Trader Joe's Canned Foods You Should Always Have In Your Pantry

Whether you're going to stock up on high-quality products at a reasonable price or you just want to have a chat with a friendly cashier in a Hawai'ian shirt, Trader Joe's is the place to be. From its humble California origins, the grocery store now has a presence across the country, which is great news for the hordes of die-hard Trader Joe's fans out there.

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While it stocks all the grocery store classics like milk, butter, and eggs, the chain is also known for its creative culinary offerings sold under the brand's name. And if you're looking for top-notch items that last a long time, head to canned foods section, where you'll be greeted by shelves of reasonably priced foods that range from mild and mundane to spicy and exciting.

Every pantry worth its salt (no pun intended) should be stocked with a variety of canned goods that can provide the base of a last-minute meal or a quick snack for a hungry person on the go. Read on to find out what Trader Joe's canned goods you should always keep in your pantry.

Jackfruit in brine

Unlike most of the sweet, delicate fruits that you're used to finding in the produce aisle, jackfruit is a massive spiky fruit with a delicate flavor profile that makes it perfect for applications across the taste spectrum from sweet to savory. Because of how far Trader Joe's is from the tropical climates where jackfruit thrives, it's available there in a can with brine, giving it a slightly salty flavor.

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If you're vegan and a fan of barbecue, you might think you're out of luck since the cuisine is so meat heavy, but cooking with jackfruit reveals a stringy texture that's often used in meatless preparations of BBQ pulled pork. Making it is as easy as dumping out the can's contents in a pan and heating them up with BBQ sauce. Canned jackfruit in brine isn't super common in the U.S., and while there a few options you can find if you go hunting for it, the one on sale at Trader Joe's is one of the most affordable options. It also contains less sodium than many of its competitors. Vegans who are watching their salt intake, rejoice!

Organic coconut milk

Coconut milk is your ticket to delicious Southeast Asian cuisine at home. If you've had Thai curry, you know the buttery, slightly sweet taste and rich, creamy flavor that a can of coconut milk adds to a dish. But not all coconut milks were created equal. Many coconut milk brands contain guar gum, a thickener that can act as a laxative in large quantities, emulsifiers, and preservatives.

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Trader Joe's organic coconut milk, on the other hand, has just two ingredients: organic coconut and water. And even without all the other ingredients, the liquid inside this can remains soft, creamy, and full of fatty flavor. It is also one of the more affordable coconut milks you can find, which is especially impressive because it's organic. So next time you get a craving for a spicy panang curry or you want to add a nice creamy finish to your fruit smoothie, head to Trader Joe's.

Organic vegetarian chili

When you need to warm up on a cold night, there's nothing like a bowl of chili to give you the hearty helping of fats, carbs, and proteins that you need to make it through the winter. And while many traditional chili recipes include beef or turkey, Trader Joe's organic vegetarian chili is proof that chili doesn't need meat to give you the delicious, wholesome, savory flavor that it's known for.

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This bestseller contains red beans, which give the chili an earthy, nutty flavor and a dose of protein. And if you're worried about getting enough protein as a vegetarian, Trader Joe's vegetarian chili also contains pea protein, so a can of this chili is perfect if you need long-lasting energy. A healthy, well-balanced dose of spices also gives it a rich, complex flavor. Heat it up and top it with onions and cheese, pour it over a plate of nachos, or top off a chili cheese dog (or a veggie dog, of course).

Quinoa stuffed dolmas

Greece meets west in Trader's Joe's quinoa stuffed dolmas, a modern, nutritious take on a Mediterranean classic. If you've had dolmas before, you know what you're looking for when you open up a can of these oily, savory packets of herby lemon flavor. Typically, dolmas are made by stuffing grape leaves with a mixture of rice and beef that's heavily seasoned with spices. The thumb-sized units are jarred or canned with oil and fall apart in your mouth. Replacing rice with quinoa gives these dolmas a nuttier flavor, not to mention more protein and fiber.

