Trader Joe's, I Love You (but not your green juice)

Trader Joe's, I Love You (but not your green juice) 1There are a lot of things I like about Trader Joe's.

  1. For one, it's Small(er) than traditional grocery stores, which I appreciate.
  2. And then there's the Free Sample Counter. Need I say more? It's awesome.
  3. And we musn't forget the wine-tasting. Again, self-explanatory.
  4. The organic selection is top-rate. This is important because we buy only organic whole milk (we've been doing this for several years now) and lately we buy only organic meat. On top of those two things, Tim & I both think organic produce TASTES better than non-organic (is that possible?).
  5. The balloons at check-out make my 3-year-old very happy.

Last week, the sample at the counter was Macaroni and Cheese. They also had Green Juice.

The mac & cheese was super tasty, despite the fact that it came from a frozen TV-dinner style box. I was surprised that it had REAL cheese on top (none of that powdered Fake-roni stuff in the blue box).

Trader Joe's, I Love You (but not your green juice) 2I was going to pass on the juice, but it caught my 3-year-old's eye (dark green is her favorite color, after all). "You can try it if you want," I said.

I poured 1/2 a dixie cup.

"She's brave," the guy in the hawaiian shirt behind the counter said.

She took a swallow and I would have asked her if she liked it, but I already knew by her expression and the fact that she was waving the glass in my direction, wildly.

"It can't be THAT bad," I thought, taking a sip.

I almost gagged. Literally. But I tried to smile and cover it up.

Apparently, my acting attempt was mediocre at best. The guy behind the counter looked amused, "Do you want some peach juice?" Yes, we did. Two full glasses, in fact.

Trader Joe's, I Love You (but not your green juice) 3All in all, we survived. And we have a green balloon to prove it.

Oh, and I now have 3 boxes of TJ's Macaroni & Cheese in my freezer.

Do you shop at Trader Joe's? What are your favorite things to buy there?

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42 comments on “Trader Joe's, I Love You (but not your green juice)”

  1. Ok- as you know we love the Trader Joe's- just wish there was one on the corner where yet another gas station/minimart is going in- aaargh! We have more and more favorites from there everytime we go- the biggies: fresh frozen seafood (only place I like to buy seafood in land-locked AZ)- panko crusted tilapia is way better than fishsticks, snack foods- crispy (probably fried) but super tasty green beans, plaintains, etc, and preservative free convenience foods- my toddler loves one of their frozen quesadillas and their "skillet meals" don't seem to have that chemical aftertaste.
    We have a traditional "after Joes" trip lunch of a chicken-goat cheese-sundried tomato- sandwich dipped in pesto vinegrette (for her- some tastebuds for a toddler,right?) and an endive, gorgonzola, walnut salad for me- YUM!

  2. love pretty much everything - the frozen chocolate croissants are yummy
    at our local one, they give kids chocolate at the wine tasting!

  3. We don't have one here, but when we travel to places that do, we save room in our suitcases to bring back as much as we can! We always stock up on their pad thai and their peanut butter. And we LOVE all of their chocolate treats!

    My very favorite item is their frozen mochi balls.

  4. It's kind of random, but I love TJ's dry toasted and chopped pecans! I can eat them on anything and they are quick and easy to use! We also love their frozen meatballs. AND their 1/2 1/2 is the cheapest! When we have enough room for a chest freezer, I'd love to buy a side of grass fed beef, that meat is supposed to taste better and be better for you! It has quite the costly price tag when you buy it in the store though!

  5. Funny! I'll stay away from the green juice, once we start giving our little guy juice (not far off!).

    The nutritionist in our co-op class said TJs sells a boxed apple juice that's half juice and half water. Something she said you should do at home, but how great to have it in a travel box juice too! She said it's not called 'juice' though because of the half water - it's called apple spritz, or drink, or something.

    Love TJs! Esp their frozen eggplant cutlets - excellent addition to lasagnes. And not to forget their arrabiata or pesto pasta sauces.

  6. You have WINE tasting at your TJ's? I'm envious! We are huge TJ's fans and go to ours about twice a week. LOVE their fresh bruschetta topping.

  7. I wish we had a Trader Joe's close by, but when my sister was living near one, I checked it out and fell in LOVE with their hummus...mmmm! I also bought some gnocchi and bruschetta which were fabulous. Wish there was one closer!

  8. While we don't have a local Trader Joe's (nearest one is an hour away, which I go to when visiting my parents), I love their alphabet cookies and their Masala veggie burgers. I love their branded foods, and of course the samples too!

