TJoes, as it is known in my house, is not so much a grocery store as it is a fringe church with its own congregation of lunatic cult members. Everyone I know who patronizes it for their weekly shop has incredibly strong, incredibly diverse ideas of what to buy and what to skip. Last week, sitting in my friend Todd’s kitchen, he read the short list of ingredients on the label of Trader Joe’s Instant Chocolate pudding with Joel-Osteenesque awe. It’s almost impossible to have a conversation with my friend Rory without her bringing up their thick-cut, French-toast-perfect Texas Toast. Like the inventory at TJoes itself, my list of must-buys is constantly evolving. As of this weekend in March, it goes something like…
Whole Wheat Hot Dog Rolls A small measure of redemption when you’re slapping a Hebrew National between the bread and calling it dinner. They have hamburger buns, too.
Pomegranate Seeds My six-year-old will eat a bowl of these for dessert. I don’t know how exactly I got this lucky, but I know enough by now not to ask questions.
Bags of Organic Chicken Breasts Whenever people tell me how prohibitively expensive it is to buy organic meat, I point them in the direction of the Trader Joe’s meat dept. At first glance, the price tag looks high, but at $7.50 a pound, only about $1.50 more than non-organic chicken breasts. My favorite feature is that each cutlet is individually wrapped so you can pull one or two out at a time for thawing — and you don’t even ick up your hands.
Chocolate Dipped Bananas You can almost call one of these pops a nutritious snack, unless your kid eats only the chocolate casing and leaves the banana like my six-year-old.
Spicy Black Bean Dip and Chips Naturally fat-free — it has kicked my cheese-and-cracker before dinner habit. Well, “kicked” is overstating it. But it’s as tempting an option. (Also a major VIP on the snack circuit.)
All Natural Peanut Butter (Lightly Salted) I was a Skippy devotee and so were my kids until about five years ago when I realized the amount of peanut butter (read: corn syrup) we consumed in one week was not something to be proud of. It was relatively painless to transition the house to this one which actually tastes like peanuts. Once you eat it regularly enough, he sugar-laden lot will be impossible to eat.
Charmingly Chewy Oatmeal Raisin Cookies It’s ridiculous that they call these cookies. It is basically a box of barely cooked dough. Which happens to be exactly how I love my oatmeal raisins. They are also bite size, which makes them good for lunches and small-potato bribes (i.e. I’ll give you a cookie if you take out the dog?)