Summer is officially here, which can only mean one thing: a spike in allergy medication sales. It also means the triumphant return of picnic season and we’ll be damned if watery eyes, itchy ears, and a stuffy nose will prevent us from partaking in one of our favorite warm-weather activities.
As home cooks who encourage people to partake in easy, simple recipes, it feels almost blasphemous to recommend grocery store products in place of homemade options. But sometimes life is busy and there is no shame in this game when it comes to making Trader Joe’s runs to stock up on all of the outdoor-eating essentials. Plus, with the temperatures being so unpredictable, invitations to backyard soirees and barbecues can be super last-minute and you never want to be unprepared.
From dips and chips to cheese and a beverage, these are the Trader Joe’s picnic staples that not only travel well, but are undeniably delicious and all-too-easy to munch on.
Cambozola Triple-Creme Soft-Ripened Blue Cheese
We received some backlash for not including this Brie and blue cheese hybrid in our roundup of Trader Joe’s best cheeses, and we heard you loud and clear. The spreadable delicacy is, quite simply, amazing, and a perfect complement to dried fruits, crackers, and bubbly. Its blue cheese flavor is also mild, making it a suitable option for anyone who may be averse to the notoriously polarizing dairy product.
Feta, Pepper Drop & Olive Antipasto
It may be difficult to find, but this wonderful assortment of creamy cheese, sweet and tangy peppers, and briny olives will be a fantastic addition to any charcuterie board. The ingredients are also swimming in a spiced and seasoned olive oil that you must absolutely dip some bread into or we will report it as a crime.
There are so many Trader Joe’s dips to choose from, but we’re standing behind their 5-Layer Dip as one of the best. There’s a layer for every palate and preference, including Southwestern standards like guacamole, sour cream, pico de gallo, and shredded cheese, but it’s anchored with an outrageously good black bean hummus we want to eat by itself.
Tortilla chips? We don’t know her. Upgrade your dipping experience with these sweet-salty delights that are equally as addictive on their own. They obviously play nice with most dips, but pair especially well with cream or cheese-based dips to keep in line with the theme of Southern comfort.
Cheddar Cheese Sticks
Sometimes you just want your cheese in cracker form and that is a-okay. These sharp, pungent cheddar spirals are satisfying alone or dipped into any of Trader Joe’s many spreads and mayo--based salads. Frankly, is there really any wrong way to eat cheese-flavored anything? The answer is a resounding “no.”
Patio Potato Chips
This festive bag features the famous flavors of a picnic in four different chips: salt and vinegar, dill, ketchup, and barbecue. They also taste shockingly good together...almost like a hot dog. And that’s something we can sink our teeth into.
Chile & Garlic Cashews
Roasted and dusted with chile powder, garlic powder, onion powder, and salt, the ever-so buttery and addictive cashew gets an upgrade that makes them simply impossible to put down. We’re also a huge fan of sprinkling them into the potato, chicken, or egg salad that someone (or you!) will inevitably bring for some added crunch.
Chili & Lime Rolled Corn Tortilla Chips
We’re going to make a bold statement here and say that these are one of our all-time favorite Trader Joe’s snacks to have ever graced their shelves. The harmonious balance of spice, salt, and tang is a chip-lovers dream and we have admittedly housed entire bags in one sitting. Be sure to buy more than one because it’s inevitable that your friends will follow suit.
Vegan Chickpea Masala Salad
This is perhaps one of our favorite new items to come from Trader Joe’s in recent memory. The blend of chickpeas and masala spices topped with pickled vegetables can act like any old-fashioned chicken or egg salad by being spread onto a salad or into a sandwich. We love its play on different textures and so will you.
Chicken Pesto Sandwich
Basil screams summer and this protein-packed sandwich screams “take me to your next picnic!” Served on multigrain Rustico bread, this sliced chicken breast, caramelized onion, mozzarella, roasted tomato, and argula concoction is a must for any red-checkered blanket.
Stay out of the scorching sun, but bring on the meat sweats with this smoked ham and salami dream. It's piled high with Provolone and creamy Dijon and then and wrapped in a wheat tortilla.
Sparkling Strawberry Juice
Summer is strawberry season and this bubbly bev celebrates its triumphant return with a pink and refreshing take on sparkling water. At only 60 calories per can, it can also serve as an excellent mixer for fruity cocktails or as a fizzy floater for strawberry-based sangria. Stay hydrated and cheers!
Cold-Pressed Watermelon Juice
This seasonal sweet stuff is scrumptious! Add it to your favorite margarita recipe or drink it straight from the bottle for a summery, thirst-quenching sip.
You know someone is going to need to satisfy a sweet tooth and these dark-chocolate covered discs are an ideal option for just about everyone. They’re just as delicious frozen as they are thawed, making them great to travel with for a crunchy, cold treat that won’t melt and ruin your new picnic basket.
Bite-Size Crispy Cookies Filled with Belgian Chocolate
If fruit doesn’t do the trick (and we can’t say we blame you), cookies are always a great plan B. These mini treats are fantastic when dunked in tea or coffee, but even better as a post-picnic treat for those who must end their day on a sweet note. Thanks to their superiorly crunchy exteriors, they also hold up well in transport, so you don’t end up with a box of crumbs and disappointment.