Friday, April 12, 2013

How This New Yorker Does Groceries To Feed Her Family

Checking out the produce

As much as I understand the European concept of going to the market each day to get food for that day, it's not how I shop.  Sure, I've occasionally picked up food for a couple of meals only, but I generally stock up for the week.  I tend to buy multiples of things I like and I love the idea of Costco.  But, I also live in New York, in a 1,200 square foot apartment and I don't have a car, so I do have limits. 

I go through food shopping phases, too.  For instance, when I lived on Fort Greene Park a couple years ago, there was a greenmarket literally outside my door.  So, once a week, I did 40% of my food shopping there and the rest at a little neighborhood market.  There were no big grocery stores near me then.  Since we moved to our current apartment in Park Slope a year ago, I started going to two big grocery stores near me and then filling in with some trips to the nearest greenmarket, a few blocks away.

Then everything changed a month ago when I started going to Trader Joe's, where I had shopped maybe only 15 times before, regularly.  Greyson started taking a class near that grocery store in Brooklyn Heights.  Getting to Brooklyn Heights involves taking a bus or subway, so I would never make that much effort to do the groceries, but since I'm in the neighborhood anyway, I love going to Trader Joe's. 

Now I go once a week, wanting to try everything in the store, and this is what my trips look like.   I carry Greyson in an Ergo and I'm pregnant, so I don't mean to get a lot of stuff, but I can't help it.  I have mom power, so I somehow make it home.  Mom power is sort of like old man strong (i.e, Joe Biden), but only applies to moms.

I shouldn't buy 4 lbs of strawberries, but I do anyway


The store's flexible return policy makes me want to try everything.  I keep looking at that Wasabi mayonnaise wondering if I'll like it and use it more than twice even if I do.  But, I should just get it because I can get my money back if I'm not into it.

There are so many things at Trader Joe's I haven't tried yet, that I feel new to the store and each trip feels like a little culinary adventure.  When you find something you love, you feel like you found a gem.  Like, their Muscat Orange Champagne Vinegar (for $2.99) is so good and tastes like fancy stuff.  I also love how the frozen foods give you ideas and you can sort of mix and match with other Trader Joe's stuff.  Like, I got the coconut shrimp last week and I served it haricot verts with the orange muscat champagne vinegar and coconut rice (just rice cooked in coconut milk).  It was fast and delish.

Each week, there are a few things that I must get: sourdough bread, the huge bag of frozen haricot verts (for $1.99!), frozen mango chunks and some flowers.  I usually get a new cheese since their cheese prices are awesome, a new frozen meal type thing, a new skincare product (love the lavender salt scrub!) and a new trail mix. I pretty much try something new in each category or replenish a staple, like the whole wheat cous cous. 

Here's what this week's trip looked like:

Do you have any Trader Joe's favorites?  My brother-in-law's girlfriend just told me about their coffee cake mix since my husband's family loooooves coffee cake.  I got it today to make as a surprise for my husband.  Let me know if there are any other amazing Trader Joe's products to check out!


  1. Hi Kathy, I love going to Trader Joe's too ! Try their guilt free brownies, and i love the wasabi seaweed !!! Maybe we can go together next time, and I can give you a hand. Congrats on baby#2 !

    -Michelle (hope you remember me, I bumped into you at C town last month)

    1. Hi Michelle, Of course I remember you! I was stunned that a reader (the only reader?) recognized me from the blog. Ooh, I'll definitely try the brownies! I have so much seaweed at home that my grandma sent from Korea that I'm going to have to work through that (months and months) before I buy any more. Ha!