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, July 5, 2011

Trader Joe's Chicken Pot Pie

No, Kittah, this is mah pot pie!

I don't think I'll ever eat another pot pie in my life without thinking about the stupid antics of Eric Cartman. I can't even remember what was so funny about that scene. There was just this fat kid eating a pot pie and his pet kitty cat kept meowing because it wanted some. He got really angry at the cat and started saying "No, Kittah, this is mah pot pie!" I remember the other guys in the dorm and I howled with laughter for some reason. I guess there's just something universally funny about a fat kid getting all worked up about protecting his food from a little cat.

A similar scene could have unfolded in our apartment last week. Except instead of Eric Cartman, the angry fat kid would have been me, and instead of a meowing kitten, it would have been my poor, sweet wife on the receiving end of my exclamation: "No Sonia, this is mah pot pie!"

That scene could have unfolded. That is, if Trader Joe had whipped us up a more respectable pot pie. Fortunately - or unfortunately, depending on how you look at it - the pot pie wasn't worth fighting over.

As you can see, the cover of the packaging brags about the "rich golden crust in oven or microwave." I'll certainly give it that: the crust wasn't bad - especially for a microwaved pot pie. Furthermore, as you can see, the cover of the packaging doesn't really brag about much else. Because that's where this product's bragging rights end. The vegetables were edible, but Sonia thinks they were tasteless. She kinda thinks the whole thing was bland. She dumped all kinds of hot sauce on hers.

Blandness wasn't the biggest problem for me. My major issue was the texture of the chicken itself. The pieces looked fake and felt funny. They were kinda chewy. If it weren't for that, I could have seen myself purchasing this product again at some point. I'm sorry to say it, but the only other chicken pot pie I've had in recent memory is one of the 80¢ Banquet ones from the freezer at Target...yeah, that's all I really have to compare it to (and our detractors say we're not real foodies). Now I know the Banquet ones are disgustingly not-good-for-you, and they're significantly smaller than TJ's version, but if we put those two head-to-head in a taste-test...um, I would go with the Banquet one.

Yes, I know that's pretty harsh. Really, if you don't mind rubbery chicken, they're not that bad...and there's always the possibility we just got one made with a batch of sub-par chicken. For the tasty crust and the not-bad vegetables, it earns a 3 from me. Sonia gives it a 3 as well, docking 2 points for an overall lack of flavor. So, we both thought it was just OK, but for different reasons.

Bottom line: 6 out of 10.

16 comments:

  1. "No Starvin' Marvin, that's Kenny's creamed corn!" is actually my favorite South Park- related food quote. Thanks for the review, we'll be sure to pass on the pot pie.

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  2. "Well *I* forgot to take into account that *I* suck at math." - Cartman. My quote of choice that I drop quite often.

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  3. After being a fan of Marie Calender's pot pies, which has a fabulous crust and wonderful turkey (my favorite) and chicken and tasty vegetables, I was disappointed in the Trader Joe's pie. You said it: bland. This was really my first thing at Trader Joe's that disappointed me a lot.

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  4. Ah but does TJ's also have the 1000 calories, 2000 mg of sodium and 60 grams of fat that are hallmarks of "cream of the crop" Marie Calender's and Pepperidge Farm?

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  5. The chicken pot pies are among my favorite items from Trader Joe's, but I'd agree that they're pretty horrible when microwaved. Try giving it another go with a conventional oven and see if your opinion changes. :)

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  6. I just made one of these and ended up throwing it away. You're right on about the chicken. It was dry and rubbery. As for the rest of the filling, it had an odd flavor. Not worth eating.

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  7. Ally is right. You need to cook this in the oven. I think your review would have been different if you had used the oven. Microwaving it will make the chicken taste rubbery. Dunno why, but I've noticed that some prepared foods don't come out well (more soggy or rubbery) when microwaved, even though they are made to be microwaved or heated in the oven. Imo, it's best to use the oven if you can.

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  9. You have to try the new Chicken Pot Pie in the refrigerated section. It's a little pricy ( $8.99 ) but serves 3 and it's the best pot pie I've had in a long time. It took only 20 minutes to heat in the oven ( you can microwave but the crust won't be as flaky ) Delicious!! As close to home made as you can get. Full of tender chicken, perfectly cooked veggies and a creamy herby slightly sweet crust. OK, now I'm hungry!

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  10. Oops! That should be "creamy herby slightly sweet GRAVY"

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  11. My big problem with TJ's Chicken Pot Pie has always been the packaging. Every time I've gotten one the edge of the crust has always been broken off, which causes a lot of leakage when baked. I've bought many MC Pot Pies over the years and never had any broken edges, so this is definitely not a generic frozen pot pie problem.

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  12. I actually really enjoyed these chicken pot pies, even after my chef roommate made me some from scratch 2 months before I tried TJ's ones.

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  13. I also really think this review would have been different if you cooked the pot pie in a conventional oven. I just had one for the first time and it's easily one of my favoriteitems from trader joes!

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  14. I was eating one until I read the reviews. I thought I got a bad one with chicken, the crappy crust, the lack of flavor, but if this is how they taste... pass! I also baked mine so I shudder at the thought of what it would taste like microwaved! Definitely not what I am used to from Trader Joes!

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  15. Currently in the dogs bowl- I HATE to waste food, but this is horrid!

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  16. 1st two pot pies were good. Last two the crust detached and sank below the filling, making a yucky doughy unpalatable mess. UGH. Worst ever. Will not buy again

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