Top Finds at Trader Joe’s and Yes, it’s Worth the Drive

In the Tampa Bay area, there are two Trader Joe’s. Two. That’s it. Crazy. I’m not one of the lucky few who lives in close proximity to the coveted grocer, but regardless of the drive – it’s worth it! I can’t help but feel a sense of excitement about Trader Joe’s. The experience, the people, oh and the food (and drinks) of course are worthy of all the accolades they get. It really IS all that.

Here’s a list of go-to daily shopping items. Your weekly shopping isn’t complete without a handful of these goodies.  

Everything but the Bagel seasoning – great on veggies or avocado toast!

Cauliflower Gnocchi – Buried in the freezer section. TJ’s TIP: These are stocked once a day.  No more re-stocking once they are gone, so beeline it to the freezer the next time you visit TJ’s.

Orange Chicken paired with riced cauliflower stir fry or veggie fried rice – weekday dinner can’t get any easier (or tastier) than this!   

Puff pastry hotdogs (kid friendly) – puff pastry anything just sounds yummy.

Salsa Verde or Pineapple Salsa – both are delish with tortilla chips, but could easily be poured over chicken in a crockpot. Voila! Weekday tacos with tasty shredded chicken!

Charles Shaw (oh they’re so fancy!) also known as $3 buck chuck, lots of varieties (red & white)

Now if you’re heading to a party or attempting to be the hostess with the mostest, check out these:  

Bacon Cheddar Ranch Dip (yes, there actually is such a thing)

Jalapeno Artichoke Dip – no explanation needed

Greek Yogurt Guacamole – don’t be put off by Greek Yogurt. This is so creamy & yummy… it’s a mover!

You can’t go wrong with any of the dips. Your guests will be raving. All you have to do is decide if you’re going to fess up to where you bought them!

Here are a few additional party suggestions: Blue Cheese Mustard, Persian Cucumbers, a bag of the Salt & Pepper Pistachios, Chocolate covered espresso beans or sea salted almonds. 

Let’s talk holidays!

TJ’s is known for having unique, specialty items as the seasons change. During Fall, they roll the red carpet out for anything and everything pumpkin. It’s like a pumpkin explosion right in the store. Same for the winter holidays. All things minty, spicy & perfect to gift or enjoy yourself. TJ’s TIP: talk to employees (aka crew) and finding out WHEN the holiday stuff will be there. I’ve been too early, too late… and you’ll need to hit it JUST right if you want any of these. They go fast!

Holiday chocolate advent calendars – at $1.99 it’s hard to pass up for the kids!

Scented candles – yes, who knew TJ’s sold candles?! TJ’s TIP: They go fast!

Kringles – these sweet Danish rings hail all the way from Wisconsin and are perfect for a quick breakfast, brunch (think family in town) or even for dessert! This flaky, buttery goodness comes in a variety of flavors throughout the year including pecan raspberry, pumpkin, and almond.

Jingle Jangle – this favorite holiday snack goes fast! It’s a variety of dark and milk chocolate covered salty snacks (pretzels, caramel popcorn, m&m’s) all mixed together. Grab a few, because 1 bag probably won’t last very long!

Last but not least… coffee!

This is my favorite spot in the whole store. Being an avid coffee drinker I love the smell of freshly brewed coffee. Not only do they have a great selection of whole bean coffee, but the seasonal varieties are also worth grabbing two while you’re there. Check out the Gingerbread Blend and Pumpkin Spice.

Other tips to navigating TJ’s…

  • Depending on when you go (but most days), parking will take a moment! It’s a small lot, but on busier days someone is directing traffic.
  • The design of the freezer section is “open” meaning no freezer doors. This means it is a very chilly shopping experience. So, bring a sweatshirt – you’ll definitely need it – and head to the coffee bar upon arrival.  There is always a fresh pot of coffee brewed and waiting… grab a small cup (or two) and warm up!
  • It’s the perfect spot for a gift! Around the holidays they have specialty items, but year round you can put together a fantastic basket of delicious eats and drinks. Think sweets, salty, or maybe you have a wine-loving friend. There is truly so much to choose from and the unique and artsy packaging adds a nice touch. Oh and don’t forget the card! Yes, they even have cards. Great quality. Sometimes funny. And best yet– $.99. Yes, you read that correctly. Under $1. Buh-bye Hallmark.

To top it off, the people are amazing! I never know where anything is and am always looking for something. Their crew is so kind and willing to help find an item or check in the back. TJ’s rocks and I’m a loyal fan. If you have a favorite item at TJ’s not listed here, please share the love and comment below!


Tricia is a mom, wife & 16+ year HR professional who has a passion for writing and has been a Tampa Bay Moms contributor since 2016. Tricia and her family have lived in Tampa since 2013. Originally from the Windy City, Tricia & her husband enjoy the beaches, exploring great restaurants & spending time at the ball fields with their two kids, Luca & Gia. Tricia has a Master of Arts in Communication from Western Illinois University and is SHRM-SCP certified. When not working or spending time with her family, she enjoys fitness, is a coffee enthusiast, enjoys craft beer & country music. Follow her on IG @tsportsman.


  1. If you define “Tampa Bay” as both Pinellas and Hillsborough counties, then there are 2 Trader Joe’s (Tampa and St Pete).

  2. Wow, had no idea there was one in St. Pete! I live in east hillsborough and always trek into the Tampa one. Great to know, thanks !!

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