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Budget Bites: Fall for these Trader Joe’s items

Vivian Lang / Thresher

By Sydney Park     10/18/22 10:29pm

‘Tis the season of pumpkin spice and everything nice. If you have been searching for cheap, festive meals to get you into the fall spirit, this review is for you. Every year around the month of October, Trader Joe’s releases a limited amount of fall-themed items in its stores. There are a wide array of impulsive purchases you can make, from ‘autumn-scented’ candles to Halloween cookies to pumpkin ravioli. Among the many tempting options, I chose to review muffins, bagels, brioche and soup, all at affordable price points. 

Gluten Free Pumpkin Streusel Muffins

This item is a hidden gem in my book. The muffin is incredibly moist and soft, and strikes a delectable balance between cinnamon and pumpkin flavors without one overshadowing the other. The sweetness is just right, not too overpowering or intense. It genuinely feels like eating a pumpkin pie, but in muffin form. They are gluten-free, but I honestly could not tell the difference. I recommend having it for breakfast with warm coffee or tea. Pricing is very reasonable at $4.99 for four generous portions. I would have preferred a crispier muffin top for better  texture, but that’s a minor detail. 

Pumpkin Bagels

Made with pumpkin flour and pumpkin pie spice bits, I was excited to try this new item as a bagel fanatic. Spoiler alert: it was a let down. Despite the various pumpkin ingredients, the pumpkin itself is actually quite challenging to taste. The spices — cinnamon, nutmeg and clove — overpower the palate, with an especially strong clove aftertaste. I found the bagel difficult to pair with cream cheese and other spreads as a result. The pumpkin bagels themselves were denser in texture compared to other bagels at Trader Joe’s. At $2.69, you receive six bagels, but I recommend skipping this item if you are not a fan of heavy spices. 

Pumpkin Brioche Twist

Priced at $4.49, you can now make your own fall-themed version of French toast. The brioche was absolutely divine, perfectly doughy and light. It essentially tastes like French toast with subtle notes of cinnamon and some pumpkin flavors here and there. It is worth noting that the brioche itself is quite thick, but this is mainly due to the fluffiness of the dough. I suggest pairing the bread with maple syrup and other breakfast sides such as sausage or fruit. The package contains about nine large slices, so you definitely get your money’s worth. There were only a few left on the shelf — need I say more? 

Pumpkin Butternut Squash Bisque

A finely blended purée, the soup is fairly simple but tastes quite fresh and comforting. The combination of pumpkin and squash pair harmoniously together, creating a thicker broth similar to a tomato soup. Soft notes of garlic, sage and nutmeg add a nuanced layer and contribute to the earthy tones of the dish. The soup can be served by itself, with a sandwich or with some toasted sourdough to dip. For $3.99, enjoy this warm, tasty bisque that is reminiscent of fall.

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