TJ vs. Costco chx nuggets protein index posted: Tue 2015-05-12 17:18:57 tags: diet
A while back I discovered Trader Joe's (or, ahem, "Trader Ming's") Mandarin Orange Chicken. 5 servings per bag, it comes with a nice even two packets of orange sauce, and according to the label packs 21g / 320 kcal per serving for a .0656 index value. At $5 and change per bag, that's under $3 per meal for 2 very satisfying meals of nominally 52.5g protein each. If I was better about portioning and accessorizing, I could probably get 3 meals of a solid 35g each out of a bag, for under $2/meal.

Then last time I was at Costco I encountered two comparable frozen-nugget products by Crazy Cuisine: Mandarin Orange and Sweet Chili, at $13.50ish per 12-serving box. The Mandarin Orange was 13g/260 kcal = .0500 protein index. I went with the slightly better Sweet Chili, 15g/280 kcal = .0536 index.

Inside the box is 2 bags of frozen chx nuggets and 2 large sauce packets. Portioning similarly to how I eat the TJ's mandarin orange chx, half a bag, gives about 4 meals per box for slightly less protein overkill per meal (3 srv = 45g).

So here's part 1 the $64,000 question: The attraction of Costco's "club" model is to offer either savings in volume, or brand-quality advantages vs. open-to-public stores. Is Crazy Cuizine a better value than Trader Ming, ounce for ounce? Well, I could get 2 bags of TJ's product for less than the cost of 1 bag of the Crazy Cuizine, and no matter how you juggle the portioning you end up with more protein per dollar from TJ. So, that answer is "no, TJ wins the price comparison".

Part 2, if it doesn't have an edge over TJ on cost basis, does it at least excel in quality? Like, flavor, texture, etc. I encountered an unpleasant hunk of gristle in my first quarter-box meal of the Sweet Chili, and I have never had that experience in 3-4 bags thus far of TJ product. So it's not a terrible value but it hasn't justified my Costco membership either.