Saturday, July 2, 2011

A Year of Living Frugally-Trader Joe's

One of the very sad facts about living in the Quad Cities, is that we do not have a Trader Joe's. This is sad because I LOVE Trader Joe's. Good Stuff at good prices, who can ask for more? Luckily, we have family in St. Louis, that we visit once in a while, as well as family in Omaha, Des Moines, and the Chicago area, and every few months we will head in one of those directions. We always make a side trip Trader Joe's to stock up on some essentials. Here is my Trader Joe's shopping list:

1)Coffee-I have a serious craving for their dark french roast coffee, it's just so smooth. Exactly the way I like it. It's $5.99 for a pound of beans. Well worth it.

2)Olive Oil-No one can beat the quality or the price of Trader Joe's Olive Oil. Almost half the cost of what I see locally. I usually buy at least a liter, on every trip.

3)Basmati Brown Rice-This is the rice that converted me to a brown rice lover. It has a great taste and I now serve this instead of white rice exclusively. $2.99 for a 5 lb bag is a bargain.

4)Asiago Cheese-I have a thing for really good cheese. Trader Joe's has fantastic cheese.  Asiago is such a strong tasting cheese that a little will go a long way. I can get a good lb sized wedge, which will see me through several meals, for just under $5.00. Love it!

5)Pot Stickers-I usually don't buy much frozen food when I go to Trader Joe's, because we always have at least a 3 hour drive home. However, my own exception is the Chicken and Pork Pot Stickers, because I can't find them anywhere else, and I love them. I have a thermal bag to bring them home in. We usually buy at least 2 or 3 bags. I love them because they are so tasty, and it is a quick meal. Throw them in a hot skillet with a little oil, then when they are browned on one side, add a little water and throw on a lid to steam. It really is literally a 5 minute meal. I make a little dipping sauce with some apricot preserves and rice wine vinegar, and serve with my basmati rice. Perfect meal. $3.99 a bag, and we can usually get 2 meals (for the 2 of us) out of one bag.

6)Slivered Almonds-I love almonds. I especially love Trader Joe's almonds. I buy these for chicken salad, for baking, to throw in my oatmeal (which I also buy at Trader Joe's!) and muffins and quick breads. $2.99 for a 1 lb bag is a remarkable price, and it's a great product.

7)Pesto-I love the pesto in a jar available at Trader Joe's. An easy dish is some pasta tossed with olive oil and pesto, and some parm. Served hot or cold, it's yummy. Also great on grilled bread, better than garlic bread!  I put it on chicken, even use it as a condiment on sandwiches.

8)Last but not least, Charles Shaw Wine. AKA  "Two Buck Chuck" Actually, it is now $2.99 a bottle. It is worth going to Trader Joe's for this alone. Don't let the cheap price fool you, this is very good wine. I love to cook with it, and drink it. You can buy a case for just under $36.00. Not bad. I am particularly fond of the Pinot Grigio. Doug is all about the Cabernet. At this price, we can both afford to get what we like. No arguing.

There are many other things that I prefer to buy at Trader Joe's, but these are my on my "Must Get" list every time we are near one. I have heard rumor that the Quad Cities will be getting their own store in about 1 1/2 years. I sincerely hope that is true. I will keep my fingers crossed that it happens. In the mean time, shopping outside the area gives us a reason to visit our loved ones more often.

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