To Eat, What's Good at Trader Joe's
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A Week’s Hoarding of Trader Joe’s

Nearly a month into the year, and I’m banning myself from another Sunday visit. It’s been impossible to get only spinach (the primary reason for the visit, each time) when I want to make the most out of the free bus ride that inconveniences me for only 15 minutes, and drops me off right on front of my place.

Like many establishments that get blown out of proportion in NYC, a Trader Joe’s experience in NYC (whether in Manhattan or Brooklyn) is much like an orderly battlefield. Always lots of people, kind of crowded, mild irritation here and there. Come late Sunday afternoon, you’d wonder if there was an impending calamity/apocalyptic event because the isles are sparse. Only one pitiful can of chili (and it’s chicken, not the turkey one). No more canned chickpeas, or boxes of palak paneer. Apparently people prefer chicken enchiladas over corn, and beef (which was delicious). And it’s no surprise that there’s no more frozen strawberries, or that sausage that everyone likes (which is why I’ve never had a chance to try it).

The lines go arouund, and each branch almost always has a person delegated to controlling the traffic and relaying cashwrap assignments to customers. One Sunday, I commented to a traffic controller on the surprising number of people who were there that morning. He told me that it was lighter than usual, a good morning for them.

Typically, I stock up on greens. Lately, I’ve been hoarding canned beans, chili, and sausage so that I can make salads and hearty soupy meals. And of course, chocolate. But less than I want to buy. Last Christmas, all the branches I visited were out of my favorite milk chocolate covered pretzels. Which was a good thing for my body, because I can finish a bag in one sitting, because I am disgusting. Also, there’s the 5 boxes of water crackers (normal water crackers, multi-grain water crackers, and the everything bagel crackers) that I always get, because they’re so good. They go by quickly since they’re the easiest things to eat at work with a tub of their Kalamata Olive Hummus.

These are what I’ve been cooking up in the kitchen. Unless specified, all the ingredients were actually from Trader Joe’s, except for cooking oil.

Spinach with Sausage (Chicken, Fontina Cheese, Roasted Garlic) and Grilled Grape Tomatoes (no need for dressing)

The exact same thing, but with Feta Cheese and the Trader Joe’s Berry Jam.

Sauteed Spinach, grape tomatoes, and the same sausage.

SPONTANEITY AT IT’S BEST: The SAME SAUSAGE, and grape tomatoes, but with kale. And lemon zest.

Leftover Massaman curry chicken (from Topaz Thai – a Thai restaurant in midtown) with TJ’s garlic naan.

Breakfast! Apparently TJ’s sells Irish steel cut oats, which is what you see here. I topped my oatmeal with a fried egg, thanks to a cookbook an aunt gave for Christmas (which is all about putting eggs everywhere), extra virgin olive oil, and fried red onion.

Kale in pot…(sauteed in TJ’s organic chicken broth), which I discover, is how I like kale.

Plus this….

and spinach, and meatballs….. becomes a delicious and healthy stew-ey meatball and veggie dish! And easily packed for work. These meatballs were nice and tasty. I wondered why the tomato sauce was spicy, until I read the can again. The chicken sausage with sun-dried tomatoes is for later.

Ah, yes. The turkey chili. One time, in a rush to work, I brought a can thinking we had a can opener. We didn’t. I seriously considered opening it this way.

It was eaten topped with TJ’s shredded cheddar.

The aromatic punjab choley, which makes two meals for me. In a rush for work, I stuffed a mini pantry, which included this box, a box of water crackers, hummus, and yogurt.

In an attempt to recreate one of my favorite salads in Le Pain Quotidien, the tuscan white bean salad, I bought white kidney beans, white northern beans, tomatoes, pesto (from Eataly), Arugula, and garlic. I didn’t have prosciutto, so I made use of what was already in my freezer, the chicken sausage (with sun-dried tomatoes, basil, garlic). I omitted parmesan cheese because I forgot to buy it.

It’s surprisingly simple, and so good! Especially drizzled with good olive oil and a freshly squeezed lemon. Which is why I had it again the next day. I still have a serving each of the salad and the meatball veggie stew.


  1. Greens/leaves + some form of meat + acid (citrus or tomato) = something yummy!
  2. I can consume a bag of kale, spinach, and arugula in a week.
  3. TJ’s has delicious indian food. I can’t wait to try the palak paneer, which my trusted foodie cousin Megan recommended.
  4. Barby spends so much at TJ’s, she should probably become a stakeholder, if they have stocks.
  5. Barby is learning to be healthy, efficient (cooking-wise) and on a budget.

As close friends probably suspect, this isn’t the entire stash. My snacks were all gone before they could be documented.


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