On the University of Wisconsin campus, we have a Fresh Madison Market, a Capitol Centre Market, a Walgreens and a CVS, among other sources, for groceries. Known to some, but not all, and remembered by some, but forgotten by many, we also have a Trader Joe’s grocery store on 1810 Monroe Street near Camp Randall Stadium, and it is calling to us Badgers more than ever in this snowy start to November. 

I get it. Trader Joe’s is out of the way for many students. Why hike to Monroe Street when Fresh and Walgreens are in the center of campus and are an easy walk from the dorms? You might need a car, bus or bike to get to Trader Joe’s, but I promise it’s worth any inconvenience.

No matter how reluctant some are to admit this — especially the fitness junkies — everyone knows mac and cheese is a college essential, especially in the Madison winter when a piping hot bowl of cheesy noodles is simply irresistible. Whether you need to make it for a quick dinner or for a midnight snack, mac and cheese is a common and delicious craving. Trader Joe’s has some of the best mac and cheese in the form of Organic Shells and White Cheddar Mac and Cheese. 

Just about every product Trader Joe’s sells is from the Trader Joe’s brand. The Organic Shells and White Cheddar Mac and Cheese is no exception, and it serves as a delicious alternative to the Kraft mac you probably keep buying. Nothing wrong with Kraft. I love Kraft, but Kraft doesn’t offer white cheddar shells. The shells soak up the distinct, white cheesy flavor with authority. 

Those of us who routinely eat Kraft may forget that mac and cheese can taste a different way. Give your taste buds a break from the same mac and cheese routine and do yourself a favor by trying out the Organic Shells and White Cheddar Mac and Cheese for just $1.39 a box.

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The next must-have product from Trader Joe’s right now is their Organic Honey Crisp Apple Cider, which they are currently making in-store and giving out free samples. One tiny plastic cup of this organic cider will have you storming out of Trader Joe’s with gallons of the product.

The taste is so fresh, sticking a straw in a squashed apple would lack the same authentic flavor. If you were unable to make it to a pumpkin patch or apple orchard this fall to get your apple cider on, don’t fear, Trader Joe’s has got your back.

Last, but certainly not least, Trader Joe’s has the best kept secret in the world with its jars of Speculoos Cookie and Cocoa Swirl Spread. This is a build on their original Cookie Butter, combined with their own spin on Nutella. It’s a heavenly product that profiles both as a casual snack and as a dessert. 

The cookie butter flavor is almost indescribably good and trying to describe its flavor would spoil it. You just need to try it for yourself. 

The Speculoos Cookie and Cocoa Swirl Spread offers enough flavor on its own, so it’s recommended your edible carrier is simple. Trader Joe’s Golden Rounds Crackers are an excellent vehicle for this delightful spread. A slightly salty, but simple flavor and flaky crunch mixes with the thick spread perfectly. 

Life and school may seem more stressful in the winter, which means we need to treat ourselves more often. Next time you grinding late on your next assignment, make sure you have Trader Joe’s Organic Shells and White Cheddar Mac and Cheese, Organic Honey Crisp Apple Cider, and Speculoos Cookie and Cocoa Swirl Spread by your side to make life a little more enjoyable.