Hello. My name's Nathan, and I love Trader Joe's. My wife Sonia does too. She's a great shopper, has excellent taste and knows good value when she comes across it. As many of you know, Trader Joe's is unsurpassed in the world of good-value grocery stores, so we spend a lot of our time and money there. Although the store fairly consistently delivers great taste with its own unique line of food products, there are definitely some big-hits, and unfortunately, there are some misses...

After doing a couple of internet searches for reviews of TJ's food items, Sonia discerned an apparent dearth of good, quality reviews for the store's offerings. So, at her suggestion, we decided to embark on a journey of systematically reviewing every Trader Joe's product, resulting in the blog you are about to read...

A couple of months into our Trader Joe's rating adventure, an old college friend, Russ, who unbeknownst to me had been following our TJ's blog, decided that I had been slacking in my blogging duties (which, of course, I was) so he decided to contribute his own original TJ's reviews to the blog, thus enhancing it, making it more complete and adding to it a flavor of his own. He and his wife Sandy are also avid TJ's fans and, as you will soon discover, he is an excellent writer and is nearly as clever, witty and humble as I am.

Seriously though, Russ: You go, boy!

So here it is: "What's Good at Trader Joe's?"

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Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Joe's Diner Mac n' Cheese


Trader Joe's Macaroni and Cheese is part of a line of diner-style dishes called "Joe's Diner." The way it's packaged, it works best as a side dish for two or more, rather than an entree for one person. It's not bad, but it's not stellar. Sonia seems to be a bigger fan of it than I am.

In general, the most common issue I have with TJ's brand foods is that they can be bland. Very few foods have nasty textures or bad tastes, but a minority of their products simply lack flavor. This mac n' cheese is not the worst offender, but I would place it in that camp of slightly bland foods. However, salt, pepper, and/or hot sauce can make this dish quite yummy.

I would say taste-wise, this mac n' cheese ranks just below Kraft Easy Mac. At $2.99 per package, it's probably a little more expensive than Easy Mac. But of course, the TJ's brand is much better for you. I've tried some experiments mixing the Joe's Diner Mac n' Cheese with the TJ's chili. It's a great combo. All in all, I give it Three out of Five Stars...Sonia gives it Five out of Five Stars.

Bottom line: 8 out of 10

5 comments:

  1. My favorite easy dinner for two (he's a big eater): 2 packages TJ's "Reduced Guilt" Mac & Cheese, 1 pkg regular Mac & Cheese (reviewed above) & 1 pkg TJ's frozen broccoli.

    Remove all packaging, throw in a casserole & heat in oven according to directions, stir everything around the time it should be done, and heat a few more minutes uncovered until there are some nice burned cheese bits around the edges.

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  2. I have to respectfully disagree that this ranks below Kraft. While there is a certain nostalgic charm for me to Kraft boxed mac & cheese, the TJ's frozen version is MUCH tastier to my palate. I can see where it would be good with chili... I have been known to add pasta to chili and then stir in ample amounts of cheddar cheese to make chili-mac, so same basic idea. Btw, I am currently a big fan of the TJ's Shells & White Cheddar boxed mix mac & cheese.

    Thank you for your blog--I have been enjoying the heck out of it and trying lots of things based on your recommendations =)

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  3. So good. But too fatty for me. I always get the diet version which still tastes amazing, it's just smaller portion wise and with a little less butter. Or oil. Or whatever it is they put in it that does that.

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  4. I'm eating my first box right now. I meant to save half as a quick lunch or dinner side tomorrow but I couldn't stop. I ate the whole thing. I don't even care. I didn't even get the guilt free version. Guilt be damned. This mac and cheese is delicious.

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  5. This is WAY better than Kraft, hands down! The combo of cheeses melts perfectly to add other things to it such as ham and/or broccoli. The best way to eat this, IMO, is to put a few packages in a crock pot and add some fried onions on top, heating until the edges get a little crunchy/brown. It disappears within minutes at a party!

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