Every time I visit Trader Joe's, I groan at the packed parking lot, sigh as I squeeze around the aisles, and try to grin and bear it at the checkout line that stretches all the way back to the dairy case. But I keep coming back, because their stuff is so good and convenient that it's worth the hassle. Especially in December, when TJ's brings out their best pre-made holiday apps that make it so easy to entertain.
We love making the season special for family and friends, and for many of us, it's one of the few times of the year when we really go to town in the kitchen. The cookbooks get dusted off, the cookie cutters come out, the fridge and pantry fill up with items like filo dough, coconut, fresh sage, and confectioner's sugar, and the aromas in the house become far more pleasant than the usual scents of wet dog and sweaty sneakers. Still, there are times when we just can't have a totally homemade holiday. Schedules get busy. Kids get sick. And we just get downright tired. That's when Trader Joe's becomes a lifesaver, and a delightful one, at that. Not only do their frozen and pre-packaged items save on meal prep, they're also so delicious that you don't mind not being the actual chef.
Here are my picks for best appetizers to keep in mind on your next Joe's run. Whether you're having a quiet dinner at home, entertaining a houseful, or need something to heat up fast for an open house, they're all time-savers that will make your life easier. (Don't count on having leftovers.)