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10 Things at Trader Joe’s I Can’t Live Without

6th March 2017

OK so maybe that title is a bit exaggerated.  Of course I could live without these things, just like I could also technically live without Foxen Pinot Noir but where’s the fun in that?  So let’s just say that these 10 things make life a little better and I would miss them if they disappeared.  And occasionally they do… Trader Joe’s sometimes runs out and it takes a while for them to come back.  I think it’s their way of making us appreciate them.

Trader Joe's Orange Chicken

      1. Orange Chicken:  It’s a crowd pleaser, and it’s easy to make but tastes and looks like it took a lot of work.  I have yet to make this for anyone and have them not like it.  It’s not the healthiest dinner around, but I’ve cut out most of the sauce and that reduces the sugar considerably.  Nobody even seems to notice.  I like to make it with roasted Brussels sprouts or broccoli (the oven’s already at 400 degrees, so why not?) and some brown rice.  Which leads us to….
      2. Frozen Rice!  Boiling water to make rice seems so 20th Century now.  Once of the bags face down in the microwave and three minutes later you’ve got awesome brown rice.  Nothing’s easier than that!
      3. Harvest Grains:  If you have the time and want something a little more complex than the frozen rice I mentioned then check out the Harvest Grains.  It’s a terrific mixture of whole grains and goes great with any dish that has sauce.  I like to combine diced fire-roasted tomatoes, cannelloni beans, spicy chicken sausage, spinach and pour it over the top.  Easy comfort food on a cold night and makes great leftovers!  You’ll find them by the rice and pasta.Trader Joe's Green Dragon Sauce
      4. Green Dragon Hot Sauce:  This is one condiment I never have to throw away because I didn’t use it all before it expired.  I go through a bottle roughly every 6 weeks.  This stuff makes everything more interesting, from eggs to burgers to mashed potatoes.  It punches up anything and it has ZERO calories.   Looks like I need to put another bottle on my shopping list..
      5. Microwave Bacon:  Sounds gross, right?  But it’s oh so good… TJ’s has definitely figured out the formula for crispy microwave bacon.  The best part is how it makes bacon SO much more accessible!  You can just pop a couple slices in the microwave to make a sandwich more interesting without making a mess.  I love modern living!
      6. Pork Buns for Dim Sum and then some!  In case you find yourself unable to go to the best dim sum restaurant on the planet, never fear because TJ’s has you covered.  These pork buns taste pretty damn good considering how easy they are to make.  And they’ve got other items too like the Shanghai soup dumplings and shrimp shu mai… so fire up the microwave and enjoy an easy dim sum brunch!
      7. Turkey Meatballs:  By now you’re probably detecting a pattern in my cooking…  I like easy ways to add meat to dishes for those that want it.  And these Turkey Meatballs fit the bill perfectly!  You can microwave them, or cook them in tomato sauce which I prefer.  Either way it’s easy and you can just take as many out of the bag as you need.Trader Joe's Turkey Meatballs
      8. Pretzel Thins:  I like to snack but I have a portion control problem, in that I see no problem with making the entire bag one portion.  These are much lower in fat and calories than a lot of other things you’ll find in that panacea known as the Chip Aisle at TJ’s.  So if I do overindulge and have a few too many I can still respect myself in the morning.
      9. Tea Tree Oil Face Pads:  They’re delicious!  =)  But they work better if you use them on your face at night.  I’m shocked – SHOCKED – by how much dirt comes off my face every time I use them!  Who knew that your face could get that dirty working in an office all day?  Using these has quickly become part of my nightly ritual.
      10. Chewable Peppermint Melatonin:  I don’t know what they do differently, but these melatonin tablets work much better for me than any others.  Maybe it’s the relaxing peppermint.  I’m trying not to take too much at one time or take them too often because I don’t want to build up a tolerance.  They’re perfect for those nights when it’s tough to quiet the mind… I take half if I have to get up for work the next morning, and a whole one when I can sleep in.  Oh man I love those mornings when I can sleep in…

Well there’s my list!  Hope you discovered something new that you’ll try out on your next TJ’s trip.  Thanks for reading this far, and please tell me your favorite things in the comments below. I just know there’s a new favorite thing that I’ve yet to discover!

I enjoy writing about technology, travel, wine and living in Ventura, CA.