Sunday, June 14, 2009

There's a New Shop In Town

I am loving having a Trader Joe's Supermarket in town for a whole host of reasons. Living in far Northern California (contrary to the mis-informed opinions of out of state folks, and those from the lower half of the state, there is a whole lotta state north of the Bay area) we don't have so many choices in shopping. We have more than enough big box stores, but not so many options in small, fun shops with interesting choices. Trader Joe's came to town in May, and even my kids find shopping there pleasurable. First, they always have a sample of some tasty morsel to try. It's not samples on every aisle like Costco, but it's not a corn dog sample either. It's more like a tilapia taco or something like that, and although there are usually several people waiting to try, it's nothing like the traffic jam of over sized and overstuffed carts with like shoppers found elsewhere.
I am really enjoying the yummy ethnic and convenience foods that aren't full of mysterious ingredients. In a perfect world, we would make everything from scratch. We love to cook, but in real life, sometimes we're too busy for a full scale homemade meal, and we're hungry. We want good food fast, but not fast food. We also like to experiment with new and different flavors, spicy, tangy, sweet- we are adventurous with our tastes. That's why I love the sauces we find at TJ's. It's a quick, easy, and tasty way to spruce up some lentils, beans, chicken etc. Thai Curry, mango chutney, and East Indian are some of the newest flavors we've enjoyed. At about $2 a bottle, with simple, short and recognizable ingredient lists, it's well worth it.
Our other TJ's favorites are the breads, cereals, and chips. I have never cared what the Atkin's fans said. I love my carbs, but I do make them whole grain and organic whenever possible. It's nice to find affordable and healthier choices. Organic cracked wheat sourdough for less than $3 a loaf- I'm all over it.
I also appreciate the Two Buck Chuck. Of course Charles Shaw wines aren't the best in the world, but they are certainly a lot better than I ever imagined a $2 wine would be. And who ever heard of a $2 wine that didn't have a screw on cap? It actually has a cork, and I don't even feel like a wino buying it.
The only thing I dis-like about Trader Joe's is the over packaging of the produce. I'm not a fan of excess plastic, and some of their items simply have more wrapping than needed, but I am optimistic that they will listen to consumer request and get rid of some of that in the future. Overall, my family is very glad to have a new place to shop full of good things to eat and new flavors to try.