I Tried Dozens of New Groceries Hitting Shelves This November — These Are the 13 I’m Most Excited About
This month, I’m grateful for my friends, my family, and this job, which, month after month, allows me to taste test the latest and greatest innovations our local grocery stores have to offer before they hit shelves.
Among those launching this December, you’ll find great ways to get your greens, cozy noodle lunches, easy meal solutions that help you get the most out of shorter days, and snacks for Netflix marathons and holiday gatherings alike. As we make a hard turn toward feastin’ season, these are the 13 new items I’m looking forward to the most.
1. Fresh Express Chopped Salad Kits
If you’ve been following this column, one quick way to grab my attention is with a great chopped salad. This month, the Fresh Express Twisted Caesar line added a refreshingly bright Lemon Caesar kit that comes with Parmesan cheese crisps, dried cherries, a pesto Caesar dressing that absolutely slaps, and lots of garlic brioche croutons. There’s also a Mexican Style Chopped Kit shaking up lettuce, red cabbage, and carrots with pumpkin seeds, cheddar tortilla strips, crumbled cotija cheese, and a tangy tomatillo vinaigrette.
Find it in stores: Fresh Express Chopped Salad Kits, $3.99 for 6.6 to 8.5 ounces at Albertsons, Food Lion, Giant Eagle, and Walmart
2. Taylor Farms Mexican Street Corn Chopped Kit
This brand just launched three killer fall salads, and it’s back with another hit. This kit features sturdy chopped greens, crunchy-sweet corn, paprika cornbread crumbles, grated Parm, and a lime-spiked elote-inspired dressing. It’s so creamy that I personally don’t even need the Parmesan, but why not, right? Pulled pork, lump crab, or shrimp are perfect proteins to add if you want to make this your new favorite dinner.
Buy: Taylor Farms Mexican Street Corn Chopped Kit, $4.59 for 11.62 ounces at Instacart
3. Changing Seas Black Tiger Shrimp
I love getting restaurant-quality protein at home, and have fond memories of eating juicy, extra-jumbo Indonesian tiger shrimp my chef dad used to put aside for me at his restaurant. Now, from half a country away, I can buy them myself. These shrimp, which are a Whole Foods Market exclusive, are farmed traditionally in their natural environment with minimal human intervention. What that means is that you’re getting shrimp with no chemicals, antibiotics, or preservatives. I love their pure, sweet taste and the fact that they come deveined (a big bonus; I hate deveining!), but with shells on.
Find it in stores: Changing Seas Black Tiger Shrimp, $12.99 for 12 ounces at Whole Foods
4. XCJ Noodles
After trying XCJ’s famous soup dumplings and Shao Kao meat skewers, I was certain that whatever comes out of their kitchen is something I want in mine. These new noodles have continued that pattern of delicious dishes.
All three varieties include satisfyingly chewy wheat noodles that cook from frozen in 10 minutes. The Sichuan Dan Dan comes with a sesame-based Sichuan peppercorn sauce, and the Beijing Zha Jiang comes with sweet fried soybean sauce. With both of these noodles, you have a choice of richly flavored pork or Impossible’s plant-based pork. The Shanghai Scallion Oil Noodles are vegan and are topped simply with fried scallions. All three noodle options pack big flavor and are more filling than they look.
Buy: XCJ Noodle Variety Kit, $49.99 for a variety pack of 6 at XCJ
5. Immi Instant Ramen
This reformulated instant ramen — now with a softer chew and better broth absorption — has three times the protein and four times the fiber of the squares we grew up eating, and trades some sodium for more flavor. How? By introducing plant-based varieties, like Spicy “Beef,” Tom Yum “Shrimp,” and Black Garlic “Chicken.”
Buy: Immi Instant Ramen Variety Pack, $39 per 6 2.43-ounce packages at Amazon; also available at Immi and Whole Foods
6. Banza Microwaveable Mac & Cheese Cups
I will never get tired of trying new takes on boxed mac and cheese. Thanks to its chickpea-based pasta, Banza’s original boxed mac and cheese is gluten-free and has twice the protein and quadruple the fiber of conventional boxed mac. And now you can get your Banza mac faster than ever with single-serve microwavable cups of gooey orange elbows. It’s hard for me not to eat a whole box at a time, so these cups let me take a breath before I go in for a second round.
Buy: Banza Mac & Cheese Made with Chickpea Pasta, $4.99 for 2 4.2-ounce packs at Target; also available at Amazon, Banza, and Whole Foods
7. MingsBings Plant-Based Breakfast Bings
If you’ve never had Chinese bing, you should change that. Or, rather, let Iron Chef and James Beard Award-winner Ming Tsai change it immediately. He launched his plant-based take on the savory, crispy, plant-based Chinese crepes in March 2020 and just added Breakfast Bings to the frozen food line. There are four breakfast options — Egg & Cheese; Veggie, Egg & Cheese; Chorizo, Egg & Cheese; and Sausage, Egg & Cheese — all of which include JUST Egg and plant-based proteins.
