Wednesday, September 12, 2012

send more spoons... {and desperately seeking recs}

L and I joined B & N for a little walking tour of The Mothership today...

New Friend.

Trader Joe's second North Texas location opened about 30 minutes from our house, but the third will soon arrive mere miles away.  I was duly impressed with my first TJ's experience and am pretty psyched we'll have one so close next Spring, but I need some schoolin'... As you can see, we found the Cookie Butter, but what else must we try?  My post-baby-body smackdown side is attempting to stay strong in the face of chocolate-covered-everything, but I am interested in stocking our freezer with some decent prepared meals.  

So let me have it... What are your favorite Trader Joe's buys? 

51 comments:

  1. We LOVE the frozen Turkey Bolognese. Also, the little pizzas that come 4 to a pack are good for a quick lunch.

    This blog is kind of fun, too: http://www.whatsgoodattraderjoes.com/

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  2. Their fruit floe ice popsicles are awesome! The TJ's marinara, frozen spinach lasagna is awesome, so is the cilantro jalapeno hummus. The spinach and kale dip is sinfully good. The list goes on....

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  3. I LOVE the "Just Banana, Flattened." It's dried banana (kind of like fruit leather?) and it's really delish.

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  4. I love the fresh pasta - there's a goat cheese/sundried tomato tortellini that's delish. I also really like the frozen fire-roasted corn - it's good mixed into mexi-style dishes (which I know you love). Really everything is good!

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  5. I really like the gnocchi alla sorrentina and all of the various frozen potstickers and shu mai for putting together last minute dinners. And the garlic naan!

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  6. Turkey meatballs are a favorite at our house!

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  7. orange chicken! dried pineapple, dried sweet apples, antioxidant dried berry mix!

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  8. Garlic naan, frozen Chicken Tikka Masala , and the Butter Chicken, Spicy Hummus, and the goat cheese!!! You'll love!

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  9. White bean hummus with TJ's pita crackers...canned vegetarian chili...vanilla cookies that come in a tub...honey wheat pretzels...frozen potstickers...mild salsa...I could go on and on :)

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  10. Ohhhhh Trader Joes. Seriously. I am DYING for one to come to our neck of the woods. That cookie butter needs to get in my life in the most serious way. My butt disagrees. But whatevs. I am going to make a list based on your comments and may make a field trip this weekend. Our closet one is in The Woodlands-- totally worth the 1 hour drive, right???

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  11. The pre-made pizza dough is tasty and comes in a virtuous whole wheat. The frozen croissants in almond and chocolate are beyond yummy but not lose baby tummy friendly. The gnocchi was also fantastic along with the butter chicken. We're still working our way through the frozen counter. My husband loved the shaved brussel sprouts following the suggested recipe with balsamic vinegar on the back and declared it a meal since it was cooked in bacon.

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  12. Run, don't walk to the "rosemary raisin crisps." Oh hail Mary-they are chewy, crunchy, and so, so, so good with brie!

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  13. We're lucky to have a TJ's right by our house and it's my main squeeze. Some of my favorite items are the flowers, chicken sausages, freeze-fried bananas, frozen garlic cubes, coconut ice cream, hard-boiled eggs, mochi, pear sauce, pumpkin butter, joe-joe's (the peppermint ones come out near the holidays and are dangerous!), trail mix, I could go on and on...

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  14. Trader Joe's Charles Shaw aka Two Buck Chuck is my favorite TJ's pick

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  15. Mediterranean hummus, Middle Eastern flat bread, frozen turkey meatballs, frozen chicken pot stickers, $3.99 Espiral Vinho Verde, the Trader Joe's brand pinot noir (when they have it I stock up because it sells out quickly!), the dried "just mango,"...I could go on and on! I do the majority of our grocery shopping at TJ's - I even like their laundry detergent and the french orange blossom liquid hand soap is amazing!

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  16. Oh, and the chicken Italian sausages are also delish!

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  17. I love the breaded eggplant (so easy) and the puff pastry pizza!

