Trader Joe's
Life with The Lights
My Trader Joe’s Shopping List

Have you met Joe? 

If you haven’t, I’d like to introduce you. If you’re already a fan, read on anyway; you just may find some items on my Trader Joe’s shopping list you haven’t tried yet.

Believe it or not, Trader Joe’s started out as a chain of California based convenience stores way back in the 1950’s. Over the next 5 decades the chain would grow into an award winning grocery store chain with a cult-like following.

Until recent years, it was rare to come across the iconic grocer. However there are currently over 450 stores nationwide, including one right here in my little town of Foxboro, MA!

A few tidbits about Trader Joe’s:

  • 80% of their products are sold under the Trader Joe’s label.
  • TJ’s keeps prices down by a variety of means which is part of their appeal to shoppers.
  • TJ’s is highly regarded in the business world as being an environmentally conscious company.
  • Items sold under the TJ’s label are free from artificial preservatives and flavors, MSG, and other harmful additives. They also do not sell milk from cows injected with artificial growth hormones.
  • While you’re not going to find many labels listing artificial ingredients on their shelves, not all items at TJ’s should be considered “healthy” (this will be clearly illustrated in my list of TJ’s obsessions below). I have four kids, my husband is a large man and needs sustaining, and I am human; we eat a bit of junk food here at the Light house.

What’s in my bag?

At first glance, Trader Joe’s may look a bit different from a traditional grocery store, and walking into one for the first time can be a bit intimidating. So, I wanted to put together a list of my family’s favorite TJ’s products for anyone who has been wanting to venture in for the first time and isn’t quite sure where to start.

Now, go grab a pen and paper…

Ice Cream

My mother loves to say, “Life is uncertain; eat dessert first.” So, I figured we should start here. There isn’t a whole lot that doesn’t look delicious to me in the frozen dessert aisle at Trader Joe’s, but these are two of our favorites: the mini ice cones and the mini mint ice cream sandwiches. Both are really pretty small which is great for letting the kids have a sweet treat while keeping portions reasonable (unless they eat a half dozen at a time like my kids would do if they could get away with it).


My kids love waffles, so these are a yummy way for them to get a hot breakfast on hectic school mornings.

Peanut Butter

I have a peanut butter addiction. Like, a serious one. This one is perfect for pouring over vanilla ice cream, recipes, or just a good old fashioned pb&j!

Chunky Guacamole 

Wholly guacamole! Don’t let “reduced guilt” on the label fool you; this is the most delicious dip in our fridge at all times! I usually buy 2 or 3 at a time.

Multigrain Tortilla Chips

I had to list these next because they go perfect with my guacamole. I love all kinds of grainy chips but these take the cake!

White Cheddar Corn Puffs

OK, if you’re an adult these probably look like the least appealing item on my list… and I’m with you. But my kiddo’s love them!


Just look at these blackberries! I mean, this is produce perfection people! On days when I’m not sure what to make for dinner, I just stroll though the produce section at TJ’s for instant meal inspiration.

Fruit Sauce Crushers

Again, probably not wowing ya here, but if you have little ones you’re gonna want to grab a box or two of these. Can’t say I’ve ever tossed back a “fruit crusher”, but Annie can crush a box of them in a matter of minutes.

Butternut Squash Ravioli

Here’s what I want you to do: Grab some fresh sage. Chop it up and throw it into a little pot with some melting butter on the stove. Let it simmer while you cook this butternut squash ravioli. When it’s done, drain, pour sage butter sauce over it, and top with a sprinkling of freshly grated parmesan cheese, salt, and pepper. You’re welcome.


My daughter Grace loves shrimp, so these come in handy on busy evenings when I need a quick, easy, crowd pleaser. I like to pair them with soba noodles in a soy sauce with sesame seeds, sautéed garlic, a dash of red pepper flakes, and green onions. Pair with fresh pineapple and you’ve got yourself an (almost) homemade meal!

Mac and Cheese Bites 

Another kid-crowd crowd pleaser. And I can actually vouch for these… they’re delicious! Perfect for an after school snack or an easy side at dinner.

Chocolate Chip Cookies

It’s probably clear now from the ice cream, cheesy poofs, and carnival style mac-n-cheese balls that I’m a card carrying “bad mom”. So yes, sometimes (almost always) I even buy cookies for the house… and these are the BEST! I’m usually not a fan of store bought sweets, but these little suckers are pretty tasty. I also like that they’re tiny, like the ice cream treats, so you can give a four year old 5 or so and they think they’ve hit the lottery. It’s all about perception.

Trader Joe’s Wine

Sometimes a bad mom needs her wine. And just like everything else, Trader Joe’s has their own wine too… and they’re great!

Trader Joe’s Shopping Bags

I’m a big fan of TJ’s reusable grocery bags for a few reasons: 1. They’re adorable. 2. Their standard shopping bags work great for the kids to transport their snow pants/boots to school. 3. Their cooler bags are enormous and perfect for day trips with the family. 4. Wine bags send a clear message to the other bad moms; Ladies, I’m serious about mom’s night out, and as you can see from my wine bag, we’re gonna do this right.

Susie Light


  • Wende Malster

    April 1, 2017

    Thanks Susie, for all these great food suggestions. I agree that Trader Joe’s has amazing foods at great prices. I wanted to add another reason to shop there. About five years ago, they hired my 59 year old aunt in New Jersey. She has some mental disabilities and some other health disabilities, and I have to say, they have been UNBELIEVABLE in how they care about her, manage her, job coach her to be successful and embrace her for who she is. In addition to that, she works 30 hours a week and receives full benefits. She has all kinds of health issues, so the health insurance coverage is a tremendous value for us. Trader Joe’s is a company that really gets what it means to be inclusive of all people, and they operate in a way that is a role model for other businesses. I highly support their success and am extremely grateful for the opportunity my aunt has had to contribute to her community.

    • slight72

      April 2, 2017

      Thanks for your comment Wende. What an awesome story! I was reading about how they compensate their employees, and it’s remarkable!
      Susie 🙂

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