12 Trader Joe’s Staples You Need to Buy

Why hello there friendly people! Welcome to the first of what I’m sure will be many Trader Joe’s specific posts. I feel like TJ’s is one of those places you either worship or could do entirely without and I am 100% on the worship team. When I was based in San Francisco my budget was tight, I’m talking 3/4 of my paycheck going to rent tight. Add in the fact that I spent the majority of my time in airports and hotels where meal prices were so heavily marked up I had to get really creative with how I budgeted for food.

Insert Trader Joe’s to save the day here. Getting creative with meal prepping and TJ’s prices meant I could pretend like I wasn’t on a ramen budget even though I definitely was. My roommates would pick on me for how much I loved Trade Joe’s but when you are literally in a position that you can only buy green bell peppers because they were the cheapest of the colors by a few cents, you really come to love a place that lets you stretch a dollar. Maybe one day I’ll get more into a budgeted meal plan if that’s something of interest to anyone- I know it took me a long time to research how to live on such a tight budget.

Today however I want to share my Trader Joe’s staples. The following items are all favorites of mine whether you are on a tight budget or just looking to add a few delicious items to your cart the next time you walk in. These are the things that if you ever come over you can guarantee I have on hand! Some are cult classics and you may have heard of a few but let me tell you honestly you could never go wrong with the list I’m about to give you.

First up we have the Bambino Pizza Formaggio ($2.99) which in my humble opinion are the greatest mini pizza in the game. Not better than pizza rolls because that would be too good to be true but these are legit to keep in the freezer. These are my go to when I don’t want to cook. If I’m feeling fancy I’ll throw some prosciutto & arugula with a drizzle of balsamic but more often than not I just sprinkle on some red pepper flakes and a call it a delicious day! The pepperoni option is fine it’s just kind of meh, if I were you I’d just add your own pepperoni to these ones.

Pro Tip: cook for 2 minutes longer than it says to if you love a nice and crunchy crust.

Next is the Everything But the Bagel Seasoned Smoked Salmon ($5.49) this was definitely not a part of budget life but now that I’m out of that it’s absolutely always in my fridge. I actually do not like Everything But the Bagel Seasoning in general, I bought it once and never bought it again so I was surprised to discover how much I love this smoked salmon. One of our go to breakfasts in this house is a toasted slice of Dave’s Killer Bread, whipped cream cheese (whipped over regular cream cheese no question) and a slice of this EBTB lox! Makes for a great addition to any at home brunch spread!

You may not have heard of the Honey Pale Ale Mustard ($1.99) but if you like honey mustard at all do yourself a favor and pick this up. If you’re a psycho like me you’ve bought a few jars because you’re scared they’ll stop selling it. It’s a perfect blend of sweet & spicy that makes for a kick ass condiment or alone as a dip. Might I recommend it on a toasted sandwich with turkey, cheddar & apple slices! You will thank me later on that combo.

A top 3 easily, Zhoug Sauce ($2.99) is something I’ve probably have already mentioned how much I love already. I think I first heard about Zhoug from Jess Key’s blog and man am I glad I pulled the trigger on it. It’s kind of like a spicy chimichurri/pesto sauce that works great alone if you like the heat but also tastes delicious mixed with hummus. WE PUT THIS SHIT ON EVERYTHING and often have multiple tubs of it in the fridge at a time. I love dipping pita, veggies or even using it as a marinade for chicken.

Moving on to the dessert, Hold the Cone Mini Ice Cream Cones ($2.99) are a great little sweet treat! I particularly love the chocolate chip ones but every flavor I’ve had is great. I’m looking forward to the peppermint ones this winter season but my TJ’s doesn’t have them yet. Also, no judgement if the one turns into 3- live your life people.

Speaking of mini foods that I love, the Mini Chicken Tikka Samosas ($3.99) are freaking delicious! These are so easy to make and have so much flavor. If you are hosting in the near future make a couple of boxes and I guarantee there won’t be any leftover! The chicken are better than the potato ones FYI.

Pro Tip: Dip the samosas in TJ’s Sweet Chili Sauce ($1.49) which is a GAME CHANGER. The Sweet Chili Sauce is my favorite for the samosas but also as a dip for air-fried chicken nuggets and any type of spring rolls. Really the possibilities are endless with it! We have multiple bottles in the pantry don’t act like you’re not impressed when you do try it.