Find it in stores: Mings Bings Plant-Based Breakfast Bings, $6.99 for 2 8.9-ounce packs at Lowes Foods and Dave’s Fresh Marketplace
8. CAULIPOWER Frozen Meals
Cauliflower has found its way into all sorts of grocery products, but it’s especially great in gnocchi, where it lightens up the texture of the dumplings. These new frozen meals from Caulipower take the veggie-packed gnocchi in two different flavor directions: pesto and cherry tomatoes or Tuscan-style marinara sauce. The new frozen meal line also includes a penne pomodoro option, where cauliflower penne and chopped zucchini are tossed in a tomato-basil sauce. All three meals go from freezer to plate in 10 minutes or less.
Find it in stores: CAULIPOWER Frozen Meals, starting at $7.99 for 18 ounces at Whole Foods, select Albertsons and Safeways, Hy-Vee, and ShopRite
9. Home Chef Pizzas and Flatbreads
Well-known as an in-home meal kit delivery service, this brand has in-store recognizability for those who shop at Kroger. (That’s me!) The Home Chef pick-up menu just got even more tempting with 10 new refrigerated deli-case pizzas and flatbreads. My pizza benchmark is always a supreme-style, but I’m here also for the veggie-filled Philly Cheesesteak, which has mushrooms, green peppers, and caramelized onions. In flatbreads, I loved the cup n’ char pepperoni on the Pepperoni and Mozzarella Flatbread and will be keeping an eye out for another modern riff: Chicken Bacon Ranch.
Find it in stores: Home Chef Pizzas and Flatbreads, $6.99 for 13.9 to 23.9 ounces at Kroger, King Soopers, Fry’s, Smiths, and Fred Meyer
10. Gordo’s Homestyle Recipe Queso Dip
This is one of my go-to queso brands not just because it’s from my home city of Atlanta, but also because it’s the thickest and gooiest on the market. And this new launch with chunks of tomato, chili peppers, and jalapeños just might be Gordo’s best version yet. I pair it with one of my other favorite grocery finds: Food Should Taste Good’s black bean chips.
Find it in stores: Gordo’s Homestyle Recipe Queso Dip, $4.99 for 16 ounces at select Walmart stores
11. Zapp’s Pretzel Stixs
Zapp’s … IYKYK. Luckily, as a former New Orleanian, I know, and now you will too because this chip brand’s loud flavors are fun in a bag. The iconic, beloved Voodoo chip flavor, which is a jumble of sweet cayenne-laced barbecue, has shape-shifted into crunchy Pretzel Stix. The twisty pretzels also come in Jazzy Honey Mustard, which leans in on the sugar, its crystals clinging to the twists with the lightest hint of Creole mustard.
Find it in stores: Zapp’s Pretzel Stixs, $3.79 for 5 ounces and $6.29 for 16 ounces at Kroger, Stop & Shop, Food Lion, Wawa, Target, Walmart, Harris Teeter, ShopRite, Lowe’s Food Stores, Rouse’s Supermarket, and Big Y
12. RightRice Holiday Flavors
Traditional bread and rice stuffing can take a season off this year. This veggie-rice blend recently launched Vegan Brown Butter Sage and Holiday Stuffing versions and they don’t skimp on flavor. Right Rice is easy to cook and fluffs up like rice, albeit a little softer. The side dish is made from a mix of lentil flour, chickpea flour, pea fiber, and rice flour, which means it has a good amount of protein and fiber.
Find it in stores: RightRice Rice Made from Veggies, starting at $4.49 for 7 ounces at Whole Foods, Thrive Market, Amazon, and Planting Hope Brands
13. La Colombe Cold Brew and Lattes
Many of this beloved coffee brand’s limited editions come and go before you know it, but these three new products are available through February. Let’s start with the Winter Toast Cold Brew. The 42-ounce bottle is great to have in the fridge for surprise holiday guests. The nutty caramel, toffee, toasted hazelnut, chocolate, malted milk ball, and cherry notes are super festive and a good reminder that iced coffee is a year-round beverage. On the latte front, there’s the seasonal Peppermint Mocha Latte, which is a love letter to winter, and the Oatmilk Peppermint Mocha Latte, which was so new I couldn’t even get a preview.
Find it in stores: La Colombe Cold Brew and Lattes, $5.99 for 42 ounces of the Winter Toast at Whole Foods, Winco, HEB, and Wegmans; $3.99 for a 9-ounce can or $36 for a 12-pack at Whole Foods and Sprouts.
Let us know about some of your favorite new grocery finds in the comments.