My Favorite Trader Joe’s Staples + What I Make With Them

Mastermind Weekend 1/16

Hey there!

I'm Tina

I’m the owner of Carrots ‘N’ Cake as well as a Certified Nutrition Coach and Functional Diagnostic Nutrition Practitioner (FDN-P). I use macros and functional nutrition to help women find balance within their diets while achieving their body composition goals.


An in-depth, 4-week reverse dieting course for women who feel like their metabolism has slowed down, think they might have hormonal imbalance and can’t lose weight no matter what they do.

Hi, guys!

How was your Columbus Day weekend? We had a nice time in Newport with Papi and his girlfriend. It’s annual trip that we do again and again, year after year, and it’s definitely one that we look forward to. I’ll have a full recap coming later this week!

If you’ve read CNC for any amount of time, you know that I have a special place in my heart for Trader Joe’s. We shop there almost every week because they always have something new to try (right now, it’s pumpkin everything) and the price is right. Even though I typically have my eyes peeled for fun products to try, I often rely on tried-and-true staples because they make our meals come together in a matter of minutes. If you take a peek in our kitchen, you’ll pretty much always find these items. That said, here are a bunch of my favorites and what I make with them!

Microwaveable Frozen Brown Rice 

Making rice doesn’t get easier than this! Mal loves rice (I do, too!) and would eat it everyday, so we sometimes go through an entire box in a week. We often eat it along side a protein and veggies, mixed with a can of beans (and barbecue sauce – so good), with a stir-fry, or as part of a rice bowl, like Shrimp Rice BowlCowboy Caviar Rice Bowl, or a breakfast bowl made with eggs, avocado, and salsa.

Sunflower Seed Spread

I love this sunflower seed spread because it only has two ingredients in it: roasted sunflower seeds and salt. Unlike a lot of sunflower butters, it’s made without any additional sweeteners and only has 1 gram of sugar per serving (and it’s sugar that occurs naturally in the sunflower seeds). And, of course, I like this sunflower spread because it’s thick, satisfying, and really tasty. I love it on rice cakes, mashed with banana and cinnamon, mixed with berries and heated in the microwave for 30 seconds, on a spoon with a few chocolate chips on top, spread on sweet potato toast, made into Protein Balls, or mixed into Overnight Protein Oats.

Everything But The Bagel Sesame Seasoning Blend

I put this seasoning on everything. No joke, it took me maybe a week to go through my very first jar! The novelty has worn off since, but I still add it to lots of different foods – roasted and steamed veggies, chicken, fish, avocado toast, hummus, roasted and mashed potatoes, eggs, rice, and more!

Cowboy Caviar 

I love Trader Joe’s Cowboy Caviar in a weird way. Haha! I really do love it and use it as I would jarred salsa + lots of other ways. Current favorites: Mixed with shredded chicken, roasted potatoes, stirred into tomato soup, mixed with ground meat and taco seasoning (in soft shells, on a salad, stuffed into sweet potatoes), in a cauliflower rice bowl, and eaten solo with rice crackers, carrot or cucumber slices.

Wild Alaskan Pink Salmon 

When I’m low on protein in my diet for the day, this is one of my go-to picks because it’s so easy and versatile. I like mixing it with grainy mustard, relish, and whatever veggies I have in the kitchen. I also like it as part of chopped avocado salmon salad, which I’ll eat solo, with rice crackers, or spread on top of a rice cake or piece of toast. It also makes a great snack – I’ll whip up a batch and divide it into 2 containers for a quick grab-and-go option!

Organic Sweet Pickle Relish

I love this relish because it doesn’t have a ton of added sugars like some brands do. It’s just also really delicious, and I love adding it to canned salmon and tuna, mixing it with hummus, ground meat, or spreading it on top of chicken or fish.

Crunchy Salted Peanut Butter with Flax & Chia Seeds 

I love that this nut butter has an extra boost of healthy fats in it. Since starting a seed cycling protocol a few months ago, I’m always looking for ways to incorporate more flax and chia seeds into my diet, so this nut butter is perfect. I love mixing it into oatmeal, spreading it on rice cakes, mashing with banana and cinnamon, using it to make protein balls, and eating it straight from the jar.

Organic Tomato Sauce 

We pretty much always have a can of this tomato sauce in our kitchen cabinets. It’s tasty and doesn’t have any added sugar, like some tomato sauces on the market. We love it with pasta, zoodles, on homemade pizza, as a dipping sauce for grilled cheese, Crockpot Chicken Cacciatore, mixed with shredded chicken or ground meat and baby spinach.

Carrot Spirals 

These Carrots Spirals are the best, and I used to eat them a couple of times per week. They recently went MIA from my local Trader Joe’s, but I heard a rumor they’re coming back soon enough. I like to cook them with Everything But The Bagel Seasoning or onion salt and then add my favorite protein – shredded chicken breast, ground meat, shrimp, etc. They’re so easy to make and the texture and flavor are perfect!

Other favorite products:

  • Frozen Fire-Roasted Peppers and Onions – Awesome in Easy Chicken Fajitas, Tortilla Breakfast Quiche, and Crockpot Masala Chicken
  • Chicken Drummellas – Quick dinner for Mal and Quinn
  • Nondairy Unsweetened Almond Milk
  • Organic Mini Cheese Sandwich Crackers – One of Quinn’s favorite snacks
  • Baked Cheese Crunchies – They’re basically cheetos, and we all love them! 🙂
  • Fruit Sauce Crushers – Another go-to snack for Qman
  • Gluten-Free Toaster Waffles – I love these with nut butter spread on top!
  • Savory Thin Crackers – Our go-to crackers! They’re gluten-free and crispy!
  • Organic Pizza Crusts – We love these for homemade pizza!

