Trader Joe’s

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All right!  I came in under-budget last month, which is why I didn’t feel the least bit guilty about kicking off February with a big Trader Joe’s binge.  (Nor the fact that I technically did this grocery run on Monday, January 30th.  Monday/Tuesday is my weekend, so that’s when the shopping’s gotta happen.)

Here’s my haul:
Ak-Mak crackers: $1.69
frozen edamame: $1.69
frozen spinach: $1.49
tater tots: $2.29
Spanikopita: $3.99
frozen peas: $1.29
whole wheat pizza dough: $1.29
frozen mahi mahi pieces: $4.94
organic tofu: $1.49
frozen salmon: $7.58
Mediterranean humus: $3.99
crumbled feta: $2.79
TastyBites punjab choley: $1.99
TastyBites Indian jaipur vegetables: $1.99 
1 can turkey chili: $1.99
lemon pepper pappardelle pasta: $1.99
orecchiette pasta: $0.99
organic whole wheat spaghetti: $1.39
whole wheat fusilli pasta: $1.39
walnut pieces: $6.49
French roast coffee: $5.99
Oriental rice crackers: $2.99
2 cans tuna: $2.98
2 cans organic diced tomatoes: $3.98
eggplant spread: $2.29
1 can marinara sauce: $1.79
1 can organic tomato paste: $0.89
salt & pepper potato chips: $2.99
honey wheat pretzel sticks: $1.99
TOTAL: $78.63

I have four very clear objectives when I go to Trader Joe’s, which is usually only every few months:

1) Snacks

Salt & pepper potato chips are probably my favorite snack in the world right now. I think about these my entire bike ride home, and have a handful while I cook dinner.  It’s always exactly enough.

2) Emergency Lunches

I’m usually really good about packing a lunch — mostly because owning a store means that, as quaint I feel slapping a “be back in 5 minutes” sign on the front door, there’s not really a legit exit strategy for meals.  

However, because I’m de facto trapped at work for 7 hours every day, I’m forced to get creative with lunches, whether that means leftovers, sandwiches on homemade bread, or a slow procession throughout the day of carbs, protein, and veggies.

Of course, I’m also crazy busy and spend a few nights a week at my boyfriend’s house, and sometimes just don’t have an organized enough week to pack multiple days of lunch fixings with me, so I always like to have some of this stuff on hand — cheap, filling, and healthy non-perishable food that I can keep in the pantry and heat up using my genius double-boiler system.

3) Fridge

Some of their stuff is just too dang good/cheap/convenient to make yourself.  I know I can make this humus from scratch for like 1/10th of the price, but this is still the best damn humus I’ve ever tasted…and I lived in Israel for a year.

4) Freezer

Enough said.

5) Pantry & Miscellaneous

Those walnuts…they’re crucial to my favorite breakfast as of late: Raisin Bran with almond milk and a large handful of them.

Have you ever ripped into a package of these edamame when you’re starving, boiled them up, and tossed them with salt and sesame oil?  If not, you should.  Also, best last-minute potluck contribution on the planet.

Meet my fellow Project: Food Budget-ers!

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