Saturday, December 28, 2019


This is my weekly compilation of news and other links about Trader Joe's.

Trader Joe's announces recall of two products containing hard-boiled eggs

Best Trader Joe's items for a New Year's party

A last-minute Trader Joe's holiday shopping list

70 Trader Joe's frozen foods ranked by a seasonally depressed person

Best tweets of the week:

And finally, here's this week's cute cat with her Trader Joe's advent calendar for cats:

Monday, December 23, 2019

Trader Joe's Savory Corn Pie

I liked this a lot. It's peppery, cheesy corn. I fail to see how anybody could not like it.

Will I buy it again? 

Yes. It's not obviously seasonal, but it came out just before Thanksgiving, and many TJ's side dishes with that timing are gone after Christmas. So I may not get another chance at it anytime soon, but if I do, I'll pick up another one.

Saturday, December 21, 2019


This is my weekly compilation of news and other links about Trader Joe's.

11 Trader Joe's frozen meal hacks to liven up your quick dinner

Trader Joe's items for a holiday party spread

I tried 7 frozen meals from Trader Joe's; 2 were disappointing

Don't leave Trader Joe's without trying at least one of these products

15 holiday appetizers from Trader Joe's

New Trader Joe's items will help you hibernate this winter

8 of the strangest products at Trader Joe's

Trader Joe's employees dance for customers

Best tweets of the week:

And finally, here's this week's cute cat with its Trader Joe's advent calendar:

Friday, December 20, 2019

Rosemary tree

It's pretty, it's cute, and it has a lovely fragrance. What more could you possibly need to know?

Will I buy it again? 

Probably not, because I try to buy a different holiday decoration thing every year. Besides, there's, like, a 1% chance I could manage to keep this alive until this time next year.

Monday, December 16, 2019

Dujardin Root Vegetable Fries

I found these veggie fries at Trader Joe's while Thanksgiving shopping. They seem like a very Trader Joe's sort of thing, though not branded as such. Perhaps they're on "audition," and will come back with a TJ's label if they sell well.

It's one of the rare frozen-to-oven items from TJ's that requires less time than the label says (28-30 minutes). Unfortunately, because of my previous experiences, I had just set the timer for the full 30 minutes, and didn't check along the way. I also missed, until it was too late, the last sentence in the cooking directions about flipping them over halfway through. Oops. The net result was that maybe 10% were burned past usability, another 20% were edible but more charred than one would really want, and nearly all of them showed signs of being cooked much more on one side than the other. My bad.

In spite of that, they were surprisingly good, though very bland--needed salt. (Or so I thought. Nina ate hers without, and never reached for the shaker.) But tasty. My hunch is that if you have kids who love to eat French fries, but won't eat standard veggies, this presentation would change their minds. You wouldn't even have to tell them they're not potatoes.

Will I buy it again? 

Yes. I want to try it again at least once to get the preparation right. After that, who knows? But since I liked them even overdone, why wouldn't I like them done correctly?

Saturday, December 14, 2019


This is my weekly compilation of news and other links about Trader Joe's.

10 Trader Joe's gifts for the foodie in your life

Cute Trader Joe's products will make your holidays merry and bright

Trader Joe's finds you need to try ASAP

8 Trader Joe's products for under $7 for holiday cooking

Taste test of 11 store brands of hummus

14 vegan essentials at Trader Joe's

36 holiday arrivals at Trader Joe's

Best tweets of the week:

And finally, here's this week's cute cat with its Trader Joe's advent calendar:

Friday, December 13, 2019

Trader Joe's Orange Cardamom Muffins

These were just so-so. A little too dry. Orange flavor was present, but muted rather than prominent. After eating two, I couldn't detect anything that I thought might be the cardamom. But I had never tasted cardamom in isolation, so I didn't really know what to expect. So I sampled some from Nina's spice rack. Even with that experience freshly in mind, I was unable to taste any cardamom in the last two muffins.

Will I buy it again? 


Wednesday, December 11, 2019

Trader Joe's Cornbread Bites

Loved these. Loved both the flavor and texture. Loved each component: cornbread, cheese, peppers.

Will I buy it again? 

Enthusiastically. They might even be a Top Ten candidate, but I'm going to try another round of them before I decide.

Regular readers might notice that this is three reviews in a row with a strong thumbs-up. How often has that happened?

Monday, December 9, 2019

Trader Joe's Rose Fingerling Potato Chips

Nina spotted these at Trader Joe's yesterday, and we had some before dinner at her house last night.

