Trader Joe’s Silly Thing This Week

This week’s silly thing is more along the lines of silly-surprising than silly-goofy. The many grocery options we’ve got are the reason I started this project. There are a lot of things people consider when shopping–organic, free-range, local, cheapest, dye-free, wheat-free, fair-trade, responsibly farmed…it’s a statistics project of its own for every family.

Today, I present affordable organic meat, courtesy of Trader Joe’s. Yes, I post about cheaper chicken legs all the time.  Legs or thighs are half this cost at HEB every other week.  But if this is an issue that you care about, and your budget can swing it, Trader Joe’s has certified organic chicken legs for $1.99/lb.

Screen shot 2015-05-20 at 11.30.01 PM

My general meat price is $2/lb. If you’re a meat product, and cost less than that, I’m considering buying you.  This is sometimes good (yay freezer full of pork loin!) and sometimes doesn’t work out (pig ears, what should I do with you? and sweetbreads: you scare me), but it’s the point I feel good about stocking up on meat.

Trader Joe’s has organic chicken legs, not on special, but always available at what I think of as my ‘stock up’ meat price.  It’s true, my stock up price for chicken legs is the Fiesta 49c/lb sacks. I have to process those though, by removing the back bits and portioning out, which takes a fair amount of work.  I do get stock out of the deal, but I know damn well those chickens aren’t living well.  So this price interests me.  It’s my meat price, but it’s 4x what I pay for that cut.

I’ve started buying more organic fruits and vegetables when they’re on sale based on the Dirty Dozen, and maybe my budget can take this cheap organic into account, also. I’m glad TJ’s is offering it.

Are you an organic meat buyer? I’d love to hear about what your price points are.

Cheep Cheep!


Trader Joe’s Silly Thing This Week

Hybrids are all around us. Cars? Hybrids, spelled right out on the bumper. Plants? Hybrids, saving us all from the horrors of having to spit orange seeds out.  Zonkeys are clearly going to take over the world with cuteness soon.

This one, though, I could have lived without.

   Science Has Gone Too Far

           Science Has Gone Too Far

I like bagels. I like pretzels. I’m pretty easygoing on most things.  

Picturing this, though, I’m getting an image of fluffy white insides with leathery salty crust that ordinary tooth maneuvers don’t exactly get a bite through, leaving me with sandwich innards everywhere, or butter dripping down my shirt to pair with the grease stains from some pizza I once ate (I’m a mess, it’s true). 

It’s possible there is some taste benefit, but that would be due entirely to salt, which I can apply to a bagel already. We have the technology. It looks like this.  


Yes, I know, that one is nearly empty. It is nearly empty because it’s useful.  Which is more than I feel I can say about the Pretzel Bagel ($2.49 for an 18 oz bag of 6 at a TJ’s near you).

Grocery News–New Trader Joes is Open, and BIG sale at Whole Foods

The Seaholm Trader Joe’s is opening today, right on schedule.  They’ve got specials and balloons, according to reports, so I don’t see how you can resist.

In unrelated news, Whole Foods is having a sale at their downtown location.  Today only you’ll get 20% off any of their 365 Everyday Value products.  

Screen shot 2015-05-01 at 10.56.59 AMThese products range from almond butter to granola bars, vitamins to frozen vegetables. Even organic milk! So this is a pretty broad sale.

Stock the pantry up and enjoy the price wars!

Trader Joe’s Silly Thing This Week

Finally, a new Fearless Flyer.  A whole new crop of products to mock, and as always, with helpful Victorian Graphics!

Screen shot 2015-04-30 at 9.27.31 PM

Dancing? Or fighting? Is there a difference?

This is 5oz of no-bacon-but-still-baconish and cheese popcorn, for $1.99.  In the realm of snack food, this isn’t the most you’ll pay for puffy salty carbs, but given popcorn you’d make in your house is an order of magnitude cheaper this stuff better be really bacon cheesetastic.

Which seems unlikely, given that there isn’t any bacon, just ‘bacon-ish natural smoke flavor’. So that vegetarians can get their bacon fix, I suppose.

The best part of the description is the mash-up quote from a  Beggin’ Strips/I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter commercial, where TJ’s thinks this product might have you saying, “I can’t believe it’s not bacon!”  (And whoa! check out the hair on that pups mom! and that FONT. Lord.) Because what you want to reference, when talking about your yummy snack food, is dog treat commercials from days of yore. That’s basic good sense, right there.  

Next we’ll see Chex Mix commercials using the Meow Mix theme song, but with the word ‘Chex’ instead of ‘Meow’. Chex chex chex chex, Chex chex chex chex, Chex, chex chex chex CHEX chex chex chex.