Up next, Oven-Baked Cheese Bites ($2.99) which I am embarrassed to admit you can find me eating virtually every single night since I’ve found them. I’m not sure if you’ve hopped on to the cheese whisps trend- I feel like people either love it or hate it but if you do love cheese whisps you will LOVE the TJ’s version. Add them to a salad for a crouton-like crispy crunch or just eat the whole bag in a single sitting if you’re a monster like me. I would recommend the original flavor I have pictured, the Black Summer Truffle version are pretty gross IMO.

I could get lost in the cheese aisle of any store and Trader Joe’s is no different. While I love so many of their cheeses (Unexpected Cheddar is a real treat) the Toscano Cheese with Black Pepper ($4-5) is one I will never create a cheese board without. It is the perfect blend of creamy & sharp like a parmesan and with the black pepper “crust” added gives it a great kick. Huge favorite!

If you’re grabbing some cheese you definitely need these Pita Bite Crackers ($2.99) while you’re at it. I love these crackers so much! Flavorful but a good strong vessel to add pretty much whatever topping you’d like to it! You could add any kind of cheese to it but I’d recommend a whipped goat cheese & jam of sorts. Spinach & artichoke dip would be an excellent option or even hummus & Zhoug.

Ah now this one I know you know of, a real darling of the frozen section- the Cauliflower Gnocchi ($2.69) I actually think all of the frozen gnocchi versions are great but this one is my favorite. DO NOT COOK IT LIKE THE PACKAGE SAYS my favorite is to roast it though I’ve not done the air fryer method so I’ll report back when I do. My favorite staple meal for the gnocchi is to add pesto, sun-dried tomatoes (you can get a small bag of them in the pasta aisle and they are already dried/julienned for you) and asparagus.

Speaking of pesto the Vegan Kale, Cashew & Basil Pesto ($3.79) is fantastic! I love to use it in the recipe I mentioned above but it’s also great as a topping for turkey burgers, slather it on to each side of a piece of bread and make a pesto & cheddar grilled cheese sandwich or even as the base for a naan bread pizza.

While my budget may have adjusted I’m still very much a meal planner, I never go to the store without a list but my favorite thing to do every week is add a new to me item. In fact I grabbed a few pictured below that I can’t wait to try this week! That truffle salami seems like it’ll be a real star for charcuterie boards this holiday season. I promise to report back!

I know I’m not the first to share Trade Joe’s lists but everyone’s staples are so different I can only hope I’ve inspired you to add at least one of my favorites to your cart!

What are some of your Trader Joe’s favorites?

Cheers Beautiful People!

Kari

Don’t Call It a Comeback

I’ve been here before, actually a few times.

So many things have happened since I started this blog and even since I wrote my last post so I guess I’ll just dive right in!

As of October 1st I was officially furloughed from my airline, as mentioned in the last post it’s a very hard situation because while nobody could have imagined this pandemic would turn out to be the way it has it’s tough emotionally to lose your dream job at no fault of your own- just a junior person in a world where seniority is key. That’s probably the least fun part of this new life I’ve been adjusting to but I’m learning to enjoy the new adventure I’m on.

Without a doubt the most fun thing that has happened is definitely that the fella and I moved into a brand new apartment a little over two months ago in the cute little city of Longmont, Colorado. We picked it because we were both in the process of finding new jobs and thought it was a great location between Denver, Fort Collins & Boulder. I feel very fortunate to have this new place and have been working really hard at making it our own space. With flight attendant life I was moving so often and with so many roommates it was hard to ever feel settled in.

I started a new job that I feel lucky to have gotten with such uncertain times and I’m even working from home which has actually been a really nice treat. The job itself doesn’t allow for much creativity so I’ve been looking forward to getting back to blogging and having that outlet.

Settling into a new routine has actually not been my strong suit lately but I’m definitely getting there. I’ve been so happy to decorate the new apartment and make it truly feel like a home. Blending styles and doing everything on a budget has been a process but one that I’m so enjoying and hoping to share with you all. Add in moving tips because let’s face it- I’m a professional mover. I’ve also been meal prepping and actually able to cook regularly which has been amazing so I’m excited to share some of the recipes I’ve been working on and trying. Crafting has really helped take my mind off of some of the craziness of late so you’ll for sure be seeing some DIY projects. Working out has essentially fallen by the wayside but maybe this blog will help me be more accountable with getting back into shape.

