Recently I came across a Trader Joe's 'shopping expert.' This young, hip woman from West Long Branch knows it ALL when it comes to TJs and when she heard that I knew virtually nothing about that store, she felt she should share her knowledge with me... and has agreed to let me pass it along to you, too! So here goes:

(Photo by Meghan Murphy)

Trader Joe’s can be a little overwhelming at first, but once you have the ins and outs of shopping through TJs down, your going to find yourself there more often then you would have imagined!

First things first, always bring your reusable bags! Don’t have any? No worries, TJs has a great assortment of reusable bags ranging anywhere from $.99 to $10.99. The most expensive bag is a cooler bag for those that have to run errands before going home or do heavy shopping in the freezer isle. When you bring your reusable bag and the cashier sees that, they throw you a Raffle ticket to fill out for a chance to win a $25 gift card! I have yet to win but maybe you���ll have some luck!

Before we get into the amazing items that TJs sells, I also want to give you a little secret, crew members, they are the highly energetic folks you’ll seeing waking around the store with their Hawaiian shirts or a TJS shirt. If you ever have any questions about a product or back stock, just ask them but the best part, if there is an item you are not 100% sure about, they will open it or cook it for you the try! They take pride in making sure their customers are happy. Also anything that you bring some and you dislike, bring it back, opened or not, and they will gladly refund you. Always go early in the weekends because once it’s past 12PM, the place becomes a war zone!

Alright let’s get to the good stuff! When you first walk into TJs make sure to grab your shopping cart, forget the basket, it’s your first time! I don’t want to toot my own horn but I’m kind of a TJs junkie I’ve been shopping here since 2009 when my college roommate first introduced me to the store when we were in school out on the Main Line in PA and I never once looked back BUT I have learned what and what NOT to buy. I’m going to break it down for you section by section within the store (I’m imaging the Shrewsbury store layout when I write this).

(Photo by Meghan Murphy)

Produce
1. Flowers! They are a must and doesn’t like to treat themselves to a beautiful bouquet of flowers. They are the reasonably priced and the assortment is on point. Get that eucalyptus to throw over your shower head. You’ll thank me later
2. Fruit: Jazz Apples, bananas, clementines (when they are in season) honestly you can’t go wrong.
3. Vegetables: to each is own here! I get my baby potatoes here (fingerling or the baby red and purple ones that are bagged) avocados are a steal here! If you like them, get the bag.
- cauliflower rice is a must for fried cauliflower rice or cauliflower pizza dough
-mirepoix for soups or stir-fry (saves all that time cutting veggies!)
- I can go on and on but nothing is bad in this section!
-you’ll find some refrigerator dressings here on the top shelf: highly recommend the Spicy Peanut vinaigrette. There is also the Carrot ginger miso dressing
-there are more fruit options that are refrigerated so whatever you like can’t do wrong!! I love the cut up apples ... easy snack.
- I don’t love the packaged salads that are made already but give them a try, easy to pack for lunch!
- pre-cooked chicken is great for lunches as well!
- I don’t buy the soups or pre-made chicken or egg salad only because I’m iffy about the ingredients but I will say it’s delicious!
- spinach and kale dip A MUST in addition to the hummus. I get the classic one with a blue top.
-pizza dough to make homemade pizza ( while wheat, and garlic dough)
- kale pesto!!
-reduced guilt chunky guacamole and Avocados Number One Guacamole
- CHEESE!! TJs is known for having the best cheese selection and very affordable!
- cold cuts are really good too! Just make you use them quickly.
- large selection of different different types of nuts and again affordable! My favs: unshelled pistachios, Coconut cashews, sesame honey cashews.
- coffee! Colombia supremo coffee medium roast sweet & rich its my fav! And you can grind the beans for however you brew coffee at home.

Frozen section:
Now you can get lost here but I’m going to lost my favorite staples to have but great selection of frozen veggies, if you guys like those.
- Trader Joe’s Mandarin Orange chicken
- beef and broccoli
- veggie and chicken fried rice
- pork gyoza
-steamed chicken soup dumplings
- chicken cilantro mini wontons
-frozen pizzas: BBQ chicken pizza, classic pizza Margherita
- Chicken Drumellas (chicken nuggets )
- Tater tots
- sweet potato fries
- potatoes, pepper and onion mixture
- Trader Joe’s Turkey burgers
- Trader Joe’s chili lime chicken burgers
- Trader Joe’s Hold the Cone (mini ice cream cones!)

Drinks-
Their seltzer’s are a steal and great flavors!

Refrigerator section of yogurts
- I suggest trying a few your first time around , they sell small containers individually. Love their Vanilla Bean Greek yogurt (it’s a purple container)
- coffee creamer is good too.. I love the coconut creamer - nondairy

(Photo by Meghan Murphy)

Perishables section
- containers of broth are great and again the prices are on point! Highly suggest the miso broth for the dumplings listed above for soup.
- pastas are great too! Not sure if anyone is gluten free in your family but there are awesome gf pasta options.
- pasta sauce- Trader Giittos Tomato Basil Marinara, Vodka Sauce, Traditional Marinara Sauce, I hear the black truffle Alfredo sauce is good!
- Trader Mings Soyaki and island soyaki, sirachi roasted garlic BBQ sauce, sweet chili sauce, enchilada sauce, eggplant garlic spread TJs taco seasoning is THE BEST!
-canned tuna is also really good! I get the pick container Albacore Tuna no salt added.
- Cereals are great and you’ll see some ooo similar to regular food stores, I like the Vanilla Almond Granola ( blue box) but again you have to try a few to see what you like best!
- Crunchy Salted Peanut Butter chia and flax seed. It’s really good!!

One of my favorite parts of TJs are the seasonings they sell!! Listing some of my favs below: everything but the bagel, Everything but the Elote, Unami seasoning, 21 seasoning salute, and chili lime seasoning blend

Trader Joe’s also has the best snacks! I personally love the White Cheddar cheese puffs, plantain chips, pretzels stuffed with peanut butter, TJs sweet potato tortillas, restaurant style white corn tortilla chips and quinoa and black bean tortilla chips. In the same section you’ll find the salas and they are all amazing! My personal favorites are the Corn and Chile, island salsa, salsa verde and salsa authentica (THE BEST!! It has a yellow top) Great selection of crackers as well... Pita Bite Crackers, golden round crackers, social smackers,3 seed sweet potato crackers.

I don’t normally buy my meats at Trader Joe’s, they are a little pricey but the ground turkey and ground chicken is really good and priced well. LOVE their chicken sausage, sweet apple and sweet Italian style.

As you can see, Trader Joe’s has so much to offer and I suggest you just go in with an open mind and have fun!! As you buy different items, your going to find your staple items but be aware, they love to discontinue items so your heart may become broken by them, I’ve gotten mind crushed quite a few times over the years!

This article has been amazingly written and shared by my new friend Meghan Murphy of West Long Branch. Thanks so much, Meghan! Your rock! Can't wait to share more of your really cool write-ups with our listeners!

(Photo from Meghan Murphy)
Enter your number to get our free mobile app