I’m not gonna lie. I might buy this one, if only to poll the citizenry of Chez Cheepie to see if this snack does taste like the promised bacon.  And so we can all just randomly bust out, “IT’S BACON!!!” as the feeling moves us.

Trader Joe’s Silly Thing This Week

I’ve got two silly things this week.  The first is:

“Wake up, Trader Joe’s! Your flyer is over a month old and I need new things to look at! Get with the program. Surely you can manage, once a month, to have a new set of sale items.”

This week the main silly thing is a recipe.  The photo they’ve got witScreen shot 2015-04-23 at 4.59.25 PMh this recipe immediately cracked me up. Knock-off Goldfish, knock-off Ritz Bits sandwiches, knock-off Cheerios….this looks like a kid went into the pantry and decided he’s just gonna eat it ALL.

But first, he’s going to take a page from Granny, and Chex-Mixify it with some onion dip powder, butter, and soy sauce, because what salty snacks are known to be lacking is more salt.

I don’t think they even did that part of the recipe for the photo.  I’m no photo stylist, but none of those things in the bowl look like they’ve been lightly tossed with a salt/butter slurry.

The recipe section did have some good-looking items, and I think I’ll try the chicken and waffle bites next time I have people over. I mean, I’m not going to use frozen gluten-free waffles, but I’ll follow the general idea. The chicken will also not be frozen nuggets.  I guess I’m just a fan of their plan to put food on sticks.

Grocery Theory post tomorrow. Cheep Cheep!

Trader Joe’s Silly Thing This Week

This looks innocuous, right?  Cheepie, why are you picking on oatmeal, right?  Oatmeal is nutritious, cheap, and while not meant for Texas summers, is an excellent all-round foodstuff. Why, Cheepie?Screen shot 2015-04-16 at 11.56.00 PM

Because this oatmeal is frozen.

I’m not sure I need to explain further, but I will. Because this is a blog, and I’m supposed to write the amusing words to make my bar graphs happy when I check them.  Not that I’m doing that. Hourly. Much.

Frozen oatmeal. Oatmeal, which is already available processed in a variety of ways to accommodate your cooking needs, is now pre-cooked and frozen. So you can pay for the water and time they boiled into it.

Here’s where it gets brilliant: the “perfect porridge” is flash-frozen into individual, bowl-sized servings. Just three minutes in the microwave, and you can be sitting pretty with a “just right” bowl of our Steelcut Oatmeal. The price is right at $1.69 for each 16 ounce (2 serving) box.

For all I know frozen oatmeal has always been there next to the frozen biscuits and frozen waffles. But I don’t think so. I think this is new, and we all know new is weird.  Well, I know that, and as Queen of This Blog I’m calling it weird.

Steel cut oats are a thing that you’ve got to plan ahead for, but we’re Cheepsters, and thinking ahead to put oats in a crockpot if steel cut oats is what we must do, then we’ve got the skills needed.  Especially since Bob’s Red Mill, a place that has a great product but is not usually the cheapest, will sell you 24oz of oats for $2.99.  That’s 15 servings, making the frozen TJ’s option of 85c/serving seem deserving of this week’s post.

Even if you don’t plan ahead, in 20 min you can have your 20c serving ready–and at this point you might be thinking, come on, it’s difference of 65c! That’s nothing.  But, if you’re serving three people this meal just once a week? That’s over $100 in a year, and you know that $100 can get you 50lbs of meat if you shop the sales.  

Frozen foods can be convenient, and they can be cheap. Frozen vegetables have actually gotten my kids eating more vegetables than they used to.  This item is the former, but isn’t the latter, especially given the many varieties of oatmeal out there. 

Time is money.  But just 20 minutes on oatmeal days to save enough money for months of meat is the kind of grocery math I do.  

Cheep Cheep!

Trader Joe’s Silly Thing This Week

Chorizo is a many-defined thing. It can be splendorous, and it can be a weird plastic tube of salivary glands and seasoning that you’re supposed to smush out into a hot pan and hope for the best.

Traditionally, a sausage is a way to use up the random bits left over after you’ve secured the good cuts–the little trims, possibly organs (hello boudin!), cheek meat (before it became popular) and whatever else seemed like a good plan at the time.  Chorizo seasoning is a peppery paprika blend of things that is, to me, the downright best part of a breakfast taco. It’s bullish enough to cover a multitude of sins, including organ meat that might otherwise be thought a slippery greasy mess, but only if that mess is balanced with actual meat that has texture.

