The Trader Joe’s products that I (almost) can’t live without

 I’m getting ready to leave the States, and having worked part-time at Trader Joe’s for almost two years now I have learned to appreciate the products we sell here. Not only do they taste great, but they’re good for you, with no additives and an ingredient list you can actually read.

One of the perks of working at TJ’s is the almost-constant supply of snacks and bimonthly staff tastings. Yes, part of our job is actually to eat food! They do this so the staff can be knowledgeable about the various products in the store. This sounds great, but an unfortunate consequence of being in a grocery store for twenty hours a week is that you start to see food, think food, and dream about food. During slow times at work, you might find the employees in the back room tasting various combinations of products…in doing this we have landed on some positively scrumptious combinations. Willy Wonka, you’d better watch out!

Today I share my top ten Trader Joe’s products and pairings – the foods that I will truly miss next year. Please note that this list is completely subjective, especialy subject to my sweet tooth :-) Enjoy!

Scrumptious Trader Joe’s Products

 10. Vegetarian – Soy chorizo ($1.99)
Super delicious in a burrito or stir-fry!

9. Snack – Seaweed snacks ($.99) 
Crunchy deliciousness and only 80 calories a pack. People come in and buy these by the dozens. We carry a new wasabi flavor too.

8. Alcohol – Shaw ($2.99 per bottle)
Decent wine for an amazing price – This list wouldn’t be complete without the bestselling wine in America

7.  Staple Food – Raw crunchy almond butter ($4.99)
I’ve absolutely fallen in love with our almond butter.The raw almonds have such a distinct flavor. Great on toast and paired with the honey apple butter.

6. For the trail – Buffalo jerky ($5.99)
This jerky is tenderer than beef jerky; ours has the perfect blend of sweet and spicy as well as the protein you need to get you up the trail!

5. Pizza – Arugula pizza ($4.29)
Our tastiest pizza. A superb combination of five different cheeses. Classic and delicious.

4. Chocolate – French truffles ($2.99)
Melt-in-your-mouth rich chocolately goodness that is sure to satisfy your deepest cravings. Only served during the holidays so be sure to stock up!

3. Nuts – Marcona almonds ($4.49)
Marcona almonds are known as the world’s best almonds. Ours are grown on the sandy shores of the Meditteranean coast of Spain and are seriously the best nuts I’ve ever tasted.

2. Good for you – Super Spinach Salad (3.99)
There’s nothing better than this salad on a hot day. Quinoa, Carrots, Cranberries, Chickpeas, Edamame, Tomato, Pumpkin Seeds, Spinach and a Carrot Ginger Dressing. Yummy!

1. Dairy – Chocolate European Style Yogurt ($.99)
 I have this yogurt to “cleanse my pallet” after my lunch meal on my work break almost every day. It’s European style which means it’s creamier than regular yogurt, and since it’s yogurt, you don’t have to feel guilty eating it.

And now…drumroll please…

The Best Trader Joe’s Pairings

10. Breakfast of champions – Quick Cook Steel Cut Oats ($3.49) cooked with canned coconut milk ($.99/can) stirred with Triple Fruit Treat ($3.49) and sprinkled with chopped walnuts ($5.99/pound)
I have this breakfast nearly every morning before I go out rowing. The sweet fruit gets you going and the protein gives you energy all the way through your workout. It’s a great way to start out your day!

9. On the grill – Jalapeno Chicken Sausage ($3.99) with fire roasted peppers ($1.99) (jarred) on whole wheat hot dog buns ($1.99)
The Jalapeno sausages are my fav and this combo is perfect for summer outdoor grillin’.

8. Dessert – Shortcakes ($2.99) with thawed Organic mixed berry blend ($3.49) and house whip ($1.99) 
Take this to a picnic and everyone will love you. Our house whip is like cool whip but tastes better and has no fake ingredients

7. Guests over – Frozen white rufy fish ($5) cooked with chili corn salsa ($2.49) and served with side of creamy polenta with spinach and carrots ($2.99)
The mildness of the fish picks up the sweet and spicy taste of the salsa and pairs nicely with the polenta.

6. Party – Olive Oil potato chips ($1.99) with Bacon 
The Olive Oil potato chips are definitely my favorite chips, and combined with bacon, cheddar and ranch, you really can’t go wrong. Bring this to a friend’s house and you’ll be the life of the party!

Grilled Fish with Chili-Corn Salsa Photo

5. Ten-minute meal Fully Cooked Pork Carnitas ($4.99), steamed corn tortillas ($1.49) and guacamole kit ($3.49) Cheddar Ranch Dip ($3.49)
Living in Boston, it can be hard for me to find good Mexican food. That is, until I discovered Trader Joe’s Carnitas meat. It is seasoned perfectly and after only two minutes in the microwave it is juicy and tender. Whip up the guacamole kit, which has all the ingredients to make fresh guacamole, and no one will believe that it only took you ten minutes to make dinner!

4. Appetizer – Cheese and crackers (price varies)
I honestly can’t pick a favorite cheese. Trader Joe’s simply has the best deal on cheese around. Whether you’re craving gouda or brie or goat, you’ll find it all at TJ’s.

3. Ice cream – Plain frozen yogurt ($3.49) topped with Dark Morello cherries (jarred, $2.49) , hot fudge sauce ($3.49) and sliced raw almonds ($2.49

The tartness of the ice cream pairs nicely with the sweetness of the cherries. Perfect for a hot afternoon – It doesn’t have to be Sunday to enjoy an ice cream sundae!

Cookie Butter

2. New twist – Speculoos cookie butter spread ($3.69) over celery sticks ($1.79) and sprinkled with chocolate covered sunflower seeds ($2.99)
Our new cookie butter spread is simply AMAZING – it is basically just crushed up gingerbread cookies… Call me crazy, but I put it on celery sticks one afternoon. Topped with chocolate covered sunflower seeds, this pairing becomes a new twist on the classic “Ants on a Log.”

 

1. Ethnic – Frozen confetti rice ($2.99) covered with Frozen Palak Paneer ($2.99) 
Living in Boston, I’ve really gotten into eating ethnic food of all types. Our confetti rice is cooked with vegetables and lemongrass; pairs nicely with the spinach & Paneer cheese. These two together rivals any good Indian restaurant around!

Another little known-facts about Trader Joe is that you can try any product in the store – just ask a crew member!

Have a wonderful day and enjoy the great food!

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