Sunday, October 15, 2006

Slumming The Golden Arches

I love this article because it's all about eating at McDonald's when you are in a foreign country because at least it is familiar. And how this phenomena (Globalization anyone) is mostly due to the fact that McDonald's are everywhere now so even non-American travelers stop in McDonald's when they want some comfort. I totally did this recently when I was in Geneva. I was traveling in this beautiful city on the northern side of Lake Geneva called Lausanne, spending my day walking through the ancient medieval streets, exploring the cities cathedral and I was frickin' hungry. And it was 5pm so of course nothing was open for dinner. So I settled for a $20 Big Mac that wasn't that good but at least I knew exactly what I was getting and it was open at 5pm.

Here's the link to the article on Yahoo News. But I will give you a little taste to wet your appetite.

This month marks the beginning of student-travel season in Europe, which means that — at any given moment — continental McDonald's restaurants will be filled with scores of American undergraduates. Quiz these young travelers, and they'll give you a wide range of reasons for seeking out McDonald's — the clean restrooms, the air conditioning, the fact that it's the only place open during festivals or siesta. A few oddballs will even claim they are there for the food.

European onlookers will tell you (with a slight sneer) that these peripatetic Yanks are simply seeking the dull, familiar comforts American culture. And this explanation might be devastatingly conclusive were it not for the fact that European McDonald's also happen to be crammed this time of year with travelers from Japan, Brazil, Israel, New Zealand, Argentina, Korea, Canada, India, Taiwan, Australia, Mexico, South Africa, and — yes — neighboring European countries.

Beware Of Baby Spinach

Well I haven't posted in a while (well okay 4 months) and the real reason is that I've essential stopped cooking dinner in my household which if anyone knows me that is totally my dream come true. I have a second roomate (do people count their boyfriends as roomates? mine is because he annoys me just like a roomate haha just kidding) that does the cooking at night during the week. And seriously he doesn't ever have to leave. No, seriously.

But this New York Times article about the recent E Coli scare was really interesting because it talked about the dangers of a centralized food economy. The author's all about the local food movement as a National Security Effort. I can see a Republican's head spinning right now.

But there’s nothing sentimental about local food — indeed, the reasons to support local food economies could not be any more hardheaded or pragmatic. Our highly centralized food economy is a dangerously precarious system, vulnerable to accidental — and deliberate — contamination. This is something the government understands better than most of us eaters. When Tommy Thompson retired from the Department of Health and Human Services in 2004, he said something chilling at his farewell news conference: “For the life of me, I cannot understand why the terrorists have not attacked our food supply, because it is so easy to do.” The reason it is so easy to do was laid out in a 2003 G.A.O. report to Congress on bioterrorism. “The high concentration of our livestock industry and the centralized nature of our food-processing industry” make them “vulnerable to terrorist attack.” Today 80 percent of America’s beef is slaughtered by four companies, 75 percent of the precut salads are processed by two and 30 percent of the milk by just one company. Keeping local food economies healthy — and at the moment they are thriving — is a matter not of sentiment but of critical importance to the national security and the public health, as well as to reducing our dependence on foreign sources of energy.
Here's a link to the rest of the article. It was written by Michael Pollan who's book The Omnivore's Dilema is in the save for later section of my shopping cart. It keeps getting pushed to the side for a new science fiction book I really really really want to read (hey I'm just being honest about the fact that non-fiction still feels like homework or brushing your teeth you know it's good for you but still).

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

New Banner! Bourgeois Products...Proletariat Prices!

code in case you want it: <a href=""><img src="
bourgeois%20products%20copy.jpg"/ ></a>

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

The Nutty Nutritionist

I was watching my post-Idol, post-House, post-Law and Order SVU, post-Veronica Mars (at least for part of the season jesus Tuesday was a big night for me and Charto for a while) show, My Life On The D-list, tonight. Kathy Griffin as a poor-man's Ryan Seacrest, she would find that rich. I love the feud between her and Ryan, because most guys in my life, no matter how gay they find Seacrestina (TM Television Without Pity) and they mostly do still find him gay, side 100% with Ryan in the feud. Guys just do not like Kathy. Except of course for her gays.

Anyway, she's trying to lose 10 pounds for some stupid article that Star Magazine is doing and she hired this guy that the TV show captioned "The Nutty Nutriotionist." So I spent about 5 minutes googling the nutty nutritionist, before I figured out that probably wasn't his brand name, it was just the silly caption that the wacky producers used. Although The Nutty Nutritionist is kind of a funny name for a nutritionist.