I am here to tell you that it’s not always the case that the chorizo makers that make the products available in the store have followed my simple rule. Ever thrown out a pan of food? Go ahead and buy the cheapest chorizo at the market.  Squish it into the pan, and tell me if you decided to crack eggs over that, or toss it and hit Taco Cabana.  I’ve got an iron stomach, and even typing that brings back images that do not make Cheepie happy.

Which is why, for a change, I’m liking my Silly Thing this week. Cheap chorizo should Screen shot 2015-04-10 at 9.40.35 PMobviously be soy–it’s hugely assertively seasoned, the cheap bits that used to make it are now much pricier, and all we’re doing is mixing it into tacos. This isn’t Spanish chorizo, for slicing on a pretty cheese plate–this is Mexican chorizo that is not even a sausage except for that people keep putting it in plastic tubes! Why do we do that? A grocery mystery.

I’m not giving up on meat chorizo, but at $1.99 for 12oz, you’re going to have enough to make extra tacos for the freezer, which will save you one morning from the Krispy Kreme. Pork chorizo costs twice that or more, and it’s good, too. It’s just not my funny thing this week.

Soy Chorizo, for when you’re all done with salivary glands and paprika!

 Thank you TJ’s!

Trader Joe’s Silly Thing This Week

This week’s silly thing is the kind of thing that might only bug me.

It’s water, with minerals added, which is then filtered, and then electrolysed to raise the pH.

I worked in a lab. I had a reverse osmosis filter to take care of. I electrolysed things. I

           it's just water

it’s just water

know what a pH is.  This description has me googling to make sure my brain didn’t somehow forget how electricity works. Or how water works. Or how words work.

My kids have bottled water brand preferences. They only know this from truckstops, since at home we drink tap water (hell-o algae bloom! nice to see you again!). So I am not a connoiseur of fine bottled water.

But I do know that if you add minerals to water, and then run it through a R/O filter, you’re pretty much undoing the ‘adding of minerals’ part of your plan.  The electrolysis of the water may very well be raising the pH of the water but raising the level of ions 2.5 orders of magnitude is something that is more often accomplished by adding, well, additives.

Googling this led me down a lot of snake-oil paths of hooey, and now all my internet browsing is going to be littered with deionizer ads, ionizer ads, and lots of water filter ads.This is what I do for you, my Cheepsters.

99c/liter, and $1.29/1.5L are both reasonable prices for bottled water ( though the larger size is clearly the winner, unit-price-wise) whatever the ion count.

Shop Well, Cheepsters!

Trader Joe’s Silly Thing This Week

As a reminder, I do love TJ’s. This is mocking with love, because I can’t hate a store that is not a half mile walk to the milk, provides my kids with a game and a lolly, has a snack and a shot of coffee halfway through, and rounds it out with super cheap wine and checkers that don’t seem to have been through some kind of Morale Sucker (patent pending by Wal-Mart).

This week we’ve got two things, a funny one and a pretty one.  Funny before pretty.

Not A Flag!

                         Not A Flag!

The entire description for this is worth reading, but I’m going to comment on just one word: unfurl. I don’t care who you are, Mr. Writer of Flyer Descriptions, Esq., but when you opened this can of curried eggplant with tomato and onions the eggplants did not unfurl onto the dish.  Words mean things, and an eggplant simply doesn’t have the wherewithal to unfurl. It’s not meant to. It’s meant for humble simple things, like flopping, and sliding. Possibly, if coaxed, a stewed eggplant could skedaddle briefly. Unfurling is for banners, grand old flags, and if a food must unfurl you’ll be better off asking a fiddlehead fern to do the job.

As for the pretty–the very best frugal bit of spring you Screen shot 2015-03-25 at 11.14.54 PMcan bring to your home is right here.  10 stems of daffodils for $1.49.  That’s the kind of treat CheepieAustin can get behind!  So go get some, and put them not just in the usual spots, but put a couple in the kitchen, a little vase on your desk, and just generally enjoy them.  It’s not every day that $3 will get you 20 flowers!

You’re smiling right now, looking at them, aren’t you?

Cheep Cheep!


Trader Joe’s Silly Thing of the Week

Trader Joe’s, I love you.  Seriously. Who else would have these silly drawings? Who else would sell me a $2 chocolate bar with hot pepper pop rocks inside?

53913-fireworks-chocolate-barIt’s so supercute that I”m clearly buying one if they’re still in the store when I get there.

I mean, look at those adoring eyes!  And they’re wrapping up 2.8 oz of chocolate. Chocolate that has fireworks inside.  

It doesn’t get much better than that.