Next up on #FebruaryFavorites is Trader Joe’s. The #1 reason I go to Trader Joe’s is for the flowers. I love their flowers. They have a really good to great selection (depending on the actual store) at unbeatable prices. Fresh flowers make me happy. But, if I am going to splurge on the indulgence I need to get a deal.
I always have at least one orchid in my house. I know what you are thinking, “Orchids are so expensive!” But, I can get a beautiful orchid at Trader Joe’s for $13 and it will last for at least a month, often closer to two. When you cost average that, it’s a bargain. I also love their tulips. You can get 10 stems for $5. And I am never so happy as when I can find calla lily’s! They also last a really long time. There are many other reasons to go to Trader Joe’s but the flowers can’t be beat! Just check out a few of these beauties.
Kind of piggy backing off of the fresh flowers… I love their fresh herbs. I plant them in pots over the summer but keep the little ones on my kitchen window ledge for winter. I cannot find potted fresh herbs in winter anywhere other than Trader Joe’s. I love being able to grab just a little fresh basil or parsley when I need it. Of course, if I need a lot I will buy the prepackaged fresh basil or parsley but I don’t usually need a lot for a garnish. It is just so nice to have it on hand!
There are many reasons to go to Trader Joe’s besides the flowers and herbs. They also have great prices on staples like milk, eggs and produce. They have a beautiful selection and I feel like so many people shop there it is always fresh. We don’t have parsnips often but when we do, I’m getting them from Trader Joe’s.
If I’m making clotted cream I need to find heavy cream that isn’t “ultra pasteurized.” It can be pasteurized, just not “ultra.” The only place I can find that is Trader Joe’s!
Oh, and their butter is delicious too! Their butter is more of a half stick shape even though it is a full 8oz. I use unsalted butter for pretty much everything. However, I love salted butter on toast. Their delicious and tiny shaped salted butter fits perfectly in my favorite butter dish!
As you will know from reading my cookbook, their Teeny Tiny Potatoes are some of my favorite things ever. I have two ways to cook them just in the cookbook alone (pg. 81)! I will make a “special trip” for Trader Joe’s Teeny Tiny Potatoes.
I love soup! Off the top of my head I can’t think of a soup I don’t like. And I fully stand behind every single one listed in my cookbook and on this blog. But, there is something about good old Campbell’s Tomato Soup. Make it with a can of milk, add a grilled cheese sandwich and escape into comfort food bliss. I did think that, at least, until I was forced to eat Trader Joe’s Tomato and Roasted Red Pepper Soup. I don’t like peppers. No, not even red peppers. But, I was at someone else’s house and that is what they were serving. I will never go back. It just has a better flavor (but doesn’t taste like peppers). The simplicity alone is enough for the switch. Pour in mug, heat in microwave, drink from mug. I love it!!! If I really want to spoil myself I will pair with some grilled cheese dippers.
Speaking of cheese, I buy most of mine at Aldi because I am there most often. That being said, I LOVE Trader Joe’s cheeses. They have a huge selection at great prices. If I am looking for something special, this is where I’m coming. I will always buy burrata and Boursin at Trader Joe’s because the prices are SO MUCH better than at the “regular” grocery store. One of my new favorite finds are these mini brie bites. They are a bit pricey but they come in handy for school snacks or anytime people don’t want to share utensils… like say… during a pandemic.
What goes better with cheese than bread? The organic baguette is only $2 and is the best thing ever. You don’t even need to heat it up, it is delicious just as it is. You can heat it up but you don’t NEED to. I love to serve it at dinner or in little slices to put on a platter. This is my favorite baguette I have ever purchased. And my sister told me about it… thanks sister!
There are other great things at Trader Joe’s to add to your big platter. I will also make a special trip to this store for nuts and figs. We love their Marcona Almonds, both the Truffle and Rosemary. They both seem to fit for different occasions. I probably like the truffle a bit more but I think my husband likes the rosemary a bit more. Unfortunately, they don’t carry plain Marcona almonds. You are going to have to choose (but you can’t choose wrong). And figs! We love their dried Black Mission Figs and their Fig Butter (same as fig jam). Can you have too many versions of figs on one platter? I don’t think so.
