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Trader Joe’s

December 10, 2006

Trader Joe’s has finally arrived in Wisconsin. There’s one in Madison and one in Glendale (a suburb of Milwaukee). I haven’t been to the Glendale store, but I have been to the one in Madison twice. It was really busy both times I went, but I’m really glad I did.

The thing I’m most impressed with so far is their frozen-in-a-bag stir fry entres. The first thing I tried was “Trader Ming’s Kung Pow Chicken Stir Fry.” It wasn’t a ton of food (I could eat the whole thing myself for dinner) but it can easily be split between two people, especially if you have a side dish with it. It tasted terrific and it was easy to prepare. It comes with vegetables, chicken, sauce, peanuts, and even it’s own rice. I augmented this dish with some good chili sauce and fresh garlic, but it’s good just as it is. If you have diced onions or any thing like that laying around, I’d throw them in, too. It’s tasty stuff but the best part of all was the price: $3.69. You can’t beat that. Convenience food that tastes great and doesn’t cost a lot? Plus it’s low-fat!

I have also tried their Mandarin Orange Chicken. It’s great! But you have to supply your own rice and it’s $4.99 per bag.

This visit I bought their “Pasta Italiano” with eggplant, zucchini and olives. I can either sizzle one up just for me, or make two bags for me and the kids. Price? $2.57. I haven’t tried this one yet, but if it’s as good as the other TJ frozen entres – wow. Throw in some fresh onions, garlic, leftover meat, a splash of wine… I think you can tell I’m excited about these frozen entres. It’s just not every day that you find something that is delicious, convenient and cheap!

The only thing I’ve bought at Joe’s that didn’t satisfy was their Charles “Two Buck Chuck” Taylor wine. I opened a bottle of the Beaujolais and hated it. I corked it up and resolved to use it for cooking or throw it out, and tried the Shiraz instead – it was better, but nothing I’d buy again. Not even for $2.99. It’s an incredible price, but if the wine sucks then it’s no bargain. I still have a bottle of Cabernet and a bottle of Merlot to try. (Hey, at $2.99 a bottle you gotta try ’em, right?) But at this rate, I’d rather pay a couple of dollars more and get something that tasted good, like a label I recently discovered at my regular grocery store: The Little Penguin. I’ve tried all the reds and they’re surprisingly good – and only $5.99!

Anyway, soon I’ll pay a visit to the Glendale TJ’s and see what I can discover there.

Does anyone else have any favorite Trader Joe’s products?

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  1. I adore the orange sherbet that comes in an actual orange. They also have coconut and lime.

    Sushi at Trader’s is not very good, I found.

    Neither is two buck Chuck. Hated it at first try, never went back to it even just to make sure my first impression was right.


  2. I’m a big fan of their edamame, breads, and peanut butter. Just wish mine (which is a block from me) had a better stocked produce section.

    I love TJs!


  3. I like their Il Valore primativo (zinfandel) — it’s about $4 a bottle and it’s surprisingly drinkable. (I agree with you about the 2 buck chuck…and don’t get your hopes up about the Cab.)

    I also buy peanut butter, edamame, pot stickers, frozen fruit and veggies…and the roasted red pepper/tomato soup sample I had was pretty good, too.


  4. So where is this TJ’s in Madison? I’ve accepted a job up there and spent last Saturday up there exploring. We found a Whole Foods, noodles, Qdoba, Panera, and a Starbucks, but not this TJs you speak of.

    -A


  5. It’s on Monroe street, very near Camp Randall.


  6. I buy TONS of stuff at TJ’s. The best thing is that you can return anything for any reason, no questions asked — even if you just didn’t like it. I’ve tried lots of new things that way, risk-free. I buy tons of nuts there — they have the best quality and by far the lowest prices. It’s a great place.


  7. Edamame for sure. I like their canned crab meat (I have a great crab cake recipe that I use it in), their unfiltered grape juice, nuts and trail mix, inexpensive cheeses (Boursin Garlic, brie, and the Cambezola), and thier frozen spanikopita triangles. Also frozen cajun salmon, wasabi peas, papadum snacks, and the Yellow Tai Curry sauce which I cook up with chicken, potatoes and onions.

    And the dark chocolate covered pretzels.

    You know they’re owned by Target, right?



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