The Internet exploded in the Rocket City with the happy news that Trader Joe’s is finally coming to Huntsville! The much-anticipated grocery chain will be located in the MidCity District – currently Trader Joe fans have to drive to Nashville, Birmingham, or Atlanta to get their fix of organic goodies and fair trade items at bargain prices.
If you’ve never been, you might wonder why a grocery store is such a big deal, so we decided to share our family’s favorite things from Trader Joe’s in preparation of its arrival to North Alabama!
Things from Trader Joe’s Your Family Will Love
Frozen & International Entrees
Trader Joe’s frozen foods are fantastic, especially if you like Thai, Indian, Mexican, and Chinese food. My kids’ favorite dinner is their frozen Fried Rice, General Tso chicken, and Vegetable Lo Mein. If you need something new for Taco Tuesdays, the Black Bean Tamales are delicious too! Remember when we used to entertain? TJ’s frozen appetizers and hors devours are great (and cheap!) for spontaneous gatherings.
For Kids: The Trader Joe frozen Breaded Chicken Tenders are real non-processed chicken that ready in 15 minutes – they actually taste like they come from a restaurant. I use them on top of salads, in chicken parmesan, and toss it in BBQ sauce and veggies for a quick weeknight meal. It’s a life-saver for busy families, especially if you pair it with some of their Reduced-Guilt Mac & Cheese. Yum!
My kids drink smoothies every day for breakfast and we all know frozen fruit is not cheap… unless you get it here. TJ’s organic frozen fruit in inexpensive for my smoothie guzzlers, plus they always have a good variety to choose from.
Selling approximately four times more organic products than a typical grocery store, Trader Joe’s has a great variety of fresh produce year-round. From their adorable Teeny Tiny Avocados that are great for single servings, to the popular 19-Cent Bananas that are sold both in bunches and individually (!!!) you’ll always find interesting fruits & vegetables there at great prices.
In the summer, watermelons are usually large, cheap, and delicious. In the fall, you might see pumpkins in huge bins. Also, the grab-and-go salad kits are always a good choice for dinner and they have soooooo many different flavors of yummy hummus, usually at least a couple bucks cheaper than you’ll find anywhere else.
Fair Trade Coffee & Spices
This list of ranked TJ’s coffee is the bomb. My daily favorite is the Cup of Joe Light Roast whole bean coffee but if you want to treat yourself they have coffee from all over the world! Their Ethiopian blend is fair trade and full-bodied. The prices are great too.
Stock up on the spice aisle when you go – popular things to watch for: Everything But the Bagel Seasoning, Garlic Salt grinder, Everyday Seasoning, 21 Seasoning Salute, and Mushroom & Co Umami Seasoning. All retail for around $3 each.
Watermelon lemonade in the Summer, Fall pumpkin empanadas, peppermint meringues in December… the seasonal treat game at TJ’s is tight. I’ve been known to put together gift baskets of these goodies for teacher Christmas gifts. The best rule of thumb is to keep an eye out for these displays at the front of the store, and grab them quick because they go fast.
Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups
Made by a Danish Bakery exclusively for Trader Joe’s, this flaky buttery pastry is fantastic and comes in several different flavors throughout the year. I’ve sampled the pumpkin, almond, cinnamon, and pecan. They aren’t available all the time, so when you see it in the refrigerated case at the end of the aisle, grab one. Trust me.
My fur babies are big fans of the Dog Treats, especially the peanut butter flavor! These large treats are shaped like bones, fire hydrants, shoes, squirrels, couches, and cars, because dogs LOVE biscuits shaped like things they enjoy chasing, chewing up, or peeing on. They even have gingerbread flavor during the holidays. A big 16 oz. box costs around $3.50.
Beauty & Body Care
I adore Trader Joe’s variety of body butters – they’re coconut oil-based, smell great, and make my skin feel like its 20 years old again. It’s a really good, deep moisturizer. Coconut, Pumpkin, and Coconut-Lime are the scents I’ve tried, but during the winter holidays you can find their sample pack of Lemon-Verbena, Almond-Honey, and Frosted Berry.
The body washes are my teenage sons’ go-to. They like the Tea Tree Tingle and Refresh Citrus body wash scents. They also stock up on their All For One, One For All shampoo/conditioner/body wash because they’re teenagers and can’t be bothered to do all those things separately, plus they have a subtle clean, neutral scent.
In the summertime, be sure to hit up the Trader Joe’s Sunscreens.
Two Buck Chuck
Trader Joe’s brand of wine is Charles Shaw, better known as the infamous “Two-Buck Chuck”. (What’s with the name? It used to retail for $1.99 but today you can get it for $3.99.) Personally, I like their reds but prefer to get my whites at Costco. At this price you can stock up!
Flowers & Potted Plants
The cut flowers at Trader Joe’s are among the cheapest you’ll find around. So affordable, I like to grab a bunch on a whim to surprise a friend or brighten up the kitchen table just because. If you’re a plant person, they also have really cute potted plants that are healthy and fabulously low-priced. Just ask my succulent collection!
So those are my family’s Trader Joe’s favorites – leave us a comment below and tell us about yours!
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Stephenie has worked with and around books and authors for over 12 years, both at retail booksellers and public libraries. She is a rare Huntsville native, mother of two high-energy boys, wife of one, and eerily addicted to community volunteering. When she's not being the Managing Editor for RCM she likes to stalk her favorite authors online, cook with way too much butter, and also manages to conduct freelance marketing and PR work.