One of the things I love most about Trader Joe’s is their sample station. It’s rare to find samples in grocery stores in the first place so it’s a nice treat mid-shop. At the Union Square location, the store is so packed that you actually shop the outside ring of the store while you’re waiting in the checkout line, which snakes all the way to the front door. The sample station is at the 3/4 point, which means it brings you back to life. It’s like the people who hand out little cups of Gatorade to marathon runners. “You can do it! You’re almost to the register!” they cheer from the sidelines.
The other reason I like the sample station is because they show you how to best use the Trader Joe’s products. Their demonstration usually combines multiple products so you can see how to make a real meal out of them. If you use one product alone, you’re just heating up something frozen. Anyone can do that. But combining two items takes it to a whole new level. Suddenly, you did more than just reheat. You cooked…sort of.
The latest combo I discovered at the sample station was chicken sausage with the frozen marinated grilled eggplant and zucchini. You could make the veggies yourself by covering them with olive oil and some season-all (like salt, pepper, garlic, oregano) and grilling/roasting them. It’s a healthy, low-carb meal. Did I mention it took exactly 6 minutes to throw together? (Even if you do the veggies yourself you’ll be ready to eat in less than 30.)