A week of Trader Joe’s

When Trader Joe's first opened here in Richmond, I was not a big fan of this grocery store. For one thing all I saw were these whole sections of snacks that I probably will never eat.  "Hungry" hubby and I are not big snackers. When I get hungry between meals, chips are the last thing from my mind. I'd rather drink a few ounces of milk or as it had been more frequent lately – melt some good quality chocolate in it to have a nice espresso-size shot of thick hot chocolate. Sometimes, I feel so embarassed when I have impromptu guests and they're looking for chips and salsa and I have nothing to offer them…but that's how my pantry goes.

When the economy soured and we had to cut back on eating out, we decided to give Trader Joe's a second look. Now, I know I'm not helping the economy if I tighten spending, we still do eat out – we just feel really annoyed spending $80 on dinner we'd rather forget. That's why I'm glad to have a one-stop source for foodie news to wade through restaurants views - I do want the good establishments to survive.

Okay, back to Trader Joe's. Here's what I found worth the buck starting with the best:

#1. Beef Short Ribs , Korean style – 6 pieces of thinly sliced short ribs for $7.99. They were enough for one dinner for 2 plus one meal leftover. You can always extend this by scrambling some eggs. Great with steamed white rice. Since I decided to work out after coming home from the office, I defrost these in cold water while I exercise and then pop them into the toaster oven…flip them once and they should be done in 12 minutes. Basmati rice from Costco cooks very fast too.

#2. Any of their chicken sausages with garlic – they used to have a teriyaki flavored one that I loved. Cook these with eggs and your set. You get 5 links for $3.99 (one link around 68g).

#3.  Pesto Pizza organic -$4.69 – maybe good for one or two depending on appetite. I was first leery when I saw broccoli on it but I preferred this over the all-meat pizza (forgot what it was called) 

#4.  Lasagna Bolognese – hubby said this was pretty good, I do not have the price.

#5. Chicken Fajita Burrito Grande – $2.99. I argued with the hubby because I said that for a few bucks more you can have fresh burrito from Chipotle. But HH said it was really tasty even if it was of the frozen dinner variety.

Now, I am not saying the above is gourmet, but they are really decent as quick meals during weeknights.

We were disappointed with:

#1. Pad Thai – this was in a take-out style box. Empty the noodles into the box and pour the sauce over it and microwave. Had a weird after taste – will not buy again. I really should just go ahead and try Pim's version.

#2. Chicken Teriyaki with soba noodles – too much sauce and sweet taste on the noodles. I think most of their chicken entrees are around $6.00…for this price I'd rather go to Chipotle.

I've also heard their mushroom turnovers ($2.99) are fantastic. We just bought them today and will try them later this week. For the Korean Style short ribs, I've heard good and bad reviews about them. Like they were too thin (duh – they are supposed to be thin) and too fatty – well  what I've had so far had a good ratio of  meat to fat. I've bought 3 more packets today so we'll see.

I know I had not been blogging new recipes lately. Reduced staffing at work really eats up a lot of my time and energy. We fortunately got major projects into production in the January-February time frame so I can see more of my weekends freeing up. 🙂

11 thoughts on “A week of Trader Joe’s

  1. I was just talking about Trader Joe's with my parents last night. They go frequently and I never seem to get there. I know I've got to make a visit, and your list gives me a good game plan. Good luck with work – miss your posts, so I hope some time will free up soon.

  2. I just got my New Trader Joe booklet and was wondering what to "invest" in. This is a great review Veron, thanks, I feel more comfortable making the trip! Thanks for sharing…

  3. You might become a chip snacker if you try Trader Joe's whole grain pita chips. They're very good by themselves or dipped in hummus. I only wish the store were closer to my home (in Pittsburgh).

  4. I just love trader joes, I don't know what I'd do without them! We like the frozen thai chicken sticks, almost like egg rolls but with thai flavors.

  5. I love Trader Joe… I first discovered it when a friend brought me there when I was staying with her for a business trip to San Diego a long time ago before they were on the east coast. I was very happy when one of the first ones in the Boston area opened less than a mile from my house! I don't know how I lived (ate) before! The supermarkets in my area are dreadful except Whole Foods (which also used to be better when it was Bread and Circus which was bought out by Whole Foods), especially the produce. I usually get my produce from my local farm stand or from the local farmer's markets when they are open for the season. At Trader Joe, I like many of the condiments and sauces and various other items that are good components for cooking (light coconut milk, fresh herbs, tomato chutney, mango chutney, vanilla paste, raw sugar, agave, rice wine vinegar, wasabi mayo, olive or edamame hummus, puff pastry, rice blend with daikon radish seeds, unsweetened cranberry juice, nuts, chocolate, all the flavored sausages especially the chicken or turkey andouille sausages, already chopped pancetta, bresaola, greek yogurt, many of the crackers are good, truffles, etc)… Unfortunately for me, they always discontinue my favorite things! I tend not to like the fast meals that have gloppy fake sauces either. I agree that they have strange aftertastes. I do like the already cooked chicken breasts that are balsamic or lemon pepper flavored when in a pinch. I cut them up in salads or make quick meals with them. And its' great that they have organic milk and organic eggs. For a long time I could not understand why they had organic eggs packaged in plastic. They've finally changed the packaging to cardboard. That is my only complaint- too much plastic packaging, bad for the environment.

  6. I have my favorites at TJs too: Bruchetta in a jar great for pasta sauce; world's largest olives; Pad Thai with tofu frozen section; Black Toad beer;rosemary ham;roasted red pepper tomato soup in a carton; 21 seasoning salute; Just to name a few, they have great wines too. I want to try the Korean Short ribs.

  7. I have never spent $80 on a meal. My husband and I went into this restaurant and sat down and asked for a price on the lobster. They told us the price and we got up and walked out. My husband said, “his money is more important to him”. I am, glad he did not spend the money on the lobster. I can cook lobster at home for about $20.

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