What to Buy at Trader Joe’s

June 5, 2007

After weeks of surveying, shopping, and tasting we created an “insider’s” list of some best finds from Trader Joe’s – foodstuff that could be served beside a homemade dish at a dinner party, put out to nibble when guests arrive unexpectedly, or craved. As you might guess, we were quite discerning; TJ’s Mandarin Orange Chicken (frozen), although often suggested as a favorite, did not stack up to a picky foodie’s palate. Of course, we couldn’t try everything in the store. Please feel free to add a few of your favorites.

Frozen Foods:
Tarte d’Alsace (a French-style flat bread with ham, caramelized onions & gruyere cheese)
Garlic Naan Bread (cook on a pizza stone)
Trader Giotto’s Meatballs, Italian-style (beef or turkey)
Pastry Bites with Feta Cheese & Caramelized Onions
Penne Pepperonata
Seasoned Frenched Rack of Lamb
Chimichurri Wild Pacific Salmon steaks (grill, broil, or pan fry)
Green Garbanzo Beans
Haricots Verts (french-style green beans)
Dorot Chopped Cilantro and Basil (cubed in 1 tsp. portions)
Organic Brown Rice
Steelcut Oatmeal- especially delicious with TJ’s Ginger Spread and heavy cream
Chunky Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough (pretty darn to close to homemade-tasting)
New York Style Cheesecake
French Apple Tart
Gone Bananas — chocolate covered frozen bananas
Frozen Fruits: all berries, cherries, pineapple, mango (much cheaper than standard stores)

Refrigerated:
Pre-cooked Baby Beluga Lentils
Whole wheat and regular Pizza Dough

Off the Shelf:
Marcona Almonds with Rosemary (great for nibbling)
Papadums chips (Yogurt & Dill and Tandoori Masala)
Soy & Flaxseed Tortilla Chips
Buttermilk Garlic Mash Chips
Banana Crisps
Dark Chocolate Roasted Pistachio Toffee
Mini Peanut Butter Cup (super creamy)
Pecan Praline Granola
Just the Clusters Ginger Almond & Cashew Granola
This Fig Walks into a Bar – (cereal bars in assorted flavors)
Cornbread Mix (delicately sweet, the edges crisp up perfectly while the middle is moist)
Wild Rice (fully cooked)
Harvest Grains Blend (Israeli couscous, red and green orzo, split dried garbanzos, red quinoa)
Lemon Pepper Papardelle Pasta
Organic Tomato and Red Pepper Soup (tetra pack)
Red Mole
Cuban Mojito Simmer Sauce
Thai Green Curry Simmer Sauce (try with pan-seared salmon; serve over steamed rice)
Ginger Spread (add to oatmeal, plain Fage yogurt, for “tea” or serve w/ cheese)

Best Bargains:
Assorted cheeses
Salsas
Nuts (large selection)
Natural Flavored Dog Biscuits (1/2 the price of Petco)
Rawhide bones for “Fido”

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