1. Joe's Diner frozen Mac 'n Cheese, $2.99 for 14 ounces — We've probably never recommended a frozen meal before. Until now. Pop this sucker in the microwave for a quick, gooey, four-cheesy, legitimately yummy meal with no effort.
Also available gluten-free, $2.99 for 12 ounces. You'd expect frozen and gluten-free to be a disastrous combo, but we ate the whole box. Then we noticed the 13 grams of fat and 340 calories, and that the box is two servings. Next time, we'll try the "reduced-guilt" version.
2. Trader Joe's Reduced-Guilt Spinach and Kale Greek Yogurt Dip, $3.99 for 16 ounces — Perfect for a snack or party dish as a great alternative to spinach dip. This version contains 50 percent less fat than traditional spinach dip and packs major flavor. Try it with chips, crackers, carrots or, for a totally TJ's experience, plantain chips. Very filling. This container will go further than you expect.
3. Trader Ming's Mandarin Orange Chicken, $4.99 for 22 ounces — Once again, this isn't something we would normally pick out, but we stand surprised. And full. Multiple shoppers recommended this, and a sales associate said it's been a top-three seller for the past five years. If you're looking for an inexpensive and easy Asian dinner with a great flavor, serve this over some jasmine rice and with plenty of steamed veggies.
4. Trader Joe's Chocolate Sunflower Seed Drops, $2.99 for 7.5 ounces — The Skittles rainbow has nothing on this colorful fave. Sweet and salty and crunchy, oh my. Tip: If you're a fan of the sweet and salty combo, you might also enjoy the chocolate bark with almonds or, better yet, Trader Joe's Dark Chocolate Roasted Pistachio Toffee. That exists.
5. Trader Joe's Cocoa Truffles, $2.99 for an 8.8 ounce box — We've long been addicted to these. Our Portlandian friends have been smuggling these to Colorado for years. You only need one per week, maybe less. They're rich; if a taste could be beautiful, this would be it. Let a single truffle slowly melt in your mouth and try not to weep. No artificial colors or flavors or preservatives or weirdness. Just cocoa delight.
6. Trader Joe's Traditional Olive Tapenade, $3.49 for 7 ounces — A mouthwatering combo of black olives, green olives, fresh roasted garlic, capers, red pimientos, mustard, oils and spices. We couldn't make it better from scratch ourselves. Try with sesame crackers or the Ak-Mak crackers for only $1.69 a box. Find it in the refrigerated section.
7. Trader Joe-San Wasabi Peas, $2.29 for 9 ounces — A handful of shoppers recommend this crunchy snack that burns while somehow tasting subtly sweet. Also try Wasabi Wow, $3.69 for 14 ounces, a mix of wasabi peas, almonds, peanuts and cranberries; or the Triangulated Wasabi Trek Mix, a combo of wasabi almonds, peanuts and wasabi peas, $3.99 for 12 ounces. But in our opinion, the plain wasabi peas stand on their own and don't need any nutty friends.
8. Roasted Plantain Chips, $1.69 for 6 ounces, but you will want to buy 10 bags, so take that into consideration -- Get these out of my house. They are controlling my life. These are less like dried fruit and more like a highly improved salty potato chip. Dip them in everything. Eat them plain. Eat a whole bag. Fight my 3-year-old for them. The whole family is going to need a plantain chip intervention. I wish I never tried these. Try these.
9. Trader Joe's Green Plant Green Food Juice Blend, $3.99 for 64 ounces, which is cheaper than most of the sugary not-fruit juice blends out there -- We discovered this as a free sample and immediately bought a jug. Not too sweet, not too grassy, this is a refreshing blend of all kinds of healthy ingredients, such as spirulina, barley grass, broccoli, spinach and no artificial colors or flavors. Sort of like a superfood juice, but way cheaper. And if you put it in a colored cup with a lid so they can't see the green pond-water appearance, our kid drank it happily.
10. Joe-Joe's, $2.99 for a 20 ounce box — This is Trader Joe's version of the Oreo cookie and a constant favorite -- at least among cookie monsters and Oreo lovers. It's just what you'd expect -- chocolate cookies filled with vanilla bean cream filling, with "real vanilla bean speckles" -- but minus the hydrogenated oils and unnatural flavors.
11. Speculoos Cookie Butter, $3.69 a jar. All Trader Joe's fans knew this was coming. Cookie Butter was so popular in 2012 that the store experienced a national shortage and had to limit one jar per customer. If you like spreading sweetness on your bread, waffles, fruit and plain spoons, this gingerbready spread is the next best thing to Nutella. Yeah, we said it. But beware of a potential ginger overload, and a consistency that is more like paste than butter. Also try the Cookie and cocoa swirl and the crunchy variety.