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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Thursday, February 14, 2013

Trader Joe's Guacamole Kit

This year for Lent, I promise you something. Unlike years past, when I've given up meat or sweets, I will not be endlessly writing about it on here, bugging the living crud out of 90% of you who just want to know my opinion of some fake meat or whatever. If you're really all that  interested in what I'm doing, you can check out my sporadically updated side gig.

This will be my one mention of things here: In addition to some other things, I've made the decision to include at least one raw vegan meal every day into my diet for the next few weeks. Perfect time of the year for that, eh? I'm hoping this just won't mean a salad or baggie of carrot sticks and an apple, although I'll be doing more than enough of that since my super-happy fruit of the earth meals will usually be my lunch during the week at work. Just works better that way for Sandy and I. And I mention that only because that decision to do raw vegan chow is what propelled me to buy Trader Joe's Guacamole Kit. I realize that guacamole is a pretty easy entry into the raw vegan world. It's about as adventurous as I wanted to get until I get "crazy" enough to try some of the tasty-lookin' recipes like this.

Anyways, does this guac kit rock it? Tough to say. Taking a look at it, $3.99 for this isn't exactly a killer deal. Let's compare to buying each part separately. There's two avocados (about a buck each for the good ones - we'll get back to that), a lime and about few garlic cloves (let's say 50 cents for the two), two jalapenos (cheap!), a tomato (let's round up and say 70 cents), and a teeny little onion that I mistook for a rounded garlic bulb at first glance. So that's not quite $4 worth of goods they're selling for $4. It's not a ripoff (there's always a price to pay for convenience) but it's not a steal either.


As for the stars of the carton, the avocados....yeeeeah. I'm not familiar enough with avocado carbon dating to know if mine were a little too old or not quite ripe yet. Regardless, I expect when I buy produce from somewhere, they'd be fine for consumption three days later. These were, but were tough, tough enough that I had to whip out our noisy-as-all-heck food processor (think heavy duty construction zone mixed with a congested snoring Gilbert Gottfried) at almost midnight to chunk them down instead of following through my original plan of fork-mashing them. Thank God I didn't wake up Sandy (granted, she regularly sleeps thru the alarm blaring six inches from her head every morning) or get any complaints from the neighbors. Even after about five minutes in there, there were still a sizable chunk or two that I'll just decide to man up and eat anyways. These avocados were very much unlike the ones TJ's sells separately, which whenever I've bought them have been soft and perfect, and I think a little bit bigger, too.

Everything else was great. The jalapenos were as fresh as the ones I've grown in our garden each summer, and no complaints about anything else. When I finally had a chance to take my taster for a test drive on my self-made guac, it was pretty decent overall. Nice, good kick to it, mostly because I didn't bother de-seeding the peppers, with plenty of lime as well. If I were thinking, I would've left all the tomato and onion and diced goodies out of the food processors, as I like the chunkier varieties, but this was okay enough for my first crack at making guacamole. I didn't measure exactly how much guac this made, but two cups seems to be a fair estimate. It'll be more than enough to dip some veggies in for lunch for the next few days.

I kinda assume the point of the guacamole kit is to try and entice folks who wouldn't be so inclined otherwise to make their own guac. I'm willing to take another crack at it, but next time I do, I honestly won't be buying this particular product again. The price isn't compelling and the quality is too much of a mixed bag. Regardless, I'm not overly dissatisfied, nor am I particularly satisfied. For Golden Spoon time, let's just play this completely down the middle.

Bottom line: Trader Joe's Guacamole Kit: 5 out of 10 Golden Spoons

Maybe I would have better luck with one of these: 

7 comments:

  1. As far as the avocados, its the season... Even the ones in the mesh bag turn brown after they have softened... I'd stay away from avocados during the cold months... also the size is considerably small. I bought this kit during the summer and the avocados were better.

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  2. Hard avocado = not ripe yet. When you squeeze it, it should give a little bit, but shouldn't be squishy. You SHOULD be able to mash it with a fork without a problem. :) Love the blog, btw!

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  3. Agree with the avocados not being ripe yet! If you have to buy a hard avocado stick it in a brown paper bag for a day or two (better yet, throw an apple in with it). It will ripen much faster that way so you can fork-mash it.

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    1. Thanks for the recommendation - I'll try that out next time. Just the last ones I bought at TJ's (literally a week or two ago) were perfectly ripe, and these weren't at all.

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  4. This is silly! You can just buy the ingredients separately for cheaper.

    But the real question is: where's my cilantro?!

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    1. Ooooooooh....good call! Yeah, where is it?!?!?

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  5. Honestly, I never buy these kits :/ It's like you said - poor quality (especially this time of year when a lot of it is out of season), plus some random ingredients I don't put in my guac.

    My favorite:
    - avocado
    - cilantro (chopped super fine)
    - red onion (chopped super fine)
    - lime (a TON)
    - salt

    That's it! Super easy and you don't need to deal with out of season tomatoes :)

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