  9. I like it too, but ours is so far away that I very rarely venture over there (like I think I've been twice in the two and a half years we've lived here). Props on drinking the nasty juice...that's gross. It's awesome that they had the peach juice on hand, though! I love peach juice. Maybe I'll have to try some green stuff just to get the good stuff. ;)

  10. It's been a while since our family has shopped there - maybe six months or so? But during my single days {living in the dorms} it was the only place that I would shop.

  11. Love, love, love Trader Joe's. We are trying to buy more organic and we like their selection. And yes, their Mac n cheese is really good stuff!! Their fresh fruit is usually pretty good and cheaper than our local grocery chains. Their brand of organic OJ is wonderful!
    What is also great is that if you buy something and don't like it, they will refund your money, no questions asked.

  12. My sister and niece travel quite a distance to shop at Trader Joe's! My husband and I keep thinking we are going to go there. It does sound quite intriguing. Many thanks, Cindi

  13. We LOVE TJ's too! We do most of our shopping there. All of our dairy. We love their noodles (Annie's Organic Mac n' Cheese). Oatmeal. Puffins. Broccoli. The list goes on and on. We live just a few minutes away from Trader Joe's and my kids both LOVE it. The balloons alone are worth it...but the service is just amazing. You may remember my post about how much we love Trader Joe's:

  14. Wow Erin, that is awful that they aren't kid friendly. I'm always happy at the TJ's in my area, they are very kid friendly.

  15. i LOVE trader joes! i'm lucky enough to live only 10 minutes from one. (don't hate me because i live nearby a trader joes...)
    i do most of my grocery shopping there. i love all their dairy. we eat the vanilla almond granola almost every day with yogurt. if you like indian food, they have GREAT stuff. everything we've tred s fantastic - and my husband was born there, so we know indian!!

  16. I should say, he didn't just accuse Clark of spilling it, he also acted like it was my responsibility to go around and clean it up. He had this, "It's the least you could do.." attitude. I would have written a letter to the management but I was too pregnant and emotional to think clearly and instead just stewed about it. In retrospect I would do things differently!

  17. I have a love/hate relationship with TJs. It is probably just our local staff, but they are really not kid-friendly at all! I had a bad experience with an employee accusing Clark of spilling something that was nowhere near him when I was pregnant with Alice and I cried tears of humiliation and frustration right there in the checkout lane. No one said anything comforting or apologized or anything. It took me about 6 months to step foot back in the store. Like you, I buy organic milk and meat. I LOVE the products but it's hard for me to shop there. And ours is right down the street!

  18. We go to TJ's every Tuesday. I love it, above all other things, because it's kid friendly. (Except for the super small carts, have you noticed that?) Free samples, balloons, stickers and one time when my son was extra hungry and extra tired the cashier even broke open a box of granola bars and gave him one for free. Seriously, their customer service should be a model for all other grocery chains.

    So what was in the green juice? I have to say, I do like the green Naked Juice so I'm curious if was similar.

  19. I, too, adore Trader Joe's. My favorite item, vanilla Joe Joe's. They are like the golden Oreos--but way better! They have great snacks for kids that are much healthier alternatives than your traditional junk food.

  20. Can't say I've ever tried the green juice before. But I love Trader Joe's. I only live about 5-10 minutes away from one too, but don't go there nearly enough. I'm going to have to remedy that...

  21. dairy free products & MSG free products.
    Sounds like the green juice was wheat grass, since they offerd you a peach chaser after.

  22. I have never been inside a Trader Joes as there is not one in Gunnison (surprise, surprise) and the closest one is probably in Denver. But next time I see one I might have to stop in.

  23. I LOVE Trader Joe's too!!! I shop there about once to twice a week (depending on what I forgot on my first trip)!
    I am lucky I have 3 Trader Joe's in my area all within 10 minutes.

    I buy organic milk and rice milk (for me) there. The earth balance whipped butter is so yummy, it's organic and vegan, and everyone at home loves it.

    For dessert I buy my son their chocolate dipped bananas, I figure it's healthier than an ice cream bar or cookies.

    I usually like to make my own sweet potato fries for burger or sandwich night at our home, but if I am just out of time, I love picking up some frozen sweet potato fries.

    I love their fruit and veggie section, but truly wish they wouldn't pack so much of it in plastic, all that plastic is no good for us or the environment.
    The handmade tortillas are another favorite, definitely make enchiladas or tacos a whole lot better.

    If you ever have a dinner party and thinking about a fancy salad then make sure you pick up their baby spinach complete salad kit, it comes with cranberries, pecans, blue cheese and a raspberry yummy!

    I can go and on about my favorites! I agree with you, their organic section is awesome and cheaper than regular grocery stores. Their pita chips, hummus and tzatziki dips, maple pecan granola and frozen pizza is yummy too.

