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1 year, 10 TJ’s favorites, and a GIVEAWAY!

It’s been a year since I started frugalfoodiefamily, my little attempt to share with the world how I cook and eat well on a budget, for our family of 4 but also and sometimes even more importantly I think, for the community around me.  Our budget started last year at $385, is now $400, and I’ve posted over 150 recipes in nearly 200 posts.  Whoa.

The Adventure

It’s been so fun to make connections with people around the world, to share my love for food with the readers of Martha Stewart, OC Family, and the foodies checking out the mouthwatering pics on Foodgawker and Instagram (@frugalfoodiefam).  Possibly the best part of all is hearing from many of you that you feel a bit more inspired and confident in the kitchen, that you’re saving money, losing weight, feeding your kids better and more nutritiously, and connecting with others over food.  LOVE!

My Bestie, Trader Joes

Of course by now you know I’m an unpaid publicist for Trader Joes (they don’t know this yet but I’m working on it)!  This year I’ve made about 75 visits to the store (probably 73 of them with my two small kids, lucky me:), purchased probably 40 different wines (I mean I just had to after said 73 shopping trips with small kiddos), and beamed with joy as my dear friend in Austin rallied her city together to get their first store ever!

So Happy Blogiversary to frugalfoodiefamily! 

No, we’re not celebrating with cake.  I’ve got something even better for you…

In honor of such a fun milestone, and because I’m not sure there’s any store more fun than Trader Joes, I’ve included my top 10 TJ’s favorites, plus a little G-I-V-E-A-W-A-Y!  So here we go…

In no particular order:

10.  Marinated Frozen Ahi Tuna.  Usually around $5 bucks a pound, a favorite in the summer on the grill.  Tastes like a steak.  Really.

9.  Extra Virgin Olive Oil.  A $6 bottle lasts me 4-6 weeks.  What a deal.

8.  Two Buck Chuck.  I always keep their Sauvignon Blanc on hand, for cooking and some weeknight sipping.

7.  Whole Wheat Pizza Dough.  Yes, homemade is better.  No, I don’t usually have the time to make it.  This stuff works great, and is just over $1 buck.

6.  Dark Chocolate Covered Caramels.  Oh.  My.  Just try them.

5.  Greek Yogurt.  16 Ounces for $1.99.  I haven’t found this price anywhere else, and I’ve stopped buying sour cream and cook with this instead.

4.  Natural Peanut Butter.  Around $2.50, a jar of this stuff contains peanuts and salt.  Love it.  The only thing I love possibly a little more is making my own almond butter.

3.  Joe’s O’s Cereal.  We buy a box of these week in and week out.  And at $1.99, it’s a steal.

2.  Honey Wheat Pretzel Sticks.  Kids love ’em.  Parents love ’em.  I love ’em for $1.69 a bag.

1.  Coffee Bean Blast Ice Cream.  My absolute favorite.  Thinking about a big bowl of it right now makes me blush a little.

So there you have it!  My favorites from Trader Joes. 

NOW……onto the Giveaway!

What would you do with a $20 gift card to Trader Joes?!

Leave a comment below and let me know what one of your favorite items is from Trader Joes.  I’ll pick a winner at random on Wednesday, May 23rd at Midnight, and I’ll announce it on Thursday the 24th.

Good luck and thanks for all the love this last year!

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75 Comments Post a comment
  1. Ashley #

    I love the champagne pear vinaigrette from Trader Joe’s! Perfect for my favorite salad – arugula, Gorgonzola, fresh strawberries and roasted beets. 🙂

    May 20, 2012
  2. We can’t ever get enough peanut butter, coconut oil, and Joe’s O’s from TJ’s! What an amazing giveaway. =)

    May 20, 2012
  3. Ellen L. #

    There are wayyyyy to many to count! I would have to say the olive oil too! We just got a Trader Joes in Prescott, AZ and before I was stocking up in CA on vacations! I love reading your blog, especially the wines on Friday! Thanks!