But he didn't seem particularily funny. He advised Kathy to eat lots of twigs and berries, and he brought her a bag of groceries from Trader Joe's. In one of those hippy paper bags that I hate so much. Why do they keep pushing those awful paper bags? Those seriously have to be bad for the environment, just think of all the trees that give their life for those extra thick Trader Joe's paper bags.

I'm still waiting for TJs to make it mandatory that their customers bring their own bags. They are getting one step closer to that goal by giving everyone who brings their own bags in a chance to enter a raffle. I've entered that damn raffle three times and I don't think they have done the drawing yet. What is up with that TJs? You are just giving away a bag of groceries, which can't be more than $30. Unless some packs their groceries filled with really expensive steaks.

I do need to take a moment to acknowledge Kartik, who commented back awhile on my post about the canvas bags. Yup you were totally right about the canvas bags. They have totally gotten gross. I finally had to retire two of them to the laundry. And there is probably no laundry detergent that is actually going to clean them up that well. So I'm just going to have to tote around grungy canvas bags. And get snooty looks from all the dirty rich hippies that shop at the Toluca Lake Trader Joe's.

But back to my girl Kathy. The second best moment in the episode, after seeing the shout out to TJs? Kathy's parents bring over all these delivious baked goods from, yup, you guessed it, the best bakery in the Valley, Porto's. A perfect day is dinner from TJs (carnitas which is my favorite TJs food and is fitting since Porto's is a cuban bakery) and dessert from Porto's (the chocolate croissant is really the only dessert I've tried and it is awesome). And if TJs and Porto's combines forces they would be unstoppable and take over the world.

Monday, June 12, 2006

Menu Mondays! (6-12)

6/11 -6/17

Lunch: Porto's - If you haven't been to Porto's and you live anywhere in the area of a Porto's (Burbank or Glendale) you need to go to Porto's. And get the Cubano, the tuna melt and /or the turkey melt.

Dinner: Pot Roast and Potatoes w/Vegis - The pot roast was delicious as always from Trader Joe's. Usually I have a problem with it being a little too dry, but for some unknown reason it wasn't dry last night and I didn't feel the need to add any sauce. And the potatoes and vegis (stir fried for about 8 minutes) are so delicious that I need to remember to get them more often. Don't worry I will devote a whole post to their deliciousness.

Pad Thai with tofu - ah one of my favorite TJs frozen dinners. I wish I had remembered to pick up the frozen jasmine rice, that always makes a nice compliment to the heaviness of pad thai, but this frozen pad thai is good on its own. Actually typing about it is reminding me that I'm hungry. Hold on a second. Okay I'm back to finish posting while the microwave does all the cooking for me. Thank you Mr. Microwave. Although I do need to put a little effort into the assembly of the spinach salad.

Stuffed Bell Peppers - perennial TJs powerhouse. I haven't had it in a while so it was time to bring it back. Along with a spinach salad.

Penne with meatballs - cheap penne and cheap but tasty meatballs. Although I do need to pick up more spaghetti sauce.

Tri-Tip in Korean BBQ sauce - I haven't had this one yet, but I found it in my favorite category, "pre-packaged ready to eat after only a few minutes of microwaving meats" (see Pot Roast and Carnitas in that category). I'll cross my fingers that it tastes as delicious as I'm hoping it will. But I've never been let down before in the "pre-packaged ready to eat after only a few minutes of microwaving meats."

Out? My favorite item on the menu, going out to eat. Why cook when someone else can do it for me and do it so much better? Ah, spoken like a true Jewish American Princess.

Lunch: Lasagna - one of my favorites that I haven't had in a while.
Dinner: Salmon in a bag - another one of my favorites that I haven't had in a while. Boy that two month break from cooking was good because now I get to eat all of my favorites again. Delicious pad thai is beckoning me from the microwave so that's all for now.

Regular Features Oh Yeah! (everyone please contain your excitement)

To take a page from the blog, I've decided to try to post regular features on the days of the week so people know to check back (especially the people who have no idea was an RSS feed is to tell them that I've posted new posts).

Here's what I've come up with so far

Mondays: Menu Mondays! where I post my menu for the week and talk a little about what I cooked over the weekend

Wednesdays: New Banners Are Up To Get You Over The Hump! where I post new banners that I have made around funny TJs quotes

Fridays: Food and Heating Up™ Recipes (because I have half-day Fridays so I have more time to work on these posts)

Well hopefully I will see more of you here because of the regular features (and not just because I send emails out to people reminding them to check out the blog whenever Fearless Flyers come out)

Supermarket Sleuth

Okay how awesome is this, a day after deciding that I'm going to open up my blog to talking about food and eating in general (along with the primary focus on Trader Joe's, can't hurt the feelings of my beloved Joe), a great article appears in Salon about shopping in American supermarkets.

