Earlier this week I paid my first-ever visit to Trader Joe’s. I’d heard quite a bit of gushing over Trader Joe’s, and I’d also heard that they’ve got plenty of yummy mostly-already-prepared products. That was excellent for this week, since Cute W was traveling. First, I got lost, because my GPS told me that it would be on my left when it was actually on my right. You would think that I’d be able to locate a large-ish retail establishment on Wolf Road, but that would be based on an expectation that I have a normal or at least not particularly sub-normal sense of direction. Alas, that isn’t the case.
Anyway, I got there. And it was lovely, lovely, lovely with flowers and pretty produce. It felt more like a gift shop than a grocery store. Here’s the thing: I was overwhelmed and therefore unable to think rationally. I’m pretty methodical about my grocery shopping. Like, I’ve made my own list of frequently-purchased brands and visited multiple stores within one week to do price comparisons (which I tend not to report on the blog, because Wal-Mart always wins and then I get a little depressed, even though the guy on Food, Inc. said that I could shop there as long as I promise to buy organic so that I can cause a retail revolution of some sort. I’m paraphrasing. I forget, but it was something like that). Anyway, I didn’t comparison-shop at Trader Joe’s. I just arrived and picked up random items that seemed enticing. Here are a few of them.
First, freeze-dried fruit. I am a sucker for freeze-dried fruit, but it’s expensive. Santa Claus has been putting freeze-dried cherries from Just Tomatoes in my stocking for years–they’re some of my favorite things to eat ever. So I was super-excited to see that Target now carries freeze-dried fruit and just as glad to see the stuff at Trader Joe’s. I bought strawberry, raspberry, and mango. All YUM, thank you very much.
I tried some apple granola cereal that was fine, although not a knock-out.
I loved the Roasted Red Pepper & Artichoke Tapenade, especially on some Stacy’s Pita Crisps. My children, however, would not even taste it. Infuriating, since J is so obsessed with artichokes that she has a framed drawing of an artichoke hanging in her room and her own fake artichoke toy, and both girls love to eat the little red things stuffed into green olives but refuse to relate those things in any way to roasted red peppers. Argh. Whatever: more for me.
We all thought that the 100% juice Cherry Cider was decent, but inferior to Hannaford’s store-brand 100% cherry juice. The real revelation, for me, was the bag of Sesame Honey Almonds. I love them. Although, when I just went to look at the bag I realized that they don’t just contain honey, but also sugar, for a total of 9 grams of sugar in a quarter-cup serving size. Which is a bit of a bummer. Still, they’re a nice little protein hit (4 grams) and tasty. My kids thought that they were “eh,” which is a little sad for me. I’m always trying to shove nuts and seeds in front of them, and for some reason, they’re not particularly interested. For example, my kids don’t like peanut butter. They’ll tolerate it in small doses, but that’s as well as we do. But I’d keep buying these sesame seed-coated nuts for myself: they’re surprisingly filling.
All of us girls loved the Trader Joe’s frozen Indian food. The Chicken Tikka Masala was a huge hit, and they both liked a chickpea dish, too (it’s not in the photo). Next time Cute W’s out of town, I know I could get them these and be super-popular all evening. After Indian Night, we had Chinese Night another evening. We got some dumplings that the girls fought over, but the Shrimp Bao was not popular (even though it wasn’t too spicy, as I’d feared). I loved the Asian Gyoza Dipping Sauce–my girls never even tried it. We tried the Edamame Nuggets, with tofu, edamame, carrots, and peas, and both girls seemed to like them (M said, “They taste like chicken-y eggs”), but no one ate more than a few, and both turned up their noses when offered them as leftovers.
I also bought the Turkey Corn Dogs. I’ve never understood the whole corn dog thing. It’s funny: I like corn and corn muffins, but Fritos and other corny items literally make me gag. My children, however, are inclined to find anything presented to them on a stick alluring, and they love Corn Dogs. These seemed marginally better for one’s body than the average Corn Dog, but, of course, the healthfulness measure of any Corn Dog has got to be a pretty low bar, right?
So at this point, I’ll have to ask for guidance. It seems like there’s stuff at Trader Joe’s that is unbelievably delicious and inspires fan club-level passion, and other items that. . . don’t. But you all know that I’m not a shopper, and it’s a bit of a schlep for me. So, my next Trader Joe’s shopping list will include tapenade, those sesame almond things, and stacks and stacks of Chicken Tikka Masala. What else am I missing that we simply must try? And has anyone done comparison shopping and can tell me what’s a good deal here compared to the many other grocery options in the Capital District? Because comparison-shopping groceries makes me feel like raggedy-ass June Cleaver, and I would oh-so-much rather do. . . . well, almost anything else.