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  18. Uhm, everything?!

    Haha, this is where I do a majority of my shopping... it's cheap, but they have an organic table wine that's $3 and has a picture of a surf board on it, it's AMAZING! We think anyways :)

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  19. Oh man. So many things. In fact I owe you a package from there that I have stuff for and now, MAN. Slacker over here. Around the holidays you want the Peppermint Joe Joes, the chocolate oranges and the dark chocolate sea salt caramels. Normal time you want anything from the frozen Asian food section (the veggie potstickers and fried rice are pretty lovely), the frozen mac & cheese, the pub cheese (horseradish especially), the hummus, the ready to eat BBQ pork, the dark chocolate peanut butter cups (keep them in the fridge for extra deliciousness) the frozen chocolate croissants, the potato latkes, the canned black bean soup and the taco seasoning. Whew. Oh! And all the baking mixes but most especially in the fall STOCK UP on the pumpkin pancake mix.

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  20. I stock the frozen orange chicken, pot stickers and fried rice for an easy prep dinner. Delish. I also love their margherita pizza, peanut butter pretzels, salsa authentica (both red and green are very good) the frozen garlic cubes and frozen basil cubes.

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  21. pub cheese (horseradish and the jalapeno) raisin rosemary crisps, gorgonzola and sundried tomato torte, sonoma wraps, hold the cones, mint ice cream sandwich, frozen turkey meatballs, kettle corn cookies, blueberry vanilla goat cheese with gorgonzola crisps, naan bread, chia seeds, tri color quinoa,frozen soycotash, balsamic glaze, turbinado chocolate covered almonds, crumpets with lemon curd, frozen croissants, trader joe's coastal sauvignon blanc, chicken or black bean rolled tacos baked like enchiladas with their enchilada sauce, cilantro and chive yogurt dip (think tzatziki), maui beef short ribs, sweet potato tortilla chips, chewable melatonin, canned vegetarian chili, dried pesto tortellini, fruit floes (coconut is our fave), frozen fire roasted corn,wasabi seaweed, i know i'm forgetting a lot! rice orzo pilaf, multigrain crackers, frozen creamy polenta, chocolate pistachio toffee, electrolyte bottled water, all their juices, reggiano lambrusco rosso dolce (sp?) (cold red wine with just a little fizz), epicuro wines, i think this list would be shorter if i listed what i don't love from tj's?

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  22. Because I am a masochist, I went on opening day last Friday since it's just down the road from my office. I had a man stop me in the parking lot to tell me good luck. Nice. Since it was so crowded, I had a hard time really checking everything out, but I did get a few random items, all of which I give 5 stars. They were out of carts & baskets so I was limited to what I could hold for the 25 sweaty minutes I stood in line with the everyone and their mother. And I second the person who mentioned whatsgoodattraderjoes.com which is a great resource.

    Obviously the Cookie Butter. Give that merchandiser a raise for the endcap display. I'm HORRIFIED by both the ingredient list and the speed at which I have already devoured a quarter of it. I dip pretzels sticks in it - heaven. I grabbed a bag of this chocolate covered toffee popcorn which was great but goes fast, should have gotten 2. Frozen black bean and cheese taquitos which are SO good, and the serving size is 4 (!) - will def. try the other flavors! This sounds random, but the last thing I got was a jar of the fat free pizza sauce which I've been using on tortillas with leftover chopped up chicken and veggies for mini pizzas in the toaster. Good stuff. I am looking forward to many more visits when it isn't so crazy, but the one in FW that opened months ago is STILL jammed from what I hear. So popular, that Joe. I also chuckled when I noticed the logo on my taquitos was Trader JOSE's. Love it.

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    1. I think you'll be pleased by the diminished crowds if you head there on your lunch break now! We were there from 10:30 - 11:30 and I felt a little bit like I was in a cattle stall, but it was totally manageable! I'm sure it's still a zoo on the weekends.

