12 Trader Joe’s Staples You Need to Buy

Why hello there friendly people! Welcome to the first of what I’m sure will be many Trader Joe’s specific posts. I feel like TJ’s is one of those places you either worship or could do entirely without and I am 100% on the worship team. When I was based in San Francisco my budget was tight, I’m talking 3/4 of my paycheck going to rent tight. Add in the fact that I spent the majority of my time in airports and hotels where meal prices were so heavily marked up I had to get really creative with how I budgeted for food.

Insert Trader Joe’s to save the day here. Getting creative with meal prepping and TJ’s prices meant I could pretend like I wasn’t on a ramen budget even though I definitely was. My roommates would pick on me for how much I loved Trade Joe’s but when you are literally in a position that you can only buy green bell peppers because they were the cheapest of the colors by a few cents, you really come to love a place that lets you stretch a dollar. Maybe one day I’ll get more into a budgeted meal plan if that’s something of interest to anyone- I know it took me a long time to research how to live on such a tight budget.

Today however I want to share my Trader Joe’s staples. The following items are all favorites of mine whether you are on a tight budget or just looking to add a few delicious items to your cart the next time you walk in. These are the things that if you ever come over you can guarantee I have on hand! Some are cult classics and you may have heard of a few but let me tell you honestly you could never go wrong with the list I’m about to give you.

First up we have the Bambino Pizza Formaggio ($2.99) which in my humble opinion are the greatest mini pizza in the game. Not better than pizza rolls because that would be too good to be true but these are legit to keep in the freezer. These are my go to when I don’t want to cook. If I’m feeling fancy I’ll throw some prosciutto & arugula with a drizzle of balsamic but more often than not I just sprinkle on some red pepper flakes and a call it a delicious day! The pepperoni option is fine it’s just kind of meh, if I were you I’d just add your own pepperoni to these ones.

Pro Tip: cook for 2 minutes longer than it says to if you love a nice and crunchy crust.

Next is the Everything But the Bagel Seasoned Smoked Salmon ($5.49) this was definitely not a part of budget life but now that I’m out of that it’s absolutely always in my fridge. I actually do not like Everything But the Bagel Seasoning in general, I bought it once and never bought it again so I was surprised to discover how much I love this smoked salmon. One of our go to breakfasts in this house is a toasted slice of Dave’s Killer Bread, whipped cream cheese (whipped over regular cream cheese no question) and a slice of this EBTB lox! Makes for a great addition to any at home brunch spread!

You may not have heard of the Honey Pale Ale Mustard ($1.99) but if you like honey mustard at all do yourself a favor and pick this up. If you’re a psycho like me you’ve bought a few jars because you’re scared they’ll stop selling it. It’s a perfect blend of sweet & spicy that makes for a kick ass condiment or alone as a dip. Might I recommend it on a toasted sandwich with turkey, cheddar & apple slices! You will thank me later on that combo.

A top 3 easily, Zhoug Sauce ($2.99) is something I’ve probably have already mentioned how much I love already. I think I first heard about Zhoug from Jess Key’s blog and man am I glad I pulled the trigger on it. It’s kind of like a spicy chimichurri/pesto sauce that works great alone if you like the heat but also tastes delicious mixed with hummus. WE PUT THIS SHIT ON EVERYTHING and often have multiple tubs of it in the fridge at a time. I love dipping pita, veggies or even using it as a marinade for chicken.

Moving on to the dessert, Hold the Cone Mini Ice Cream Cones ($2.99) are a great little sweet treat! I particularly love the chocolate chip ones but every flavor I’ve had is great. I’m looking forward to the peppermint ones this winter season but my TJ’s doesn’t have them yet. Also, no judgement if the one turns into 3- live your life people.

Speaking of mini foods that I love, the Mini Chicken Tikka Samosas ($3.99) are freaking delicious! These are so easy to make and have so much flavor. If you are hosting in the near future make a couple of boxes and I guarantee there won’t be any leftover! The chicken are better than the potato ones FYI.

