Ah, Trader Joe’s. What a refreshing change of pace from the big-name grocery chains. While it bugs us to hear people refer to it as a health food store, we enjoy their more unique variety of items, including products with shorter ingredient lists when compared to similar items from other brands. Here are some of our favorites:
– Pizza dough. For 99 cents, you can make a 4- to 6-serving pizza (plus toppings, of course) from a one-pound ball of dough. We usually purchase whole wheat to get added nutrition, but there are also white dough and herbed dough varieties.
– Store-brand yogurt. The yogurt in the 32 oz. tubs – lowfat or nonfat vanilla are our favorites – is rumored to be supplied by none other than Stoneyfield Farms, and costs about 70 cents less than the Stoneyfield in the grocery stores. Spoiled by the natural sweeteners, we can’t go back to eating other brands. (Except for when we splurge on creamy, dreamy Chobani Greek-style yogurt. Mmm!)
– Booze! If you’re lucky enough to live in a state – such as the Commonwealth of Virginia – that sells beverage alcohol in supermarkets, you must take advantage of the beer and wine that helped put TJ’s on the map. At $2.99 for a 6-pack of Name Tag beer, we were pleasantly surprised by the taste. A bottle of “3 Buck Chuck” (which used to be 2 Buck Chuck – darn you, inflation!) is a staple on the wine rack. If you like light, fruity wines, try the White Zinfandel. No, really, it’s pretty good! We love the merlot in a traditional sangria and as everyday drinking wine.
– TJ brand Chevre. If goat-milk cheese is your idea of heaven, you can buy 8 ounces of it for $3.99. Revel in the silky creaminess. And hide it somewhere in the fridge so that no one else will find it! Hoard your slice of heaven!
– Bananas. They’re 19 cents apiece and packed with nutrition. Need I say more?
– Joe’s Dark Coffee. Grind the whole beans in the store – or at home if you have a coffee grinder – and enjoy a deeply satisfying cup of, er, Joe every morning. For the best cup of coffee, don’t be a drip! I like to grind it coarse for use in the French press or percolator.
– Joe’s O’s. The price is definitely right ($1.99 for 15 ounce box) for this whole grain oat cereal. One serving (1cup) has 110 calories and only 1g of sugar! As with other cold cereals, Joe’s O’s are fortified with vitamins and minerals, including B12 and folic acid.
– Almond Butter (creamy with sea salt). While this will never take the top nut butter spot – peanut butter wins for me – this almond butter is a close second. It makes for an easy sandwich on whole grain bread, good dipping for fruit and a nice addition to graham crackers.
– Pizza Sauce. Until the day comes when I regularly make my own sauce and keep it on hand in the freezer, this is my go-to. The flavor and consistency are just right and it’s not loaded with sugar.
– Freeze dried Mango. Unfortunately the small 1.7 ounce bags don’t last long in my house, so I break them out at select lunches and snacks. If fresh mango is out of reach, try these.
– Fleur de Sel Caramel Sauce. Pair this with whatever you want, perhaps just a spoon.
With all of the entertaining that goes on around Thanksgiving, there’s so much pressure to make everything from scratch. Well, forget it. There’s no better time to buy a few items from TJ’s so that you have extra snacks and staples around the house just in case guests are extra hungry.
And if you live in Arlington, Virginia, the word on the street is that a new Trader Joe’s is opening in Clarendon at 1109 N. Highland Street tomorrow, November 18, according to the store’s website.
What are your tried-and-true go-to TJ’s products?
My favorite TJ-brand items are the frozen brown jasmine rice (not good for those without a microwave, ahem, Stacey), tabouli, fresh mild salsa, red and yellow Thai curry sauces, frozen naan, challah rolls (!!!!), Israeli couscous.
Their Pico de Gallo is fabulous – mash an avocado, throw in a couple tablespoons of pico, some lime juice, cumin, salt, pepper – makes super easy & yummy guac!!