    May 20, 2012
  4. Sherry Ortega #

    Coffee Bean Blast Ice Cream sounds like a decadent dream right now (it’s also my favorite,
    try it with toffee chips mixed into it). Two Buck Chuck is a cooks best buddy.

    May 20, 2012
  5. Katie #

    My hubby and I love the Manchego cheese and their famous rice crackers. We serve this pre-meal treat with a bottle of pino grigio. Yummy!

    May 20, 2012
  6. Trader Joe’s is a little far for weekly shopping, but I do make a trip every few months. I love to pick up dried fruit and mixed nuts when I’m there. The prices are just so good!

    And congrats on your one year anniversary! You have a beautiful blog – you inspire me every time I read it 🙂

    May 20, 2012
  7. Corn Salsa, yogurt cheese, and the new House whip (cool whip like dessert topping but without the partially hydrogenated oils)

    May 20, 2012
  8. alw6ys #

    too much good stuff! (oh wait, that’s someone else’s slogan.. lol) I always love their nuts!

    May 20, 2012
  9. amber #

    There’s so much to love! Tempura birds nests, dried apricots, organic bagged pears and apples, whole wheat pizza dough, whole wheat white flour. Congrats on one year!

    May 20, 2012
  10. I too am a HUGE Trader Joes fan! I could not get along without them. My favorite item? It’s so hard to pick! I love their seasonal specialties. But lately we’ve been inhaling their raspberry sorbet. Yum!

    May 20, 2012
  11. Wen #

    I like getting the roasted nuts since it can be used to make so many things.

    May 20, 2012
  12. Jersey gal #

    I love your blog–keep it up! I am partial to the Cinnamon Schoolhouse cookies from TJ. They are in the form of capital letters, delicious and low fat! My kids also go crazy for them and I can claim they are “educational” for my preschoolers and toddler:)!

    May 20, 2012
  13. Carrie #

    I like the jar of green curry. Yummy and quick dinner poured over sauteed veggies and tofu with a can of coconut milk and served over rice. Their tortillas are also the only inexpensive ones I’ve ever found w/o hydrogenated soybean oil.

    May 21, 2012
  14. Rachel #

    Their chicken gyoza potstickers are delish and we get them every time we go. 🙂

    May 21, 2012
  15. Mitzi Kelly #

    I have 2 favorites from Trader Joes. The first is the 1 pound 70% dark chocolate bar. The second is the apple blossom. Can you say YUM!

    May 21, 2012
  16. Kelli #

    We love the snacks!!! My daughter has tons of allergies so we get the Potato snacks, Banana chips (Monkey chips), rice cakes, and Rice Milk. This mama loves all of the desserts , I can’t lie.

    May 21, 2012
  17. Nicki Payne #

    Favorite comfort food…their frozen mac n cheese. I get it for the kids, finish it up when they’re done. So yummy.

    May 21, 2012
  18. Debbie Dziem #

    CONGRATS & Happy Cooking!! Soo many to mention~ Love Amour de Paris champagne (hint of peach) we served at our son’s wedding and many asked the name, especially those that didn’t normally like champagne normally. Price so amazing $3.99 for great flavor.
    Non fat Vanilla Greek yogurt, honey butter, frozen brown rice, everything bagel chips, and on and on….
    PS. Miss so much now that I’m in Austin (helping Jenn get one here!) I stock up when I’m back in CA.

    May 21, 2012
  19. amanda #

    What WOULDN’T I do with it?! Yum Yum!

    May 21, 2012
  20. Aubreylaine #

    I love their hummus!
    family74014 at gmail dot com

    May 21, 2012
  21. Jaime Mitchell #

    I absolutely live the salsa especial! It’s authentic tasting and spicy, and we use it instead of a salad dressing when making a taco salad.

    May 21, 2012
  22. Karen Cleary #

    How can I choose just one? The sea salt chocolate covered almonds are amazing!

