Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Trader Joes List

I'm one of those people -- one of those Trader Joe's fanatics.

It wasn't planned, I didn't expect it, but there it is.

I'm hooked.

And since my friends back in the SLC (Salt Lake City, my hometown) are getting a Trader Joe's soon, I thought I should tell them what's so awesome about it.

This first time I stepped into a Trader Joe's store, I was kind of underwhelmed. It seemed just like a regular grocery store. And it is! Only better.

I do my regular shopping there most weeks, so we've tried a lot of what they have to offer. I find it is, indeed, a bit more expensive than other grocery stores, but when I consider the quality of what we get it is worth the trade-off for me. (And I should also mention that some things are much cheaper there!) Anything with a Trader Joe's label is guaranteed not to contain GMO's or high fructose corn syrup, just to name a couple. Everything is tasty, and the people are friendly! I just love shopping there.  (Now if they just sold Method cleaning product, Bounty paper towels, and Charmin toilet paper, I would rarely have to go anywhere else.)

Here's what we like to buy:

Pantry Staples:
Tomato Basil Marinara Sauce
Tomato Paste in a tube (99¢!)
Pasta (also 99¢ for 16 oz.)
Cannellini beans
Whole Wheat Couscous
AP Flour
Chocolate Chips
Olive oil and cooking spray
Chicken and Veggie Stock in boxes
Valencia Peanut Butter (This was recently recalled, and I've been so sad without it. Hopefully it will be back soon!)
Israeli Couscous

Pre-cut butternut squash
Haricot Verts
Bags of Kid-sized apples (I think they call them "school boy" apples)
Angelcots -- heavenly white apricots (only available a couple of weeks a year)
Extra Sweet Strawberries
Bagged organic spinach
Teeny Tiny Potatoes -- awesome with a roast chicken or pot roast
Pie pumpkins (available around Halloween and Thanksgiving)
Shelled Edamame
Sliced cremini mushrooms

Meat and Deli:
Pre-cooked lentils
Field Fresh Chopped Salad
Sonoma Chicken Salad
Fresh filled pastas (ravioli, tortellini, etc.)
Chicken Breakfast Sausage
Pre-cooked Bacon (Nitrite free!)
Mushroom Tortelloni with Spinach and Asparagus

Milk -- theirs is the best!
String cheese
Yogurt -- so many are so good, but I especially love the Strawberry Vanilla Greek yogurt, and the Smooth and Creamy yogurt 6 packs
Cream cheese

Kid stuff:
Fruit Crushers (little single-serve pouches of applesauce, plain or combined with other fruits or, my favorite, carrot!)
Organic Peanut Butter Sandwich Crackers
Joe's O's -- better than Cheerios

Dried fruits of all kinds -- the dried strawberries are beloved unto me, I also dig the mango and freeze-dried strawberries and raspberries
This ___ walked into a bar (fruit bars like nutragrain bars, in the fall they come in pumpkin!)
Ridge-Cut Sweet Potato Chips -- my new obsession!
Chocolate Chip Chewy Coated Granola Bars (pictured)

Dark Chocolate PB Cups
Dark Chocolate Covered Pretzels
Chocolate Covered Powerberries -- I am seriously addicted to these
Pound Plus Chocolate Bars -- good on their own, but I use them in baking: chop them up for cookies, melt them for brownies, etc.
Joe Joes -- SO much better than Oreos it's not even funny!
Smashing S'mores
Yogurt Stars
Lemon Heart Cookies
Ice cream -- all yummy yummy!
Truffle Brownie Mix (best brownie mix ever)

Par-baked baguettes and ciabatta bread
Cereal --  current favorites include Super Nutty Toffee Clusters and Triple Berry O's
Flowers -- so beautiful and so inexpensive!
French Berry Lemonade (my one remaining soda weakness)
Sparkling mineral water (99¢ for a liter!)
Tomatillo & Roasted Yellow Chile Salsa (with any of their awesome tortilla chips)
Brioche Buns
Trader Joe's brand Veggie Burgers -- my favorite!
99¢ Greeting Cards

Things I haven't been impressed with:
Bakery items -- the artisan breads are good, but I get my regular bread elsewhere, and I haven't been impressed with their bakery cakes
Meat -- Apart from anything mentioned earlier, I'm sure it's great quality and organic and whatnot, but it's just way too pricey for me
Their frozen stuff is usually pretty good, but I find it hit or miss. (Pot stickers, yes. Sweet Potato Gnocchi, no. Mandarin Chicken, yes. Asparagus Risotto, no. Just as examples.)
Reduced Guilt Mayo -- blah

Honestly, I could go on. But I'd love to hear what your favorites are. Leave a comment and let me know, okay? Okay.

PS: Want more Trader Joe's commentary? Check out Jane Maynard's entire section devoted to it on her awesome blog This Week For Dinner.

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