If you are like me, a Canadian who has not been to the U.S. in a while, you may be wondering what the heck is all that great about Trader Joe’s? I have been hearing about it forever and there was even a Pirate Joe’s in Vancouver for a while that would buy inventory from the store and resell it to Canadian Trader Joe’s enthusiasts. So what is it that is so fantastic about this store?!
I have been assured that not all Trader Joe’s have been created equal so let me clarify that I was at the one on University Avenue in Berkeley, California.
Pumpkin Spice Season
This Trader Joe’s was pumpkin spice INSANE! Totally on trend with this contemporary foodie obsession. Check it out:
You could get Chocolate Mousse Pumpkins.
There was Pumpkin Spice Coffee!
And OMG, Pumpkin Spice Pumpkin Seeds. OK, that is getting a little ridiculous! And it did not stop there, it went on and on with pumpkin spice everything…
After walking past the alcohol section where you could buy a $5 bottle of wine (like, wow) there was the deli and cheese section…
This was our favourite section where you could pick up sandwiches and salads for just $5! Perfect when you are travelling and need to save money on food but do not want to live on pizza.
There were tons of cool foodie products for just $2 to $3 but yes, you can also get fresh produce there.
Among my favourite things from the store were Sweetango Apples! These were the crunchiest and sweetest apples I have ever had. Not cheap at $1.29 U.S. but totally worth it.
We were staying at an AirBnB close by so we would load up on food and put it in the fridge so we could eat in between family events.
I bought these Powerberries to share with my family and Reg when I got home.
“The juices of açai, blueberries, cranberries and pomegranates are combined to make sweet-tart jellied pieces. Each tasty morsel is individually enrobed in luxuriously smooth dark chocolate.” Delicious!!! I do not think I have ever had anything quite like it before—an odd flavour combination but it worked brilliantly.
When Reg and I saw Martha Stewart recommend butter from Brittany on her Martha Bakes program (he happened to be walking by) we just laughed and laughed. Because that would be so easy to come by, right? Well it is if you can get to a Trader Joe’s! I could not believe it. Their Cultured Salted Butter From France is produced in Brittany and was only $2! I used it when I made everyone breakfast burritos. Yum!
I lived on their Harvest Salad with Grilled Chicken during the trip and I was not alone.
For only $5 you got this huge deeply satisfying and filling salad and…
There was something special in that salad. An herb that tasted so familiar but I could not recognize it. My sister Jamie figured it out. Oregano! But not just oregano. I believe they used oregano seeds because they were so super tiny. Brilliant!
Their Crispy Crunchy Mochi Rice Nuggets are SUPER crunchy and quite large. They taste like cubes of corn, actually, even though there is no corn in them. They were great in my tomato soup!
The one thing I knew I HAD to buy was their Everything but the Bagel Sesame Seasoning Blend which was only $2 and came in a glass container. My friend The Happy Whisk had told me about it before I left and I saw mmmisformommy use it on chicken! Can not wait to start product testing.
I See The Trader Joe’s Light
Everything we bought at Trader Joe’s was delicious and fun. They really know how to tap into trends and make food entertaining.
Despite how the tall building is, this Trader Joe’s was only one level and smaller than I was expecting but wow, what a fun foodie place to shop. I also love that the clerks wore Hawaiian t-shirts and were incredibly friendly and outgoing.
I can absolutely see why people love to shop at Trader Joe’s. They have done a fantastic job at balancing pre-prepared food with top quality fresh ingredients. They make food fast and easy to purchase and consume without breaking the customer’s bank. Bravo Trader Joe’s. Bravo!
Hey Suzie! That was my first time and I was happy to pay the 2 bucks for the bagel topping. My jar is gone now so I will go back to making my own BUT, I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE the black sesame seeds and will use that in my own mix. That being said, for 2 bucks, I’d also pick it up again. Made crackers with it too. Lovely, lovely taste.
I’m curious to go to a Trader Joe’s that doesn’t have alcohol. Curious to see if there’s more product or not.
To me, Trader Joe’s is like an upscale Aldi or a budget Whole Foods. Then I read that Trader Joe’s is/was owned by one of the Aldi brothers. Don’t know if that’s true or not, but I love, love, love both Aldi and Trader Joe’s.
Suzie the Foodie says
Yes, love the black sesame seeds Ivy! Definitely worth the $2. I don’t think I have even see black sesame seeds anywhere near here. In Canada you can only get alcohol at alcohol stores so it was weird to see it in a store like this and for so cheap! Everything here is so expensive. With stores like this (and with restaurants not being cheaper than in Canada) I can see the appeal of making your own food. What a savings! It isn’t as much the case as in Canada. Maybe one day there will be a real Trader Joe’s here too.
Debra She Who Seeks says
Thanks for the tour! I’ve never been to a Trader Joe’s and yes, I know everyone in the blogosphere raves about them!
Suzie the Foodie says
You’re welcome! I thought there would be somebody else out there like me who has never been so I hope it feels like you went virtually.
Laura Mattiello says
I LOVE Trader Joe’s, my friend and I used to hop over to the one in Bellingham at least once a month along with a stop at Target and Costco. They have so many great products, I used to stock up on coconut oil, coconut milk, masala veggie burgers, spice mixes and this sweet and savoury nut mix – so good, my mouth is just watering thinking about all of this. I think I need to renew my passport ASAP so I can start going again!
Suzie the Foodie says
Laura, I can totally see why and yes, lots of mixes! I have also heard the sauces were great. Yes, go renew that passport!!!
Patricia Komai says
Joe, the founder of Trader Joe’s started in my home town, Monrovia. He ran a little convenience store called Pronto Market, where he and his employees wore Hawaiian shirts, a ‘uniform’ that has carried over. We would always stop on the way home from school to buy candy or chips. He was always friendly and nice to us. He and his wife still have a home here. The headquarters are here too. I love shopping there. I can get my Fair Trade Organic Breakfast Blend coffee, choose from 30+ different kinds of candy and cookies and everything else on my shopping list. Love the deli section and their organic produce is always fresh. It’s a great place to shop. I’m so glad you had the opportunity to experience Trader Joe’s. It’s been great to watch Joe, a truly good guy, grow his little corner store of my youth to stores throughout the US.
Suzie the Foodie says
I love this story Patricia! How amazing you “knew him when” and that he was a good guy, doing a great job and hit it big. You saw him right from the beginning to succeed to where he is today. Very cool!