    May 21, 2012
  23. manda #

    I don’t have a favorite item… yet 🙂 My town is getting a store in a month. I am excited to visit!

    May 21, 2012
  24. Deanna #

    I’m so glad I found your blog, I love it! I also love Trader Joe’s and do almost all of our grocery shopping there. We buy their Milton’s 100% whole wheat bread (dairy-free for my son), salad mixes, peanut butter, sunflower seed butter, whole wheat pasta, wine, sliced american cheese, shredded cheese, nitrate free deli meats, nuts, dairy-free pancakes, semi-sweet chocolate chips (also dairy-free!), and the list goes on and on. Can’t beat the quality, the prices, and their customer service! Love them!

    May 21, 2012
  25. I like TJ’s dark chocolate.

    May 21, 2012
  26. Congratulations! i like that TJ’s stocks more organic produce now. And I almost always buy a fancy cheese when I go. 🙂

    May 21, 2012
  27. I love to buy dried fruit there, particularly Turkish apricots and dried sour cherries. I like their Tuscano cheese, too and their Greek feta. And they make really good cheese enchiladas.

    May 21, 2012
  28. Kevin G. #

    White English Cheddar w/ Caramelized Onions

    Honorable mention to Ace Pear Cider, the dark chocolate bar w/ toffee bits and the squirrel picture, and the bunches of daffodils when in season.

    May 21, 2012
  29. Karen #

    I love their Greek yogurt and salsa verde! Use the greek yogurt in everything, and love it with fruit or drizzled with honey! Salsa verde I pour over chicken in crock pot or mix with avocados for dip!

    May 21, 2012
  30. Sarah #

    Sooo proud of you, friend! Fun to read this list of everyone’s favorite TJ’s items! Hands down I buy (and inhale) the bag of candied pecans almost every week. Also love their: mango and peach cream yogurts, frozen brown rice, italian country salad, bag of kale, sundried tomato hummus, quinoa chips, frozen pesto bowl, raisin crisps with their toscano cheese, and their boxed israeli cous cous…

    May 21, 2012
  31. I love anything chocolate covered from Trader Joe’s but I especially love the vanilla bean ice cream. I have never tasted anything so sweet and delicious and it goes with any smoothie and dessert you can think of. Having just plain, vanilla bean ice cream never tasted so good…congrats on the 1 year!

    May 21, 2012
  32. Congratulations on your first blogiversary!

    Things I always buy from Trader Joe’s: dried fruit (the best dried apple rings ever), nuts, ground turkey (seriously cannot find it cheaper elsewhere), white bean hummus, and greek yogurt!

    May 21, 2012
    • You’re our winner!! I’ll email you for the address to send to.
      Thanks for entering!

      May 24, 2012
  33. lournes17 #

    I have a lot of the same favorite things at TJs but my absolute favorite thing to get is wine! I love the $3.99 Italian Pinot Grigio. Do delish 🙂

    May 21, 2012
  34. Been doing our main weekly shopping there for almost 18 years and my favorite right now is the almond pastry ring…..yuuuummy!

    May 21, 2012
  35. Terrilee Stevenson #

    Congratulations on your first year! I have LOVED your blog and recipes and my family has greatly appreciated the new variety to our meals! 🙂 My favorite is TJ’s Gouda cheese with Savory Rice Crackers and a glass of wine for an after work/pre dinner snack.

    May 21, 2012
  36. Mmmm… that list is pretty good! We love the Ahi Tuna! So good and SOOOO easy. Actually, about half of your list is also mine 🙂 But I also love the frozen garlic and basi cubes- makes cooking a snap and I never have garlic sprouting in my pantry. I think my favorite thing right now (if I HAVE to pick one) is probably the jalepeno chicken sausage. Healthy ingredients, no nitrates, but SOOO delicious. I ate them almost every day when I was pregnant. I grill them. Mmmm. For the kids and for Italian dishes I get the sun-dried tomato. Yummy.