Question of the Day

What are your favorite Trader Joe staples? 




  1. I do most of my shopping at Costco and aldi, but there a few TJ’s staples in love..The veggie fried rice (I add about 2 cups of riced cauliflower to bulk it up, sauteed in sesame oil first), canned coconut milk for curries and soups, the mini ice cream cones, (my daughter’s #1 dessert!) their frozen pizzas rock, and the whole wheat couscous.

  2. I miss TJ’s so much! Our closest one is about an hour away. I didn’t do a ton of regular shopping at TJ’s when I had one close by, but I’m a sucker for a good novelty item and Trader Joe’s always has the best seasonal items! That don’t cost a million bucks!

  3. The unsweetened almond milk – the pink one! Best price and delicious. The bruschetta we love to add on eggs!

    I am huge fan of TJ’s as well! I struggle with purchasing their produce 🙁 they have the worst produce selection! Always get fruit flies I’ll grab their avacodos because again great price!

    1. @Meghann Badger: I agree! Their produce is AWFUL and it makes me so sad. Everything goes bad within 2 days. I’m a mom of two and work full time, I don’t have time to run to multiple grocery stores. I need one store, in and out! But I kick myself every time I buy their produce because I just wasted my money and it doesn’t get us through the week. I love everything else. The struggle is real!!!

  4. Trader Joe’s, they are truly the best. Back in college I wrote a 12 page paper on them, maybe a little obsessed?

    I just tried their harvest pasta sauce yesterday made with butternut squash and pumpkin – So yummy! Also love their raw, no slat, crunchy almond butter.

  5. I have one an hour away from me and actually went yesterday! I was so upset they didn’t have any spiraled carrots! But defiantly picked up a lot of pumpkin spice goodies! Everything but the Bagel is a must and also the Chile Lime seasoning is a favorite of mine. The chicken sausage is delicious! Wish I would have bought more.

  6. Thanks for sharing this list! I need to try the everything bagel seasoning and cowboy caviar…I never usually go to Trader Joe’s but I might have to stop there soon!

  7. I absolutely love that peanut butter! It’s so good and I love the added crunch from the chia and flax seeds! I’m a huge fan of the frozen cauliflower rice, plantain chips, and individual guac packs which are PERFECT for packing in my lunches!

  8. For a super quick dinner I’ll get the frozen beef with broccoli or orange chicken. I add another bag of frozen broccoli and it takes exactly as long in the oven as it does for me to take a quick shower. Ideal for the nights we all go to the gym and I need to get the kiddo fed fast.

  9. i have yet to try that everything bagel seasoning, but am dying to!!!!! we got the chili lime one not too long ago and have been putting it on mango and watermelon – SO delicious! i also desperately need to grab some of those cans of salmon for last minute dinners or salmon salad to bring to work. that could be a game-changer!!

  10. I first read about the Everything seasoning on your blog awhile back, and I too went through numerous bottles very quickly. It really does go on everything! (I even wrote an Everything Muffin recipe for it on my blog!) I also really love the crunchy almond butter from TJs. Like the sun butter, the ingredients are only almonds and salt. We’ve changed our go-to grocery store a few times, so I don’t shop at TJs as often anymore, but they always have the best products! Especially for quick and easy meals!

  11. The TJ’s in Maine is small and doesn’t always have the greatest selection, but after seeing the fire roasted peppers & onions on your blog a time or two, I picked up a bag and now have them on hand at all times. They’re so easy to toss into just about anything!

    I also really like their frozen cauliflower rice and stock up every time they have it.

  12. I recently made homemade peanut butter cups by TJ’s chocolate chips and using that pb inside! sooooo good!

  13. I am obsessed with Trader Joe’s, and I’m so happy we can walk to our neighborhood TJ’s because it makes grocery shopping so much easier and budget-friendly. I’m excited the carrot spirals are coming back! The zucchini ones were a TOTAL bust for me. When cooked, it equaled 1/3 cup. I was in shock. But other favorites include: Costa Rica Tarrazu coffee (PERFECT for brewing in my Toddy for homemade iced coffee), crunchy almond butter, frozen BBQ chicken pizza when we want a quick dinner and don’t feel like cooking, organic tempeh, and their sea salt vinegar potato chips. We don’t buy these weekly, but when we splurge and grab a bag, they’re gone in a day. SO delicious.

  14. I love seeing other peoples’ fav TJ products!

    Frozen Tamales (beef are my fav) for quick dinners, alongside a simple salad
    Any and all varieties of roasted and salted nuts/seeds (great price point)
    Roasted/Salted crunch almond butter
    The Dark Chocolate Lover’s bar
    Popcorn in a pickle
    Dried Tart Montmorency (sp?) cherries
    Roasted red pepper and tomato soup
    Dark chocolate/sea salt/turbinado sugar covered almonds

  15. The everything bagel is sure getting its spotlight. I’ve heard nothing but fantastic reviews of the Trader Joe’s Everything Bagel seasoning. I’m excited to try it out on top of some stir fried veggies!

    Carrot spirals? That sounds wonderfully convenient but I’m curious about how much this cost. Sounds amazing with a slaw!

  16. I wish my Trader Joe’s carried carrot spirals! My favorites are the dried bing cherries, apricots and mango slices (none have added sugar), any and all of their raw nuts, decaf French roast coffee, cruciferous crunch salad mix, Valencia peanut butter, salted crunchy almond butter, roasted plantain chips, coconut oil, pumpkin shaped pasta, frozen French toast and silver dollar pancakes.

  17. I love their Greek Style Chicken for a quick meal. The chili lime chicken burgers are delicious as well as the cauliflower and sweet potato gnocchi (I cook mine in our air fryer). I also love their chicken sausage (a lot of gluten free options). Oh – and Sriracha Ranch!

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