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  23. Chocolate and almond croissants. OMG. WAY better than Le Madeline. My family loves the Orange Chicken and dumplings. And, all of the snacks.

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  24. There is a whole blog dedicated to what's good at trader joe's. It's called "what's good at trader joe's" and they review everything.

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  25. Anything diet friendly at Trader Joe's? I think I just gained 10 pounds reading about all the great food and wine! I went on Sunday and bought random stuff that I stuck in a bag for my husband to take to work. I did sneak a bite or two of almost everything and my favorite was the Cookie Butter... Tasted a lot like Biscoff spread!

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  26. We are really enjoying the new Ft. Worth Trader Joe's - haven't been to the one in Plano yet. My favorite thing is the artichoke and kale dip...also love the savory tofu.

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  27. I think you would really like the red pepper spread with eggplant and garlic. It's delicious. We also love the parbaked rolls (finish them at home in the oven! Fresh, steam-filled rolls!), but they aren't available in every location. The frozen mac and cheese is intensely bad for you but easily the best mac and cheese (pre-made) that you can have in your house. (Joe's Diner. Red box. We buy them 8 or 9 at a time.) Second the cilantro-yogurt dip as well.

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  28. Orange Chicken has always been a favorite of mine, Grab some Jasmine rice too and it makes a wonderful combination!

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  29. I love her loo of serious contemplation over the cookie butter. "I wonder when this will be on my tray to try?"

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  30. Hummus, whole wheat olive oil tortillas, sesame honey almonds, chocolate coconut icecream, black bean enchiladas!

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  31. Turkey Meatballs, Pizza dough, Non-fat plain frozen yogurt, the risotto mix is decent (but add extra mushrooms), the selection of sausage is good. They have good prepared things in the freezer, BUT read the sodium content, a lot of them are REALLY high. I like the indian vegetarian rice dish, and the mac and cheese is really good, so fattening, but so so good.

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  32. Everything everyone has mentioned already...I also buy my pine nuts there. Much cheaper than the bigger chain stores. They also have great black bean and jack cheese burritos in the fresh foods area by produce that make a great quick lunch!

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  33. Trader Joe's is THE BEST EVER. We don't have one where we live - the closest one is about an hour and a half away (right by the closest Whole Foods) so sometimes I'll make a trip up to Indianapolis just to go grocery shopping. Totally normal, no?

    Anyway ... I LOVE their frozen asparagus risotto! It's to die for. And they have fantastic salt water taffy in fun flavors. And the cookie butter. And their frozen orange chicken is awesome, too. And the chicken sausage. And ... and ... everything really. I love it so much.

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  34. I do all my shopping there every week. For a frozen lunch- the black bean and corn enchiladas. For wine- the green fin white table wine or the blue fin pinot noir. Hummus. Chicken sausage (spicy jalapeno). Pre-made pizza dough. I could go on forever!

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  35. Orange chicken, Veggie lasagna, all of the frozen pizzas, Sweet Potato Gnocchi with Butter & Sage, La Granja Tempernillo is a fav! (And only $4). TJ's is the best!

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  36. So many good recs here. I also love their Tuscan Pane bread. I would stay away from their fruit and veggies, though. I prefer to buy those at Whole Foods. I've noticed produces from TJ's goes bad really quick.

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  37. Oh! Trader Joe's overwhelms me! I hope that you'll do a follow-up post with your new favorite finds!!! Please, please???

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  38. Oh man. I haven't read through all these comments BUT, my first rec is always the (not so healthy, but cheap, easy, and delicious for Friday night) frozen Orange chicken and Kung Pao chicken. Pair with their frozen broc and it is PERFECTION.
    Their frozen veggies are a godsend, and I think the grilled corn would be amazing in your chicken tamale casserle. In fact I have two bags of it in my freezer expressly for that purpose.

    Love the sesame cashews, spicy sweet pecans, and freeze dried mango (Good for, L, maybe?)

