A few years ago, my friend went to her in-laws’ house for dinner. They were a formal couple, and she had always been nervous around them. Her mother-in-law served coq au vin, and her father-in-law opened an expensive bottle of red wine. Everyone raved about the meal, and she graciously thanked them for their praise. Cut to an hour later: My friend was helping clean up in the kitchen, and opened the trash—only to see four packages of Trader Joe’s Coq au Vin! BUSTED!

But it proves that Trader Joe’s food can be seriously delicious. What are your favorite items? Here’s our list…

Freeze-dried strawberries
Kumato tomatoes
Shaved brussels sprouts
Marinated artichokes (great on pasta or salads, and the oil in the jar makes a great dressing)

Boursin (this isn’t a Trader Joe’s product, but it’s expensive everywhere else but inexplicably cheap at Trader Joe’s. The delicious cheese spread disappears immediately at parties. My sister also mixes it with pesto on pasta and it’s AMAZING.)

Parmesan Pastry Pups (frozen pigs-in-blankets—PERFECT for parties with a little bowl of mustard)
Tarte aux Champignons (my mom is obsessed with these French-style flat breads with mushrooms, Emmental and parmesan cheese)

Pita chips with sea salt (great with hummus)
Thai lime and chili cashews
Joe’s O’s (whole grain oats cereal; $1.99 for a giant box!)
Half-baked French rolls (that you finish off in the oven at home)

Sea-salt dark chocolate-covered almonds (I craved these through my entire pregnancies)
Chocolate lava cakes (we have these on Christmas Eve every year)
Speculoos Cookie Butter (melt it over ice cream or just eat it with a spoon)
Gone Bananas! (chocolate-covered frozen banana slices that you can eat one bite at a time)

What are your favorite things??? Please share below; I’d love to hear…

Above: An awesome ode to Trader Joe’s:)

P.S. More best recipes, and a cookie swap.

(Photo by Veronica Olson for Cup of Jo)