Even though we are in a pandemic and travel isn’t exactly “booming” we have loved getting to explore this new city and the surrounding area so stay tuned for more Colorado specific travel guides and tips for how to make the most of staycation life.

Like so many in the world this has been a pretty intense time for transitions, uncertainty and adjusting to our own new normal. This is my new normal and I hope it makes for a fun read, a creative space and as always I’ll just be winging it over here.

Cheers,

Kari

A Dream Job On Hold

Hello there beautiful people!

I’d like to preface this post by saying I know that pretty much everyone is getting their ass handed to them in one way or another lately so believe me when I say I know everyone is having a hard time and I in no way want this to seem like an oh poor me post because it isn’t but it is something on my mind and a big piece of my life currently that I feel like sharing.

In the very beginning of COVID-19 hitting the states and before the government money was given to airlines my employer offered what we call a special leave of 1, 3 or 6 months to try to reduce the work force but allowed people to keep health and flight benefits but have a return to work date.  It was a hard decision because at that time there wasn’t even talks of full blown shut downs it was so early in the pandemic. I chose the 6 month option and very thankfully qualified for unemployment.

Then the government stepped in and gave money but required no employees be laid off/furloughed til October 1st. Obviously travel has not returned to anywhere near where it would be for the airlines to return to a “normal” need for the same number of  employees as we had pre-pandemic so come October big cuts will happen.

When my company announced how many furloughs they expect to hand out to flight attendants last week it was a big number- a really big number. Even if that number is the worst case scenario and changes by a few thousand it’s still a big number. While nothing is official yet and won’t be for probably another month or so I’m in the last 3,000 flight attendants hired so if they furlough 15,000 or even 10,000 it will more than likely take years for my seniority to be recalled. Thankfully I work for a union which means that I have to be recalled back to work within 6 years. Even weirder than waiting I could be called back to any base not just where I was based when I got furloughed in the first place so that’ll be an interesting hurdle to get over.

It’s a lot for me to take in. How the airlines work is already weird as hell to talk about but trying to read through our 300+ page contract to try and figure out what happens when one gets furloughed/when do the benefits stop etc. how does it work when I do get recalled is a total mind F#$k.

I knew it was going to happen but hearing it out loud is still a punch to the gut.

I think the hardest part is that this is my dream job.

I absolutely love being a flight attendant.

I call it my fake job because even though I sacrificed a lot to get it, trained hard to graduate, moved 3,000 miles away to live in a bunk bed with an insane number of humans, and answered the phone no matter what time it was to go anywhere in the world at a moment’s notice, it rarely felt like “work.”

I got to adventure for a living.

Every senior person I talk to always says the same thing, you will go back because there is no better lifestyle than being a flight attendant. You may have ups and downs with it, take time away and come back but once flying gets into your blood, it just doesn’t leave.

It’s still my dream job, it’ll be my dream job the moment they invite me to come back even if that takes a few years to get to. I know that and I can look forward to this little break in life to accomplish other goals of mine but man, the moment that phone rings I will happily throw the pantyhose back on, rush to the airport, hop on that jump seat and spill my soul to the first crew I meet in true flight attendant fashion.

I’ll even be nice to the passengers 😉

In the meantime I’ll be working on my resume, sweating over cover letters and dreaming of the day I get to return to my life in the sky.

And now I’ll spam you with pictures from some of my favorite layovers…

Anytime I got to go to a baseball stadium,

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That one time Alex and I flew to Eugene, Oregon for lunch and then I picked up a trip for a long Vegas layover that night so we had to rush back to San Francisco,

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Anytime crew scheduling gave me a resort layover (this happened very rarely for me)

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That one time I got sent to South Korea in the dead of winter and had not packed appropriately (because I didn’t know I was going) so I wore every single layer I had on top of each other,

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That time I met a T-Rex in Kansas City,

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Any new state I got to cross off like Montana below and all of the layovers (not pictured because it’s not their blog 😉 ) that I got to see family and friends. Between Boston, Burlington, Orlando, Nashville, Newark, New Orleans, Baltimore, San Diego, Austin, Eugene and so many more those layovers are always so special to me.

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Cheers & All my love,

Kari