Trader Joes is my favorite as far as grocery stores are concerned...by FAR. However, they don't sell very much name brand stuff - most of what they sell is their brand. Which, if you've never shopped there before can leave you (well, at least it did me) feeling a bit uneasy about just what to get. They do offer samples in the back of a few of their food items (different things each time) which are always fun to try and they will give you a full refund, no questions asked, if you don't like something. Their staff is always very friendly and accomodating but whoa, is that place packed, at least around here it is anyways. So, I thought I'd just write about what the hubs and I enjoy the most and also mention those very few things we would recommend avoiding. I apologize in advance if you don't have a Trader Joes - as this post will render itself worthless! If you're unsure as to whether or not there is one close to you - go here and find the nearest location! And if you do have one and have never been - you should totally go - it changed my grocery shopping life completely. Their food is very reasonably priced and alot of times you can buy organic foods cheaper there than you can for non-organic at the regular grocer. All pluses in my book:) So - heres my list:
FAVORTIE THINGS - These are the things you MUST try - like, don't leave the store without them and unfortunately, don't be surprised if they are sold out of them either.
* Ridge chips - Thick and crispy potato chips that are PERFECT for dipping in your favorite dip. They have ridges in them but almost feel kettle cooked - I don't know how they do it - I just know they're great.
* Peanut Butter Cups - As in Reeses will no longer be the 'ish if you try these. The outside chocolate is delish (you can get either dark or milk - both are A-mazing) and the creamy peanut butter filling tastes like actual peanut butter but better. I wouldn't advise buying these unless you have help eating them...or the metabolism of an 8 year old.
* New Zealand Organic Sharp Cheddar - This comes in a block and it is absolutely delish - perfect with crackers or shredded on top a salad. This has a strong cheddar flavor but isn't too overpowering. This always gets rave reviews at parties.
* Mild party salsa - If you like fresh salsa - this is for you. All of the salsa staples, with a few extras thrown in (who knew cucumbers went so well in salsa), some seasoning and lime juice make this a treat. You can find this in the refridgerated section - their jarred salsa is fair.
* Organic Brown Rice (in the frozen foods section) - If you like the brown rice at PF Changs - you'll enjoy this. A warning though - the key to this is getting the organic kind - we tried the regular brown rice and were very dissappointed.
* Vanilla Almond Granola - Oh my - add a little plain yogurt and strawberries or blueberries and you have a delicious breakfast. I could just eat this stuff out of the box plain too - but I like when the yogurt makes the granola just a little soggy!
* Orange, Teryaki, or Tempura Chicken - These are all super easy and quick meals that taste GREAT!!! The hubs and I love the keep these on hand in the freezer for those nights when we can't figure out what to make. They go really well with the brown rice and we usually throw in a bag of edamame beans to complete the meal.
Trader Joes also has a wonderful produce and fruit section that is all very reasonably priced and comes from non-GMO sources (a little bit about that in a future post). Outside of the canned crabmeat and pickles, which were pretty disgusting in my opinion, we have enjoyed everything else we have gotten from there. We really try hard to do most of our grocery shopping there and only use the other grocery stores when there are "can't miss deals and steals" to be had or if we run out of weekend time to make the 20 minute trek out to Trader Joes (yes, I pass at least 5 - probably more like 10 - other grocery stores to get to this one). They also have a beautiful assortment of fresh flowers that are always VERY reasonably priced and my hubs raves about their hardwood charcoal to grill with. He claims it has far less ash than the varieties at HD and Lowes and its also very well priced. Feel free to add any of your favorites below!!
Also - in looking around for pictures of the different items I posted about above (because these things DO NOT last in my house:)) I came across this fun blog that is all things Trader Joes - some great recipe ideas and favorites are shared!