesta Dip
“It’s a vegan cheese product, and it is my new staple,” says team member Lauren. The creamy spread is great for mimicking the taste and decadence of cheese and dairy but won’t conflict with your dietary restrictions.
Try it out: While it’s sure to be a hit at all forthcoming Taco Tuesday celebrations, Lauren actually recommends using it to spice up the most mundane of dinner staples. “I [mix] it with my broccoli, and I put it on potatoes,” she says of her simple favorites.
Speaking of veggie-friendly items, another unnamed crew member swears by the soy chorizo. “I’m not vegetarian, but I could be fooled easily,” he says of this spicy meat substitute. Buy this to put into rotation for your Meatless Monday meals.
Try it out: Opt for a hearty dinner by packing in as much flavor and as many nutrients as you can into a one-bowl wonder. Crisp your “chorizo” in a skillet until it’s cooked, and then go ahead and add the fixings for your favorite grain bowl. This recipe from the Kitchn is an easy example of a foolproof meal—plus, it’s all under $5.
Brownie Crisp Coffee Ice Cream Sandwiches
“The brownie crisp coffee ice cream sandwiches are really good,” says one employee of her favorite summery sweet treat. We definitely agree: When we taste-tested the best desserts from the Trader Joe’s frozen section, these mini sandwiches made our list of top-five favorites. The pronounced coffee flavor, coupled with the decadent brownies, makes for an allover crowd-pleaser.
Try it out: Keep it simple at your next barbecue by serving up a platter of these goodies—alongside some fresh fruit, so your guests don’t feel too hesitant to indulge. See? Healthy-ish living, done right.
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