Trader Joe’s Buys XI

Back in the spring, one of the hardest transitions to quarantine life was giving up weekly trips to Trader Joe’s. The locations nera us were notoriously busy at all hours we were more comfortable getting our groceries delivered early on in the pandemic. I think we went about 9 weeks between TJ’s trips? I remember the “last one” when we tried to get as much as we could carry on the mile walk home, and I practically giddy to return once I felt comfortable to do so!

Thankfully we’ve been going much more regularly these days (if not every week, then every other week) and it’s meant picking up so many tried and true favorites and discovering some gems from their new arrivals. Here’s a new batch of favorites!

CACIO E PEPE RAVIOLI: TJ’s has great refrigerated pastas and this is a new arrival in that department. It’s so good and I’m planning on keeping a package in the fridge at all times. You could add red sauce, but we had it with good olive oil, freshly grated parm, and black pepper and it was perfect!

STRAWBERRY NON-DAIRY OAT FROZEN DESSERT: In a continued effort to cut down on dairy, I’ve been dabbling in picking up dairy-free ice cream options whenever something looks appealing. The downside is they’re generally on the pricier side, but TJ’s makes them as affordable as possible. This strawberry oat one is surprisingly good! I like the varied texture and I think it’s as close to non-dairy tasting as possible.

RED LENTIL SEDANINI: This has been our go-to pasta lately…it’s a little grittier than normal pasta (probably due to the lentil flavor) but a really good substitute if you’re looking for something gluten free and packed with protein + fiber.

EVERYTHING BUT THE ELOTE SEASONING BLEND: We literally have a shelf of TJ’s spices and Everything But the Elote certainly has been getting more use than most others these days. We regularly add it to quesadillas (made at least weekly) but it would be great on eggs, chicken, and corn, too!

SPARKLING BLACK TEA WITH PEACH: Much like the refrigerated pastas, another TJ’s strength is their novelty beverage selection and while a lot of them are packed with sugar and aren’t something I’d reach for regularly, the new Sparkling Black Tea with Peach Juice is an exception! It’s only 15 calories, not overly sweet, and is perfect on its own but would probably make for a great cocktail mixer, too.

ALMOND CROISSANTS: I’ve been debating buying these croissants for years and somehow kept passing them by until two weeks ago when I made the greatest decision to pick up a box. We made them for breakfast over the weekend and they’re phenomenal. You have to leave them out on the counter overnight and once they’re baked, they’re nearly bakery-quality. This will be a regular purchase–they’re the perfect weekend treat.

KUNG PAO CHICKEN MOCHI BALLS: I’d seen this app in the frozen section for a few weeks and was intrigued but also kind of skeptical. I think I saw a TJ’s fan account post saying they were delicious and decided to try them early on during quarantine. I’ve bought them regularly since and we’ll eat them as a snack or appetizer. The mochi exterior gives a unique, mildly sweet chewy texture, and the filling has a little kick!

HERBED TAHINI SAUCE: This is almost a cross between hummus and tahini and is incredible as a dip or on grain bowls! We’ll do a weekday lunch with a grain (farro or brown rice), lentils (see below), red onion, diced baby tomatoes, diced mini cucumbers, feta or goat cheese, this sauce, and pine nuts. It pairs great with the tzatziki or new labneh they have, too. It’s become a go-to and I hope they never get rid of!

STEAMED LENTILS: One of my all-time favorite discoveries! We almost always have a package of these lentils in the fridge and in addition to having a long self life, they make a great addition to salads or a side dish to proteins. They’re surprisingly flavorful and can be eaten warm or cold; basically, they’re the ideal way to get in some protein with zero prep required.

P.S. Lots more TJ’s favorites!

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