I walk 2½ miles to shop at my nearest Trader Joe's. Here are the 13 items I absolutely swear by.

I walk 2½ miles to shop at my nearest Trader Joe's. Here are the 13 items I absolutely swear by.
  • I live minutes from a local grocery store, yet often walk to Trader Joe's for its terrific treats.

  • Chocolate-covered espresso beans, ghost-pepper chips, and Joe-Joe's top my list of favorites.

  • In the  fall, I also grab its seasonal offerings, including butternut-squash-mac-and-cheese bites.

With its dense neighborhoods and sprawling college campuses, Cambridge, Massachusetts, is an endlessly walkable city.

And I'm particularly spoiled. I live two minutes from a grocery chain and a 24-hour convenience store. If I need it, I can get it.

Still, I find myself walking to the Trader Joe's about 2½ miles away. The selection is that good, which isn't super surprising given the massive grocery store makes an estimated $16.5 billion in annual sales.

Here are 13 Trader Joe's items I simply can't pass up when I shop.

Editor's Note: Some items on this list have seasonal or limited availability.

Trader Joe's dark-chocolate-covered espresso beans are dangerously delicious.

Trader Joe's dark-chocolate-covered espresso beans
Trader Joe's has great chocolate-covered espresso beans. David Silbert

I grew up with Trader Joe's dark-chocolate-covered espresso beans in my house. They're smooth to the taste yet offer a satisfying crunch.

My mother and I often fought over who "stole" the last few chocolates. If you have loved ones, keep your box well hidden.

Ghost-pepper potato chips provide a nice kick.

Trader Joe's  ghost-pepper potato chips
Trader Joe's ghost-pepper chips are delicious.David Silbert

"Hot Ones" may have popularized the spicy food gauntlet, but I've always loved some heat. Case in point: these ghost-pepper chips from Trader Joe's.

The lattice cut provides a great crunch, and the ghost pepper packs a punch without overwhelming the taste buds.

The raisin-rosemary crisps are surprisingly light.

Trader Joe's  raisin-rosemary chips
Enjoy them alone or with your preferred spread.David Silbert

For something gentler on the palate, I love Trader Joe's thin-sliced raisin-and-rosemarry crisps. The raisins are sweet, and the rosemary brings some savory goodness.

Plus, each serving of the crisps is just 90 calories.

The Unexpected-cheddar-cheese spread is unsurprisingly good.

Trader Joe's Unexpected cheddar cheese spread
Trader Joe's Unexpected cheddar is also good in dip form. David Silbert

Trader Joe's Unexpected cheddar cheese comes in dip form and it's smooth and creamy — perfect for a cocktail party or pre-dinner snack.

I've seen the dip in two flavors: a standard spread and a spicier hatch-chile one. If the ghost-pepper chips weren't a tip-off, I prefer the zestier spread.

Trader Joe's onion-confit swirls are small in size yet mighty in taste.

Trader Joe's  onion confit swirls
Trader Joe's onion-confit swirls can be found in the cracker section. David Silbert

Trader Joe's onion-confit swirls combine the flakiness of a French palmier pastry with the tangy taste of caramelized onions.

Don't be fooled by the small box and bite-sized swirls. The flavor in these crunchy snacks is immense.

Joe's ground coffee helps me start my day right.

Trader Joe's bags of coffee
I find Trader Joe's coffee to be quite reasonably priced. David Silbert

When I'm not snacking on espresso beans, I'm sipping one of Trader Joe's excellent brews. Each bag of Joe's coffee states that it contains "nothing fancy," but I disagree. The coffee smells great and tastes even better.

The chain offers a light, medium, and dark roast, each with its own striking color scheme.

The sweetened and dried orange slices have a satisfying chew.

Trader Joe's  sweetened, dried orange slices
Trader Joe's dedicates entire shelves to dried fruit and nuts.David Silbert

A friend recommended I try Trader Joe's sweetened and dried orange slices, and I'm glad she did.

Unlike dried pineapple or mango slices, these oranges even include the peel. If you want a quick snack or dessert, you can't go wrong.

I cook the premium salmon burgers when I want a light dinner.

Trader Joe's  premium salmon burgers
The salmon burgers don't take long to thaw and grill. David Silbert

Salmon is my favorite food, and Trader Joe's premium salmon burgers means I can enjoy it on the regular.

Visually, the patties lack pizazz, but they taste great. They thaw quickly and are easy to cook on a grill.

Trader Joe's tomato-and-burrata ravioloni are an absolute must.

Trader Joe's  tomato and burrata ravioli
The packaging is cute, too. David Silbert

Trader Joe's tomato-and-burrata-ravioloni blew me away when I first tried them.

The burrata elevates the taste and these pasta pockets are way better than your standard four-cheese pasta. These ravioloni don't even need sauce or seasoning — simply boil, toss in oil, and enjoy.

Sometimes I pair my pasta dishes with Trader Joe's focaccia bread.

Trader Joe's  focaccia bread
The focaccia can be used to create a restaurant-quality appetizer. David Silbert

Trader Joe's often has a few types of focaccia, and I especially enjoy the one with roasted tomato and Parmesan.

The focaccia is easy to prepare — it takes about 10 minutes to heat in the oven — and it tastes superb. The bread is fluffy, the tomatoes have a sun-dried sweetness, and it has just the right amount of seasoning.

Trader Joe's steamed lentils help me feel full.

Trader Joe's steamed lentils
Each half-cup serving is just 120 calories.David Silbert

Lentils may not be as tantalizing as focaccia bread, but they're hearty and versatile. Plus, these lentils have only 120 calories per serving.

Pair them with chicken for a hot meal, or combine them with grains, seeds, and veggies for an unconventional salad.

Sometimes I just eat them on their own. Lentils can be an excellent source of both protein and fiber, so I'm guaranteed to feel full when I work these into a meal.

Butternut-squash-mac-and-cheese bites are a fall favorite of mine.

Trader Joe's  butternut squash mac and cheese bites
Grab these bites while you can during the fall.David Silbert

These butternut-squash-mac-and-cheese bites are part of Trader Joe's seasonal fall offerings. The chain also sells a butternut-squash mac and cheese made with rigatoni pasta, but I like the texture of the fried bites.

Heat these bites up as an appetizer for family and friends, or enjoy them yourself as a dinner side. I think you'll want to buy a few boxes, though, since each comes with just 10 bites.

There are different Joe-Joe's cookies to try every season.

Trader Joe's Joe's Joe's
Joe-Joe's cookies come in seasonal flavors. David Silbert

At the end of a long day, I'll kick back and treat myself to a Joe-Joe's cookie. Its flavors come and go with the seasons.

My favorite are winter's chocolate-dipped peppermint Joe-Joe's. I also enjoy the pumpkin-spiced ones (pictured above), which pair a yogurt glaze with sea salt for a heavenly bite.

Click to keep reading Trader Joe's diaries like this one.

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