    May 21, 2012
  37. Hey Kelly! I am loving all of your recipes, ideas, and tips! You really have a gift with all of this!

    One of my favorites from TJ’s, is their ready-made pulled pork! I just heat this up, put a little on some hawaiian sweet rolls, and voila! Instant pulled-pork sliders! 🙂

    My other favorite thing from TJ’s, is “Nothing but Banana, Flattened”. This is a great healthy treat, and tastes just like Banana’s Foster! 🙂

    May 21, 2012
  38. Sarah R. #

    My TJ’s favorite is definitely the peanut butter pretzels! But on a healthier note, you cannot beat the price of their frozen fruit. I use it in everything!

    May 21, 2012
  39. Congrats! And here’s to many more!
    I’m a big fan of all their nuts and trail mixes. And their pumpkin butter, when they have it.

    May 21, 2012
  40. Tomi S. #

    Favorite things from TJ’s their cheeses, fresh flowers, frozen seafood, and their fresh bread. Congrats on the one year anniversay!! I raise my glass of two buck chuck to you!! 🙂

    May 21, 2012
  41. natkalma #

    I love the cinnamon alphabet cookies – helps my kids with their letters and I dip them in my coffee! I can’t wait to try that coffe bean ice cream! Also I love their s’mores ice cream sandwiches- yummy!

    May 21, 2012
  42. natkalma #

    My kids and I love their cinnamon alphabet cookies. Helps my boys with their letters and I like to dip them in coffee. I also love their smores ice cream sandwiches, delicious! Congrats Kelly on your first year- so cool! Xo

    May 21, 2012
  43. LyzByth Hillery #

    I’ve been going to the Trader since 1975. I like so many things the Trader makes:
    Joe’s O’s start the day as does his OJ.
    Nuts, produce, all his wonderful surprise finds throughout the years,
    And of course … Two Buck Chuck …

    May 21, 2012
  44. Lindsay #

    I love your spreadsheet! We continually look for ways to cut our budget – and our food budget is HIGH! I have many favorites at TJs. I love to make their simple salad – Broccoli slaw, dried cranberries, roasted almond slivers, and champagne vinaigrette dressing

    May 21, 2012


    May 22, 2012
  46. I am a huge TJ’s lover. I love their customer service – always leave happier than when I came! I have a laundry list of my go-to items and can’t choose just one. . . But I’ll just say that I LOVE stocking up on fresh flowers and little plants there. They are always beautiful, nice variety, super cheap and they instantly make my house look put together.

    May 22, 2012
  47. Lesley #

    Our fav trader joe’s item (lately) are their ‘bits and pieces’ of dried fruit. Great for snacks on the go. But, I realize not so foodie…

    May 22, 2012
  48. Kathryn Nguyen #

    My favorite item at Trader Joe’s is their Perrin Cotes du Rhone Reserve for my refreshing sangria!

    May 22, 2012
  49. Victoria Smith #

    Champagne Vinaigrette, Soy Marinated Cod, Chimichurri Salmon, Frozen Brown Rice, Organic Quinoa, Garlic & Herb Pizza Dough…I could go on and on!

    May 22, 2012
  50. Leah Lenk #

    Happy Birthday, FFF! Thanks for all the tasty recipes, keep ’em coming! The first thing that I would buy with a TJ’s gift card would be S’mores Ice Cream Sandwiches…mmhmmm. I also spotted a crunchy salted green bean snack last time I was at TJ’s that I’d like to try. They have good root beer, too!

    May 22, 2012
  51. Kelly-I did find the peppers in the adobo sauce at Sprouts. Do you have a good Gazpacho recipe? The one at TJ’s is great, but expensive.

    May 22, 2012
  52. Kathryn Nguyen #

    My favorite is their Perrin Cotes du Rhone Reserve for my refreshing sangria!!! Matter of fact, I just picked up 8 bottles today for my graduation party 🙂 gonna be a lot of sangria! Lol happy 1 yr on your blog Kelly!!! Sooo proud of u!

