- Story By:Ashley Selleke
With how much I talk about Trader Joe’s, one might think that I was birthed directly from TJ’s frozen section. As much as I wish that were true, the fact is that, growing up, I didn’t have a Trader Joe’s anywhere near my home and it wasn’t until college that I was exposed to all of the affordable, quirky, tasty novelties that Trader Joe’s has to offer. So when I spend hundreds of dollars at Trader Joe’s a week trying new things and stocking up on my favorites, my most coveted excuse to use is that I’m “making up for lost time.”
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Whether you don’t have a Trader Joe’s near you, you prefer stores with better rewards programs, or you think it’s overrated (we are all entitled to our own opinions, I suppose), the reality is that shopping at TJ’s isn’t always a first-choice option. For me, it comes down to convenience. I have a popular chain grocery store closer in proximity to my apartment, so on rainy days when I don’t want my Trader Joe’s bags to dissolve under the precipitation or times where I can’t fathom walking one more minute in subzero temperatures, I make do at good ole Jewel Osco. On my last particular run, I shopped for dupes of some of my favorite Trader Joe’s items. Here’s what I found:
1. Soy Vay Island Teriyaki
Dupe for:Trader Joe’s Island Soyaki
TikTok put me on to Trader Joe’s Island Soyaki, a tangy teriyaki marinade made with soy sauce, garlic, ginger, pineapple, and sesame seeds. Since using it, I haven’t turned back. Thankfully, if you don’t have a Trader Joe’s near you, this Soy Vay Island Teriyaki is made with almost the exact same ingredients. Add some sesame seeds and boom—I present a direct dupe.
2. Diana’s Bananas Banana Babies
Dupe for:Trader Joe’s Gone Bananas
I am such a sucker for TJ’s Gone Bananas. They make for an ideal post-dinner dessert: sweet, perfectly poppable, and guilt-free. Part of why I love them so much is that the sliced bananas allow for more dark chocolate to banana ratio and aren’t as intimidating for my sensitive AF teeth. My grocery store didn’t have a direct dupe but they supplied the next best thing: whole bananas dipped in dairy-free dark chocolate. I’ll take it!
3. Rao’s Vodka Sauce
Dupe for:Trader Joe’s Vodka Sauce
I always pick up a jar of TJ’s vodka sauce because it’s undeniably delicious and great for pasta night but—to be frank—it doesn’t taste much like vodka sauce to me. To me, it gives off more of a creamy tomato sauce vibe, which, don’t get me wrong, is still good. But this Rao’s all-natural vodka sauce is literally so much better. It’s almost as if Gigi Hadid herself made it with her own two hands.
4. Kodiak Cakes Flapjack and Waffle Mix
Dupe for:Trader Joe’s Buttermilk Protein Pancake Mix
Trader Joe’s Buttermilk Protein Pancake Mix has been my saving grace when it comes to breakfast time. If there’s one thing I hate most in life, it’s having to choose between sweet and savory breakfast options. Why do I have to decide between waffles or a farmhouse omelet? I willorder both, no matter the cost. And when I’m whipping up breakfast at home, you bet your bottom dollar I’ll be serving up the whole works. I was attracted to the convenience of TJ’s pancake mix but was pleasantly surprised to find that this brand offers similar ease with more protein (13 grams of protein per half-cup). Of note, the Kodiak Cakes version requires milk and egg for preparation while the TJ’s one requires water alone.
Dupe for: Trader Joe’s Chili & Lime Flavored Rolled Corn Tortilla Chips
If you love Trader Joe’s Chili & Lime Flavored Rolled Corn Tortilla Chips (a true mouthful), you’ll love Takis. They taste almost exactly the same as their Trader Joe’s counterpart and are more widely available in different portion sizes—making this almost direct dupe an obvious grab on your next grocery store run.
6. Perfect Snacks Refrigerated Peanut Butter Cups
Dupe for:Trader Joe’s Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups
What if I told you that you could enjoy the flavor of the popular, cult-favorite Trader Joe’s Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups while consuming over 20 superfoods and packing in more protein? I’m not pulling your leg. These refrigerated dark chocolate peanut butter cups are everything I look for in a dessert and more. They’re sweet, a tad bit savory, and they’re actually good for you. Because of the shape and the sprinkled sea salt, they’re not an exact dupe of the TJ’s version, but they easily fill the void when it comes to being flavorful and nutrient-dense.
7. La Bonne Vie Blueberry Vanilla Goat Cheese
Dupe for:Trader Joe’s Blueberry Vanilla Chevre Goat Cheese
Team, I’ve done it. I’ve found an almost perfect dupe to my all-time favorite Trader Joe’s Blueberry Vanilla Chevre Goat Cheese. The only downside to this guy is the price. After-tax, this four-ounce goat cheese log was close to seven dollars.A numerical value that high for that small of an amount of cheese sends a shiver up my spine, but such is life. At TJ’s, you can score eight ounces of their version for less than five bucks. Still, this La Bonne Vie option is a great alternative if you don’t have a Trader Joe’s near you.
8. Tate’s Bake Shop Chocolate Chip Cookies
Dupe for:Trader Joe’s Crispy Crunchy Chocolate Chip Cookies
Tate’s Bake Shop, you have my heart! These gluten-free chocolate chip cookies are a direct dupe for Trader Joe’s Crispy Crunchy Chocolate Chip Cookies, but they’re distributed in so many different grocery chains that the odds of your local grocery store carrying them are pretty damn good. They’re perfectly crispy, super addicting, and my favorite snack to double fist when I’m looking to satisfy my sweet tooth.
9. Siggi’s Triple Cream Icelandic Strained Yogurt
Dupe for:Trader Joe’s Icelandic Skyr Vanilla Yogurt
Move over, Greek yogurt, Icelandic strained yogurt is taking over your spot in my fridge. I never thought to give Icelandic yogurt a try until I sampled TJ’s Icelandic Skyr Vanilla Yogurt and, since I’ve opened my heart to it, my life has been forever changed. If you’ve never tried Icelandic yogurt before, here’s the sitch: It’s similar to Greek yogurt but it’s thicker, creamier, less chalky, and more protein-dense, which makes it an absolute win in my book. It’s so freakin’ good and Siggi’s vanilla option is just as decadent as Trader Joe’s.
10. Banza Noodles
Dupe for:Trader Joe’s Red Lentil Pasta
OK, I know this isn’t an exact dupe for anything at TJ’s but hear me out. It’s no secret at this point that I’m always on the hunt for seamless ways to sneak more protein into my diet. So when I tried Trader Joe’s Red Lentil Pasta—which serves up 13 grams of protein in three-fourths of a cup—I hoped that I’d like it. To my disdain, I absolutely hated it. The texture was suspicious and it tasted like cardboard. To this day, I haven’t found a pasta alternative that I’ve liked other than Banza’s chickpea pasta. Whenever I make pasta at home, I use this. Not only do Banza noodles pack in way more protein but their taste/texture is so similar to regular pasta that I can barely even tell the difference. TJ’s, this is your cue to make a direct dupe… I hope you accept my challenge.