Jun. 12, 2006 | If you've seen "Super Size Me," Morgan Spurlock's hilarious documentary about fast food, you've already met Marion Nestle. She's the only person in the movie who is able to offer a coherent definition of a calorie.

Nestle, a professor of nutrition, food science and public health at New York University, has long been a leading critic of the salty, fatty, sugary junk that passes for food in America, and especially the way it's hawked to kids. She blasts the U.S. government for allowing the food industry to determine public health policy on everything from the food pyramid to transfats. And her books, such as "Food Politics: How the Food Industry Influences Nutrition and Health," have inspired such fear and trembling from Big Food that she's been smeared as a "diet scold" and, even more feverishly, as "one of the country's most hysterical anti-food-industry fanatics."

Nestle's new book, "What to Eat: An Aisle-by-Aisle Guide to Savvy Food Choices and Good Eating," brings her analysis of food politics into the grocery store, giving shoppers advice on what to buy and what to leave on the shelves. Armed with a notebook and calculator, Nestle spent a year in the field -- or, in this case, the produce, beverage, cereal and dairy aisles -- making observations about what's actually being sold. She came away stunned at the blizzard of choices offered up in the average Safeway or Kroger, and how easy it is for consumers to be bamboozled by marketing messages masquerading as nutritional data.

Read the entire article here.

I'm actually interested in seeing what advice Nestle give's on shopping in the typcial Safeway or Kroger (or in my case Vons and Albertsons). The silliest observation (and I've always wondered if it means anything) that I always have after a shopping trip to Vons vs. a shopping trip to Trader Joe's is how brightly colored and cheerful and fakely excited (Low Fat! Half The Fat! Half the Sugar! Half the fat none of the sugar!) all my foods are that I buy from Vons. The Trader Joe's food never screams at me. And it is usually in tastefully muted colored packages, browns and oranges and blues. Are those the colors of soothing organic farmers? I wonder if TJs did any focus groups with organic food buyers and found out that brown and blue were their favorite colors (hey I'm a market research I have to wonder)

I mean just compare the bag of Roasted & Salted In-The-Shell Virginia peanuts that I bought at TJs to the typical jar of Skippy peanut butter. Don't get me wrong I love bright orange and teal together as a color combo, just maybe not on my food. My TJs peanuts are in a clear bag with a pretty dark blue painting of the sun rising over a river next to a field where I assume that peanuts are grown (are peanuts nuts from trees? grown in a field? who knows they are so delicious, sorry to mock your peanut allergy, Nancy).

But really if you buy the main argument that most food is marketed to kids (and to the kid in all of us) then it makes sense that our foods are packaged in cheery bright fake colors. I never feel good about bringing home all that fake happy packaging because I know that most of it I shouldn't be eating. Yes I'll admit that this weekend Paul and I had an accidental overdose of El Monterey Taquitos in a happy red package that if I had really read closely I would have seen that my taquitos were now 50% LARGER which seriously when you factor in the fact that we didn't even need to overdose on taquitos in the first place did we really need taquitos that were 50% larger?

Well the taquitos just went in the trash, the happy red packaging just went in the recycling and I'm going to renew my pledge to eat only foods that come packaged in muted earth tones.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Chez Panisse

Okay note to everyone, I think that I'm going to morph this blog into something where I primarily talk about Trader Joe's but also every once an a while talk about food and eating in general. Because most of the interesting blogs that I've been reading (and I've been reading a bunch because I'm trying to get Blogistan to take notice of Paul's band Dialtone, jesus who knew there were so many flippin' blogs?) post everyday on something. And that something isn't always related to the topic. Although most music blogs are pretty general (I like Indie Rock more than you, you stupid hipster fucks) so something can usually relate back to their blogs. And really all I've got in my title is Trader Joes, so I'm a little limited. Except of course if I change the about this blog statement. Hee.

