Friday, June 13, 2014

Trader Joe's, be still my heart

Grocery shopping used to be my most dismal and ho-hum errand - it was dreaded and mind-numbing. Thanks to Trader Joe's coming to our neighborhood a couple years ago it is now the highlight of my Monday - bring on the grocery shopping!!! Their quirky and energetic atmosphere make shopping fun and I appreciate their healthy, organic options at super low prices. We now do about 75% of our shopping at Trader Joe's and I don't miss my old store one bit - the remaining 25% is shared at our local farmer's market and Whole Foods and Costco. Trader Joe's is close to perfection in my eyes, but they do sell lots of junk food (especially the frozen pre-made meals), so it is still important to check the ingredients. Stick with the whole, real foods and the low processed options - you can't go wrong! I planned to do a top ten list, but that wasn't nearly enough - here are some of the reasons I'm crazy about Trader Joe's:
  1. First and foremost, SAMPLES! I usually head straight to the sample kitchen at the back of the store and enjoy a cup of coffee (with soy creamer and organic coconut sugar or stevia) and try out their goodies. I've discovered so many great products this way - perfect example, who would have thought to add bruschetta to organic tomato soup?! Sometimes they even have wine samples :)
    My happy place - I always get 2nds (sometimes 3rds…)
  2. They have the coolest and most helpful employees that really know their stuff. Sometimes I wish I could stick around and hang out. Their Hawaiian shirts make me happy and help me remember to buy pineapple :)
  3. Trader Joe's is very involved in the community, especially at food banks. In 2013 the company donated more than $260 million dollars of product to food banks - awesome!
  4. The majority of their cans are BPA free, which is a HUGE DEAL! (except for mandarins, hatch chilies, artichokes, sardines, crab, cherrystone clams, oysters). In my researching the exceptions I learned that their receipts are also BPA free, so I don't have to refuse them all the time now :)
  5. PRICE PRICE PRICE!!! Trader Joe's blows other grocery stores away and makes buying organic doable for my family. Perfect example: Applegate Organic Smoked Turkey is $3.99 at Trader Joe's and $7.49 at Harris Teeter for the EXACT same thing. No marketing gimmicks or sales - they offer low prices all the time. Checking out isn't painful like at other stores! 
  6. NO synthetic colors, NO artificial flavors, NO artificial preservatives, NO MSG, NO added trans fats, and drum roll please - NO GMOS in their Trader Joe's brand products!!! I'm going to repeat that last bit - NO GMOS!!
  7. Love the music and I find myself singing out loud all the time - this morning they played two favorites back to back: ABBA's "Waterloo" and Britney's "Hit Me Baby One More Time" - I was in heaven!
  8. Trader Joe's is THE place to buy specialty products like nuts, dried fruits, chocolate and their cheese selection can't be beat.
  9. They make shopping with little ones fun! Olivia starts chanting "two cookies" as soon as we start pulling into the parking deck - they're organic, very low sugar cookies too, big bonus. She loves the stickers (I love them too, especially the seasonal ones!) and they're all over her carseat. When she gets a little older I know she'll have fun with the treasure hunt.
    Happy shopper!
  10. I appreciate how they have products labeled Vegan, Vegetarian, Gluten Free, Kosher, Low Fat or Low Sodium - makes shopping with restrictions easy.
  11. My husband drank "Chock Full of Nuts" exclusively for like 25 years and switched once he tried  TJ's organic free-trade Cafe Pajaro blend - DELICIOUS!!! We're absolutely hooked and coffee gourmands I know agree!
  12. Their wine department is amazing - the prices can't be beat and unbeatable support and advice from staff experts. As a wine unconnoisseur I really appreciate the descriptions and employee favorites - I've gotten several great bottles for $5 or less! They also have several organic options that I'm anxious to try out - check out the blog Trader Joe's Wine Guy for tips and suggestions.
    My favorite aisle - the reds!
  13. I'm vegetarian, but think it's awesome that they offer antibiotic free meat and poultry. All of their dairy is also free of bovine growth hormone.