Pro Tip: Dip the samosas in TJ’s Sweet Chili Sauce ($1.49) which is a GAME CHANGER. The Sweet Chili Sauce is my favorite for the samosas but also as a dip for air-fried chicken nuggets and any type of spring rolls. Really the possibilities are endless with it! We have multiple bottles in the pantry don’t act like you’re not impressed when you do try it.

Up next, Oven-Baked Cheese Bites ($2.99) which I am embarrassed to admit you can find me eating virtually every single night since I’ve found them. I’m not sure if you’ve hopped on to the cheese whisps trend- I feel like people either love it or hate it but if you do love cheese whisps you will LOVE the TJ’s version. Add them to a salad for a crouton-like crispy crunch or just eat the whole bag in a single sitting if you’re a monster like me. I would recommend the original flavor I have pictured, the Black Summer Truffle version are pretty gross IMO.

I could get lost in the cheese aisle of any store and Trader Joe’s is no different. While I love so many of their cheeses (Unexpected Cheddar is a real treat) the Toscano Cheese with Black Pepper ($4-5) is one I will never create a cheese board without. It is the perfect blend of creamy & sharp like a parmesan and with the black pepper “crust” added gives it a great kick. Huge favorite!

If you’re grabbing some cheese you definitely need these Pita Bite Crackers ($2.99) while you’re at it. I love these crackers so much! Flavorful but a good strong vessel to add pretty much whatever topping you’d like to it! You could add any kind of cheese to it but I’d recommend a whipped goat cheese & jam of sorts. Spinach & artichoke dip would be an excellent option or even hummus & Zhoug.

Ah now this one I know you know of, a real darling of the frozen section- the Cauliflower Gnocchi ($2.69) I actually think all of the frozen gnocchi versions are great but this one is my favorite. DO NOT COOK IT LIKE THE PACKAGE SAYS my favorite is to roast it though I’ve not done the air fryer method so I’ll report back when I do. My favorite staple meal for the gnocchi is to add pesto, sun-dried tomatoes (you can get a small bag of them in the pasta aisle and they are already dried/julienned for you) and asparagus.

Speaking of pesto the Vegan Kale, Cashew & Basil Pesto ($3.79) is fantastic! I love to use it in the recipe I mentioned above but it’s also great as a topping for turkey burgers, slather it on to each side of a piece of bread and make a pesto & cheddar grilled cheese sandwich or even as the base for a naan bread pizza.

While my budget may have adjusted I’m still very much a meal planner, I never go to the store without a list but my favorite thing to do every week is add a new to me item. In fact I grabbed a few pictured below that I can’t wait to try this week! That truffle salami seems like it’ll be a real star for charcuterie boards this holiday season. I promise to report back!

I know I’m not the first to share Trade Joe’s lists but everyone’s staples are so different I can only hope I’ve inspired you to add at least one of my favorites to your cart!

What are some of your Trader Joe’s favorites?

Cheers Beautiful People!

Kari

Don’t Call It a Comeback

I’ve been here before, actually a few times.

So many things have happened since I started this blog and even since I wrote my last post so I guess I’ll just dive right in!

As of October 1st I was officially furloughed from my airline, as mentioned in the last post it’s a very hard situation because while nobody could have imagined this pandemic would turn out to be the way it has it’s tough emotionally to lose your dream job at no fault of your own- just a junior person in a world where seniority is key. That’s probably the least fun part of this new life I’ve been adjusting to but I’m learning to enjoy the new adventure I’m on.

Without a doubt the most fun thing that has happened is definitely that the fella and I moved into a brand new apartment a little over two months ago in the cute little city of Longmont, Colorado. We picked it because we were both in the process of finding new jobs and thought it was a great location between Denver, Fort Collins & Boulder. I feel very fortunate to have this new place and have been working really hard at making it our own space. With flight attendant life I was moving so often and with so many roommates it was hard to ever feel settled in.

I started a new job that I feel lucky to have gotten with such uncertain times and I’m even working from home which has actually been a really nice treat. The job itself doesn’t allow for much creativity so I’ve been looking forward to getting back to blogging and having that outlet.