Back to the title of this post. Has anyone out their heard of Chez Panisse? If you are from the Bay Area, you probably know about Alice Waters and Chez Panisse. She's totally a celebrity up there. She's this chef who opened this restaurant called Chez Panisse in 1971 and it's really awesome. Or something. I'm not sure if I have actually gone to it. I go to a lot of snooty patootie restaurants in the Bay Area because my aunt Marlene lives up there and she's a foody and me and my family would always visit her and go to really yummy tasty expensive but socially concious restaurants. And then we would go to the exact same restaurants in Los Angeles but they wouldn't be socially concious, they would mostly just have a couple of D-list celebrities hanging around hoping to get off the D-list (shout out to Kathy Griffin whose new show is on Bravo again check it out).

Again back to the title of this post. I was reading the in-flight magazine on Delta back in April and there was this long article about Alice Waters and Chez Panisse and this foundation she has started called the Chez Panisse Foundation. Through the magic of google you can read the article here. Jesus what did we do before the Internet and cell phones? The article talks about her edible schoolyard program which I will let them explain better than I ever could:

The Edible Schoolyard, in collaboration with Martin Luther King Junior Middle School, provides urban public school students with a one-acre organic garden and a kitchen classroom. Using food systems as a unifying concept, students learn how to grow, harvest, and prepare nutritious seasonal produce. Experiences in the kitchen and garden foster a better understanding of how the natural world sustains us, and promote the environmental and social well being of our school community.
Aw I really like that idea, gets kids thinking about the environment and eating and the community all in one. I'm totally inspired by this idea so now I have to think of more ways to get involved other than just donating a portion of my paycheck. Which is really the easiest way since I'm lazy and barely able to make dinner for myself on a regular basis, so I think I'm going to start slow and give money and think of the edible school yard every time I harvest fresh food from my local Trader Joe's and cook it myself (or have help from the microwave).

See technically this post really is about Trader Joes.

The bioregion hippy jam band

Does Trader Joe's count as harvesting food locally? They seem like the type of grocery store that purchases locally. Like does everyone remember that post that I wrote about the Gala Apple Juice that was farmed up in Oregon or Washington (is there really any difference between those two states? Ha! Just Kidding! Not Really! or in internet speak H!JK!NR!) Well whatever Oregon and Washington are in my mind local.

Food Ways | Eat Where You Live

Last year, Jessica Prentice and Dede Sampson, Bay Area chefs, and Sage Van Wing, a writer, started Locavores, a group in San Francisco dedicated to eating foods grown within a 100-mile radius of home (like the yogurt above). In an attempt to raise awareness about the globalization of the food supply, members invite people to register online ( and to eat locally for at least one month out of the year. MELISSA CERIA

Okay I went and checked out the website. I like some of their ideas, especially about how we use lots and lots of fuel to transport food. And they have my favorite term, bioregion. That should definitely be the name of a hippy jam band. I'm not sure if I can actually do that locavore (I'm just so damn lazy when it comes to food, I'm lucky if I make it to Trader Joe's instead of Del Taco) but it's something to aim for.

Saturday, June 10, 2006


How much do I heart Trader Joe's and their special collector's ediction fearless flyer? If you didn't get one in the mail (and shame on you for not signing up for the Fearless Flyer) you can download one here. It's a little different state by state so apologies to the California folks (TJs took down the Cali fearless flyer rather soon although I will be honest and admit that this post is about a month late)

The special collector's edition fearless flyer features the top one-hundred and four (oh TJs aren't you wacky?) products as judged by their tasting panel. Which gives me an idea, I wonder what it would take to be on their tasting panel? That would be such a cool job. And I could send them a link to this blog as an example of my passion about TJs products.

The cutest most "California-Liberal-Hippy-Don't-Want-To-Offend-Anyone" thing about the special collector's edition is that they didn't want to put the list in any particular order, "to be fair." Aw. Did they think that the wasabi peas would be hurt that they were #104? Well luckily I'm not too much of a hippy ... here are my top 20 choices from the special collector's edition, IN ORDER, and wasabi peas, they made it to number 19. Hey, they are no carnitas (but don't tell em that I said that)

1. Carnitas – this is number one on my list because it’s my go to TJs meal. Anytime that I can’t think of something to get from TJs, I just get Carnitas, their enchilada sauce, number 2, number 3 and I have a delicious meal. Seriously this Carnitas is so tasty and easy to make that I’m surprised other grocery chains haven’t picked this up.

2. Avocado’s Number Guacamole – 5 avocadoes go into this guacamole and I’m not really sure why they even call it guacamole, since it’s really just mushed up Avocados. But that’s the type of guac that I love best. You will need to add flavors and spices to this “guac” if you are into that sort of thing. But I prefer just to pile it high on top of my Carnitas wrapped in handmade flour tortillas.