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These savory treats aren't usually an option for vegans and vegetarians, however, Trader Joe's quinoa stuffed dolmas don't contain any meat or animal products. Tricolor quinoa is cooked and seasoned with vegetable bouillon, which gives it a hearty flavor. Spring onions and parsley impart freshness, ginger powder and black pepper lend a pungent warmth. By the 10 count, these canned grape leaves can live in your pantry for months and they're great to have on hand if you're in need of a quick appetizer or a mid-afternoon snack.

Albacore tuna

There are plenty of fish in the sea, but not all of them can give you what you need to make a tuna melt. Tuna is a fantastic source of protein and contains lots of healthy omega-3 fatty acids. That said, this salty snack is not without controversy. Many canned tuna companies use nets that can injure and kill marine life other than tuna, but Trader Joe's canned albacore tuna is caught using a method that significantly reduces the amount of animals that get caught during fishing.

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Albacore has a lighter color and a milder flavor than other tuna varieties and it's a super affordable, versatile way to incorporate protein into your diet. One little can of this stuff packs a whopping 29 grams of it. You can mix it up with mayo, celery, and red onion for a crispy, refreshing tuna salad in the summer or use it to make a hearty tuna casserole in the winter. A fish for all seasons!

Greek chickpeas with cumin and parsley

Ah, the mighty chickpea. Packed with fiber and brimming with nutrients, these humble legumes have been an integral feature of Middle Eastern cuisine for millennia. But sometimes it's hard to know what to do with a can of plain chickpeas (also known as garbanzo beans). That's where Trader Joe's Greek chickpeas with parsley and cumin comes to the rescue.

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If you like hummus, you're bound to enjoy this protein packed product. Chickpeas have a nutty, buttery, taste and a texture somewhere between crumbly and creamy. This natural heartiness pairs perfectly with the zing of lemon juice and the freshness of parsley. Cumin adds a subtle warmth that balances out the flavor of these tasty tidbits. 

A can of these chickpeas makes for a perfect mezze (a small plate served in southeastern European and the Middle Eastern cuisine). SKeep a can of these spiced stunners in your pantry to impress your dinner guests or grab a fork and eat them straight out of the can all by yourself.

Organic black beans

Black beans may seem like a boring item to include on this list. This standard pantry product is easy to find just about anywhere, so why should you buy them from Trader Joe's? We're so glad you asked.

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First of all, Trader Joe's organic black beans are incredibly affordable. Organic foods have a reputation for being pricey, but it's easy to stick your pantry with cans of these beans without breaking the bank. They also have a meaty texture and they're seasoned with just the right amount of salt. In fact, Trader Joe's organic black beans contain significantly less sodium than many competitors. 

Famous for being the star of many cuisines in Latin American cooking, black beans are super versatile and a great source of fiber. It's easy to get creative with a can of these protein packed legumes in your pantry and add protein and hearty texture to vegetarian meals. Even Wendy's is testing the waters with a plant-based burger made with black beans.

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Mediterranean dorade

A name like Mediterranean dorade, with its exotic geographic reference and soft, French syllables, may sound like a luxurious delicacy. It is, but let's also be clear about this: It's an affordable luxury, at least at Trader Joe's. Dorade is a type of fish that's more commonly known as gilthead sea bream in English. It has a long history in the Mediterranean, where it's been part of the legacy of coastal French cuisine for centuries.

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Trader Joe's Mediterranean dorade starts with filets of this flaky whitefish, packed in olive oil with a bit of salt. If you're sick of the standard canned fish offerings like tuna and salmon, grab a few cans of this delectable, classy alternative to keep in your pantry. The fish has an oceanic aroma and a clean flavor and texture. It falls apart in your mouth and its naturally delicious taste shines when served simply on a crusty piece of warm bread or over some leafy greens. So if you can't afford a trip to St. Tropez, the next best thing you can do is pick up a can of Mediterranean dorade from Trader Joe's.