    I have never tried the green juice, and thanks to you, will gladly never try it!!!

  24. We LOVE Trader Joe's! Actually, it's the only place I shop now. The prices are better than the local grocery stores here, and the quality is so much better. Paige loves their organic mac n' cheese in a box, the kids adore the little yogurt cups, and my husband and I love their take on Dorito's and anything chocolate that they carry! Plus their produce is phenomenal ;)

  25. I love Trader Joes, but the closest one is just shy of a half hour drive from my house, so I'm not able to do my weekly shopping there. Whenever I'm in the area, though, I make a point of stopping.
    We've switched to organic milk, but haven't made the switch yet to organic meats. I want to, but it is more expensive and we're on such a scary-tight budget. I'm trying to gradually incorporate more vegetarian dinners into my meal plans...but I have to ease into this, since I married a meat-and-potato man!

  26. I don't think we have any here. I like Green Smoothies but I wonder if the 'green juice' you were given was that {now I can't think of the name!} juice you make from a grass {wheat grass???} and it's runny and thin? Anyway, you both were brave to try :)


  27. I also love TJ's! And luckily I work right across the street from one, so I often stop on my way home. I love their lavash bread and garlic hummus, that plus a bunch of veggies makes for a great lunch wrap. I LOVE those tiny chocolate chip cookies they sell in the plastic containers. I love their pre-made lunch salads, in fact I brought the Country Italian salad for lunch today! Also, I really like the quality of their butter, it's cheap price-wise, but good quality-wise. Plus they have a lot of vegan/vegetarian options, which is helpful when I'm shopping for work.

  28. I LOVE TJ's. Love. Ours is a bit of a hike so I don't get there as often as I would like but always get excited when we go.

    Favs: Shrimp Gyoza (frozen), Mushroom ravioli (fresh), hummus, Grapeseed oil (so much cheaper than grocery store), white basalmic vinegar (ditto), dried berry mix (blueberries, cherries, cranberries, golden raisins), and the dark chocolate covered caramels (I don't share those).

  29. Who doesn't love TJ's?? They are by far the most family (kid) friendly grocery store ever and gosh darn, if the employees aren't always in the most uplifting of moods. Balloons? Check. Stickers? Check. Carry out for a lady with 3 kids and a full cart? Check. LOVE them!

  30. We loved to go to Trader Joe's when we lived in Maryland and had one available- for all the same reasons you mentioned! My favorite things to get were snacks for the kids (inexpensive, good ingredients, fun, and super yummy!). I always had a bucket of alphabet cookies on hand for playgroups. I also really loved treating myself to Mochi ice cream, which I couldn't find anywhere else. And their bottled Chinese-style orange sauce made a super, quick meal. And the mango sauce was always to die for. :)

    We don't have a Trader Joe's available anymore now that we're in Colorado, but at least we're fortunate to have similar stores in Sprouts Farmer's Market and Sunflower Farmer's Market. They're both full of the same quality items. But I have to admit I sorely miss all the Trader Joe's treats that would line the isles.

  31. I DO. I LOVE Trader Joe's. They happen to be cheaper (most of the time) than the grocery stores in Chicago. Favorite buys: unsulfered, unsweetened dried mangoes (mmmm!), plantain chips, honey wheat pretzels, roasted red pepper tomato soup, and garlic hummus! Then there is the produce, bread, and the list just gets longer and longer.

  32. The mac and cheese I have had before and it is pretty darn good!!! They also have some good chocolate filled croissants that are to die for:)

  33. I love the IDEA of a Trader Joe's, but like Kristen, the nearest one is 30 minutes away. I found a locally-owned Trader Joe's type store for our organic produce, but we haven't made the switch to organic meat or milk because of the costs at this store. We do make sure to buy the no-hormones, no-antibiotic stuff though. Here's my question for Stephanie (and others), how much does Trader Joe's charge for organic whole milk and organic meat? After reading this post, I'm contemplating doing a 1 time/month visit to stock up, if my budget allows for it. Are there any other money-saving tips at Trader Joe's (like do they have coupons or anything?) Thanks for any tips!

  34. I LOVE Trader Joe's... but the closest one is about 30 minutes from me right now, so I go only every so often. Next time you are there, try the dried, unsweetened, unsulfered mangoes. They are AMAZING.
    I would love to hear more about your decision to eat only organic meat and drink only organic milk. We haven't, because we seriously don't have the budget for it (in fact, maybe I don't want to know about it all, because then I will agonize over how we are unable to do it at this time... sigh).
    I also like their yogurt. Pretty much everything, actually. They have some good frozen meals that I am going to stock up on for baby girl's arrival.

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