Ok, now on to other products I love for no specific reason. These might be more specific to our tastes but I HIGHLY recommend them. First up and everyone’s favorite is Trader Joe’s Mandarin Orange Chicken. When I say everyone’s favorite I don’t mean in my family. I mean like…in the world. This might be their best seller. We tried it for the first time a couple weeks ago. Why did we wait so long? I have no idea. But I felt it would be an injustice to discuss Trader Joe’s without discussing their orange chicken. We were going to love it or hate it and I needed to let you know either way. We Loved It! I did use the skillet method of cooking because I was using both the oven and the microwave for other things. I also left the sauce on the side because people in my house can be weird about sauces. The skillet method was super easy and I can’t wait to make it again. I’m going to go buy like 4 bags for those occasions when you just can’t possibly think about dinner. I am so excited about this find.
On the same night we had the orange chicken, we tried the Vegetable Fried Rice and the Pork Gyoza Pot Stickers. The fried rice I made in the microwave. It was fine but definitely not a favorite. In the future I will probably just make white rice to go with the orange chicken. I steamed the pot stickers in my steam oven. BEST! THINGS! EVER! I don’t know why the orange chicken is getting all the accolades when these pot stickers exist. We love potstickers from restaurants and usually get them fried. I will never order pot stickers for delivery again. I will just always have a bag of these in the freezer and make them myself. That is how good they are. And, they are delicious dipped in the orange chicken sauce too (since we are serving ours on the side anyway) or soy sauce or just on their own. I want some right now!
If you want a salad to go with your Asian theme night try this one out! I love it! I eat the entire thing myself for lunch quite often, oops.
Crispy Potato Hash Browns. I alluded to these in another blog post at some point. My sister recently introduced me to them. Do you like McDonalds hash browns or the ones they used to serve in the elementary school cafeteria? Well, here you go! Pop them in the oven, flip halfway through and enjoy! We have breakfast for dinner every Thursday night and I would venture these will be present most Thursday’s from here on out. And probably once every weekend.
When our kitchen detonated in 2019 we were kitchenless for a very, very long time. We had a microwave. Some of my favorites to come out of that were the Gnocchi Gorgonzola and Asparagus Risotto. Super easy and delicious. I love adding leftover chicken to the gnocci gorgonzola and you have a complete meal. I liked the mushroom risotto too and the veggie polenta. They may not be for everyone but they helped me get through a tough time.
Plantain Chips. My friend Caron first told me about these when I originally posted the recipe for my Cuban Sandwich. Well, I bought them then and they have always been in the house since. They were Whole30 approved too so it was a good snack while I was torturing myself. I love them! I know not everyone will but I recommend you give them a try. They are especially great with the Mild Cantina Style Salsa from Aldi. It’s a match made in heaven (just too bad they aren’t at the same store).
Panetonne. I don’t have a picture; they only carry it at Christmas. I stupidly only bought one. I should have bought several and put them in the freezer. They are $5 for a GIANT panetonne! They are amazing and you shouldn’t have a holiday without them. I even pointed out to the cashier that they should also really carry them at Easter. That is how old I am. I do stuff like that now. I’m sad about it too.
Hold The Cone Ice Cream Cones. These were also introduced to me by my sister; I should have just had her write this blog. They are the perfect little sweet treat. Really tiny so they satisfy a craving without any guilt. That includes guilt for letting my kids eat them. I really like the vanilla ones so much I don’t think we need to try the other flavors.
I could keep going but dessert seems like a good place to end with my “give it a try” list.
Be warned, just as with any store there are things I don’t like. I don’t like their puff pastry. I was all excited about it at first; did an entire post on it because it is an “all butter” puff pastry. It is not good. I don’t like it. I don’t like their frozen mashed potatoes. I needed a quick mashed potato and was at the store. An employee told me they were great. I disagree. And I don’t like the spinach artichoke dip. Everyone loves it. This is just me. I want it to be hearty and thick; this is too thin for my liking.
So, what do you think. Do you have other favorites you want to share. Do you disagree with some of my choices? Let’s discuss.