I’m hardly the first blogger to write an “Oh My God, I just love Trader Joe’s” blog post. But on my monthly shopping trip there last Sunday, I realized that good old TJ’s has a ton of stuff particularly well-suited for those of us with an empty nest. When I got home, I pulled out 10 of my favorites to share with you guys.
1. Fresh Flowers
Nobody’s going to knock these over!
2. Chicken Pot Pie Ravioli
It’s Ravioli that tastes like Chicken Pot Pie. Allegedly serves 2. Do you know how many of these I would have had to buy to fill up two teenage boys and a girl and a Mom with decent appetites? Like, a hundred packages. If I also serve a pre-made Trader Joe’s salad, one package will suffice for both my husband and me. However, I’ve made two packages and thrown portion control and good nutrition to the wind. I like to serve this with just some parmesan cheese (the good shaved stuff from the cheese section), but throw in some jarred alfredo sauce and you’ve got a meal that you didn’t so much cook as you heated.
3. Thai Red Curry Sauce
Speaking of sauce, this Thai Red Curry Sauce is yummy over pretty much everything: chicken breasts, pork medallions, chickpeas, you name it. It’s the perfect way to turn the stuff I tend to have in my house even if I didn’t make it to the grocery store into a meal: thaw out that chicken breast from the bottom of the freezer, cut up that onion of unknown age and saute it with the mushrooms that look like they’re about to turn. Toss the whole thing along with some rice with this sauce and you’ve got a lovely meal that says you’re an organized, planning type of person who likes to make things special. Serve with Two Buck Chuck.
4. Fresh Rice Noodles
I love these noodles. They stay fresh for a couple of months so I actually use them pretty frequently as a substitute for rice when I’m making my Thai Red Curry Sauce emergency meals. They’re also great in soups. Warning: a little goes a long way with this noodles. I think the package says that each packet has 6 servings and, in this case, I’d respect that. They’re pretty high in calories and surprisingly filling.
5. Chicken Breast Medallions with Coconut Red Curry Sauce
Another quick and easy dinner. This is great served over rice. It supposedly serves four. I don’t think so. Still, it’s delicious and so reasonably priced, particularly compared to those heat and eat meals in the supermarket. (I’m looking at you, Paul Newman. $9.99?)
6. Cooked Shrimp — Hand Peeled and Deveined
This is probably my favorite thing we buy; it’s certainly my husband’s. Delicious frozen shrimp completely ready to go; all you have to do is quickly thaw it. This is also amazing with the Thai Curry sauce, but we typically serve it grilled with butter and salt and pepper. So yummy!
7. Seasoned Brussels Sprouts
The shrimp is my husband’s favorite and the brussels sprouts are his least favorite. In fact, he won’t eat them. Ha ha, more for me! How easy is this? Roast them in the oven for a while or saute them in a pan and then eat up yummy, guilt-free, filling veggies for 60 calories a cup. He doesn’t know what he’s missing.
8. Mushroom Ravioli with Mushroom Truffle Sauce
9. Chicken Piccata
10. Roasted Vegetable Lasagna
And then there are the nights when I cannot even handle adding rice or sauteing in a pan. Perhaps – perhaps! – I can add a bagged salad. On those nights, I turn to reasonably priced, reasonably delicious frozen foods. I supplement these meals with reasonably priced, reasonably delicious wine.
There are so many things I love at Trader Joe’s just perfect for two people that I didn’t mention because I didn’t buy them on this trip: cut up chicken just right for fajitas, frozen onion soup!, and really good steaks, just to name a few. What are some of your favorites?