Sunday, July 04, 2010
What is good at Trader Joe's?
Sometimes I think Trader Joe's is an emporium of pseudo-healthy junk food. Organic high calorie snacks. Appetizer pastries that you see at parties and pot-lucks all the time. And they are effusively friendly as illustrated by this welcoming sign and all the employees in Hawaiian shirts. Our TJs is pretty small compared to the ones where I shopped in LaJolla and Santa Barbara, too.
Irresistible candy and other sweets are the most appealing thing at TJs. Bargain prices for Belgian chocolate. Cocoa almonds, candy-coated dried fruit, great lemon curd in a jar...
Sometimes I find bargains. These veggie burgers are cheaper than the same brand at Whole Foods. But mostly, Trader Joe's has its house brands.
And sometimes I think Trader Joe's is a wonderful place to get a meal when I don't really feel like cooking. Gyozas (a.k.a. potstickers). Ready-to-microwave meatballs with a jar of ready-to-serve sauce. Chicken breasts and sausages to put on skewers and cook outdoors on the grill. Pita bread, hummus, torillas, little bite-sized cheeses, tasty crackers. Not expensive.
Even at the huge TJs in California, one couldn't make it the sole source of groceries. There just isn't enough variety or basic materials. Olive oil, ok. Spices, almost none at all. If you want to make Asian food, just buy the ready-made version. This is not ok all day every day. And the produce is very disappointing -- cheap, but not local and not always as fresh as I would like. I also prefer the wine selection elsewhere.
The store is around 6 blocks from my house, so I'll probably keep picking up one or two things and a bunch of candy there from time to time. Yup.