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The opening all West Seattleites have been waiting for is rapidly approaching: Trader Joe's will be opening its doors in our hood in a mere

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Seattle's Top 5 Trader Joe's Picks

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The opening all West Seattleites have been waiting for is rapidly approaching: Trader Joe's will be opening its doors in our hood in a mere month. And not just any Trader Joe's, but a giant Trader Joe's, one that will make those folks who have to shop in those Queen Anne and Capitol Hill shoe boxes cry with envy.

To celebrate this monumental occasion, we'll spend the next month highlighting some of the products that makes TJ's so special and a few to avoid. To kick off the series, here are five items (booze excluded) I personally can not exit "the Joes" without:

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Joe's Diner Mac 'n Cheese

The product responsible for introducing the word "Gouda" into my four year old's vocabulary, Joe's Diner Mac 'n Cheese could be the best frozen entrée I've ever tried. The noodles are surprisingly firm, with just the right amount of chewiness, and their four-cheese sauce is sinfully creamy and features Cheddar, Swiss, Havarti --and the aforementioned Gouda-- for a mix so savory it has now become the standard blend in my homemade Macaroni and Cheese.

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Edamame Hummus

With a consistency similar to fancy pants Edamame Foam and a price tag under three dollars, this snack has served as the accomplice to many a carrot sticks demise. It's also great with pita and as a Greek dressing when shaken with standard vinaigrette.

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Sesame Honey Almonds

These little gems are so sweet and crunchy you can pass them off to kids as candy. They also go really, really well with Cava. Pop an almond, take a swig and you'll be seconds away from taste-bud nirvana.

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Chicken Tikka Masala with Cumin Flavored Basmati Rice

I'd love to pretend I'm eating splendid delicacies in a gourmet establishment while I'm composing these Top 5 lists, but I am most likely at my kitchen counter chowing down on this. Reasonably priced and portioned for a frozen dinner, I've yet to meet a TJ's "Authentic Indian Recipe" meal that wasn't a perfectly satisfying, quick and easy lunch.

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Sparkling Mineral Water

Some people's ridiculous addictions include things like cocaine and couture, but today I'll stand up and admit: " My name is Ma'Chell and I'm a Carbonated Water-aholic". It's a spendy little vice, but Joe's offers up varieties like Lemon, Lime, Mixed Berry and Orange for under a buck a bottle, keeping my consistently costly habit down to two to three dollars a day. A real bargain when you consider the cost of Perrier.

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