    May 22, 2012
  53. efishinseaclients #

    There is no question. I would spent it all on orange and raspberry chocolate sticks.

    May 22, 2012
  54. Wyndi Gelvin #

    I love the mochi, and we always, always always get some of their strawberry lemonade. SOOO good, and happy for the summer! Yay TJs!

    May 22, 2012
  55. Jessica Garcia #

    So many TJ favs! For starters, their dark chocolate covered pretzels!

    May 22, 2012
  56. Becky #

    This is kinda weird but their organic grape jelly is my favorite item because I can’t find it anywhere else! I also love their stuffed pork chops! Yum!!

    May 22, 2012
  57. Would it bring shame on the family name if I were to confess that it’s 2 buck Chuck? Go ahead, admit it, foodies: It’s just fine for weekday wine.

    May 22, 2012
  58. Maggie R. #

    I love everything but specifically the little bottles of sweet balsamic vinegar for $3.99 as well as the bags of Wasabi Wow!. My area is expecting or VERY FIRST TJs, which opens in a few months. Everyone is so excited. I am giddy. The closest store to us now is nearly 2 hours away.

    May 22, 2012
  59. Becky #

    My city is opening a TJ’s at the end of June… so excited! I have shopped there before in other states. Love the dark chocolate! Would love to try some of the things mentioned here.

    May 22, 2012
  60. I love the healthy snacks that my husband has very been caught taking with him to work.

    May 23, 2012
  61. Wyndi Gelvin #

    I have to add to this again…the chocolate covered potato chips. They are AMAZING!!!!!!!!!!

    May 23, 2012
  62. Jen wheeler #

    I love your blog Kelly and weekly visit it for inspiration and new recipes! All time favorite from tjs is their pistachio and dark chocolate covered toffee!!! So delicious!

    May 24, 2012
  63. Joy #

    So many favs and also on the look out for more recommendations. Love their frozen gnocci, pizza dough (I agree!), pesto torta, and pretzels! I love your blog and check frequently for dinner inspiration!

    May 24, 2012
  64. Jenna #

    I would probably get some dark chocolate covered almonds and a couple bottles of wine 🙂

    May 24, 2012
  65. Lauren #

    I would have to say the organic corn dippers. I can’t live without those yummy chips. The cookie butter is amazing too!

    May 24, 2012
  66. krobinto #

    For 10 years we lived in a state without a Trader Joe’s! We would drive to CA and load up the car with their pasta and marinara sauce. Its amazing doctored up with some mushrooms and chicken sausage. I love this blog, its so full of good humor and great ideas. Thank you, Kelly!

    May 24, 2012
  67. Krista Barney #

    I am currently in California and I would stock up on all kinds of yummy stuff since Austin does not yet have it’s Trader Joes! Every time I visit CA I get peanut butter pretzels, marinara sauce, rice crackers, all different kinds of their soup in cartons, cookie butter, almond butter, and so on and so on and so on 🙂

    May 24, 2012
  68. mhari #


    May 24, 2012
  69. Casey #

    It’s not midnight yet! I love their yogurt. Banana/strawberry or Vanilla/ blueberry or Mango/peach. Our fridge is always stocked with TJ yogurt, milk, strawberry kefir milk and our freezer has gnocchi for the girls.

    May 24, 2012
  70. Kirsten Krueger #

    I LOVE tj’s cottage cheese. The large curd is what sets it apart from other brands and it’s a great source of protein!

    May 24, 2012
  71. lynaeve #

    coconut oil

    May 26, 2012
  72. Rachel #

    Hmm, we live in TX now. Moved here from Quail Hill in Irvine. I miss Trader Joe’s so much!!! My favorite item would probably be either one of their jarred sauces or their pumpkin bread mix. Amazing! So glad I found your blog!

    May 27, 2012
    • I live in Quail Hill too! Wonder if we lived here around the same time?! How did you find me?

      May 27, 2012

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