Saturday, December 29, 2012

A Trader Joe's Road Trip

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?

24 comments:

Cecilia said...

Sadly, we don't have a TJ's anywhere near me here in Memphis. I've never even been in one but I'm dying to go! It looks like you got a ton of great stuff! I'm so jealous!

GIGI EATS CELEBRITIES said...

OMG You're too too funny! I am lucky enough to have like 8 to 10 Trader Joe's within a 2 mile radius of me (Thanks LA, lol)... I LOVE IT! Seriously, going to Trader Joe's or Whole Foods is like a kid going to DISNEY LAND! I love to ride in the cart too... Makes it all the more magestical! LOL!!

Allison said...

I'm in walking distance to TJ's, it's awesome! Your store looks so much larger than mine. I've been wanting to pick up some of that spinach and artichoke dip, next party I will have to. Another good hummus is the Mediterranean one. Its a bigger container which is why I don't buy it often but its good for parties. Also, pick up the marcona almonds with rosemary- sorry in advance if you become addicted as well :)

Beka said...

I'd say you did great this trip! I don't know if you got my comment in time before you went, but the frozen curry meals are good!! the panang was my favorite :)

Lauren said...

I've been wanting to go try it out so bad, all the food looks delicious that you tried :-)

Sarah Burton said...

We have one in Athens but I've yet to try it. Someone told me the chicken salad was amazing so I'll be getting that for sure!

Kat @ S and F said...

I definitely need to make a trip there!

Tara @ A Daily Dose of Fit said...

I make a trip to TJs whenever I'm in Chicago...such great stuff. I see you got some Jo-Jo's. My absolute favorite treat!

Erin @ Girl Gone Veggie said...

I LOVE Trader Joes! One just opened in my area and my fiance and I go there all the time!

Hallie @ Life:Oceanside said...

Ohhh my goodness you were like 5 minutes from my house! I looooooove Trader Joe's I am sooo happy we got one! They totally need to put one in Tampa, it's the best grocery store ever:):)

Megan, TfDiaries.com said...

they just put one in Sarasota - so happy
Xo Megan, www.TfDiaries.com

Claire Kiefer said...

I'm emailing you right now. :) There's a TJ's a mile from me, so I stop there several times a week. I have several MUST TRY items for you--look for my email! :)

Jen said...

Haha, this is awesome. Love TJs. Its not super close, but we hit it up about once/month. Actually I'm taking PFB to a music class near TJs for 8 weeks starting in Jan so we might be making more trips...
Its funny because its not a huge store- yet you totally talked about several things I've never seen before. I'll have to be on the look out next time. Thanks for the reviews

Karen said...

I totally don't get the obsession bloggers have with Trader Joe's. I've been in several across the country and still find myself scratching my head.

But then again, I live in a town that has two natural/organic food stores (local, not chain) that are huuuuuuuge, so maybe that's why. :)

Laura @ Mommy run fast said...

I haven't been to one since we lived in Philly, but heard one opened within 45 minutes of us, and reading this makes me want to go find it again! I like the WF near us, but it really adds up fast.

Abby said...

I am so glad you tried Ginger Cats. they are my go to dessert. Only 120 calories, delcious, and thankful i am able to stick to teh serving size. Unliek icecream which I seem to think is best eaten by the gallon.

Nikki said...

I was in sarasota all day today and didht go :(

Steph Garcia said...

YUM!!! Looks like you had an awesome trip! I've been a few times and know exactly what I want to get while I'm there. I LOVE the vodka sauce paired with their gnocchi, which is really good. Shrimp corndogs, two buck Chuck Cabernet, chocolate covered edamame, dog biscuits (she LOVES them), rosemary raisin crackers, applewood thick cut bacon, low carb wraps and cookie butter, of course, are some of my favorites!

Linny said...

That looks fantastic. All of it. Everything you bought looks so yummy! I love trader Joes!

Leeann @ Join the Gossip said...

I almost always shop at Trader Joe's because I only have one regular grocery store near me, random right?! I love the cilantro salad dressing, I'm addicted to it, and I HATE cilantro. The dressing is that good. I also love all of the meals that you can buy, makes like so easy :)

Ericka @ The Sweet Life said...

Hey there! I checked out your blog after you commented on mine! I've stopped in here before but I'm gonna try to make it a habit now -- so cute! Also, LOVE TJ's-- my fav place to shop!

Caitlin C. said...

Okay, I'm freakin in LOVE with this post. There's a Trader Joe's really close to me but I never ever go - WHY THE HECK NOT??! This post has me makin' a shopping list. I will most definitely be heading out this week to pick up a few of the items you loved!

Diana said...

This is a great post! I'm going to reference this when I make a Trader Joe's trip in the future. Great idea to post what you bought.

brlracincwgrl said...

Trader Joe's is the best! I love their bruschetta, it's fabulous! Definitely give it a try!