    Also, not be in any way self promote-y, Food Lush did a great round up as it was a reader question:
    http://www.foodlushblog.com/2011/07/reader-help-what-to-get-at-trader-joes.html

    And a quick search shows us writers love TJ's
    http://www.foodlushblog.com/.services/blog/6a00d8341c77ee53ef0133f1bcc933970b/search?filter.q=trader+joe%27s

    Good luck and god speed.

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  39. Their pasta is great and cheap and you must get the Candy Cane Joe Joe's (and the Candy Cane Joe Joe ice cream!) at the holidays.

    Oh man. Let's go shopping together then eat it all.

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  40. Oh goodness, let me try to edit myself, otherwise I might list everything in the whole store. I'm there at least twice a week and I might be their best customer. Frozen: meatballs (turkey or beef), taquitos (chicken or beef) make an awesome quick snack), breakfast burritos, aebelskivers, chocolate french toast (it's like bread pudding. so indulgent and so good). I always keep some of their frozen pizzas on hand for emergencies too. Frozen gnocchi and penne arabbiata.

    Produce: salad greens (love the bags of arugula, butter lettuce, or spinach), mini cucumbers, whatever berries they have that day that are organic, precut pineapple.

    Their gazpacho and pre-prepared salads are great for quick lunches. Chicken sausages and pulled bbq chicken are staples around here too, I just made pizza with the bbq chicken and their pre-made dough this week.

    Crumpets, pretzel rolls. Rosemary raisin crisps are the greatest invention ever, and ohmygod their cheese. Current favorites are the honey chevre, jalapeno jack, apricot stilton. Their sauces are great for crockpot meals. Sparkling water. And I'm a sucker for their chocolate covered anything. Oh and the WINE!!!

    I know I forgot a million things but looks like there are a ton of great suggestions here. Have fun!

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  41. The meat (individually-packaged organic chicken breasts are my fave) and produce are very well-priced but the produce can be iffy. Beware of bags or cartons of multiples - there's most likely going to be something overripe in there. That being said, TJ's is my favorite place to get baby broccoli, multi-color cherry tomatoes, whole basil plants, and sweet potatoes (these come in bags so be sure to check each one to make sure it's not donezo, but they're smaller potatoes which is really nice for portion control).

    While we're the produce department, it's important to note that Trader Joe's is the only place where I can consistently find my favorite type of lettuce (yep.) mâche!

    I know you like to make your own pizza dough, but TJ's sells refrigerated dough in white flour and whole wheat, and they're both lovely.

    The refrigerated pesto (found near the hummus - all of the hummusses are amazing BTW), is also excellent.

    If you like Indian food you MUST try each of the frozen Indian meals: paneer tikka masala, chicken tikka masala, and palak paneer (there's also a lamb vindaloo but it's too spicy for me, which says A LOT because I do love spicy food). They are low-cal, filling, and SO amazing. The jars of Indian and Thai "simmer sauces" are wonderful too.

    The frozen chocolate croissants are allegedly the same EXACT thing as the ones you can buy from Williams Sonoma (just repackaged) and they're delish (although they're not conducive to impulse-eating - you need to set them out overnight) (that's probably a good thing).

    They also sell a dark chocolate bar filled with caramel and dusted with sea-salt in cute packaging. Done.

    The raisin rosemary crisps are AMAZING with brie, goat cheese, or blue cheese (their cheese selection is wonderful but I'm sure you need no help there - although did you see the mini-brie-wheels??!!).

    Happy shopping!!

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  42. A few of my favorites:
    Fresh tangerine juice makes excellent mimosas
    Frozen turkey meatballs with jarred rustica tomato sauce. I freeze the sauce in an ice cube tray, and my two-year old can have dinner (a few meatballs with an ice cube of sauce) in 90 seconds.
    Edamame--frozen in single-serving packages
    Barbeque Chicken Salad
    I use the brocolli slaw to make Whole Foods' Brocolli Crunch Salad.

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  43. My husband LOVES their turkey jerky and our other "must have" item is the Tomatillo & Roasted Yellow Chile salsa. I like it because it's mild and not chunky. Even though my husband usually prefers medium or mild salsa, this is one of his faves. So far we haven't liked any of the other salsa's that we've tried.