If you've never heard of "Grey Guerande Sea Salt," I'm with you. Here's a bit of the history.

These chips are fabulous. They're flavorful. They might possess the most perfect crunch I've ever found in potato chips. They're pretty, with rings of pink. They're salted just right. Of course, being made from fingerling potatoes, there aren't any huge chips. On the other hand, we found relatively few sad, broken pieces. They were maybe a tad too oily. But other than that, they're extraordinarily good.

They were so good, in fact, that I eschewed the hummus Nina offered as part of the appetizer, and just kept digging into the bag for more chips; I didn't want to change the experience by adding in another factor. They're even better than the Dark Russets from my last review. I'm tempted to slap them directly onto my Top Ten list--but I think it would be better to wait until I can buy a bag of my own and try them a few more times.

Will I buy it again? 


Saturday, December 7, 2019


This is my weekly compilation of news and other links about Trader Joe's.

Trader Joe's announces recall of certain seafood products due to Listeria contamination

12 best new holiday products at Trader Joe's

18 Trader Joe's hidden gems

5 things real-estate pros always buy at Trader Joe's

9 peppermint items from Trader Joe's you need this Christmas

Trader Joe's is selling everything you need to make your house a winter wonderland

Trader Joe's stocking stuffers you should buy for yourself

Best tweets of the week:

And finally, because of the sudden proliferation of such photos on social media after release of TJ's first-ever advent calendar for cats, my weekly concluding feature, "cute cat in a Trader Joe's grocery bag," will temporarily be replaced by "cute cat with its Trader Joe's advent calendar," until I run out of them:

Friday, December 6, 2019

Trader Joe's Dark Russet Kettle-Cooked Potato Chips

This is now the fourth variety of kettle-cooked potato chips in the Trader Joe's lineup. See here for reviews of the other three.

I liked these a lot. The appearance is a bit weird at first, because, well, everyone knows that potato chips are supposed to be yellowish-white, and these are as brown as can be. But get past that (or eat them with your eyes closed, if you must), and they taste great. Excellent crunch. Neither too thick nor too thin, neither too dry nor too oily. Salted just right. They're pure, in the sense that the bag lists just three ingredients: potatoes, peanut oil, and salt. What else do you need?

My main complaint was that the bag I bought had way too many small, broken chips, and not enough large ones. They taste just as good, but they're not as satisfying to eat, and they're no good for scooping up hummus, which is how I was using them last night.

Of TJ's "Organic Potato Chips Kettle Style," I wrote, "I think they're the best potato chips TJ's sells, and among the very best I've ever had from any manufacturer." With that, I put them on my Top Ten list. I stand by my assessment. I think these russets are not quite that good--but they're only a notch behind.

Will I buy it again? 

Yes. They deserve a place in the regular chip rotation.

Wednesday, December 4, 2019

Trader Joe's Organic Savory Vegan Gravy

What do you get when you combine water, onions, tamari soy sauce, coconut milk, and starch? If you ask Trader Joe's, the answer is "Savory Vegan Gravy." If you ask me, the answer is "Weird glop that looks like gravy but doesn't taste like it."

Of course, there's a lot more in there than those five ingredients, but they head the list. I suspect the it was something in the combination of onions and tamari that threw the whole thing off for me. I found it actually unpleasant to eat. Nina thought it was unexciting, but fine.

Will I buy it again? 


Monday, December 2, 2019

Trader Joe's Focaccia Bread

Pardon the photo; I forgot to take a picture of this until it was half eaten.

This was acceptable but not great. I liked the cheese and tomato toppings, but the bread itself was pretty bland and lifeless. It would be better with more tomatoes and if the cheese were more evenly distributed, instead of being clumped all in the middle.

Will I buy it again? 


Saturday, November 30, 2019


This is my weekly compilation of news and other links about Trader Joe's.

A woman took maternity photos at Target and Trader Joe's

Trader Joe's scores poorly on reducing food waste

9 stocking stuffers from Trader Joe's

8 Trader Joe's Thanksgiving appetizers for under $7

Top 10 Trader Joe's vegan products

Best tweets of the week:

And finally, here's this week's cute cat in a Trader Joe's grocery bag (with thanks to my friend Aja):

Friday, November 29, 2019

Trader Joe's Peppermint Pretzel Slims

I've avoided buying these every year because I couldn't imagine liking them. To be sure, I love TJ's Pretzel Slims. And I love peppermint. But together? No. Ew.

I was correct. I had several at Nina's house the other day. They just Put the "creamy coating and peppermint sprinkles" on something else--a big marshmallow, say, or a maraschino cherry--and I'd probably think you a culinary genius. But on a pretzel? No. It's too clashy.

