Eighteen Months of Trader Joe’s

Trader Joe's

I meant to do this after Trader Joe’s had been open a year, but time slipped by, and I have only now hauled out a bag of empty Trader Joe’s boxes, saved from items I’ve bought there.  This doesn’t include things that come in bags or tubs, just those in boxes or cardboard sleeves!

This is what happens when you can’t make everything from scratch, yet crave a variety of foods.  There are all kinds of things here, some better than others.  A recurring favorite has been the Fillo Factory spinach pie (hiding behind those shrimp on the lower right), although the last time I bought it, it seemed too salty. Either they changed or my palate did.  (TJ’s also has their own version of this, but I didn’t like it as much, too bad because it was lower fat.  That’s probably why, though!)

The Apple Tarte Tatin and the Tarte aux Champignons were a disappointment, in that the crusts just wouldn’t get crisp enough for me, although a flatbread was pretty good.  The Masala burgers are excellent, I still enjoy those.  Lemon bars were so-so, I had better luck with the macaroons.  Oatmeal was great, but I bought that out of curiosity because, really, how hard is it to boil water and good oats, and then portion it in containers for work week breakfasts?

Some of my best Trader Joe finds that you don’t see here have been their frozen vegetables and sides.  Love their eggplant and zucchini “mista,” and the quinoa with sweet potato and zucchini. Ditto the sweet potato fries, although I’m trying to resist those lately.  Oven-fried potato wedges were dry and tasteless.  Arancini bites weren’t bad, but potato latkes seemed too mushy to me, although I’m not knowledgeable about them.

Entrées like boneless short ribs and pulled chicken breast were worth a try, but not seconds. I liked their “fresh” pork carnitas from when they first opened, but haven’t found those again.  I do find their Mexican foods are usually decent, and periodically buy tamales, and, occasionally, flautas. A lot of those items are too salty though.  Trader Joe’s isn’t as bad as a lot of private label brands on salt, but they could do better on some of the ethnic items.  Since they are usually very seasoned, or downright spicy, they really don’t need as much salt, in my opinion.

Now I’ll take these boxes out to the recycling bin – yay!

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