3. Truly Handmade Flour Tortillas – I’m not a big tortillas connoisseur but I knew I was on to something when even Paul asked where I got those handmade tortillas. These things are tasty, the only problem is that most of the time when you go to TJs they are gone, so snap them up right when you see them

4. Greek Yogurt – aw, the great Greek yogurt as anyone knows holds a special place in my heart for being my very first post to I heart TJs. This stuff is awesome and no you don’t have to buy the expensive kind (shout out to Cassandra) the private label stuff is just as good, trust me.

5. Peach Halves in White Grape Juice – again, what would I do without my peach halves in white grape juice? I’d seriously never ever ever eat peaches because I hate that gross furry peach fuzz stuff. But I love me the floating peach halves. Taste great in the Greek yogurt or buy themselves or with ice cream.

6. Fire roasted veggies w/ Balsamic Butter sauce – yummy these sure are tasty. I love anything that makes vegetables taste a little more tasty and this balsamic butter sauce does the trick.

7. Organic Three Cheese Pizza – all of TJs frozen pizzas are delicious (shout out to KrisTIN). This one is a nice simple snack of a thin crust pizza and delicious cheese. I like the suggestion to use it as a blank slate and add your own toppings. Maybe I can put some prosciutto on this (see number 16)

8. Super sweet canned corn – this stuff is great and it’s nice to just have around in your pantry along with the organic pinto beans just in case you have Mexican food night (see numbers 1, 2, and 3 above)

9. Roma Tomatoes – my least favorite thing about tomatoes is all the tomato water and seeds that always sprays out when you are slicing them. My favorite thing about roma tomatoes? Less water and seeds that spray out when you are slicing them than the average tomato.

10. Penne from Italy – this is really tasty penne and the price! 69 cents! Beat that Barilla! (that’s the pasta that I usually get when I go to those other grocery stores)

11. Vanilla almond clusters – I do really love this cereal but mostly it made the list since Paul luuuuuuuuuuuuuvs this cereal. And it didn’t make it higher on the list because I feel like the flake to cluster ratio isn’t as strong as I would like it to be. Thank god for cereal mixing (TM those kids in the college dining hall that taught me the magic of cheerios and lucky charms). I usually buy a big ol’ box of TJs Corn Flakes and add more flakes to my Vanilla Almond Clusters. TJs also has a whole line of cluster cereals (cranberry, raisin, you get the idea) so don’t just limit yourself to the vanilla almond, although that really is the tastiest.

12. Penne Peppernata – this stuff is soooooooooooo delicious. The only problem is that the bag is about 1000 calories which is sad because I’ve totally accidentally eaten the entire bag once because it is so delicious. So I’m just saying you have to watch out on this one.

13. Tuna Salad Sandwich on Pretzel bread – I love me the tuna sandwiches (seriously I think I get a tuna sandwich from Subway about once a week, should I be worried about the mercury? isn't mercury a suppliment in some parts of the world?) and the extra special thing about the TJs tuna sandwich is the pretzel bread which is super duper tasty.

14. Slice Muenster Cheese – I’m starting to detect a common theme here, TJs does all the work for me in the kitchen so I can enjoy my favorite foods without having to lift a slicer. Muenster Cheese sure is yummy but it’s so much tastier when it comes pre-sliced

15. Mandarin Oranges- these little puppies are a must have when you get the TJs Chinese Chicken Salad, they add color and a zesty taste

16. Prosciutto – I never knew about prosciutto until TJs (sorry Dad) but this stuff is good, way better than Oscar Meyer ham in water.

17. Diced Onions in a Zipper Bag – no slicing of the onions? Are you kidding? I don’t even cook with onions that often but because they now come pre-sliced, maybe I will.

18. Complete Spinach Salad Kit – seriously who makes salad from scratch anymore? Okay my dad and probably millions of other people who haven’t discovered the magic of salad kits. But I have to be honest sometimes I still buy the individual parts of salad kits because I like to have more servings than the kit offers, that’s why this wasn’t higher on the list.

19. Wasabi Peas – these little suckers are addictive, but I needed to take a break for a couple of months because I couldn’t stop eating them. Wasabi + Peas = delicious. Try em. Seriously I know they sound weird but you might like em and they are a relatively low calorie snack.

20. Fresh Cut Mango – again with the less work to eat a fruit that is just so tasty. I don’t think I’ve even ever thought about cutting up a mango in my life. Which would be a wonderful life skill if I ever got stranded on a tropical island through a mysterious magnetic force that pulled my airplane to its doom (Lost). But since I try to avoid flying over water, I’ll let TJs cut my mangoes for me.

