Last week I posted asking for recommendations for my Trader Joe's trip, and you all delivered! Though I had been to a Trader Joe's once right as I was leaving Atlanta, where I used to live, I'd never gone in for more than bottles of wine. After reading through many healthy bloggers' posts about their favorite Trader Joe's products and having one open in Sarasota (a little over an hour from me), I decided it was time for me to make a road trip down there to pick up a few items. In actuality, once I tweeted and posted about it, I had made a grocery list that put my normal list to shame. And though those of you that have Trader Joe's might think I'm crazy for driving this way, I've found my trip to be more than worth it! I'm in fact planning another one next week while I'm still out of school.
I went with a girlfriend and took a small cooler. I learned later that the cooler was much too small. This is what the Sarasota Trader Joe's looks like on the inside and outside.
While I was there I was pretty excited to pick up the items that I had been recommended. I filled a cart to the brim and also picked up a few bottles of wine and it only cost me $188. Though that's really high for me for a week's worth of groceries, I got at least a week's worth of meals, items for Christmas dinner, items to take to Christmas eve, more snacks than normal, and wine. So in the end, I was more than pleased with my total. The prices are great! For fresh, natural food, I was very pleased with my total and the amount that I got.
I got a whole bunch of refrigerated and frozen items, but after the longer car ride home (I had left my car somewhere to meet up with my friend Emily and ended up hitting really bad traffic) I immediately put all the cool items in the freezer and fridge and never took a picture. I promise it would have amounted to about this much or more.
And though it's been over a week since I went, we still haven't gone through all of the items I bought. Of the items pictured above, I've tried almost all of it, and I've been really impressed (have I said that enough). The vodka sauce, black bean dip, ginger cat cookies, peanut butter cup trail mix, wasabi trail mix, and cookie butter are my favorite non-refrigerated items. I haven't tried the dressing, bars, granola, or shredded wheat, though I heard great things about them as well!
I bought two pre-made wraps: the Thanksgiving sandwich (with Turkey, dressing, and cranberry sauce), and the veggie sandwich (with hummus, carrots, and greens). I ate the veggie one and loved it. Tim also spoke just as highly of the Thanksgiving one, though he took it to work so I didn't get to try it. If I lived closer to a Trader Joe's I would be very guilty of stopping there all too frequently for those.
The quinoa and black bean infused tortilla chips were good, but I wouldn't say they were a necessity. They were a last minute pick up. I don't think I'd add them to my list again.
When I go again I will be loading up on the black bean dip. It is perfectly spicy without being overpowering, and you could technically eat a whole jar without blowing your whole day's calories, though I promise I didn't. The peach salsa was okay. Again, I don't think it's a necessity.
The goat cheese was a great price and good quality, and I have another one of those in the refrigerator. The jalapeno hummus was good, but the horseradish hummus (not pictured) was our favorite. I'm glad I picked that one up as well.
The Wine Country chicken salad was amazing, and I wish I'd bought another one. It was cranberries, poppy seed, and pecans in it, and the flavor is delicious. The chicken was real chicken, and I didn't get any of the yucky chicken that I sometimes get in pre-made chicken salad. I will definitely get a few of these.
Meatball picture from here.
This goat cheese ravioli was yummy as well. I served it with the vodka sauce I mentioned above, and we ate that together with the turkey meatballs. I forgot to photograph the turkey meatballs, because I was so concerned with getting them in the oven and chowing down on them. They were delicious, and I'll be picking them up again without a doubt. They come in the frozen foods section.
I did get a frozen pizza with arugula as well as the mushroom tarte. We ate the arugula pizza and liked it a lot, but we haven't eaten the mushroom tarte yet. Our favorite thing frozen, though, was the spinach & artichoke dip. I'd read about it on another blog, and since I had said I would bring that to Christmas Eve, I thought this was a good time to give it a try.
This was another that I forgot to take a picture of since I made it in a hurry and took it to Tim's aunt and uncle's house. I was almost embarrassed how easy it was and how delicious it turned out. You just microwave it for 4 or 5 minutes and it's ready. And then it disappears, so you have to act fast.
Overall, I can't think of anything off the top of my head that we didn't like from this trip. I mentioned some of the things that I wouldn't be making a trip for or necessarily buying again, but everything was so natural, fresh, and for the most part healthy that I'm just a little sad that it's a little over an hour's drive from me. That's okay, though, I'll be going when I can! It's so much cheaper than Whole Foods, and I honestly think the items are even better!
If you live in Tampa or an area outside of Sarasota I would definitely recommend bringing a cooler and making a trip down there.
Do you have a Trader Joe's?
What is/are your favorite item/s? Any that I didn't try?
Do you feel like there's a difference between it and the regular grocery store, or am I just a newbie?