If you’ve been following my blog for very long, you’ve heard me profess my love for a certain grocery establishment that goes by the name of Trader Joe’s. Now the Trader and I go way back. When I lived in California, I lived around the corner from a Trader Joe’s. In fact, I could walk there if I had even the slightest inkling. And I did. I had the inkling a lot. Because, in a nutshell, Trader Joe’s is the best thing ever.
Good news, guys. After many long conversations and nights spent crunching the numbers with the Trader, I finally wore him down and he agreed to make a move to Colorado! Unfortunately, the first store was in Boulder which is not, shall we say, close to my home. (I withheld my gold star.) The second store was in Denver. (Close, but still not gold star worthy.) Nevertheless, I faithfully made a trip up to Denver every 6-8 weeks to stock up on the essentials that I had previously been denied. But at long last, Joe couldn’t stand being without those gold stars and, I’m proud to say that we now have our VERY FIRST Trader Joe’s store in Colorado Springs! Can I get a what-what?
(I’m making a mental note of those of you that would not “what-what” with me.)
Even better news? Trader Joe’s is a hop, skip, and a long jump away from my church. And I’d like you all to know that I was really good at the long jump in grade school. Here’s proof. But don’t be distracted by my track prowess, let’s stick to the subject at hand. It is now ever so convenient for me to make a quick stop at TJ’s after church, and I have to say that even though Sundays are pretty spectacular on their own, this pushes the party right over the top. I almost cannot believe my good luck! #blessed
So you can understand why it stuns me that some people here (A) do not know what Trader Joe’s is and (B) don’t care. Since marketing is in my blood, I feel it is my sworn duty to regale these people with my love for TJ’s. When I launch into my rave, though, I inevitably get two questions:
1. Why do you like it so much?
2. What items are your favorites to buy?
And all the things flood my head and I cannot put together a coherent statement if all the crunchy speculoos cookie butter in the world depended on it. Herewith is my answer to these all-important queries. Are you ready?
Why do you like it so much?
Listen, I understand that at the end of the day this is just a grocery store. They don’t give away diamonds and money trees, so let’s just ground our expectations in reality for a minute, if we could? And people that shop at major supermarkets complain that they can’t get all their items at Trader Joe’s. Okay, yes. That is valid. But here’s why I heart Trader Joe’s:
- The fun specialty items. The majority of the store is stocked with their own brand items. The frozen meals are exactly the right serving size so that I won’t be eating them for weeks on end, they are easy to prepare, and they are different from what you could get at a normal supermarket. And the best part is that unlike Whole Foods, you won’t have to spend your whole paycheck to load up your cart with said items.
- All the snackage. You guys…SO MANY SNACKING OPTIONS! I literally cannot even tell you how many amazing snack choices they have – from dried fruit that doesn’t normally live on the shelves at other mainstream supermarkets, to rosemary raisin crackers, and chocolate covered sunflower seeds. It’s a fun adventure in the making. (Tip: You will find most of the sweet snacking options in the counters over the freezer.)
- The packaging. I’m a sucker for good packaging, I’ll admit it straight up. But, seriously, things just taste better when they are in cute packages…amiright, people?
- The charming shopping experience. The decor! The super-friendly staff! The bell system instead of a PA system! The small-town feel! It’s just the best. You aren’t a number in a TJ’s. You’re a person.
- Nostalgia. This, too, plays a part in why I love this place. When I was trying to make my way in the world, living with three roommates in a two-bedroom apartment and learning how to navigate a kitchen with only one drawer, Trader Joe’s had my back. The easy-to-create meals made me feel like a pulled-together adult at a time when the world was a new and scary place. And that sense of accomplishment never really left me.
- The reasonably-priced flower selection. Flowers are just the best. They are happy little reminders that life is bright and colorful and full of hope. Since I’m often tempted to buy flowers but don’t because of the expense, this is a big perk to me.
These are just my favorite things about Trader Joe’s. BuzzFeed has a lot more.
What items are your favorite to buy?
It’s honestly kind of impossible to answer this question because it really depends on the time of year and what my shopping needs are. But here are a few things that have been known to take up residence in my shopping cart:
- Jasmine rice. One box comes with 3 frozen bags of cooked rice. You keep it in the freezer and pull out a bag when needed. Three minutes in the microwave and you have 2-3 servings of rice for your meal, cooked to the perfect restaurant-style consistency. This is a staple in my freezer because it can be the basis for a lot of different meals. For the more adventurous among you, they have other varieties of rice and also frozen quinoa.
- Veggies of all kinds. But unlike a traditional supermarket, I have options like Parisian carrots or julienned root vegetables or grilled asparagus. Variety. It’s the spice of life, I swear it.
- Dips. I’m a huge fan of their humus dip, but also the spinach artichoke dip. It’s perfect to keep on hand for hosting friends for an impromptu get-together or a last minute run-out-the-door snack for an event you’re attending. It’s delicious and also keeps well since it’s frozen.
- The garlic salsa. Honestly, I forgot how much I loved this salsa but it reminds me every time I crack open the jar. I don’t actually “crack” it open, though. That’d be dangerous. It is a little LIKE crack, though. ‘Cause it’s addictive. I think we’re done here.
- Unique items to spice up my recipes. For instance, I recently made homemade granola bars that called for raisins and flax seed meal. I found blueberry flax seed meal at TJ’s along with a really fun blend of dried raisin-like fruit. Everyone wins.
- Flavorful and healthy dinner ideas. There are a lot of options on this front, but one of my new favorite finds is the chile lime chicken burger. A little salted sliced avocado on this baby and you don’t even need a bun!
There’s more, but everyone has different preferences, so my suggestion to you is to go, wander, and see what catches your eye. You won’t be sorry.
Whew! I’ve even worn myself out with this love-fest. If you made it to the end of this post, I’ll give you a gold star, too. And you know I don’t just hand them out willy nilly!