Top Shelf Food: The five best items from Trader Joe’s


The bags given out to customers at Trader Joes. trader Joes has no plastic bags as a way of being more environmentally reliable.

Claire Reinthaler, Opinion Writer

There’s no doubt in my mind that Trader Joe’s is the superior grocery store. There’s been hardly anything I’ve eaten from there that I haven’t thoroughly enjoyed. Among all the amazing food, however, there are a few items that stick out to me more than the rest. In no particular order, here are my top five picks from Trader Joe’s.
Gluten-Free Breaded Chicken Breast Nuggets
No, this is not a joke, nor an item I added just to be inclusive of gluten-free people. The truth is that these are genuinely the best frozen chicken nuggets I have ever had. From my own experience, they are even marginally better than the Trader Joe’s regular breaded chicken, and it’s not just me who thinks so. More than once, we’ve taken a bag of these up to the cash register and had the cashier tell us how good they are and how they couldn’t believe they’re actually better than the regular ones. There’s just something about the slight chewiness and flavor of the breading that puts the gluten-free nuggets on top. Like all Trader Joe’s breaded chicken, the chicken inside is actually real pieces of meat, instead of the ground up chicken in your typical frozen chicken nugget.
Gluten-Free Brownie Crisp Coffee Ice Cream Sandwiches
I promise, there are things on this list that are not gluten-free, but I can’t help that some of Trader Joe’s best food doesn’t contain wheat. As a coffee and chocolate lover, these ice cream sandwiches are everything I want in a dessert; decadent, creamy, and full of coffee flavor, as well as being in a pretty small portion size. One of my biggest pet peeves is when coffee ice cream is too sweet, and Trader Joe’s does a great job of using real ground up coffee beans in their ice cream to really drive home the coffee flavor. The gluten-free brownie part of the sandwich is chewy and chocolatey, and pairs great with the ice cream, but if you’re not a fan of it, Trader Joe’s sells the coffee ice cream by itself as well. The ice cream sandwiches come in packs of four, and are the perfect sweet treat for any occasion.
Sourdough Boule Bread
I think it’s time for a non-gluten free pick, and there’s nothing more wheat-packed than bread. This is such an ordinary choice for me, but it proves that Trader Joe’s can do the simple things just as well as the complex ones. Sourdough bread is just good in general, but oftentimes it’s hard to find a loaf that has the true characteristics of sourdough. It’s the flavor, yes, but it’s also the size, texture and shape of the bread that makes it what it is. Trader Joe’s nails all these details of a good loaf of sourdough, and is one of my go-to grocery items. Typically, we buy two to three loaves of it when we go, because my whole family loves it and we go through it fast.
Petite Pumpkin Spice Cookies
These are a fall seasonal item, meaning Trader Joe’s only has them from about September until early December, but you’re going to want to stock up on these for other seasons as well, because they’re just that good. I first had these cookies on an overnight field trip with my friends in middle school, and we were all immediately obsessed. The small cookies are crunchy and full of pumpkin spice flavor, with a yogurt coating on the outside that puts them over the top.
They’re the perfect autumn snack, whether you have two or 12 of them, and are a great party snack to share with friends and family, or to throw in your lunchbox as a sweet school treat.
Beef Bolognese Ravioli
The bolognese ravioli is my most recent Trader Joe’s discovery. I’m not going to lie, it caught me off guard with how good it was. I’m a fan of both ravioli and pasta bolognese, but something about putting them together made me a little skeptical. Could the depth of flavors in bolognese sauce really be replicated in a small enough portion to be stuffed inside of ravioli? But over the years, I’ve learned not to doubt Trader Joe’s; stuff that isn’t great elsewhere can be fantastic when bought from there. And this dish did not disappoint. The fresh pasta was delicious and the bolognese filling inside was packed with flavor.
If you’re looking for your next favorite food, Trader Joe’s is always a great place to start. Take it from someone who’s eaten food from there my whole life: with the food being high-quality, low cost and delicious, you won’t be disappointed.