I Tried 7 of Trader Joe’s Most Thanksgiving-y Groceries
During one of my weekly strolls through the aisles of Trader Joe’s I found myself in the magical land of Turkey Town. It’s a special section of my local store that has everything you could possibly need to make The Big Feast. Thanks to this discovery, I loaded up as many things as I could carry in my little red basket and left with pretty much all the big players and a few supporting characters.
Here’s my haul.
Once I returned home with my mix of appetizers, sides, a bird (!!!), gravy, and even a leftovers-style pot pie, I cranked up my oven to 375 degrees and got to heating — and eating.
1. Camembert Cheese and Cranberry Sauce Fillo Bites, $3.99
The most popular person at every single Friendsgiving potluck I’ve ever attended is always the person who brings baked Brie, topped with a layer of jam and wrapped like a present with puff pastry. (Hi, Alyssa!) TJ’s camembert cranberry bites are the finger-food version of this blessed appetizer. These perfect bites have the ideal ratio of all of those things — except instead of Brie, it’s Camembert. And instead of puff pastry, it’s phyllo dough. You get the point, though.
2. Turkey Pot Pie, $6.99
After I took a bite of this yummy creation, I realized that it’s all I want to do with my Thanksgiving leftovers from now on. The puff pastry is puffy and the chunks of turkey inside are big and meaty. There are also cranberries scattered throughout a mix of veggies and cornbread stuffing with a white gravy filling. Simply put, it tastes like all of Thanksgiving in one bite.
Isn’t she beautiful?
3. Mashed Sweet Potatoes with Pecans, $4.99
I wanted to like this classic side dish, but if I’m being honest it needed salt.
Right out of the oven, you sprinkle it with candied pecans. If it looks a little dry and bland to you, it’s because it is. If I were to get this again, I’d doctor up the mashed sweet potatoes with some salted, herbed butter (mmmm) and save the pecan topping to use as a crunchy Thanksgiving salad topper. Or maybe I’d just add a layer of marshmallows …
4. Roasted Vegetables Dressed with Garlic and Herbs, $4.99
Trader Joe’s committed a cardinal roasted vegetable sin here by including red bell peppers in this mix. Don’t get me wrong: I love red bell peppers in a lot of different recipes, just not in a fall roasted veggie medley. Also there were two (2!!!) Brussels sprouts in the entire package. If I served these at my family feast, a fight would break out over the Brussels sprouts.
A tip: If you buy these, don’t follow the instructions on the box, which suggest leaving the veggies in their plastic container to heat. Scatter them over a preheated sheet pan instead, so they can get as roasted, caramelized, and crispy as they deserve to be.
5. Cauliflower Gratin, $4.99
You guys. This cheesy, bubbly, Parmesan panko-dusted cauliflower gratin is the stuff of dreams. If you close your eyes and try hard enough, you might even mistake it for mac and cheese.
This gratin might not be the most beautiful sight to behold right out of the package, but if you transfer it to a real baking dish, you’ll definitely get some oohs and aahs when you bring it to your Thanksgiving table.
6. Brined Bone-in Half Turkey Breast with Garlic Butter, $19.36 ($6.99/lb)
I was really (REALLY) nervous about this prepared turkey-in-a-bag situation, but oh my goodness I have never had a juicier bird in my life! It comes already brined and cooked — all you have to do is throw it in the oven, baste it, and make sure the skin gets crispy and heated throughout. The meat was not dry in the slightest and there was so much to go around. (I will be making a puff pastry pot pie with the leftovers, if you’re wondering.)
To my dismay, the skin didn’t get as crispy as I hoped, even after keeping it in the oven for an extra 20 minutes, but it still beat any other Thanksgiving turkey I’ve ever had (sorry, Mom and Dad) and it was a whole lot easier to make.
7. Organic Savory Vegan Gravy, $3.79
Yes, the rumors are true. TJ’s vegan mushroom gravy exists and the stuff is so good that you’ll want to eat it with a spoon like it’s soup. I spooned this over the turkey (even though the meat didn’t need it) and it kicked the flavor up a few more notches. This gravy will be beloved by vegans and carnivores alike.
And that’s all, folks. For a total of $53.09, I had an entire Thanksgiving feast, that required absolutely zero prep work. (And could have served a mini party of four.) Thank you, Trader Joe’s.