Settling into a new routine has actually not been my strong suit lately but I’m definitely getting there. I’ve been so happy to decorate the new apartment and make it truly feel like a home. Blending styles and doing everything on a budget has been a process but one that I’m so enjoying and hoping to share with you all. Add in moving tips because let’s face it- I’m a professional mover. I’ve also been meal prepping and actually able to cook regularly which has been amazing so I’m excited to share some of the recipes I’ve been working on and trying. Crafting has really helped take my mind off of some of the craziness of late so you’ll for sure be seeing some DIY projects. Working out has essentially fallen by the wayside but maybe this blog will help me be more accountable with getting back into shape.

Even though we are in a pandemic and travel isn’t exactly “booming” we have loved getting to explore this new city and the surrounding area so stay tuned for more Colorado specific travel guides and tips for how to make the most of staycation life.

Like so many in the world this has been a pretty intense time for transitions, uncertainty and adjusting to our own new normal. This is my new normal and I hope it makes for a fun read, a creative space and as always I’ll just be winging it over here.

Cheers,

Kari

Friday Favorites (3): Amazon Finds

Hey party people! How are ya?

I can’t believe it’s 4th of July weekend, that just doesn’t even seem possible. Growing up in a small town in Vermont meant that everyone went to watch the 4th of July parade and you knew everyone who was walking in it. Our town’s fireworks were held that night and it was an important rite of passage to be able to watch them with your friends as a teenager. Speaking of watching fireworks with friends, I hope my best friend Meredith (aka my only blog reader) knows how much I miss her and despite my utter hatred for fireworks wish we could be in the “Lew Spot” watching them this year! Per usual I would only be coming for the company and the Ben & Jerry’s cart though 😉

My family was fortunate enough to have a pool in our backyard… yes in Vermont and yes we actually had warm enough summers to actually swim in it! Part of having a pool meant for my family anyway hosting the annual 4th of July party! In true Irish Catholic tradition my dad is one of 13 kids so anytime family gatherings happened it meant hundreds of humans! I remember vividly watching my mom make lists of people to invite, who was bringing what, what Costco runs we still had to do which is probably where I got my love of list making. Every year my dad would throw on a Hawaiian shirt and start the grill, our front yard would be covered in cars, the pool filled with kids and the kitchen overflowing with delicious food. Cousin Jane if you are reading this send me some taco salad!

While my 4th of July plans look quite different this year I am always happy when I get to think back on all of those fun memories of the holiday.

I suppose I should get to the purpose for today’s post which is linking up some of my favorite Amazon finds from this past few months… I’d say these are more summer/travel items but it’s also kind of a hodgepodge of items. Everything on this list is under $25!

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This Foldable Fedora makes for the perfect summer sun protection. This may be my favorite thing I’ve ordered in a long time! I think I first saw it on Lauren from Lauren McBride Blog and I’m so happy it caught my eye. This hat is incredibly packable! I’ve traveled with it a few times now rolling it into the corner of my suitcase and every time I pull it out it snaps back into shape perfectly! I love how many different color options they have, I personally have the Khaki color. $22.99

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This Silicon Make up Brush Cleaning Mat that does wonders for quickly and easily getting all of that bacteria off of my makeup brushes. I HATE cleaning my makeup brushes so anything that makes it easier for me is a big win in my book. This is a smaller mat which I actually prefer because that means it doesn’t take up much space which in my life on the road is a necessity. I’ve actually liked it so much that I bought a second one for my paint brushes. $5.99

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These PEDS Cotton Unseen Liner Socks that ACTUALLY don’t show. These socks are a game changer! I am not a big fan of no-show socks, they never seem to actually be low enough or very comfortable but let me tell you, I love these things! They have a little gel piece at the heel and over the toes and are low enough for even a brand like Ked’s or slides like Vans.  They come in a pack of 6 for $12.97.

