Trader Joe’s must have snacks for college students

Illustration by

Emma Kogel

Illustration by

Nicole McIsaac, Managing Editor

It’s that time of the week where your fridge and pantry are both completely empty, leaving you to try to make a meal from mustard and pickles. Your only option now is head to the grocery store.

Some might dread that supermarket visit — and that might be the problem. If you’re looking to upgrade your snack game and find delicious food items, look no further. Trader Joe’s has you covered.

Headquartered in California, Trader Joe’s is an American chain of grocery stores that are unlike any other. Starting with a greeting from employees dressed in Hawaiian-themed shirts, you will quickly realize the stark differences between your local supermarket and Trader Joe’s.

From the countless array of unique snacks, sauces, spices, frozen foods and produce, it’s no wonder why Trader Joe’s has gained so much popularity throughout the years. If the eccentric products won’t sell you, the store’s low prices certainly will.

With only a roughly 25-minute drive from Quinnipiac University’s Mount Carmel campus to the nearest Trader Joe’s location in Orange, Connecticut, there is absolutely no reason to continue shuffling the aisles of Shoprite or Stop & Shop for quality tasting meals.

Maybe that short drive could be your next Sunday bonding event with your roommates or a solo trip to de-stress from your academics.

While I could spend hours giving you my ins and outs of the store, here are my top favorite items that I recommend from Trader Joe’s:

Tomato and basil hummus 

As a huge fan of always having multiple dips and spreads handy for all my hours of snacking, this hummus makes the top of my list every single time. The combination of both the tomato and basil complement each other extremely well. Whether your dipping weapon of choice is peppers, carrots, crackers or pretzels, this tomato and basil hummus will have you running back to the store for more. 

Chili and lime flavored rolled tortilla chips

It is nearly impossible to find these bad boys not sold out every single time I browse the aisles at Trader Joe’s. After a rumor that these chips were discontinued in the summer of 2022, people quickly took to the internet to advocate that they stay on the shelves no matter what. The crunchy and spicy combination of chile and fresh lime is the perfect late-night snack that you won’t want to share with anyone. Move over Takis.  

Frozen Mandarin orange chicken 

Being a college student who doesn’t have a lot of time free in their schedule on a daily basis, this quick and delicious frozen meal is the absolute key to my heart. I normally stick these in my air fryer and toss the sauce on once they are finished to achieve the perfect amount of crispiness. Although I am not a huge advocate for frozen meals, the quality of the meat and sauce easily taste like my favorite Chinese food from down the block. I will never have to justify to myself why I need more than one bag of this in my freezer at all times. 

Hold the Cone trice cream 

This ice cream is the one item from Trader Joe’s that will have me sarcastically saying “Oh, these are so awful. You should absolutely not eat these.” Ranging from vanilla, chocolate and seasonal flavors such as ginger or peppermint, these individual mini tasty treats satisfy that late night sweet tooth craving — but without the guilt. When I say run to Trader Joe’s for these, I mean it. 

Blueberry pomegranate green tea

Calling all my tea drinkers: this delicious and refreshing beverage is the perfect substitute for Starbucks order. Preferably consumed ice cold, this blueberry pomegranate tea is absolutely divine with a fresh-cut lemon in it. On the plus side, the tea’s zero sugar content is a lot healthier than other alternatives you can buy on the shelves of other stores. 

Cuban-style citrusy garlic seasoning blend 

Wondering what to put on your chicken? This product has you covered. The Cuban-style citrusy garlic seasoning is a combination of mouth-watering lime, garlic, onion and red-pepper spices — all of which will take your cooking to the next level. While a lot of other seasonings at the store consistently continued to be raved about, this one sits at the top of my list and eye level in my cabinet every time. 

Runner-up products: Green dragon hot sauce, roasted tomato and basil focaccia bread, vegan harvest chili, everything but the bagel seasoned smoked salmon and cookie butter ice cream.