Monday, November 20, 2006

Trader Joe's--Looking for Suggestions

A little over a week ago, a Trader Joe's opened in the Milwaukee area. I had heard such wonderful things about TJ's since I entered the online world and could not WAIT to try it out.

I've been twice (the first time was on opening day and I wouldn't recommend that! craziness...) and bought several things, some which I enjoyed and others which I have not.

First, the good things:
Trader Giotto's Bruschetta in a jar (this was DIVINE as a pasta sauce and on toasted bread)
Some brand of shelf-stable gnocchi (very reasonable... like $1.29 and great texture!)
Hearth-baked Italian bread (also very good, though it had big air holes in it)
TJ's raspberry preserves (yummy, fresh raspberry taste)

I picked up some "two buck chuck" (actually $2.99 here)--a merlot and a chardonnay--and while not the best wine I've had, it was totally drinkable and inexpensive!

But the truly yucky things were:
Dark chocolate covered ginger snaps (would have been fine, but the bottoms of the cookies were this styrofoam-type material... gag!)
Organic, Free-range chicken broth (tasted like water but with a funky smell--digusting!)

While we were in the store, we tried some hummus (very garlicky and yummy) and cherry cider (good, but too pricey for my blood at $4 something). We also bought a nut and dried fruit mix for C the vegetarian, but haven't tried that yet.

So please help me! I can see the appeal and some of the things I've tried have been wonderful, but I don't want to have a lot of costly mistake purchases, either.

:) Thanks in advance...


Stefaneener said...

waaa haaa haaa. Welcome to the dark side.

Chocolate dipped pretzels and peanut butter filled choc pretzels.

Cheese tends to be inexpensive, especially organic, as does milk. Vodka pasta sauce. The whole wheat pasta is nice, not too toothy as with other whole wheat sauces. The Korma and Masala sauces are great as a crock-pot sauce over chick peas or meat and potatoes after a long day. Korma is much spicier than Masala. Actually, all the sauces that you can crock pot are big hits here. I'm just not a great saucier.

Anonymous said...

Is there a character limit on comments? :-)

First, remember that I don't have much time to cook, so we use convenience foods in order to assure that we get a decent meal on the table and eat together every night. If you're comparing boxed broth to homemade, or homemade enchilada sauce to bottled, TJs will surely lose that battle!

Some faves:

Cilantro hummus
Enchilada sauce
Garlic na'an
Yogurt jalapeno cheese
Fresh raviolis, especially the 4 cheese and Greek triangles
Peanut butter
Tuscan, Goddess and O&V salad dressings
Tomato soup in a box
Frozen rice - both plain and some of the mixes
Yogurt! (We eat a LOT of yogurt)
Frozen enchiladas for desperate nights
Flax chips
TJ's green and red salsas, the base model stuff
Canned marinara sauce (we doctor it with capers and pitted kalamata olives and sauted garlic to make it putanesca-style)
Luna bars for snacks
Cheap organic milk (although it's been getting cheaper at Safeway)

And best of all, since TJ's moved in, I don't have to go to the real grocery store more than once a month (mostly for cleaning products)!

I generally don't like TJ's produce (although we buy the lettuce in bags and cucumbers), and buy that at the farmer's market. My kids don't like their breads much. And I generally buy meats at the butcher - I like the choices better. The exception is ground beef, which I usually buy at TJ's.

Hope that helps!