Hello, everyone! I hope this post finds you well-rested after the weekend. Mine was spent at my parents’ home in Cleveland, and it was so nice as always. I’m a terrible blogger and failed to take any photos, so I can’t share a weekend in the life of the Chait’s (future post). Suffice it to say, you would be jealous: sitting around the kitchen drinking wine while my mom cooks a fabulous dinner, working out and eating ice cream with my dad, shopping with my mom and Lawre (my Mom’s dear friend), apple picking, sleeping. Sometimes, a girl just needs her parents and her home – even after 30 years of life!
I took this photo of Lake Erie while on a run Sunday morning. Growing up just 1/4 mile from the lake, I took for granted its beauty and openness. It took moving to Columbus for me to really appreciate a view like this:
One of the things I almost always do when I go home is shop at TJ’s. Trader Joes, that is – not TJ Maxx, although I always shop there! Although there are two TJ’s in Columbus, neither location is convenient for me, and there is one just five minutes from my parent’s house. So it just makes sense to stock up while I’m home. I started shopping at TJ’s right around the time I moved into my first apartment after college. Jackie and I would often go together, and in the event that one person couldn’t make it, we’d always ask the other person if she needed anything. Because a trip to TJ’s is not just an average trip to the grocery store – it deserves special attention.
I view Trader Joe’s as a supplement to my traditional supermarket – Giant Eagle or Kroger. In part because it’s too far to visit weekly, but mostly because it’s just a bit too small to take the place of the traditional supermarket entirely. But what it lacks in size it makes up for in value. TJ’s offers mainly private label brands, and in my mind, the Trader Joe’s brand is synonymous with unique, tasty, and affordable.
TJ’s is famous for their pre-made meals and meal starters, and while I can understand the appeal of those, I prefer to look a little deeper. As you can tell from some of my previous posts, most recently “Tofu“, I use a lot of TJ’s products in my cooking and day-to-day eating. It’s convenient and cheap, and since I do a massive stock-up trip about once every month or two, I usually have my favorite items on hand. Anyone who shops regularly at TJ’s has their favorites – the items they buy over and over. So I thought it would be fun to share my favorites – more specifically, what I purchased yesterday at my “stock-up” trip. Perhaps it will inspire you to give TJ’s a visit (like you, Tina!), or if you’re already a regular, try a new item or two.
- Fage 0% Plain Greek Yogurt: Sure, I like flavored greek yogurt, but plain is perfect for breakfast with cereal and fruit. And Fage is the best – fluffy and decadent, even in non-fat!
- Crumbled Blue Cheese
- Light String Cheese
- Caramelized Onion Cheddar Cheese: OMG
- Shredded Cheese: Light Mexican blend (for enchiladas) and pepper jack
- Cranberry Walnut Gorgonzola Salad Dressing: The little pieces of walnuts are awesome
- Eggs: Love that they are packaged in cardboard, not styrofoam
- Greens: Butter and spinach
- 96% Lean Ground Beef: I always have at least one or two in the freezer for making meatballs
- Chicken Breasts (for enchiladas)
- Frozen Peas
Non-Perishables and Shelf-Stable Produce
Clockwise from top left:
- Crunchy, Unsalted Peanut Butter: So Good, and So Cheap. Boasts a remarkably simple ingredient list: peanuts. Two jars for me, one for my co-worker Brenda (Hi, Brenda!) – she doesn’t live near a TJ’s so I always pick her up a jar when I go
- Coffee: I like their organic breakfast blend
- Flowers! Jackie and I used to buy them for each other all the time – us single gals gotta look out for each other. Cheap (those were $3.99) and brings a smile to my face when I walk in the door. Who needs a man?
- Baby Bell Peppers
- Thai Curry Sauce
- Enchilada Sauce
- Salsa Verde
- Sweet Onion
- Red Pepper (for enchiladas)
- Chocolate Chip Almond Oatmeal Cookies (a first-time purchase. I usually by the crispy oatmeal chocolate chip, but sometimes a girl’s gotta mix it up)
- Handmade Tortillas (for enchiladas)
- Dark Chocolate with Hazelnuts: THE BEST
So what’s the damage for all of the above? Just over $100. Not bad considering I bought lots of cheese (usually very expensive), some meat, coffee, and flowers! Oh, and that last chocolate bar listed? Yea, that might have been almost $5. #worthit
Not purchased yesterday, but worth mentioning:
- Chicken Sausage: I always have some in my freezer
- Frozen Organic Brown Rice (Microwavable)
- Cereal: Puffins, High Fiber, Crunchy Oats are my favorites
- Apple Cinnamon Instant Oatmeal (they claim it’s natural)
- Flavor Boosters: oils (olive and coconut), capers, kalamata olives
- Nuts: So much cheaper than the regular store. I keep mine in the freezer as they’ll last forever that way
- Frozen Fruit / Veg: I like the Berry Cherry Blend for smoothies and Frozen Broccoli (not for smoothies)
- Roasted Root Vegetable Chips: Betcha can’t eat just one
- Mac & Cheese
- Canned Soup
- The List Goes On
Note that one area that I think TJ’s lacks in is their produce selection. It tends to be small and a bit on the pricey side. It also isn’t very “green” – unnecessary packaging and ships from who-knows-where. But on weeks when I visit TJ’s, like this one, I typically by my produce there so I don’t have to make multiple grocery trips – hence the lettuce, peppers, etc.
And in case you need further proof that I really do use TJ’s products in my cooking, here are last night’s enchiladas (and tonight’s dinner and tomorrow’s lunch and on-and-on…I made TEN!):
So there you have it, folks – my Trader Joe’s secrets. So tell me – what are some of yours?