I had been looking for a cute Boho Lumbar Pillow to go with an accent chair I bought (and built myself insert arm flex emoji here) so I ordered this one and absolutely love it! I love the color and the texture of it, plus the tassels at the sides are such an adorable addition. My style is very Boho/Mid-Century Modern and lots of natural colors so I know this will work even beyond using it on this chair. It is $14.99 but I do want to note that this is just the cover, you will need to purchase the pillow insert separately. I bought this pillow insert also on Prime for $9.99.

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If there is one thing flight attendants are proud of it’s their nails. If you ever see a flight attendant with a band-aid on their finger its because one of their nails broke and they haven’t been able to get to a salon to fix it yet. This is a fact! I’m virtually the 1% who does their own nails thus more likely to chip and look shitty pretty quickly. I’m not exactly going to carry around a bottle of acetone in my bag so I rely on these individual nail polish remover pads. I keep them in my bags so that even if I remember on my way to the airport that I never took my nail polish off I can do it quickly in the employee lot. They come in a pack of 50 for $12.95.

If there is one thing you buy off of this list (besides the fedora that should already be in your cart) let it be this glorious Scalp Massager! Men, women, children, pets, everyone loves this thing and for good reason. I use it when I’m washing my hair which not only feels great while applying my shampoo it also makes my scalp feel like I actually cleaned it. I’ve also used it on dry hair just to give myself a head massage or get rid of a headache and it makes me so happy. Seriously, if you need a little treat for yourself get this! Get it for your mom, your dad, your fella- it’s that good! It’s like a little salon in a $6.99 package.

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Who doesn’t love a good bathing suit cover up? This adorable Pom Pom Kaftan is the perfect piece for summer. I loved the embroidery down the front in addition to the pom-pom details. It covers well but doesn’t look boxy or shapeless like some can. I bought it for a Puerto Rico trip that didn’t happen (wear a mask people) so I’ve only worn it once and can’t speak to the quality over a long period of time but I will say the reviews make it seem like it holds up! I hand washed it/hung it up to dry. I bought a medium and I think it fits TTS plus the length in the front and back is good which is what I always look for in a cover up. I love how many colors there are to choose from and it’s only $20.99.

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I love this little Pill Box for storing my vitamins while I travel. I’m certainly not going to carry around 4 different bottles of vitamins every where I go so for awhile I was just dumping a bunch into a plastic bag which looked… suspect at best haha. This little guy is a fun solution to that problem plus it’s an obnoxious blue so I can’t forget to take them when I open my makeup bag every morning. It’s on the small side which is fine because it still fits about 2 weeks of daily vitamins in each slot and I’m not usually gone longer than that. It’s $5.99.

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Speaking of travel items this mini Jewelry Box is one of my favorite purchases of the last few months. I love how dainty it is but it still fits a bunch of my earrings, necklaces etc without them getting tangled up with each other. If you travel with a lot of jewelry this will not work for you! It is definitely small but it works for what I usually travel with. I do wish it came in other colors as it is just this pink but for the price/quality I’m happy with it. It’s $11.99.

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I’m finishing up this list with one of my favorite quarantine purchases, these Oalka Yoga Capri Pants. These are AMAZING! Where do I even start? I love high rise pants because anything that tucks the tummy in is a win for me. The material isn’t too thick that it feels so tight you can’t breathe (you know the type) but it’s still squat proof! I love the length of the capri, it fits in the perfect spot. I’ve run in them, done a HIIT class, hiked and yoga and they’ve held up every time with little movement. I’m not saying I’ve never had to yank them up mid-workout but not much which is A+ in workout pants.  They have a little pocket on the waist for your phone, a key, etc. I bought the long version as well which I also love, they hit the same spot on my waist but I do have to roll them at the ankle which is pretty normal for me and would be great for people with longer legs! I’ve washed them with no issues and they don’t expand as the day goes on. These are great people, you should buy them! The Capris & the Pants are both $19.99 and they come in a ton of patterns/colors. I’m on the larger side of a medium in pants but I usually get Medium for workout pants and they are perfect so I’d say TTS.

Okay I’ve babbled enough for one post, I hope wherever you are you have a safe, happy and healthy long weekend!

Is anyone going anywhere?

What are some of your favorite Amazon finds?

Love, Kari