  14. My new favorite place to buy cards - wonderful designs for only $.99!! Many of them remind me of the gorgeous designs at Rifle Paper Company, which start at $4.50 each.
    High quality paper, darling designs and $.99 = total no-brainer!
  15. I appreciate their "no questions asked" policy on returns - they will return absolutely anything for any reason. Harris Teeter has given me grief before when an item I bought doesn't show up on my VIC card records - such a hassle.
  16. I'm always running into my friends - great minds shop alike :)
  17. Next to my favorite farmer's market florist, Trader Joe's is my go-to for beautiful blooms at crazy cheap prices. I love their outdoor display!
  18. Trader Joe's treats their employees REALLY well - part time employees can earn $20/hour with FULL benefits and managers can make $130,000. Not too shabby!
  19. A typical grocery store stocks over 50,000 items while Trader Joe's carries only 4,000 - this really helps me out since I will contemplate peanut butters for 15 minutes.
  20. Trader Joe's is committed to sustainable and responsible sources for their seafood and refuse to sell species condemned by environmental groups. Greenpeace approves and they are now using their buying power to leverage change in the seafood industry.
  21. Whenever I need to indulge myself their maple cookies, cinnamon almonds, and kettle corn do the trick every time. It's hard not to add them to my cart every visit - only special treats!
  22. Trader Joe's has some seriously delicious yummy goodies and I have to just keep on walking' - we don't keep sweets in our house because of complete lack of control. However, when I do need to indulge myself their maple cookies, cinnamon almonds, and kettle corn do the trick every time. It's hard not to add them to my cart every visit - only special treats!
    My friend Julie introduced these to me several years ago and they're one of my most special of all treats - I can't make eye contact when I walk past their spot on the bottom shelf in the nuts section, its just too much.
There are several items that make it into our cart every week and many goodies that we always keep stocked in the pantry - here are our favorites!
  • FRUIT: Organic raspberries, Organic grapes (not often stocked), Pineapple, Mangoes, Grapefruit, Bag of organic Bartlett pears (these take about a week to ripen, but are SO TASTY!),  organic apples (varies - Granny Smith or Gala), bananas ($.19 each!), bag of lemons, bag of limes, ginger
  • VEGETABLES: organic spinach, organic power greens (kale, chard, spinach mix), organic broccoli, cauliflower, organic celery, avocados, organic cherry tomatoes, bag of yellow onions, shallots
  • DAIRY/MILK SUBS: organic shredded mozzarella, their soy cheese blend is actually pretty good!, unsweetened almond milk, unsweetened coconut milk, 
  • SPECIALTY: 50% salted cashews, Brazilian nuts, organic Thompson raisins, organic cranberries, raw sunflower seeds, raw pumpkin seeds, Medjool dates, dried cherries,
  • BREAD: Ezekiel whole wheat loaf, whole wheat homemade tortillas
  • CEREAL: Joe's O's, Shredded Bite Size Wheats (these are SO good and have no sugar!), Crisp Rice Cereal (so much better than Rice Krispies!), Barbara's Peanut Butter Puffins for a treat (they are now non-GMO, Barbara's lost a huge lawsuit because they claimed to be all-natural yet used genetically modified ingredients), rolled oats
  • STAPLES: organic black beans, organic chickpeas, white kidney beans, lentils, organic bread crumbs, panko bread crumbs, Cafe Pajaro organic free-trade coffee, organic ketchup (you won't believe how much better it tastes than Heinz and for only $1.99!!), multigrain pancake mix (for "Daddy-cakes" every Saturday morning), Just Almond Meal, organic sugar, toasted sesame oil, love their Orange Muscat Champagne vinegar
  • MISC: BALELA!! (Middle Eastern chickpea salad - SO GOOD!!), they have great natural dish sponges, mango shaving cream has been a favorite for years, aloe vera juice, tofu and tempeh
  • WINE!! Love their Proseccos and you can't go wrong with the $6 Zonin. I'm always trying new reds and have been stuck on Pinots and Malbecs for a while now - going to start trying out their organic options. 

1 comment:

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