Warming up to Trader Joe’s

The first couple times I went to Trader Joe’s I really didn’t get what all the fuss was about. I found it crowded, difficult to find things, and didn’t really see much I wanted that I couldn’t get somewhere else, in some cases for the same price or cheaper.

Sarah pointed out that it’s a good place if you’re looking for something very particular that is hard to find elsewhere. Also, that those particular items, which would normally be terribly expensive because they are hard to find, are actually reasonably priced. This coupled with the glowing recommendation from Chef Nanci Wokas who presented the cooking class I took Monday night (and who also apparently drove her RV to NOLA to cook for people after Katrina) convinced me to give it another shot.

I’d considered that she may have been hired for product endorsement. If so, it worked! Go product endorsement!

As evidenced by many of my posts, I’ve been doing a lot more cooking lately and have expanded my culinary horizons. Therefore, I’ve become one who is looking for those ingredients you don’t find at your local mega-supermarket. Yesterday I biked on over to Trader Joe’s and found 8 oz bars of baking chocolate with 100% cacao for 99 cents!

Baking Chocolate.JPG

I won’t bore you with the rest of my shopping list, but I will tell you that I was largely impressed with the way they dealt with my using my bike pannier as a shopping basket. I’ve been slightly paranoid about doing that ever since I was warned at Lunds that security didn’t like it. My protesting that it was an clearly-visable uncovered box nearly the same size and shape as their shopping baskets that I was going to have to carry with me through the store anyway made no difference.

Yesterday, the cashier at Trader Joe’s packed my groceries right back into my pannier for me and then proceeded to ask me if I’d like the raffle tickets I had earned by using my own bag. Apparently, they have a drawing for $25 of groceries. Bonus!

Sure, I’m warming up to them now. It’s still a little too crowded for me, but as long as I’m only there for a few items at once, it’s tolerable. Have you found hidden treasures at Trader Joe’s? Do you know if the location near you offers a raffle if you bring your own bag and what the prize is?

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6 thoughts on “Warming up to Trader Joe’s

  1. The “Pound-Plus” bars of Belgian chocolate! OMG! We try to keep one of those in our glove compartment at all times. It’s delicious, it’s a pound plus, and it’s only like three dollars and something!

  2. No, they were not ideally situated in the neighborhood I was in when I first got to DC, since the only other grocery option was the Safeway in the Watergate (aka “Soviet Safeway,” i.e. the shelves are always empty and you wait in long lines to checkout), so I went looking for Everything, and came out with about one-fifth of it. What store sells a tiny (well..tiny for my consumption) bag of already cooked brown rice and no actual raw brown rice?! Booo. I’d probably only go for their wine and tea.

  3. I love the dried fruit, notably the mangoes and cherries.

    We’re just finishing up our last batch of mangoes, which we soaked in a jar of vodka. The mangoes aren’t so sweet/fantastic anymore, but the resulting vodka was phenomenal.

    And I could live on dried cherries given half a chance.

  4. Their nuts, sprouted bread, dried fruits, frozen fish and sauces are frequent items we pick up. I definitely like TJ’s because they carry more quality items for lower prices. Plus, they stock a lot of gluten-free stuff and organic items.

  5. Oh yeah, I forgot: their Irish Breakfast tea is also surprisingly good. My little brother gave me a sack of unmarked tea bags once and I liked them so much that I asked him what brand they were, and sure enough, you get ’em at Trader Joe’s, eighty bags to a box for some ridiculously low price.

    I also hear great, great things about the way they treat their employees. I of course have done no research on this so I don’t know how much of it is true, nor do I have any idea how they’re able to sell such seemingly high quality products for such low prices and what may or may not have been compromised for that, but man…I love Trader Joe’s.

  6. Hello! Glad to see my class brought you back into a Trader Joe’s! FYI – I do not work for Trader Joe’s nor am I paid to do any product endorsements! I just really like the products the stores have to offer – and as you found, the prices are great! Keep up the good work:)

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