Adventures in Trader Joe's

As the year comes to a close, my dining dollars start to run out, and my tolerance for campus food goes down, so I did what any respectable college student would do…I went to Trader Joe’s and stocked up on a lot of food. The limit for my love of Trader Joe’s does not exist, so it was probably one of the best decisions I made all quarter. To make things more interesting, I tried to find foods that I’d never tried before and see what I could discover. Keep in mind that I live in a college dorm, and I’m a vegetarian, so my options were already limited. But who knows, maybe in the future there’ll be a part two when I actually have access to a kitchen. I was fortunate enough to have my fellow Trader Joe’s enthusiast and friend, Stefi, accompany me on my mission.

 

It all started on a Wednesday evening when we went to Trader Joe’s to find a variety of foods, and ended up stocking up the cart on basically a week’s worth of food (let the record show, we actually ended up trying everything in three days).

Snacks:

1.     Spinach and Kale Yogurt Dip

This first one is nothing new to us. The Spinach and Kale Dip has been a long time favorite of ours, and it’s always in our fridges. Basically it just tasted like spinach dip, but it makes us feel much healthier since there’s KALE. Literally, the lid says “Reduced-Guilt” on it, so how could anyone possibly go wrong. We usually eat it with crackers, or bread, but let’s be real it goes with basically everything.

Price: $3.99

Ranking: 5/5

 

2.     Three Layer Hummus

As huge fans of 7-layer bean dip, we thought we’d give the three layer hummus a tray. Unlike bean dip though, you had to dig a little bit, so you could actually get to each of the hummus’. The hummus’ all together, and individually were pretty decent. We weren’t a huge fan of the cilantro jalapeno, and thought it made the hummus over all taste a little weird. It wasn’t our favorite thing, but that’s not going to stop us from eating it.

Price: $3.49

Ranking: 2.5/5 & 3/5 = 2.75/5

 

3.     White Bean and Basil Hummus

This dip was a fast win on our list. We first tried it with crackers and were pleasantly surprised that it tasted like pesto, and we love pesto. Then Stefi had her brilliant idea to try it with the tomato and olive focaccia bread we got, and it was probably one of the best snacks/ meals we’ve eaten. This dip is just a reason for you to indulge your pesto obsession without feeling weird about eating pesto all the time (okay, there’s nothing actually wrong with that). This was definitely, one of our new favorites, and will probably be seen next to our spinach and kale dip in the fridge.

Price: $3.99

Rank: 4/5 & 4.5/5 = 4.25/5

 

4.     Tomato and Olive Focaccia Bread

This is also not a new one for us, nor is it an “interesting find,” considering how it’s front and center in the bread section. There’s really no way to go wrong with this bread though, and it can be eaten in so many different ways: right out of the package, slightly baked, with dip…the possibilities are endless. Warning: just make sure you don’t end up devouring the entire thing one sitting.

Price: $3.99

Ranking: 5/5

 

5.     Montchevre Crottin Goat Cheese

We. Love. Cheese. Like a lot. So when we found this little thing with a 3-in-1, we  jumped at the opportunity. Over all they were all pretty good, and what you would expect from a goat cheese. My favorite was the garlic and herb, while Stefi’s was the original. It’s super easy to eat and scoop out of the packaging, which makes it that much harder to stop eating.

Price: $4.99

Ranking:

Original: 3/5 & 4/5 = 3.5/5

Garlic and Herb: 3/5 and 4/5= 3.5/5

Four Pepper: 2.5/5 & 3.5/5= 3/5

 

Entrees:

 

6.     Hatch Chile Mac ‘n’ Cheese

Because this is a frozen entrée, it’s super easy to make by just sticking it in the microwave. Not only that, but it actually tasted pretty great. There was a lot of pepper jack cheese in it, so that added the “chili” taste they were going for. But, this does get pretty old after a couple of bites; maybe it’s because of the taste or maybe its because its so rich. I suggest sharing it with someone (just as we did), or storing it and saving the rest for later.

Price: $2.99

Ranking: 4/5

 

7.     Ricotta & Spinach Tortellini with Red Pesto

      What caught out eye with this one was that it was “red pesto,” and we’ve never even heard of red pesto. It ended up being a little bland, and not that pesto-y. The sauce was also watery, so it was hard to get it to stick to the pasta. On the upside though, it seemed pretty healthy, since the majority of it was zucchini and tomatoes. As Stefi put it so eloquently: “I don’t feel like I’m getting fat from this.”

      Price: $1.99

      Ranking: 3/5 & 3.5/5 = 3.25/5

 

8.     Mexican Tamales: Green Chile and Cheese

For being a frozen food, this was a pretty good tamale. This was also microwavable, and though it was a little bland, it’s nothing a little sauce can’t fix. Then again, it tasted fine on its own as well. One is also pretty filling, and kept me full for a while.

Price: $2.49

Ranking: 4/5

 

Desserts:

 

9.     Cold Pressed Juice- Watermelon

Though juice isn’t actually a dessert, I guess you could potentially use it as one. As a not-native California, the idea of juicing really intrigues me, and I definitely want to pretend like I know what’s going on in that field. Also, I just really like juice. We tried really hard to like this. I mean look how pretty it is. But in the end it ended up being not exactly one of the better juices we’ve had. Maybe it was the flavor, or maybe it was that Trader Joe’s just can’t do pressed juices (their other juices are a different story). In the end though, this just kind of tasted like the left over liquid that’s in your bowl after you eat watermelon.

Price: $3.69

Ranking: 2/5 & 2.5/5 = 2.25/5

 

10.  Dark Chocolate Covered Peaberry Coffee Beans

Honestly, I don’t know what we were expecting from this, but it definitely wasn’t what   it ended up being, which is a straight up coffee bean covered in dark chocolate. We’re        just dumb some times. It’s pretty strong, and bitter, but that’s obvious considering how   it’s a dark chocolate covered coffee bean. Also, what was funny was that the after taste was actually better than the taste while you’re eating it, and it gave you a slight energy             buzz later. We didn’t really like them at first, but now we find ourselves eating a couple    every so often.

Price: $3.99

Ranking: 3.5/5 & 4/5 = 3.75/5

 

11.  Chocolate European Style Low-fat Yogurt

            This looked pretty good from the outside, but once I had one bite I was done with it. It     kind of just tasted like a chocolate pudding gone wrong. I couldn’t exactly put my finger on what was wrong, but something seemed off, and every bite I was cringing more and more. Maybe this is  how “European style” should taste, or maybe the yogurts just not good, but there are different flavors of this, so maybe one of them is better.

            Price: $0.99

            Ranking: 1.5/5

 

12.  Cookie Butter Cheesecake Bites

This was an immediate win for both of us. One bite had us both automatically going 5/5. It combines the deliciousness of cookie butter, plus the already amazingness that is cheesecake. Literally, there is no way for you to go wrong with this one. Just go out and buy it, and eat the whole thing (actually don’t do that…or do because I’ll understand completely).

            Price: $4.49

            Ranking: 10/5

 

All in all, this was a super fun experience. I definitely recommend going out to your favorite food store (Trader Joe’s for the win) and getting new and different things. You never know what kind of new relationships you’ll find. Because if there’s any type of commitment you can make, it’s probably one to your food.