my trader joe’s shopping list

by ann

There’s a lot of hype about Trader Joe’s. The first time I went I was like, OMG. I’m finally here! Then I realized I had no clue what to buy or what exactly the hype was about.

What I found out is that TJ is great for the person that likes things pre-made, pre-chopped, packaged and frozen. Don’t get me wrong! They stock your typical fruits and vegetables. The variety is just lacking.

Convenience is where the store shines. PLUS there are some products specific to Trader Joe’s that I am in looove with. So, if you’re heading to a TJ’s, here’s my shopping list:imagemandarin orange chicken//
This sweet, tangy dish is a lifesaver on days I’m too tired to cook. I let the chicken get nice and crispy in the skillet, add the microwaved sauce and it’s done! I’ve paired this with rice and noodles. If I’m being uber lazy, I’ll serve it with TJ’s instant brown rice. All options are delicious.

brioche toasts//
These toasts are buttery and have the perfect consistency: cracker-like but easy to eat. They are the perfect carrier for cheese and dip but also perfectly addicting au naturale.

chili pepper sauce//
This was picked up to marinate meat for jerky but it’s good for so much more than that! It’s mild with a light kick at the end. It’s not tangy like Tabasco; the sauce has a complex flavor that sings earthy and sweet. I’ve had it with fried chicken, I’ve had it with a simple salad, and I can see it being perfect with enchiladas.

three layer hummus//
The ordinary garbanzo bean has been elevated to a new level. The layers are: cilantro, traditional, and roasted red pepper. I’ll be honest. I’m really in it for the cilantro.

greek style nonfat plain yogurt//
I’ve had my fair share of yogurt brands. I like that this one has the consistency and tart flavor consistent with Greek yogurt. It’s an excellent base at a great price. Not too tart, not too thick. I like to pair it with a chopped pear and a drizzle of honey.

cookie butter sandwich cookies//
The cult-inspiring speculoos cookie butter is holding together two buttery, shortbread cookies. No other words necessary.

puff pastry//
I was so sad to find out that these puff pastry sheets are sold only during the holiday season. If you see them, buy them all! The sheets are made with all butter and are a great thing to have on hand for an easy party appetizer or quickie dessert. It looks impressive without all the work!

This pasta is dirt cheap but doesn’t sacrifice on quality. It has even won a taste test! The last time I made this was for pasta alla puttanesca and paired it with chimchurri steak. Flavor explosion.