I know. You weren’t expecting a “what to buy” post. We have good reason. Trader Joe’s is amazing (we’re not paid by them at all, but we should be!). Their prices are reasonable. Their food is delicious and made from good stuff. (See? We’re like a commercial!) Sadly, there is no Trader Joe’s in Alaska. Part of our grocery saving plan involves packing a suitcase full of Trader Joe’s items every time we leave the state. Thanks to Alaska Airlines’ Club 49, all Alaskans get 2 free bags on flights to and from Alaska. Plenty of room to stuff all these delicious items and bring them back with us for free. And, I find that every time I shop at Trader Joe’s, I experience reverse sticker shock. “That whole cart was only that much?!” So, what is worth shipping up in a big suitcase at Trader Joe’s? I’ll tell you.

First off, not pictured, are Trader Joe’s diced green chiles. These are basic diced green chiles, but they only cost $0.79. In Alaska, these are closer to $2.00 (we got plenty last trip). Also not pictured is canned light coconut milk. These cans are $0.99 and we use coconut milk a ton. We’re lucky if we can get any coconut milk on sale up here for $1.99. Usually it’s over $3.00/can. Sometimes you just need the full fat stuff, but for a lot of things, the Trader Joe’s light variety works great and the price is right.

The Dark Chocolate Honey Mints are Mr. T’s favorite. While I’m not a proponent of buying candy, this is his sweet treat on our semi-annual trip to Trader Joe’s.

Trader Joe's Mint chocolates

I don’t like mint chocolate (hearkens back to my elementary school days when I was tricked into eating an Oreo with toothpaste in the middle for April Fool’s), but I’m impressed that this candy only has three ingredients.

Trader Joe's mints ingredients

This Israeli Couscous is much larger than regular couscous, so it mixes things up a bit. I really like it and the kids think it’s fun.

Trader Joe's Israeli Cous Cous

We eat Couscous as a side to our weekly salmon frequently. A whole wheat couscous is hard to come by up here, and again, there’s definitely no competing with Trader Joe’s prices in Alaska.

Trader Joe's Whole Wheat Cous Cous

These next two options fall under the “time is money” purchase category. Trader Joe’s box mixes are all delicious, but these two are my absolute favorites. I might be able to mix these things up for less than $1.99, but it would take a lot of time and when you’re in charge of bringing treats to the kids’ school, or a Church event, or a potluck, I am always so glad I have a pile of these in my garage. The first one is the Blondie Bar mix. I have been asked for this recipe three times. It’s a crowd favorite.

Trader Joe's Blondies

Brownies are my favorite. I’ve eaten a lot of Brownies in my day. And none of them (even most homemade) top the Trader Joe’s Brownie Truffle Baking mix. Yes, I bring this to events, but Mr. T also knows that if I get stressed out, all he has to do is pick up a movie from the library, pop a box of these in the oven, and I’ll be back to normal.

The greatest brownies in all the land

The greatest brownies in all the land

These peanut butter cups are my vacation treat. I love anything peanut butter and chocolate and these ones are so good. They are tough to transport because they  can melt very easily in transit (but I may have been known to dig into a tub of re-solidified cups without hesitation).

The greatest candy in all the land

The greatest candy in all the land

My in-laws (who take for granted the Trader Joe’s they have in the neighborhood) love these BBQ sauces. I am not a BBQ sauce connoisseur, but they eat it frequently and love these two varieties.

Trader Joe's BBQ sauce

If you’re lucky enough to have a Trader Joe’s near you, I would love to hear what your favorites are.