The Junk Food Jihad

I'm back! Actually I never went anywhere (well okay I did travel a lot for work), I just went through a non-cooking period, which happens to me from time to time. See I just really really really don't like cooking that much. So I use any ol' excuse not to cook and for the past couple of months I've been traveling for work and I got some bad headaches and Mercury was in retrograde (okay that last one wasn't true but it sure sounds like a reason not to cook).

So now I'm going to try to jump back on the cooking bandwagon. I feel like an addict who had a relapse (I'm sorry! No more Del Taco! I promise!) Actually I did have a moment where Paul and I paid $16 for Del Taco and surprise surprise it wasn't that good. And I could have gotten filet mignon for $12 and some green beans and mashed potatoes for another couple of bucks to make a very tasty meal. I made a birthyear resolution to make more of an effort to connect with food (through taking more time to cook, shopping more often, buying fresh foods rather than fast foods) instead of just quickly consuming it, like I usually do. Does that sound pretty California hippy dippy or what?

I've also gotten into the idea lately of how Americans are always at war with their food. The war on obesity. The battle of the bulge. The Junk Food Jihad. Food = bad. How many times have people said to you that they've eaten something that they know they shouldn't have, with a slightly gleefully/guilty look in their eye? And then they of course talk about going to the gym to work off the calories. Blech. I'm tired of exercising just to pay off all the cheeseburgers that I've had in my life. I want to exercise because it feels good (swimming) or it's fun (tennis) and I want to eat because I enjoy it. Crazy, no? I guess the real problem (and the problem for most of America) comes in when I don't feel like exercising enough but I do feel like eating In N' Out.

Okay well one more post and then I need to decide whether or not to go for a walk or get a cheeseburger. Well maybe I can combine the best of both worlds and walk to In N' Out. Heehee.

Saturday, March 25, 2006

An Insider's Guide To Trader Joe's

Wow there have been so many articles about Trader Joe's lately I have hardly had any time to blog about the Trader Joe's food, or even shop there, or Heat Up™ my Trader Joe's food, because I'm spending so much time reading those articles.

Of course I'm overjoyed at all the wonderful press that Trader Joe's is getting over opening a grocery store in New York. But seriously you would think that this was the second coming of grocery stores, the way that the New York Times and Slate has been covering it. While three or four articles isn't too excessive, it's the tone of the articles, the excitement over Trader Joe's, the spreading of the TJvolution! I guess it's always a little suprising when something that I'm really excited about other people are excited about too... a little suprising and weird...

The recent Slate article is filled to the brim with fantastic Trader Joe's tips, but I thought that I would share the best of them:
Adopt a Soviet Mentality. This is the first thing nearly every regular TJ's shopper mentions: Products appear suddenly, work their way into your daily routine, and then disappear with no warning. Example: no-boil lasagna noodles. Here one day, gone for months. If you really like something, hoard it. You never know when it will vanish.

The Shopping-List Guarantee. If you go to TJ's with a shopping list for a dinner party or even a moderately complex recipe, you are guaranteed to leave the store without finding at least one item on the list. Just accept the fact that you will have to hit one or two other stores on the way home. This raises a bigger issue: TJ's has great prices on many staples, and it's easy to forget that its selection is tiny compared to a real supermarket. It is not a one-stop shopping solution.

Health Food. Trader Joe's is mindful of the ingredients it allows in its products, and the number of organic items has increased noticeably in recent years. However, good ingredients do not a healthy diet make. TJ's offers a bodacious and promiscuously displayed selection of sweets—big tubs of cookies, myriad frozen desserts, and chocolate-covered everything (blueberries, for example). It takes a strong-willed shopper to leave the store without a few thousand empty calories hidden at the bottom of the bag.

More Bags Per Dollar. Here's a fun one, New Yorkers. I'll be surprised if, within your first few shops at TJ's, you don't find yourself at the register thinking, Wow, that was cheaper than I expected. How often does that happen at Whole Foods?

Produce Roulette. Most of the fresh fruit comes packaged in plastic containers. You can't buy just one apple—you buy a box of four, preselected by TJ's. While the fruits are often quite good, it won't shock you to learn that, in the experience of my panel, packages of four tend to include at least one clinker.

Weird Products. To TJ's credit, it stocks many unusual and intriguing products, but if you're not careful you'll need to build an extra cabinet to hold all the stuff you toss in the cart and never use. My wife is sure she had a plan for that big bag of rice flour when she bought it, but damned if she can remember what it was …