Get the party started with these tasty and budget-minded treats.

Getting excited for the summer season of outdoor cooking and eating? I thought so, which is why it's time to check in with our favorite grocery store—Trader Joe's—and scan the shelves for the best products for your summer pantry staples, from BBQ sauces to chips and dessert. Grab these now and spend the season enjoying the backyard!

Credit: Courtesy Trader Joe’s


The difference between a basic burger or bland grilled protein and one that sings is often just that special sauce. And TJ's has a few fun ones to choose from. We love their Magnifisauce for burgers but also as a dip for fries or tots, and at $2.99 a bottle, we get two at a time.

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Aioli Garlic Mustard Sauce

At $2.49 a jar, this is an elegant anointment for lighter foods like chicken and fish, but we particularly love it with grilled vegetables, or even as a one-stop shop to dress potato salad.

Sriracha and Carolina Gold Sauce
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Carolina Gold and Organic Sriracha Garlic BBQ Sauces

BBQ sauce is always important to have on hand in the summer, and this summer we are committed to a pair of TJ's originals. Their Carolina Gold is a solid version of a Carolina mustard sauce for $2.69 a bottle, and the Organic Sriracha Garlic BBQ Sauce is ideal for those who like more punch than sweetness and is $2.99 a bottle.

Everything But Elote Seasoning
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Everything but the Elote Seasoning Blend

Whether you need a great rub for meats, or just a fabulous sprinkle to amp up the flavor on your vegetables, TJ is always ahead of the curve in the spice aisle. Look for the Everything but the Elote, $2.49 a jar, a seasoning blend with chile, cheese, chipotle, and cumin. Not only is it great for instant elote-style corn on the cob, but it's also an amazing sprinkle on popcorn!

Cuban Seasoning
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Cuban Style Citrusy Garlic Seasoning Blend

At $1.99 a jar, this is a blend that's amazing on every sort of protein. We especially love it on skirt steaks and pork chops.

Ajka Seasoning
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Ajika Georgian Seasoning Blend

New to us, this spicy and intense spice blend of crushed red peppers, coriander, fenugreek, and garlic is perfect to mix some into ground beef for a burger topped with a yogurt sauce. Rub it on a thick steak for in-your-face flavor, or use it on sweet grilled vegetables like carrots, onions, sweet potatoes, or peppers.

Russet Chips
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Dark Russet Kettle Cooked Potato Chips

Can't imagine being without potato chips? Upgrade yourself to these addictive chips for a more grown-up sort of snack that is a cocktail's best friend at just $2.29 a bag.

Rolled Tortilla Chips
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Rolled Corn Tortilla Chips Chili and Lime Flavored

If a spicy bite is more your backyard thing, don't sleep on the Chili and Lime Tortilla Chips in a dippable rolled style at just $2.49 a bag.

Mango Chutney
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Mango Ginger Chutney

At $2.49 a jar, this delicious condiment is one of those things you'll reach for all summer long. It's ideal with grilled chicken and pork, but you can also stir some into steamed rice for an instant pilaf side dish that is as yummy as it is easy.

Pound Plus Trader Joes
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Pound Plus Bars

Sometimes in the summer, with fresh fruit at its peak, all you need for an after-meal sweet are some fresh berries or stone fruits and a large bar of chocolate. TJ's Pound Plus bars are only $4.99, and are super shareable. We grab the 72% Dark Chocolate and the Bittersweet Chocolate with Almonds, but they also have milk versions available if you prefer things lighter.

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Trader Giotto's Glaze

Grab a bottle of this thick balsamic drizzle that is great with cheeses or grilled vegetables but is also kind of insanely great on vanilla ice cream or berries (and only $2.99 a bottle).