Something that I've enjoyed as an adult is grocery shopping. I like walking around and perusing the aisles, looking through the produce, reading labels. It's just enjoyable!
I'm also an avid price checker. I get it from my mom. :) I'm not as thrifty as her and I've learned there are particular items that I'm willing to pay more for (brand name cheese is soooo much better than the store brand!). And because of my frugal-ness, I don't like to shop at fancy stores like Whole Foods or World Market, even though I like the idea of less processed foods and fair trade. So that's where my love affair with Trader Joes began.
I was surprised to see comparable prices on free trade and organic produce. They offer free-range, cage free meat options that are, again, comparable. The produce is (in my opinion) far superior and isn't covered with water! I absolutely hate my produce being soaked when I pick it up in Food Lion! And then there are other small things that pushed Trader Joes over the top for me... the friendly/available employees, fewer options so I don't feel overwhelmed, paper bags, their check out system... I could do a top 5 post just about why I like Trader Joes! Haha. Maybe that will be one in the future! But this one is all about FOOD.
I'm a pretty picky eater and so when I find products that I love, I stick to them! So here are my top 5 favorites Trader Joes specific products:
5. Lite Mozzarella Shredded Cheese
Shredded cheese is one of those items that I wish I could live without because I like the idea of shredding my own cheese. But have you tried shredding mozzarella to put on a pizza? It's the worst! I'm not a fan of plopping a round ball of cheese on pizzas or spreading slices of a block across the dough, so I stick to the nice, even shredded cheese. Haha. This cheese is delicious and doesn't have the visible sawdust like other brands. I prefer the lite cheese because of the fewer calories and it's just physically "lighter" than the regular stuff making it perfect for the top of a pizza!
4. Boneless Skinless All-Natural Chicken Breasts
This is where my picky palate comes into play. I'm not a huge meat person, but do eat some chicken. And since I'm not a big meat eater, I don't like cleaning meat, cutting it... really anything while it's in the raw form. Eh. But the chicken from Trader Joes is easier to clean and just cooks better! It's more moist and tender and Matt vouches for it too! He can actually tell when I buy chicken from a different store, haha. So if I don't make it to Trader Joes, we typically don't have chicken.
3. Unsweetened Coconut Milk
In my adult years, I've developed a slight lactose-intolerance with milk. Cheese, yogurt, and most ice creams are fine; it's just milk that makes my stomach hurt! So I've explored the world of different milks: almond milk, cashew milk, lactose-free milk. And my favorite of the milks is unsweetened coconut milk! I love it in things like cereal and with cookies (it's AWESOME with Samoas!). But because it's unsweetened, it can even go in things like mashed potatoes, pasta sauces, and soups! I particularly like the Trader Joes coconut milk for this reason! Silk and Breeze brand milks are good, but they have a stronger coconut flavor that make it a poor choice for all-around cooking. The Trader Joes brand isn't as heavy on the coconut flavor and it's priced better!
2. Basmati Indian Rice
Matt and I eat a good amount of rice. And we love this basmati rice. It reminds me of regular long grain white rice, but this is just better! It isn't nearly as sticky as regular rice and the directions even help you decide how dry or wet you want your rice. It's awesome and delicious, and again the price is right! I don't buy any other rice anymore.
1. Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups
You guys. One of the things I love about Trader Joes is their large selection of chocolate covered fruits, nuts, and other goodies. These peanut butter cups are the best. I'm a huge fan of dark chocolate and like to have a little something sweet after dinner. This has become the perfect treat. I actually don't really like regular Reese cups anymore because compared to these they are too sweet and artificial tasting. There's just something about this particular peanut butter filling with the dark chocolate that has me hooked. I limit myself to one a day after dinner, so this massive container lasts me a while!
I hope you enjoyed the latest installment of top 5. I want to throw a quick disclaimer in here and say that I know Trader Joes is not perfect! I recognize they are still a business trying to sell a product and make a profit. I know their products can still be processed and misleading. And their business practices can be dishonest and manipulative. This post is just a reflection of my experiences with their products and how I've enjoyed them. :)
All photos taken with my iphone!