After two years of extreme deprivation, Trader Joe's is finally making it's way to my neck of the woods. "Neck of the woods" being 150 miles away in Sarasota, Florida. This is practically a stone's throw compared to the next closest Trader Joe's - Atlanta, Georgia, a crazy 450 miles. Not having a Trader Joes nearby is one of the top things I loathe about Florida. See all 10 reasons here.
When we lived in California, Trader Joes was only 2 miles away. 80% of all my grocery shopping was done there and not because it was within walking distance, but because the food is delicious, high-quality and affordable. I am a Trader Joes junkie. So if given the opportunity to shop my favorite products at the expense of a two and a half hour drive, I'm so taking it.
Irrelevant little fact: The drive from my house to Sarasota is equivalent to driving to Palm Springs from our old house in San Diego.
So in anticipation of the Grand Opening (rumored to be July 2012) AND to assist the native Floridians who either don't know anything about Trader Joes OR resent the place because of all us transplants going on and on about it, I've compiled a list of items that should be on your Trader Joes grocery list.
- Masala Burgers. These are vegan-indian spice-potato patty-veggie burgers. Good on salads or as a burger. Seriously delish. By far my very favorite item in the entire store.
- Kettle Corn Popcorn. Very dangerous.
- Trail Mix. I am partial to the Happy Trekking trail mix because it has delicious chunks of chocolate in it, but really, any trail mix is good. TJ's has a HUGE selection and is priced very reasonably.
- Grinders. Pink Himalayan sea salt grinder or the sugar-chocolate-coffee bean grinder (yes, all mixed in to one grinder) or the South African smoke grinder or the Tropical Pepper sea salt.
- Pumpkin Bread and Muffin Mix. It's a seasonal item so come the fall stock up! Really, if TJ's has *anything* pumpkin, get it. Cheesecake, soufflé, pumpkin butter, ice cream... it's all good.
- Mini Beef Tacos. Easy-to-prepare snack with only 170 calories for 4. I usually bake mine in the oven till they are crispy brown then sprinkle a little cheese over the top of them. YUMM-O!
- Mini Peanut Butter Cups. These are 100x more dangerous than the popcorn. In fact, don't even buy these.... you will eat them all before you even get home.
- Chocolate Covered Potato Chips. Sounds a little strange I know but I could eat a whole bag watching an episode of Biggest Loser.
- Cookie Butter. Just like peanut butter minus the peanuts. And the peanuts are replaced with a gingerbread-like cookie dust. I think this is outlawed in 8 states currently. ;)
- Enchilada Sauce. Thick rich enchilada sauce that comes in a glass bottle with a screwtop lid. This means I can make a small pan of enchiladas and save the leftovers for a second pan later. Not only is this less waste but the flavor and consistency beats that canned stuff you find in the grocery store.
- Chocolate Fruit Medley. My husband discovered these on our last trip out to California. Huge pieces of dried fruit covered in scrumptious chocolate. Doesn't get any better than that.
- Hummus. Really any flavor will do but my very favorite is the cilantro jalapeno.
- TJ's reusable bag. I am stopped in the store every time I have them with me, by people who want to know where they can get a bag like that. They are cute, stylish and completely practical. They are great for much more than grocery shopping too! Use them for storing junk, toting books or crafting supplies, trick or treating, camping, going to the beach... the uses are endless!
If you know of any other must-have items, please let me know. I've been out of the loop for 2 years now and bound to have missed something incredible!