My Top Ten Trader Joe’s Treasures

I have spent quite a bit of time in Canada, it is a wonderful place.  And really, they enjoy all of the luxuries (and then some) that we have in the U.S. … except for one … Trader Joe’s.  It is the only thing I miss when we spend time in the cooler north.  For those who love healthy food, new flavors to sample, and fair prices, it is pure heaven.  However, I have my limits.  Some of their convenience comes at too high of a price, and all is not always tasty at TJ’s.  They certainly have a few flops (ahem, that lifeless chicken ravioli), yet, there are some staples which I return for week after week …

My Top 10 TJ’s Treasures 

  1. Raw, Creamy, Unsalted Almond Butter ($4.99) – I love that the creamy version actually has a “raw” texture, and who can beat this price?  Competitors easily weigh in at triple the amount, and nothing beats the light sweetness of almond butter in the morning.
  2. Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips ($1.99) – These used to be $1.49, then $1.69, and now they are pushing my limits with this further increase.  Yet, for dairy-less chocolate chips (made on shared equipment) these are not only a great price, but they taste awesome.  The are also about 30% bigger than your average chocolate chip for that extra oomph of indulgence (see “chip” comparison below, TJ’s are on the right).
  3. Ginger Chews from The Ginger People ($1.69, includes about 20 sizable chews) – This “adult” candy is an injection of ginger goodness at a great price per sugary flavor punch!  Come on, we all need those daily hits of sugar?!
  4. Trader Giotto’s Multigrain Pasta: Spaghetti w/ Flax ($1.19) – We have cut back our “carb” consumption, so I no longer need to buy jumbo packs of angel hair. However, a pasta meal is still a required weekly splurge in our house … and boy was I in shock when my processed foodie of a husband fell in love with this whole-grain, flaxseed-rich pasta.  Trust me, if it gets him to eat a whole grain pasta, then the extra dimes are worth it, plus, these days, this isn’t a bad price for any wheat product.
  5. Frozen Fruit ($1.99 to $2.29) – I lump this category together as it really depends on my mood and what’s in season when I consider frozen fruit.  In general, their mango chunks, pineapple chunks, and the “trio” (mango, pineapple, papaya w/ passion fruit injection) are always a great price and perfect for whipping up a quick smoothie.
  6. Organic Brown Sugar ($2.99 for 2lbs) – I often have to remind myself why I began religiously purchasing organic brown sugar, since it isn’t yet (but probably soon) a major GMO crop. But regardless of the reason, this brown sugar is far superior to any I have ever tasted, and it comes in a resealable bag.  Unfortunately, those cheapy boxes just don’t work here in the desert where brown sugar turns into a brick within 20 minutes of air contact!
  7. Organic Bagged Carrots ($.79 per 1 lb) – When articles speak of ‘foods you should buy organic,’ carrots rarely make it into the conversation.  That’s because the Environmental Working Group hones us in on the “dirty dozen,” and carrots skate by at #13.  That’s right, they are still high on the pesticide load, and since I consume carrots daily, I figured it best to shoot for organic, and TJ’s come at a good price.
  8. Yogi Ginger Tea – While I am not one for brand loyalty, sometimes it is impossible to avoid addiction to a particular product.  At this point in my life, one of my weaknesses is this tea.  It is potent (can you tell I like ginger?) and always keeps my tummy tamed.  The price tag at my local store always says $2.49, yet it always rings up as $2.29. Either way, this is a fabulous price for this “luxury” brand of teas.
  9. Tahitian Vanilla Extract (I want to say $4.69?) – Pure vanilla extract is always worth the extra couple of bucks in my book … but in some stores, we are talking an extra 5 bucks or more!  At TJ’s the pure vanilla extracts come at a good price, and this one is my personal favorite, yet they have a few to choose from.
  10. Unsalted Peanut Butter ($1.69) – I think that is the price, but I apologize if incorrect! Most of the generic brands at my local stores contain added oils (sometimes hydrogenated) and may even possess some sugar or other ingredients within.  But this is the pure stuff, as you can tell by the extreme separation anxieties it suffers from!

 Chocolate Chip Comparison (for the record):

Honorable TJ Mentions:

  • Bananas ($.19 per nanner) – Another local store just barely beats them out in price, and of course, depending on the season and size, stores that sell them by the pound often win out.  Nonetheless, this good price offers a suitable back-up when our supplies dwindle and the quality is disappointing in other stores.
  • Bagged Salad ($1.99 per 5 ounces) – It isn’t a convenience thing for me, rather, sometimes the lettuce and greens look horrible in my local markets. Dreadfully drowned in water or dried to a browned crisp, I have to turn to the convenience side in order to get edible greens into our diets from time to time.
  • Pacific Almond Milk ($1.69 per quart) – I can often get the unsweetened version, and for a better price at another store, but when the opportunity isn’t there and my stocks are low, I pick a couple up.
  • Tuscano Marinara ($1.69) – Most of the time we make our pasta sauces from scratch, either using fresh in-season tomatoes or simple, inexpensive cans of plain tomato sauce and diced tomatoes.  But, I do try to keep a couple of convenience items on hand for emergencies, and this pasta sauce (which comes in a sizable can) is one of my favorites.  To my husband, it is alright, but I love the naturally sweet and light flavor.
  • Organic Polenta Chubs ($1.99) – Polenta chubs make for a wonderfully quick lunch. I top them with vegetables, a quick tomato sauce, or even last night’s leftovers. Since corn is a big GMO product, I stick to these, but keep them as a splurge … one chub offers about 4 servings.

Do you have any TJ’s favorites? Do tell!