Trader Joe’s expert Rachael Engelhardt shares her favorite products and recipes
Does the mere thought of a trip to Trader Joe’s fill you with Trader Joy? If so, then you may be among the 300k people who follow the instagram account Trader Joe’s Kitchen. Run by Trader Joe’s enthusiast Rachael Engelhardt, the account features mouth-watering recipes starring all of your TJ’s favorites. We spoke with Rachael about why the grocery store chain has attracted so many die-hard fans and her top ten Trader Joe’s essentials. She even shares an amazing go-to chicken wings recipe that you’ll want to whip up for dinner tonight!
Katie Couric Media: You run the Instagram account Trader Joe’s Kitchen, and you’ve attracted more than 300k TJ loyalists. What do you think it is about the grocery chain that gives people so much joy?
Rachael Engelhardt: I think there are a few reasons why people have fallen in love with Trader Joe’s. For one, they sell so many fun and unique products that you might not see in other grocery store chains. Every week, they come out with new products, and shoppers are always so excited to see what’s new in stores. Another reason why Trader Joe’s has such a cult following is because of the amazing crew members. They’re so kind, friendly, and happy to help you with all your questions. They make you feel like family!
For TJ newbies, how is Trader Joe’s different from your typical grocery store?
They carry unique products without a lot of selection. This might sound strange, but I like the fact that Trader Joe’s doesn’t offer 40 different types of pasta sauce, or 10 different brands of napkins. I think it helps to simplify your shopping experience. Their low inventory also helps keep their prices low… less food waste and less money spent on huge retail spaces. There are so many products that I find at Trader Joe’s that are so much cheaper than at other grocery chains.
Trader Joe’s is known for its seasonal products. What are some of their go-to seasonal items for February?
While Trader Joe’s definitely slows down on their seasonal products after the holidays, they do come out with some Valentine’s Day products in February. I love their Rose Oil Ultra Moisturizing Hand Cream and their Dark Chocolate Mini Heart Cookies.
What are your five to ten Trader Joe’s essentials? We’re big fans of Everything but the Bagel seasoning over here…
I have a huge list of my favorite Trader Joe’s products but here are my top 10:
- Parmesan Pastry Pups
- Almond Flour Chocolate Chip Cookie Baking Mix
- Blondie Baking Mix
- Pancake Bread
- Dark Chocolate Almond Butter Cups
- Unexpected Cheddar Cheese
- Joe’s Dark Coffee
- Vegetable Birds Nests
- Hash Brown Patties
- Sweet Corn
- Burrata & Basil Raviolis
Whew, that was hard!
What’s a product people may not think to buy at Trader Joe’s but has changed your life?
There are a few really simple products I love that people might not even notice in stores. They’re not the most popular items, but here are some of my simple staples:
Frozen Mashed Sweet Potatoes: These are a seasonal item sold only during the holiday season. I always stock up on them because I love how easy they are to make. They also only have one ingredient: sweet potatoes! Which you wouldn’t believe if you tasted them… they’re so creamy!
Balsamic Glaze: This balsamic glaze is so much cheaper than brands from other other grocery stores, and it tastes better!
I also love their beauty products. They’re all such a great price and are really great quality. A lot of the products that Trader Joe’s sells are dupes for really expensive beauty products on the market, but with a much lower price tag. There’s a lot of talk of specific high-end beauty brands who manufacture TJ’s beauty items, but Trader Joe’s is very hush hush about who manufactures all of their products — whether it be food or beauty products.
Some of my favorite beauty products at Trader Joe’s are
- Midsummer Night’s Hand and Body Cream
- Shea Butter & Coconut Oil Hair Mask
- Moisturizing Cream Shave
- Supreme Hydrating Eye Cream
- Ultra Hydrating Gel Moisturizer.
What’s a go-to TJ’s recipe for our readers to try?
I’ve been making a ton of air fryer recipes recently and I made these super simple chicken wings that were absolutely delicious! Here’s the recipe:
Air Fryer Chicken Wings with Trader Joe’s BBQ Rub and Seasoning with Coffee & Garlic
1. Dry your chicken
2. Brush on olive oil and season generously with Trader Joe’s BBQ Rub and Seasoning with Coffee & Garlic
3. Place the chicken in the air fryer on 360 degrees for 14 minutes, flipping halfway through.
The wings turn out amazingly crispy and the BBQ seasoning is so flavorful!
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