Friday, February 27, 2009

I love Trader Joes

I don't always have time to cook a full meal, so on these nights Trader Joe's is my best friend. My favorites are things I pretty much always keep on hand, and I'll often buy one or two other items for fun and a super fast, relatively healthy, tasty meal. I will soon do a report on their Harvest Grains Blend, which everywhere I've found online raves about.
I thought I'd take time to list a few of my favorite products and what I do with them (listed in the order I pick them up in the store):
  • Stoplight peppers, these are frozen, precut bell peppers. They are not as good as fresh, don't get me wrong, but they are good to zest up spaghetti or make a tasty addition to my scrambled eggs. Actually, my scrambled egg "recipe" is so good that it is beyond a convenience food at this point. I like to add peppers, cilantro, and crushed red pepper. Yum.
  • Frozen cilantro/basil cubes. Lets face it, fresh herbs can be expensive for a grad student, when you cook for one it's hard to use a whole bunch, and when sharing a fridge with 3 other people there isn't really room to keep these AND all the regular vegetables. Trader Joes sells them in cubes with a teapoon of frozen herb, which is perfect for adding to eggs, soup, pasta, my favorite thai stir fry, or really almost anything you would normally add these herbs to. And it's much better than substituting dry for fresh in recipes.
  • Black cocoa almonds. Trader Joe's has everything covered in chocolate, but I'd say these are my favorite, not too sweet, very chocolatey and the almond provides a nice crunch. But like I said, they also have the best collection of chocolate covered things I've seen, and lots are good, but not the chocolate covered ginger. I would stay away from that if I were you.
  • Pesto tortellini. My suitemate introduced me to this. It's simply an awesome quick meal, I like it with a little Parmesan/Romano cheese blend (which incidently, I also got at Trader Joe's)
  • Precooked/seasoned chicken/turkey sausage. Pork sausage is something you will never see me eat. But I don't mind chicken sausage in the right context. These are delicious because they come in many great flavors, and oh so easy because they are precooked. Keep them in the freezer and just defrost. I like to cut them up and cook them with (fresh, not frozen) bell peppers and brown rice. It might be my favorite quick and easy meal, and one sausage and one pepper plus a half cup of rice has the perfect amount for lunch leftovers the next day. I've tried and like the sweet basil pesto, but I'm sure they are all really good.
A few other things I've noted that are good: ground beef is actually cheaper at Trader Joe's than at Publix or Kroger, unless by some miracle you find it on sale (and i won't eat the stuff in a tube). Also, I may be the pickest yogurt eater you will ever find: I hate gelatin, preservatives, artifical sweetener, and excessive natural sweetness in my yogurt, which means I stick to the somewhat expensive Stonyfield Farm. But Trader Joe's yogurt is not only tolerable (which is not a weak statement for me), but actually pretty good. And it's about 25 cents cheaper than Stonyfield Farm per carton, which is a lot given the amount of yogurt I eat. I also like the texture of the long skinny fruit leathers at Trader Joe's. I would also encourage you to give many of their sauces a try, there's a few I've tried and they are all pretty good, but which ones are good is a matter of personal taste. Also, I've found lots of gems in the frozen convienence foods (masala seasoned veggie burgers, samosas, chili lime chicken burgers, etc), but those seem to rotate.

And for the record, Trader Joe's did not pay me for this endorsement, but maybe they should have.


  1. For the record, I have to say that I love chocolate covered ginger... although I do eat the pickled ginger that comes with sushi all by itself :-)

  2. I've liked chocolate covered ginger before (and I too, eat the ginger that comes with sushi, at least I did before this vile stuff ruined that for me), but I did not like this, and none of my friends like it either. Oh well, you live and learn.