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  44. Okay, here we go! I am not reading the other 44 comments, so my apologies if I repeat! Also...very little on my list is "healthy"...just saying!

    - hummus, edamame and horseradish are my favs
    - Naan! I use this to make mini pizzas for lunch and nights when I'm on my own for dinner.
    - CHEESE! It's priced so well here compared to my regular grocer. One we really love is a white english cheddar on green apples....YUM! I also buy their balls of mozz to go on my naan pizzas
    - White Cheddar Puff things...this is clearly not the real name, but they're like mini white cheddar cheetos...LOVE them
    -Some of our kitchen standy bys we always get here because of the price: whole grain brown mustard, pesto, cayenne pepper, roasted red peppers, our everyday EVOO (I buy nicer stuff for meals that require it), maple syrup...I just find their prices on these items can't be beat
    - Love the flat bread gruyere and ham pizzas for lunch!
    - Frozen Sweet Potato Gnoccho - think it's in a sage and butter sauce?
    - Peppermint Jo-Jo's at Christmas time
    - Ginger snaps!
    - Cha Siu Bao Chinese Style Pork Buns, love to make these with steamed snap peas for lunch
    - Pumpkin bread mix...super easy and yummy baked good when you need something fast
    - Sausage...all varieties
    - pizza dough
    - and wine....obviously!

    If I think of more, you know I'll send them your way!

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  45. Love the goat cheese medallions and the fresh ravioli, especially spinach and artichoke varieties. Also love the cinnamon almonds and wasabi almonds. Whole wheat croissants. This Fig Walked Into A Bars. Super Toffee Nutty Crunch cereal. Cheap olive oil and wine. Butternut squash soup. Sweet potato fries and crab cakes. Breakfast burritos. Lime flos. CANDY. And another vote for the orange chicken!

    We love TJs!

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  46. I LOVE their coconut oil.. I use it for everything.. cooking, my hair, my baby's cradle cap, lotion etc etc!!!! I actually prefer shopping for food at wholefoods (in CA) because the meats are organic and fresh!

    GOOD LUCK!

    http://scaifebabywatch.blogspot.com/

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  47. Ok. I waited a day to post this because I didn't want my recommendations to get lost in the shuffle. I echo all the recs listed above but if I had to pick my top 5 favorite TJ items, they would be:

    1. Corn and Chile Tomato-less Salsa. Life-changing. I put it on anything Mexican and add a dollop to some soups too, like TJ's red pepper soup that comes in the box. So delicious. If they ever stop carrying this, I will cry.

    2. Mini Hold The Cones (Vanilla). In the freezer aisle, of course. Only 70 calories each and they are the perfect after-dinner treat. Chocolate surprise at the bottom of the cone. Ohhh man.

    3. Traditional Carnitas Oven-Roasted Pork. Basically shrink-wrapped, pre cooked carnitas that you just have to microwave. We make carnitas bowls with these almost every week.

    4. Plain nonfat frozen yogurt. Simple and delicious. I like to top it with some berries and mini chips for an easy refreshing dessert.

    5. Goat cheese medallions. Individually wrapped 1 oz goat cheese, perfect for prepping salads on the go.

    I could go on and on, and I am probably forgetting something, but I think those are my top five. I am so glad you got a TJ's near you, it's amazing!!

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    1. One more, because I know you make mini quinoa cups: the Organic Tricolor Quinoa. I love it.

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    2. Ohmygod. How could I forget? Their Fiberful Fruit leathers are my go-to snack during the workday. Ok, I am really done now. I am sorry.

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  48. I am VERY into their Chook Shed Shiraz ($7.99) and Prosecco ($4.99.) Other staples include their salsa verde, frozen garlic naan, bruschetta, frozen tuna steaks for my husband, hummus guac and don't even get me started on their carrot cake whoopie pies!

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happy little comments!