Grecian-style eggplant

Eggplant is the Daniel-Day Lewis of vegetables: It can play any role. It'll shine on its own, but with a supporting cast of tomatoes and onions, it could be the star of your pantry. Trader Joe's Grecian-style eggplant is unlike any canned food we've encountered. The eggplants are cooked until smoky and packed with oil, herbs, and spices. They emerge gracefully out of the can ready to serve on a piece of bread or incorporate into a pasta or salad.

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The eggplants that make up this classy snack are grown and packed in the same place, so they never lose freshness. Eggplants are also naturally high in fiber and have a mild flavor that easily mingles with the rich taste of cooked tomatoes and onions. Taking a bite of one of these soft, delicate nightshades is an explosion of flavor that transports you to the Balkan home of this unique dish.

Fire roasted tomatoes with green chilies

Canned tomatoes are a pantry staple. A little sweet and a little acidic, they form the base for dishes around the world from Italian marinara to Indian vindaloo. Trader Joe's puts a fiery spin on the classic canned tomato with its fire roasted tomatoes with green chilies. As you can tell from the name, this can of tomatoes has healthy dose of heat from peppers, which makes it perfect for salsa, enchiladas, or a fiery arrabbiata sauce. 

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The tomatoes are fire roasted before they're canned, which gives them a smoky, charred taste that mixes well with their natural sweetness. Using these in place of regular canned tomatoes in a soup, stew, or chili adds a depth that you'd otherwise have to char the vegetables yourself to induce. If you already keep canned tomatoes in your pantry, then switching out a few for this spicier, smokier variety is a great way to put a new spin on some classic tomato dishes.

Lightly smoked sardines in olive oil

Sardines are not the most romantic canned fish available on the market. During the Great Depression, these salty swimmers were a cheap source of calories and protein, which earned them a reputation as a low class food. Sardines aren't a specific fish, rather the term refers to different small fish. But if you're a fan of fishy flavor, sardines are as good as gold. Trader Joe's lightly smoked sardines are packed in olive oil and pack the briny, savory punch that makes seafood lovers go wild.

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When you peel open the lid of the tin, a small school of shiny fish is there to greet you. True fish fans will find that these sardines have the perfect balance of smokiness and oiliness and a tender texture. They can be eaten straight out of the tin or served on a buttered slice of dark rye bread with thinly sliced cucumbers and red onions. In fact using smoked fish will make you a better cook because they add a delicate fishy flavor that can elevate a range of dishes. And they're so tiny that they can be eaten bones and all.

Organic lentil vegetable soup

If you're a vegetarian on a chilly winter day, you're probably in the mood for something hearty and filling that's going to keep you full for a long time. Trader Joe's organic lentil vegetable soup is exactly that. Take one warm bit of this canned concoction and you'll agree that lentil soup is the cure for all that ails you.

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First of all, everything in this can is organic. And if you're used to paying top dollar to stock your pantry with organic items, you'll be thrilled to hear that this soup is a bargain, especially considering how many veggies are packed in there. Green beans, celery, potatoes, and carrots conspire with cayenne, oregano, and black pepper to make a soup that feels nourishing and substantial. Lentils, the star of the show, are packed with fiber, and nutrients like iron and folate, and each can of this soup has 12 grams of protein. 

Giant baked beans in tomato sauce

These baked beans are not what you'll find at a backyard barbecue. Trader Joe's giant baked beans in tomato sauce are made with cannellini beans, which are, as the name suggests, are quite large. Originally from South America, these plump beans made their way to Europe hundreds of years ago and have made their way into many Southern European dishes.

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This particular recipe pays homage to a classic Greek dish, plaki, which uses gigante beans instead of cannellinis. The beans are soaked overnight to make them tender and then cooked and mixed with an aromatic blend of tomato sauce and spices. Not only do these beans pack a perfect punch of warm, intense, tomato flavor, but they're also a healthy snack, and a great alternative to other typical pantry snacks like chips and crackers. Cannellinis pack a healthy helping of protein as well as important minerals like folate, magnesium, and iron. Since they're super affordable, it's easy to keep a few cans of these bangin beans in your pantry to enjoy as an appetizer or snack.

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