My Go-To Trader Joe’s Items


Trader Joe'sMy love affair with Trader Joe’s started over 15 years ago in Minneapolis. We were with my in-laws visiting relatives and my father-in-law wanted to stop by a grocery store. 

He’s from California and told us we’d love this little place called Trader Joe’s. I picked up a few things he recommended and didn’t think much of it until we got back to Iowa.

Ever since then, Trader Joe’s has been one of my favorite places to shop. You’ll find me making the trek from Ames to West Des Moines about once a month. I love Trader Joe’s items for gifts, they have the best seasonal items, and of course, everyone talks about the wine. But, here’s a list of my Trader Joe’s go-to items complete with a snack tray recipe.

What to Buy at Trader Joe’s


Trader Joe’s Columbia Supremo whole-bean coffee is my go-to breakfast beverage. After trying probably every coffee in the store, this one hits the right balance for a daily grind – literally and figuratively. If you don’t grind beans at home, the store has a grinder you can use.


Oddly, Trader Joe’s Spanish Manzanilla Olives are always on my list. They’re the perfect addition to an impromptu charcuterie board, go great on salads, and when it’s Easy Mac night, you’ll find these in my bowl.


This is an absolute must. Trader Joe’s flowers are the absolute best. You can buy a pre-made bouquet or try your hand at arranging by picking up greens and a couple bunches of your favorite flowers.

Pesto + Goat Cheese

Trader Joe’s pesto goes well with any of their goat cheese. Put the goat cheese in a pan and heat it up slowly. It’ll melt into a gooey paste. Add the pesto in and just make sure it’s all heated through. It shouldn’t simmer or boil. From there, pop it in toasty bread for a delicious appetizer. Or, make it a meal by tossing a box of penne with the mixture and serving it on a bed of spinach.

Jicama Sticks

Trader Joe’s jicama sticks are my snack for the car ride home. I know what you’re thinking, “Ugh, she’s probably one of those super-healthy people.” Not even close! Cake is my favorite food. For whatever reason, I love jicama sticks. Normal people probably don’t eat them in the car. You can serve them with hummus or dip.

Fig & Olive Crisps

Trader Joe’s has the best crackers. Keeping a box of their Fig and Olive Crisps on hand turns salami and cheese into a fancy snack. They’re perfect for on-the-fly gatherings.


Over a decade into my Trader Joe’s relationship and I’m still working my way through the wine aisle. I don’t have any go-to favorites and like to try different things, especially the wines marked Trader Joe’s Exclusives.

The Perfect Shave

Trader Joe’s Lavender Salt Scrub and Honey Mango Shave Cream are the only things I use to shave my legs. Yes, I know how weird this is. But, the products are outstanding and cost the same as other subpar drugstore brands.

Party Snack Board

Trader Joe’s is a great place to throw together a snack board if you’re hosting a gathering or attending one. Pick any of the items below, put them in cute bowls or in piles on a wooden board and you have an instant crowd favorite.

  • Everything but the Bagel Seasoned Crackers
  • Unexpected Cheddar Cheese Spread
  • Salami
  • Naan Crackers
  • Any cheese block
  • Manzanilla olives
  • Slightly Coated Dark Chocolate Almonds
  • Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups

What are your favorite things to buy at Trader Joe’s?

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Brittney Rutherford
Brittney and her husband, Tyler, have been married for 10 years and live in Ames. Their two sons, Beckett (5) and Hudson (3), keep them on their toes with constant wrestling, dinosaur-related questions and daily inquiries as to when their next trip to get ice cream will be. Brittney works full time in marketing and communications. She likes to bike (the kind with pedals), visit family, hang out with friends, be in or on water - and always has good coffee and red wine on hand.


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