On the other hand, there's Nina: "I love them." "Delicious." "I could eat a hundred of these."

De gustibus, etc.

Will I buy it again? 


Wednesday, November 27, 2019

Trader Joe's Olivewood Bowl

Nina bought this, with the intention of using it for serving snacks at a party. Given the wood's sensitivity to water and need for maintenance with oil, these bowls are not practical for everyday use. But they're very pretty to have on hand for some special occasion.

Tuesday, November 26, 2019

Trader Joe's Oven-Baked Cheese Bites With Black Summer Truffle

Trader Joe's has, inexplicably, taken one of their best products and contaminated it with foul bits of revolting truffle. Selling these should be a crime, as they constitute an adulterated food product.

Now, if you ask Nina, you'll get an entire different story. She will tell you that these are not only delicious, but a big improvement on the original. She will explain that it took enormous willpower not to chow down the entire bag in one sitting. It's hard to understand how she is so right about some things (like taste in boyfriends) and so wrong in others (like taste in cheesy snacks).

Will I buy it again? 


Saturday, November 23, 2019


This is my weekly compilation of news and other links about Trader Joe's.

Trader Joe's announces recall of certain products containing romaine lettuce due to E. coli

Your Trader Joe's Thanksgiving shopping list 

25 of the best Thanksgiving foods at Trader Joe's

Taste test of four vegan roasts including Trader Joe's (14-minute video)

Trader Joe's has 84 new holiday products this year

Thanksgiving dinner using only Trader Joe's products

Wegman's is a better shopping experience than Trader Joe's

Delicious 3-ingredient Trader Joe's dinners

Cost of turkeys at 14 grocery store chains

20 recipes for Trader Joe's cauliflower gnocchi

5 Trader Joe's recipes you need on your Thanksgiving table

10 Trader Joe's Thanksgiving sides and appetizers

The 10 best Trader Joe's stocking stuffers of 2019

Best tweets of the week:

And finally, here's this week's cute cat in a Trader Joe's grocery bag (with thanks to my friend Elaine):

Friday, November 22, 2019

Trader Joe's Cauliflower Tot Casserole

Tater tots--except made from riced cauliflower instead of taters, so lower carb numbers--with a white sauce and gooey cheese. What's not to love? Very comfort-foody.

Because I had time while other things were cooking, I did the oven method instead of microwave. As seems to always be the case with TJ's frozen-to-oven products, it required about 10 minutes more than the package directs. Due to that, I didn't apply the optional additional 2-3 minutes of broiler time to get the promised "golden brown top," but I will next time because it definitely would have been better that way.

Nitpicking: The tots at the edges, where the cheese and sauce didn't quite reach, maintained their integrity. But most of the rest couldn't stand up to the cheese and sauce and became sort of an indistinguishable mash. It didn't affect the taste at all, but it would have been more texturally satisfying if they had enough crispiness to remain distinct tots.

Claimed serving size of 3 is about right. Nina and I had it as a side dish to some chili last night, and about 1/3 of it was left for my lunch today.

Will I buy it again? 

Yes. It's already on my Thanksgiving dinner shopping list.

Monday, November 18, 2019

Sweet Rose Coconut Whipped Topping

In design, function, appearance, and texture, this is just like the famous Reddi Wip, or the less famous but all-around superior Cabot whipped cream that Trader Joe's sells.

In flavor, though, there's no chance of confusing this for dairy. It is strongly and distinctly coconut. For me, that's not a bad thing; I can't think of any way I'd use whipped cream in which I would not welcome some coconut flavor. On top of a fruit pie? Sure. On top of chocolate ice cream? Yes, please. On top of angel food cake with diced strawberries? Lay it on thick.

I predict that within several months, the product as you see it here will suddenly disappear from TJ's shelves, to be replaced soon thereafter with an identical one, except now carrying the Trader Joe's name and a more whimsical label design.

Will I buy it again? 

My use of such products is minimal--something like one can a year--but yes, this would be my first choice now.

Saturday, November 16, 2019


This is my weekly compilation of news and other links about Trader Joe's.

Price comparison, Aldi and Trader Joe's

What Thanksgiving dinner does $50 buy you at various grocery stores?

6 holiday favorites you can already buy at Trader Joe's

The 9 best Trader Joe's crackers

How Trader Joe's exploits a fading California fantasy

11 Trader Joe's holiday gift ideas

Don't leave Trader Joe's without trying at least one of these products

Best tweets of the week:

And finally, here's this week's cute cat in a Trader Joe's grocery bag with his Trader Joe's advent calendar for cats.

