Though I absolutely love cooking and eating, I haven’t always loved grocery shopping. In fact, David used to do the majority of the grocery shopping in Texas because I find grocery stores so dull. But the more times I visit Trader Joe’s, the more I like the store, the products and grocery shopping.
Maybe it’s because I am a farmers market snob that makes me cringe in grocery stores. The lights are too bright, the demo people want you to try (and then buy) whatever crappy product they are sampling, the music is too low to even recognize what’s playing or too bad to want to connect with it and it’s just a lackluster experience.
But that’s not the case at Trader Joe’s.
The lights are just right and the music is so on point I immediately find myself dancing and moving and grooving to the beat as I cross through the entrance and linger through a sea of reasonably priced, gorgeous, multi-colored flowers that always make me smile. From $3.99 to $9.99, these flowers are affordable and irresistible. And the staff are always friendly and asking if they can help you find something, which is such a welcome change to the unhappy employees that work at most grocery stores.
And the dizzying array of organic products is truly mesmerizing and makes me want to return again and again. In all honesty, the more I shop at TJ’s, the more good and good for you products I add to my must-have list, which multiplies with each visit.
In 2016, I shared some of my favorite products when I was a TJ’s newbie. Now that I am an old faithful shopper, here are some of the latest products I can’t live without.
As I have grown into a consummate TJ’s shopper, the produce has become more and more appealing to me. Why? Because they have a ton of high-quality, organic produce that is less expensive than other healthy grocery stores.
David finds these small loaves of gluten-free breads ideal. He says it makes a perfectly-sized sandwich, grilled cheese or toast with a schmear of peanut or almond butter and jelly. We store the bread in the freezer for whenever his sandwich or toast mood strikes.
Speaking of nut butter and jelly, this is our new favorite jelly, though actually it’s a fruit spread. It’s organic, made in small batches, has no additional sugar and the $2.99 price can’t be beat. So far, I have only had the strawberry, but can’t wait to try the raspberry and super fruit varieties.
Since we cook so much at home, I probably go through one bottle of extra virgin olive oil every other week and this is the one I go back to TJ’s for every time. With all of the dubious Italian olive oil claims, we choose a California olive oil and this one hits all of the right notes. It’s not what I would use for dipping artisan bread in or for plating a dish, but it’s absolutely fine for cooking and salad dressings.
And to spice things up a bit, break the bank and toss this jar of dukkah in your cart. It’s ground nuts and spices and, for a whopping $2.99, adds an interesting touch of texture and flavor to avocado toasts, hummus toasts, bread and olive oil, roasted vegetables, salads or whatever you feel like sprinkling it on.
It was years ago when I gave up sugar. And when I mean I gave up sugar, I don’t mean I gave up sugar, but I gave up sugar. Yes, the granulated type. That nasty white stuff that no one should eat. That’s what I quit. Instead, I use coconut sugar, maple syrup and honey as sweeteners. And sparingly.
Lots of stores have coconut sugar in the bulk department priced at $8 a pound. What? NO way! That’s crazy pricing, which makes the TJ’s one-pound bag of organic coconut sugar for $3.99 sound too good to be true. But it’s not. So stock up and use this instead of white sugar. Please.
Though I am not one to promote canned products, I do give in to canned tomatoes and beans. I like the canned tomatoes at TJ”s, but I don’t like their canned beans. Organic diced tomatoes for $1.99 are hard to pass up as this is a pantry staple that can come in handy when making soup, chili or stewed cabbage.
Rice is another pantry staple I always have because I can make rice in 30 minutes. The fact that this rice is a blend of brown, red and black AND is sprouted AND organic makes me giddy. Add a teaspoon of ground turmeric to the rice when you saute it, then add the water and you will delight at the gorgeous golden color and revel at the health benefits.
Have you read about the power of bromelain in pineapples? It seemingly cures anything and everything which means we drink a bit of pineapple juice in this house and eat fresh pineapple whenever we can.
Having lived in Mexico for many years, being a Texas native and now living in Santa Fe means salsa verde is near and dear to my heart. Yes, I could make a batch, but at $1.99, it’s nice to have a jar of salsa verde within reach at all times.
Because I was born into a culinary family, baking was my first love and I have never met a cookie I couldn’t choke down. These cookies remind me of Tate’s cookies, which I always keep in the pantry when we need something sweet. Choose from oatmeal raisin, ginger or chocolate chip and rest easy knowing they are gluten-free.
Every time I turn on the news, I hear reports about this year’s astoundingly expansive flu epidemic. And because I don’t want to get the flu and I know David doesn’t want to get the flu, I keep a few boxes of Oscillococcinum around. If we start to feel a little sluggish or snotty or a hint of a cough breaks out, we each take three of these a day. Morning, noon and night. Without fail. It might not prevent you from getting sick, but I am living proof it mitigates the sickness. And that’s worth a lot to me. Priced at $9.99, this is the lowest price I have seen for this product. I saw it priced at $15.99 at both Natural Grocers and Walgreen’s and for $6 a box, that adds up quickly if you have a large family taking this natural flu remedy.
It’s been years since I have had caffeine, so I tend to be a bit particular about my coffee, it being decaf and all. But the TJ’s variety is a mellow way to start my day. Of course, they also offer the leaded variety for those of you who can handle that jolt.
When I need a snack, I go for hummus and crackers and these are my new favorite cracker. Tipping the scales at $1.99, these good and good for you crackers are gluten-free and made with a only a few ingredients. They are tasty and not salty and combine beautifully with hummus, guacamole or any dip you like. Choose from beet or sweet potato varieties.
I always save the best for last and one of my favorite things to buy at TJ’s is chocolate. For chocolate lovers like me, their array of chocolates is sensational. I have tried a lot of it, but find there are a few I keep buying and for different reasons. Some is best for snacking, savoring and making bark.
Maybe the next time you visit TJ’s, some of these items will land in your cart and make it home with you? I welcome your ideas on other TJ products you absolutely love that must land in my cart.
Part of what I love about shopping at TJ’s is that it reminds me of a treasure hunt and I am always on the look-out for deliciously edible treasures.