Basically every person I’ve ever met who has been to Trader Joe’s has said they LOVE Trader Joe’s. Always super enthusiastic.
But I always took that with a grain of salt. Like when people say any of the following:
– I LOVE plain greek yogurt– just a little honey and it is such a TREAT.
– Ice cream? Honestly I’d rather just eat fresh berries.
– Vegan cheese tastes just as good as regular cheese– seriously.
– I don’t even like fried foods, they just taste gross to me.
In my opinion, people who say these things are either 1) deluding themselves, thinking the more they say them the more they will believe them… and thus the more they can convince themselves they don’t miss awesome food; or 2) a totally different kind of person than me who does actually ENJOY all the healthy things in life, and thus whose opinion I can’t trust because we are just never going to see eye to eye.
So I guess I thought of Trader Joe’s as a good place to shop for those who eat seaweed… is basically what I’m saying. I’d been in there quite a few times but never really looked around. Usually I just ran in to buy trail mix because I knew they had good prices on nuts. Other than that everything just looked… different. I didn’t recognize the brands or packages so I just kept my head down and got out as quickly as possible.
Then about a month ago B and I stopped in to buy trail mix because he decided that was his new favorite snack. We were planning to hit up the grocery store next, but I noticed that a few of the things on our list were right there on the shelf and for a better price. Hm. So I said…. just for the hell of it… let’s see how much of our list we can get here and then we’ll stop at the REAL grocery store on the way home for the rest of it.
Except… they had almost everything we wanted. And for way better prices (how is that possible?) than Giant Eagle. And most of the stuff was healthier in ways that don’t affect taste (i.e. organic, local). So for the past month we’d been doing almost all of our shopping there and I LOVE IT. However I know myself and because it is farther away… I foresee a time when I get lazy and slip back into my comfortable old Giant Eagle routine.
So, for myself, I’m going to lay it out there. This is why I love Trader Joe’s, and why I should shop there every week. Although maybe I should get out of the way first… the things I don’t like:
1) It is farther away and in a much more crowded area (time cost: extra 30 minutes round trip vs. GE)
2) It doesn’t carry some of the things I consider necessary like big 2.5 gallon jugs of water. It only carries 1 liter or smaller, fancier water. Since I hate tap water and I’m also cheap– this means an extra trip to GE.
3) It doesn’t carry “normal” brand foods or crappy foods. This is a problem if you have a recipe that calls for something specific (like say– French’s onions) or if you have a craving for something bad for you (Doritos, honey mustard salad dressing, etc).
…That’s it. Those are the things I don’t like about Trader Joe’s. Here are the things I DO like about Trader Joe’s:
1) It is cheaper. Almost every single item is cheaper than a comparable item from GE.
2) The food is better quality. They only carry stuff that is free of hormones and chemicals. A ton of the stuff is organic, and even the organic stuff is cheaper than the crappy stuff at the grocery store mostly. So all the stuff I’m used to buying “normal” like meat, cheese, and vegetables I now buy organic. This makes me feel better about the food I’m eating, it tastes better, and I feel cool for eating organic food (keepin’ it real… lol)
3) The prepared/frozen food is way better than GE. We have tried a few of the frozen foods like turkey corn dogs, pizza, and vegetable egg rolls, all are WAY better than the normal frozen food at GE. And B has given the prepared sushi two thumbs up.
4) They don’t carry normal brands/crappy food. Yep, it was on my “dislike” list but its on my “like” list too. First of all, it makes me work harder to buy super crappy stuff so I do less impulse buying. Second, it gives me a chance to try out new things– some of which I like better than my old standbys.
5) I can still eat “normal” food. I guess I thought that only vegans/health food nuts shopped at Trader Joe’s. There are certainly tons of those there, but I can still make what I consider to be normal food. Example, this week for dinners we are having: loaded baked potato and salad, vegie egg rolls and rice, chicken parm with salad and crusty bread, and chicken nachos. Not “health food” by any means… but at least all of the ingredients that go into making those dinners will be free of chemicals and at least 50% of the ingredients are organic.
So, there ya go. Future me, THIS IS WHY you should keep going to Trader Joe’s even though it annoys you to drive farther, and possibly have to make a second trip to the “normal” grocery store. Cowgirl up and get in the car.