The Dish: Hailing from a land where Trader Joe's was an hours-long road-trip destination, I still get giddy every time I walk into a San Francisco location. They're so bright and full of wonderful, delicious things, and people are everywhere! Okay, so the people-being-everywhere bit is kind of a hassle, but the selection of affordable veg products more than makes up for it.
For those of you who haven't had a chance to visit a TJ's, for your sake, do it. Some day soon. Here are a few of my favorite TJ things that I'm pretty much guaranteed to buy. Each costs less than $5, but I'll admit that they're purely convenience purchases—great for when I'm on a budget and want to treat myself (which is, um, all the time).
Abby's Trader Joe's Must-Haves
- Dark Chocolate-covered Almonds with Sea Salt & Turbinado Sugar ($3.99). I barely have words to describe these. They're pretty much the most amazing snack ever, and are incredibly addictive. Sweet plus salt equals heaven, especially when it's wrapped up in dark chocolate. I try to conserve a container as long as possible, but I advise against sharing in order to make that a reality.
- Wheat-Free Toaster Waffles ($1.89). I don't intentionally eat a wheat-free diet (if you couldn't tell that from my white flour-filled posts), but this fluffy toaster variety is vegan, and after devouring my first box many summers ago, I've been hooked ever since.
- Better n' Peanut Butter ($2.99). Don't judge me, but holy crap, I'm in love with this stuff. It's certainly not the most natural of products, and many healthy eaters may not touch it, but it's liquid gold. While sporting a schtick that it's lower in calories and fat than regular peanut butter (not my concern!), it also functions as dessert in a jar. Very sweet-tasting (yet somehow low in sugar), very delicious, and perfect for spreading on a wheat-free waffle for breakfast.
- TJ's Mediterranean Hummus ($3.99). Hummus, you are a spectacular creation. This huge container of smooth, delicious dip is way cheaper than its similarly priced counterparts at major grocers. It still doesn't last long in my house, but it's certainly more economical than the pricier name brands—and just as amazing.
- Simpler Times ($2.99). It's summertime, folks, which to me seems like the perfect excuse to sit around with friends and enjoy an ice-cold beer at only 50 cents per can. If you're not a beer snob—er, aficionado—then grab a six-pack and unwind. Consider my fridge stocked.
The Final Word: Of course there are dozens of veg products I didn't get to mention. I love them all! Don't forget to grab some TJ-brand Goddess salad dressing, affordable cleaning supplies, a bottle of famous $2 Charles Shaw wine, some fresh bread—I'll stop now. Are you a TJ's fan? What's your favorite bargain?