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June 14, 2015

Top Picks at Trader Joe’s

by Anne Paddock

With more than 430 stores across the United States, Trader Joe’s offers a shopping experience that keeps customers loyal: great products at competitive prices. Most of the retailer’s packaged products are under their own private label although some well-known manufacturers (i.e. the French chocolatier Valrhona) are also available.

Smaller than the average grocery store (12,500 square feet compared to 50,000), Trader Joe’s has a limited selection but one that brings shoppers back time after time. Some of the best products available at Trader Joe’s include:

Avocados: No retail store has avocados as tasty as Trader Joe’s. Often green and hard at the store, the Haas avocados known for their creamy, rich flavor ripen in 3-5 days without bruises or dark spots. Buy the individual avocados (as opposed to the smaller ones in the green net bag). $1.39 each.avocadosCilantro: Fresh cilantro is available at almost every grocery store but within 2-3 days in the refrigerator, the cilantro goes limp. Not so with the cilantro at Trader Joe’s. The fresh cilantro in the plastic bag lasts for a week (without preservatives). I suspect the reason has to do with the plastic bag and the growers who raise this herb.

cilantro

Trader Joe’s Heavenly Villagio Marzano Tomatoes:  “Heavenly” is a just description of these very sweet tomatoes.  With an oblong shape that resemble the original San Marzano variety, these small bite sized tomatoes have very few seeds but lots of flavor. Eat whole or chop up to put in a salad, on tacos, tostados, or a pizza. Each 10 ounce bag has about 25 tomatoes and sells for $2.79.wn-heavenly-villagio-tomatoes-1

Trader Joe’s Pane Guttiau: Ultra crisp, ultra thin and ultra delicious describes Pane Guttiau: a specialty cracker found on the Italian island of Sardinia. Made in Italy of durum wheat, semolina, yeast, water, salt, and olive oil, these Sardinian Parchment Crackers are the Italian’s version of the saltine. One bite (which is as impossible as eating one potato chip) will make you ditch the American version. A 3.5 ounce box that contains about 8 large crackers is $2.99. Also great for making bread crumbs. Just place in the food processor and chop until the crackers turn into fine crumbs.pane-guttiau-crackers-di-1

Trader Joe’s Organic Extra Firm Organic Tofu: Tofu doesn’t have a lot of flavor so it’s important to find a tofu (preferably organic) that holds its shape and texture when cooked..and Trader Joe’s does at just $1.99 for a 15 ounce container in extra firm or firm.IMG_0824

Unsulfured Fruit: Trader Joe’s offers a wide variety of dried unsulfured and unsweetened dried fruit: apples, mangos, pineapple, apricots, and raisins.

TJ_Dried_PineappleNuts: Trader Joe’s does it all here: raw, roasted, salted, lightly salted, slivered, chopped, sliced, pieces, whole, and more for nearly every kind of nut including almond, macadamia, cashew, peanut, pecan, walnut, brazil, pine, pistachio, pumpkin and sunflower.

Trader_Joe's_NutsTrader Joe’s Organic Almond Butter:  Delicious nut butter in creamy and crunchy at $7.99 per jar.52293-crunchy-almond-butter-1

 Trader Joe’s Big & Chunky Apple Sauce: Apple sauce (without added sugar or corn syrup, preservatives, or artificial flavors or colors) that is everything it says it is: big and chunky. A 32 ounce jar is $3.69.

Trader_Joes_Applesauce

Valrhona Chocolate Bars: French chocolate maker Valrhona makes some pretty amazing chocolate bars which Trader Joe’s carries on the bottom shelf by the cashier check out. Choose from 55%, 70% dark, or 85% dark. Each scrumptious 3.5 ounce bar is $2.95.Valhrona_Chocolate

If you haven’t discovered the great products at Trader Joe’s, give them a chance. You won’t be disappointed.  To read more about Trader Joe’s or find a location, go to the company website:  www.traderjoes.com

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