9.29.2010

i heart trader joes

Trader Joe's how do I love thee? Let me count the ways...

If you've ever filled a grocery cart at Trader Joe's you might understand why this place has such a cult following. (Or why anyone would even bother to write a silly blog post about it.) When we lived in Cali, I fell head over heels in love with the Trader Joe's grocery experience. We shopped there weekly--although I'll admit it did take a trip or two + a bit of guidance counseling from seasoned shoppers to warm up to its slightly unconventional food packaging and signage. You see, all TJ's shoppers seem to develop their own unique, favorite items that keeps them going back. When you inquire, most likely, they will respond rather enthusiastically with a lengthy testimonial about the best ever such-and-such or the ultimate greatest fill-in-the-blank there. After developing a few favorites of my own, I became hooked for life.

These days our local Trader Joe's is a bit more off the beaten path, and shopping there has become somewhat of a novelty. As of late, we've been hurriedly passing by Trader Joe's in the rat race from A to B, often with a sleeping boy in the backseat. So over the weekend on our way home from a photo shoot in St. Paul (sans sleeping boy), Jeff and I made it a priority to stop. I bounced down the aisles, feeling like I was catching up with a long-lost friend as I filled our cart.

As a born-again Trader Joe's shopper, allow me to share some of my personal best evers and ultimate greatests that I've consistently brought home. I warned you about the enthusiastic testimonials and small spiels....

: fresh flowers (they have the best selection, many outside the box of roses + carnations. makes me happy.)
: 100% florida OJ. (it's a bit spendy, but worth every dime. it's preservative free and literally tastes like you've squeezed it yourself.)
: roasted red pepper hummus (it's fabulous. we ate half the tub before we even got home from the store!)
: everything crackers (to go along with the hummus, of course)
: chipotle frozen fries (no i don't eat this every day, but they are a delicious splurge and are the perfect accompaniment to sloppy joes)
: lava cakes (these definitely top the list. sigh, the last time i ate one of these i was sitting on the couch all night, watching jeff play video games just hours before i went into labor. amazing the memories we associate with our food!)
: joe's o's (move over cheerios, these are way yummier and cheaper.)
: apple cider (didn't get it on this trip, but i remember it being super delish last fall. now i have a reason to go back.)
: wine (best place to stock up. good labels for under $20...and heaps & heaps of $2 chuck...if you're into that.)
: organic fruit (not always a giant selection, but the organic fruit here is always really tasty at good prices. for instance, we bought 1lb of organic strawberries for $2.99.)
: focaccia bread (mmm...makes great pizza)
This time, I went out on a limb and picked up a pack of TJ's Kettle Corn. (Primarily for the pretty packaging.) So glad I did. Its contents did not disappoint.

Do you ever shop at Trader Joe's? If so, what are your favorites?

12 comments:

Cottage Mommy said...

Hmmm....I do love trader joes but am always so sad when I go because I live so far away I have to leave behind all the delish frozen items that my sis raves about. I am always taken in by the candy...can you say dark chocolate covered pretzels anyone?

Kat said...

I have been reading your blog for a little while but don't think I've ever commented - I had to on this one! :) I LOVE Trader Joe's, and I've only been there with friends a couple times! I am from Canada, so no Trader Joe's for us :(

Holly said...

Chocolate covered pretzels, green chili tamales, and the whole bean coffee- love it, cheap and yummy.

Lynn Richards said...

Oh yes!!!! I adore our Trader Joe's. My favorites are the frozen bean and rice burritos, sliced fresh mango, any of their produce and, oh!
the frozen french toast-YUM!!
lynn

Amanda said...

We don't have a Trader Joe's in Eau Claire (as you know), but I can understand your love affair!

Laura {Brand New Housewife} said...

Sad to say, I have a Trader Joe's literally one mile from my house but I have gone in a grand total of ONE time. It was super busy and I was a little overwhelmed.

I am determined that that will change now as I am trying to eat more healthful/natural/organic foods and am willing to splurge a little for more organic produce and yummy food without a lot of yucky stuff added to it.

Thanks for the inspiration!

ashley maureen said...

mm, i completely agree. the parking lot of our local TJ's is less than pleasant, so although it's a bit of an endeavor to get there, it's totally worth it. some of my favorites are the harvest grains mix (a great alternative to rice or pasta as a side), the oven-to-table desserts, and fresh, pre-cut sweet potatoes. yum!

daniella said...

I'm still in mourning that there isn't one in Oahu, where we're moving in a month. The grocery store has been like my grama; near and dear to my heart.

Amanda said...

Trader Joe's came to Madison just a few years ago, and now I can't imagine life without it! I love their pizza crust dough, dark chocolate covered almonds, frozen fish, and "just a handful" bagged nuts. I've also gotten some really great seasonal baking mixes there. Hooray for TJ!

Leslie said...

well that kettle corn for sure....
frozen chocolate bananas
there goat cheese etc. is over half the price less...
the schoolbook ABC cookies...
the pirate booty knock off...
the pretty bottles of sparkling lemonade
woah not the healthiest stuff..

sunflower butter
second on the foccacia..
the triple layered pesto sundried toamtoe torta
the almonds....
there frozen tortellini that we suate with olive oil and add carrots balsamic vinegarette and cherry tomatoes
pumpkin bread mix
pumpkin butter
maple cookies...

ahhh I could keep going

labeck said...

When I lived in the Bay Area, I lived across the street from Trader Joes. Did I shop there exclusively? Nope. Do I miss it? Yep!

I live halfway between two trader joes in wisconsin: 45 minutes each way... and I miss TJs but do I make the trip? nope.

I will go soon and try some of the things everyone's mentioned here... I love the rice bowls, the strawberry lemonade, the spinach dip and everything crackers, the baking mixes, the soups...so much!

Miss G said...

As far as I know there are not any Trader Joes in TX. :( We go on vacation though and have often been known to pick up a picnic lunch as we peruse the aisles and sit outside somewhere to eat it. Mediterranean sea salt brownies!!! Yum! :) Kelly

p.s. I also really like their mojito. We had New Mexico relatives buy a couple of cases and bring them for our wedding.