Monday, April 15, 2013

taste of tuesday: trader joe's

Forgive me if you live outside of Texas, but for those of us here, Trader Joe's is a fairly new phenomenon.

I first went to TJ's, as I lovingly call it, on a visit to Atlanta to see my sister-in-law a few years ago. Chocolate covered everything? Different varieties of hummus? YUM. Our drive back to Houston was full of snacks.

Went to TJ's with my mom, step-dad, step-sister, and nieces and this is all the chocolate that we bought collectively. The peanut butter cups are awesome (I love the dark) and the chocolate covered frozen bananas were also so so good!

Last summer, the Houston area got its first TJ's, so you know I made Andrew take me from Katy to the Woodlands on more than one occasion to get my fix. Now, luckily, there are more stores in the Houston metro area and I can go on my lunch break, or even add it to our weekly grocery shopping. I have found that a lot of people are clueless as to a) how amazing Trader Joe's is and b) what to buy when they get there, so I wanted to give you some of my favorites.

A few things to know before you go: Trader Joe's makes a lot of things seasonally. Just because it's there today doesn't mean you'll be able to find it next week. They are constantly switching out their products. I always like to look at the Fearless Flyer for new things to try! The things I have listed below should be available year-round. You should also always bring your own shopping bag - if you do, you can be entered to win $25 worth of free merchandise. I haven't won yet, but I am determined to!

1) Smashing S'mores - let's not talk about how unhealthy these things are. My husband is addicted. Pop 'em in the microwave for a few seconds until the marshmallow pops out and you have perfection.

All photos by me... either I currently have the stuff in my house or I had the foresight to take pics of it when I did.

2) Mandarin Orange Chicken - I swear by this stuff. Put frozen chicken on cookie sheet, bake, flip, bake some more. Meanwhile, thaw out sauce. Toss cooked chicken in sauce and serve over rice. Just as good as Chinese take-out for way cheaper (a bag is $4.99 and we share it but it's too much food). It would be even better with stir-fried veggies added in.

Mandarin Orange Chicken over rice but you could be really creative with this

3) Cookie Butter- if you have heard of Trader Joe's, then you have definitely heard of this stuff. It's best described as gingerbread in peanut butter form. It sounds weird but it's amazing. How do you eat it? My favorite way is by the spoonful.

4) Cocoa Almond Spread - Just like cookie butter, this stuff has no place in a balanced diet, but it is delicious. It's like Nutella, but with almonds instead of hazelnuts. Perfect when you just want a bite of something sweet.

5) Awesome, cheap produce - Their bagged salad is cheap and I have gotten romaine lettuce leaves there for a great price too. One of my coworkers loves that they sell brussels sprouts on the vine and I have gotten cherry tomatoes there for a great price. They also have little baby apples (the size of cuties) that are perfect for snacks! (Selection varies)

Some other favorites:
Chicken Tikka Masala (meal for two in the refrigerated section)
Garlic Naan (in the frozen section)
Two Buck Chuck (Their Charles Shaw wine... It is $2.99 per bottle and it is pretty good!)
Citrus Body Wash
Curry Simmer Sauce
Thai Chili Cashews
Dark Chocolate Sea Salt Candy Bars
Pumpkin Bread Mix (only available in the fall)
Cilantro Jalapeno Hummus (this stuff is amazing. Now I want some)
Chai Latte Mix

Just add hot water and it becomes creamy deliciousness... amazing in the winter!

A few clunkers I've tried (which if I cared to, I could have returned to TJ's because they are awesome):
PB & J Candy Bar (should have known this would be awful)
Tomato Soup (in a carton, not a can)
Cuban Style Black Beans (they were just regular beans)
Stuffed Mushrooms (soggy mess)

There are so many other great things to try at Trader Joe's - it really is awesome for treats and convenience foods. The flowers are also really cheap and last forever. Are you hungry yet? Do you at least want to hit up the grocery store? Do you have some favorites (or some things to stay away from) to share with me?

I'm linking up with Jessica at Blissfully Miller and Ashley at Let's Get Bananas (who I might meet this weekend at the blogger meet-up?!) for Taste of Tuesday!


  1. This is exactly what I needed! Someone to tell me what's good at TJ's so I can go try all those items! So glad you linked up with us! And you WILL see me on Sunday!! :)

  2. TJ's rocks!!! I'm so glad they decided to come to Houston!! I could spend forever and a day there!!

  3. I love TJ's, wish there was one closer to me! = (
    PS New Follower here!
    Stop by some time

  4. You are making me want to buy all that chocolate! I loved the peanut butter cups, yum... and they weren't THAT bad for you. :P I need that chai latte. And that smore stuff, whoa!

  5. I keep hearing great things about Trader Joes & I keep meaning to go & never make time for it! The Woodlands one is only about 20 minutes from me, I need to get my butt over there!


I like comments and read them all but I'm not great about responding to them, so please don't be offended. I would much rather visit your blog instead!