Here at Kitchn, we watch over Trader Joe’s every move with the intensity of a helicopter parent. And in 2020, we somehow became even more invested — perhaps because the only things that kept us busy this year (besides work) were grocery shopping, cooking, and eating.
To say the least, Trader Joe’s played a pretty integral part in keeping our pantries stocked and our bellies full this year. Of course, we’re feeling retrospective with 2021 on the horizon (AT LONG LAST). Here are the 10 best TJ’s items we tried this year.
- Epicuro Primitivo, $5.99
Where would we be without wine this year? This budget bottle has gotten us through many an at-home happy hour. It’s a good thing it’s only $6.
- Everything But the Leftovers Seasoning, $2.99 for 2.6 ounces
This seasoning tastes exactly like stuffing, which makes sense because it contains dehydrated onion, sea salt, ground back pepper, dried yeast, turmeric, dried celery seed, ground sage, rosemary powder, dried thyme, and dried parsley. Who says we have to eat Thanksgiving-tasting food only once a year?
- Cheese Filled Fiocchetti with Pink Sauce, $3.99 for 16 ounces
The Cheese Filled Fiochhetti with Pink Sauce was a new addition to Trader Joe’s frozen pasta selection in 2020. It’s stuffed with ricotta, Taleggio, and mozzarella cheese, and blanketed in a flavorful yet light, creamy tomato sauce. Chef’s kiss.
- Cacio e Pepe, $3.99 for 16 ounces
ANOTHER pasta winner of 2020 was TJ’s new frozen Cacio e Pepe. It’s deliciously creamy and peppery, and so fast and easy to make. Our taste tester also reported a very high sauce-to-pasta ratio, which earned this major points (and make it excellent for bread dipping).
We have a lovely Romesco Dip recipe on our site (duh!), but when you’re just not in the mood to DIY, Trader Joe’s has your back. As always. This dip is bright, fresh, and light, making it the perfect addition to a personal charcuterie board.
- Cauliflower Thins, $3.99 for 4 slices
These low-carb cauliflower thins are TJ’s version of a “delicious & versatile bread substitute.” According to our taste tester, this tastes like a really thin version of their cauliflower latkes. Pro tip: Put two slices in the toaster to warm them, put chicken salad in between, and eat it like a sandwich.
- Bloody Mary Salsa, $2.99 for 12 ounces
Trader Joe’s fulfilled all of our food mashup dreams this year by creating Bloody Mary salsa. It’s got chunky tomatoes, pickling brine, horseradish, red jalapeño and green chile peppers, Worcestershire sauce, capers, onions, lemon juice, and vinegar. (Everything but the vodka!)
- Mandarin-Style Orange Chicken Bowl, $3.99 for 13 ounces
Those bags of Mandarin-Style Orange Chicken in the freezer section have a massive and loyal following (it’s consistently voted a TJ’s customer favorite!). Last February, TJ’s made it available in single-serve rice and veggie bowl form (like they knew what was coming).
- Everything But the Elote Seasoning Blend, $2.49 for 2.4 ounces
This seasoning blend aims to capture a bit of the magic of Mexican street corn covered in cotija cheese and chile powder. It’s made with ground chiles as well as Parmesan and cumin, plus corn flour and sugar. It’s great on popcorn! And eggs! And … well, everything!
In 2020, we started eating tacos in sliced jicama (a root vegetable!), thanks to Trader Joe’s. Each wrap is just 15 calories, slightly crunchy, and mild enough in flavor to fill with whatever your heart desires.
What was the best thing you bought from Trader Joe’s in 2020?