Friday, November 15, 2019

Trader Joe's Grain Free Cat Treats With Turkey

Trader Joe's has long carried Bench & Field brand cat treats. (Lucy hated them.) But that one item has been the whole cat-treat lineup, while dog treats have proliferated. Finally, we have a second kind of cat treat, and it's TJ's-branded.

Since I haven't tasted them myself, let's bring in an expert consultant.

"What's this? These aren't my regular treats."

"Mmmm, but they're pretty tasty."

"Is that all?"

"Bring me more of these treats, unworthy hooman!"

She's had about a dozen in the last 24 hours, and she definitely likes them. It's not clear to me whether she likes them more than her regular brand, less, or about the same; I can't tell any difference in her reaction.

Will I buy it again? 

Once in a while, I suppose. But I usually buy her treats in big tubs, not small bags like this. She didn't seem to love them enough to cause me to decide to make them her staple treats.

Addendum, 2/11/20 

After living with these for a while, it's now perfectly clear that Lucy actually doesn't like them as much as her regular Temptations brand of treats. With the latter, she always--100% of the time--gobbles them up instantly. With the Trader Joe's, she usually sniffs them and walks away. She'll come back later and eat them when she gets hungrier, but she makes it clear that she is disappointed that she has not been given the good stuff.

Why do I still have any treats left? I had bought two bags initially, and gave one to Nina for her cat Loki. After trying them a few times, Loki, too, let her know that he wanted his Temptations instead. So she gave the bag back to me.

Two-cat verdict: Barely acceptable, definitely not preferred.

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Trader Joe's Leafy Greens With Butternut Squash Salad Kit

I was going to say that I found this product to be a mixed bag--but then I realized what a terrible unintentional pun that would be, and I couldn't do it. My policy on terrible puns is that they must be intentional.

Oddly, I liked all the accoutrements here, but not so much the main salad itself. The latter was too much lawn-clipping for me. The add-ins, though, were nice. I was surprised that I liked the slices of butternut squash, which I had anticipated would taste out of place.

The dressing--"white balsamic vinaigrette"--immediately struck me as much too sweet, but by my second serving of salad, I had grown rather fond of it. Trader Joe's bagged salad kits have had a not-great record with their included dressings, but this one is a winner. I wish they'd sell it separately.

Will I buy it again? 

No. I'll stick to my usual mix and dressings.

Monday, November 11, 2019

Trader Joe's Linguine With Pesto & Tomatoes

I used the microwave heating method: 7 minutes, with a stir in the middle. Super easy, and came out just right. I separately browned some fake Italian sausage and added it just before serving. I recommend this embellishment.

It was much, much skimpier on tomatoes than the package depicts, and would be improved if the product actually matched the photo.

It was perfectly fine. I'm just not a big fan of pesto for pasta. I want my sauce.

Nina liked it more than I did, calling it "very tasty." She said it's something she might keep in the freezer for those occasions when one is feeling both hungry and lazy.

Will I buy it again? 

No. But if I see it on my plate at a dinner at Nina's, I will be neither surprised nor disappointed.

Saturday, November 9, 2019


This is my weekly compilation of news and other links about Trader Joe's.

Trader Joe's announces recall of baby cauliflower due to possible Listeria contamination

How to buy everything you need for Thanksgiving at Trader Joe's for under $130

3 new vegan items at Trader Joe's

Everything you need from Trader Joe's for Thanksgiving

Trader Joe's best fall-themed goodies

5 Trader Joe's cauliflower products a dietitian loves

Trader Joe's influencers on Instagram

10 healthy breakfast products from Trader Joe's

Complete vegan Thanksgiving shopping list from Trader Joe's

Trader Joe's new items for November

22 vegan Thanksgiving items from Trader Joe's

New items at Trader Joe's

The best Trader Joe's desserts for Thanksgiving

Comparison test of Wegman's and Trader Joe's private label foods

Trader Joe's lets us be snobs at reasonable prices

Best tweets of the week:

And finally, here's this week's cute cat in a Trader Joe's grocery bag with her Trader Joe's advent calendar for cats:

Wednesday, November 6, 2019

Trader Joe's Strawberries

Ordinary, average, unremarkable grocery-store fresh strawberries. Not great, not terrible--just adequate.

Much less flavorful than Trader Joe's Organic Strawberries, at least on the basis of one sample of each.

Will I buy them again? 

Not if the organic ones are available.