If you’re a freshman worried about doing your own groceries for the first time, or you’re like me, a junior who still can’t really cook, you’ve come to the right place.
With an entire Instagram account dedicated to tracking queue time at USC’s Trader Joe’s, it’s safe to say the grocery store is popular among college students. The line is often wrapped around the aisles each day, sometimes spilling outside if it gets really crowded.
So how can you make your time count on your next grocery run? Browse the list below and see if anything catches your eye, or just trust me.
In the frozen aisle, amidst a sea of desserts, there is row after row of mochi. For those unfamiliar, mochi is a Japanese dessert with ice cream wrapped in rice batter and flour. Even though each flavor is great, the strawberry and matcha flavors stand out above the rest. As a self-proclaimed Trader Joe fanatic, I’m going to ask you to trust me and look for the pink and green boxes; you will thank me later.
Cinnamon school notebook Cookies
It’s the second week of school. If you’re already overwhelmed and remember simpler times, head to the same frozen food aisle. Above the refrigerated sections are plastic tubs of cookies, crackers, and candies. Cinnamon Schoolbook cookies are letter-shaped graham crackers but, as the name suggests, they contain an extra splash of cinnamon. The box features a school red with comically sans-esque font reminiscent of days full of breaks rather than lectures.
Chili Corn Lime Rolled Tortilla Chips
Calling all Takis lovers! If you’re looking for an alternative to one of your favorite snacks, check out Trader Joe’s Chili Corn and Lime Rolled Potato Chips. Even though the two are remarkably similar, something about Trader Joe’s option seems healthier. Maybe it’s the fact that part of the title is written in cursive or the picture of them sitting in a fancy ceramic bowl on the front of the packaging, but there’s something indescribable about About those crisps that makes it easier to justify eating an entire bag in one sitting.
World’s Puffiest White Cheddar Corn Puffs
Another alternative makes an appearance on this list with Trader Joe’s World’s Puffiest White Cheddar Corn Puffs – a replacement for Pirate’s Booty. The title is a little long, but it’s easy to see what they’re talking about when you try one. Even if you fall asleep through a long night of studying – and I sincerely hope you haven’t reached that point in the semester already – you can be sure these will stay fresh.
Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups
Available in two different sizes, from a medium sized box to a small bag, the Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups are a crowd favorite. Even if you’re not a fan of dark chocolate, we’ve got you covered. A milk chocolate version is also available. You can choose between regular sized peanut butter cups or opt for the minis. Boxes of dark and milk chocolate can be found around the pizza section in the frozen food aisle, and small bags of dark chocolate peanut butter cups are found at the front of the store just before the checkouts.
Vegan oatmeal chocolate chip cookies
A friend of mine gave me very clear instructions to point out the difference between vegan oatmeal chocolate chip cookies and regular vegan chocolate chip cookies. While their similar paper wrapper can be misleading, she thinks the oatmeal version is superior and it’s the one we specifically recommend. But as they say, the world is your oyster (or, maybe, Trader Joe’s is your oyster) and you can try whichever takes your fancy. Maybe try both!
As its namesake suggests, Movie Theater Popcorn includes a healthy amount of butter (healthy meaning heavy rather than nutritious) and makes your living room feel like a movie theater. This is great when you’re hosting a group or when many of your kitchen appliances are broken and you can’t cook…anyone else? Just me?
Gone Berry Crazy and Gone Bananas
I am very excited about the next items on the list. That pun may have been terrible, but I promise you these frozen snacks aren’t! Gone Berry Crazy and Gone Bananas are chocolate covered fruit slices found in the frozen aisle. If you’re craving strawberries, look for the cartoon bunny on the Gone Berry Crazy packaging, and look for the cartoon sock monkey if classes have made you a little banana.
Crispy chocolate chip cookies
This treat is for people who like their cookies baked well. While some cookies are so soft that they resemble cookie dough, crispy chocolate chip cookies are so crispy and crunchy that they look more like potato chips. These bite-sized cookies, found near the recommended school cookies on the list, are perfect for an on-the-go zip snack or a quick dessert to share with a group.
These gummies – now also available in a super sour flavor – are something you don’t want to miss. They are served in a variety of colors and sea life, including red lobsters and yellow seahorses. Ever wanted to try a blueberry flavored dolphin? Get yourself a bag from Scandinavian swimmers and live your dreams.