September 16, 2022 | CULTURE | By Mariel Zech
Trader Joe’s has me wrapped around their finger. I am an avid fan. In addition to their food, I love their newspaper, “The Fearless Flyer”, which pitches creative ways to mix their products, and their adorable 99-cent cards. If it weren’t for the fact that The Catalyst articles aren’t supposed to exceed 1,000 words, I would go on about Trader Joe’s forever.
The following are some items that seem to end up in my cart week after week. This is not my final, comprehensive list of the best items Trader Joe’s has to offer, but all of these are certainly worth trying.
Thai Vegetable Gyoza:
These truly hit the spot every time. I once offered one to my roommate Gabby Casagrande ’23, and she was immediately hooked.
“To put it simply, they are heavenly,” Casagrande said.
Casagrande’s obsession has caused her some distress and grief on the two occasions when the Colorado Springs TJ’s was out of the bags. “I almost had an aneurysm,” Casagrande said. “I even parsed through the chicken gyoza section in a desperate attempt to see if a vegetable bag remained, to no avail.”
Just throw some soy sauce on these bad boys and you’re all set. If you prefer them crispier, the air fryer is a good bet; otherwise, the microwave will do the job perfectly.
Joe’s Diner Mac & Cheese:
I find myself craving this frozen mac and cheese quite often. It is a rich, delightful blend of cheddar, havarti, gouda, and swiss.
A classic bowl of creamy Annie’s never fails to provide a simple and nostalgic meal, but sometimes you need a hearty helping like this, full of thick and gooey cheese.
Personally, I like to add ketchup to this. I’m sure some people will be vehemently disturbed by that, but I stand my ground.
Rolled Corn Tortilla Chips (Chili & Lime Flavored):
As you may have gathered, these are just a fancy name for fake Takis. These chips are slightly milder and have a stronger lime taste than traditional Takis.
Casey Ferringo ’23, who dislikes spicy food, claims that these are “better than Takis.” That is a hot take, and you’ll have to check them out for yourself.
Pumpkin Ice Cream:
Make sure you try this seasonal delight to help you get into the fall spirit. This rich ice cream offers a refreshing splash of pumpkin mixed with a twinge of spice — a mix of nutmeg, cinnamon, ginger, and clove.
Kale Gnocchi (paired with Vegan Kale Cashew & Basil Pesto)
Trader Joe’s cauliflower gnocchi, which was released in 2018, quickly began flying off shelves — fueled by a larger cultural cauliflower craze and product publicity. In a 2018 Vice article, “Trader Joe’s Cauliflower Gnocchi Deserves its Cult Following”, Anna Lovine details her journey through three TJ’s stores, as she desperately tried to score a bag of the “elusive” and “magical” gnocchi. Megyn Kelly did a taste test on The Today Show in 2018.
It seems that the cauliflower craze has died down, but I implore you to not to let cauliflower gnocchi’s fame blind you from its less popular cousin: TJ’s kale gnocchi.
Kale is the first ingredient listed in the bag for this frozen meal, which is a good sign. As long as you like kale, this is yummy, and pairs nicely with pesto.
If you’re feeling crazy, you could add even more kale to your meal by throwing in the TJ’s Vegan Kale Cashew & Basil Pesto. Nestled in the refrigerated section, this concoction includes cashews and offers a fresh new twist on your typical pine-nut pesto experience. It’s intense, vivid green color only reflects how much flavor is packed in there.
Organic Acai Puree Packets paired with Frozen Mango Chunks:
If you love fruit and you have a sweet tooth, then these acai puree packets are the perfect tool for you to whip up a quick acai bowl. These packets are unsweetened and slightly bitter, so it tastes best if you mix it with other fruit in a blender, such as with the lovely TJ’s frozen mango chunks. Then, add fruit on top, your nut butter of choice, chia seeds, flaxseeds, coconut, and a drizzle of honey.
Greek Yogurt with Honey:
For a long time, I struggled to enjoy plain Greek yogurt because I felt like even after I added honey and other toppings, it still tasted bland. I didn’t want a flavored yogurt like vanilla, either. When I stumbled upon TJ’s Greek Yogurt with Honey, I was delighted. The only sweetener in this is honey, but it’s blended in seamlessly which makes each bite satisfying and flavorful.
Serve this spinach and paneer microwaveable meal with rice or naan and you’ll have a match made in heaven. It’s creamy, delicious, and filling.
Quinoa Cowboy Veggie Burgers:
Trader Joe’s sells the popular Dr. Praeger’s veggie burgers that you will find in many supermarkets, but I prefer these. The beans and corn make the patties texturally interesting, and these thicken up impressively in the air fryer.
Pair them with the TJ’s Magnifisauce (which sort of reminds me of Chick-Fil-A sauce,) lettuce, avocado, tomatoes, and a bun.
Thai Style Yellow Curry Sauce:
This mild sauce, made with ginger, onion, garlic, red chilies, and coconut milk, makes dinner so easy. It boasts a delicious flavor that will be soaked right up by rice and whatever meat and vegetables you serve with it.
Note: I did not explore any products in the cheese section in this article. That honestly deserves an article of its own.
What’s your favorite TJ’s product? Shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and let me know!