Food52 Staff

18 Trader Joe's Products That Are Always in Our Freezers

April 17, 2019

All aisles in a Trader Joe’s are—how do I put this?—absolute chaos. But the freezer section, perhaps most of all. From peeled-and-chopped produce to microwave-and-eat meals, there’s no shortage of time-saving finds. Which is why I asked our staff: What do you always have in your freezer?

Here’s what they said, plenty of dumplings included.

Photo by Trader Joe's

Chicken Potstickers + Cauliflower Pizza Crust

“The chicken potstickers! They are cheap, easy to make, and perfect for days when I’m not feeling like making an elaborate meal. Just make a side of sautéed veggies or fried rice and you’re good to go. Their cauliflower pizza crust is also great. If you’ve ever made cauliflower pizza crust from scratch, then you know how much work it can be, so this saves so much time!” —Megan Güntaş, product designer

Pork Potstickers

“I never leave without snagging the pork gyoza potstickers. They take 10 minutes–tops to fry and last me three meals if I add brown rice and bok choy—and the whole bag costs less than a single serving at a restaurant.” —Maggie Slover, copywriter

Vegetable Potstickers + Quinoa With Vegetables

“Yeah, +1 to gyoza! We always have a bag of the vegetable ones—so easy to make. Also, I always get the Quinoa Duo With Vegetable Melange.” —Alison Green, senior full stack developer

Photo by Trader Joe's

Chicken Tikka Masala

“Also, +1 to the pork gyoza! I absolutely love, love, love their chicken tikka masala. I'll stock up on two or three boxes at a time so I know I have something quick and yummy on hand at all times.” —Erin Alexander, assistant editor of partner content

Very Cherry Berry Blend + Wild Blue Shrimp

“I always stock up on the Very Cherry Berry Blend and on the Uncooked Wild Blue Shrimp. They're both so great to keep in the freezer—the berries for breakfasts and smoothies, and the shrimp for the quickest garlicky shrimp and broccoli pasta on a weeknight.” —Joanna Sciarrino, executive editor

Gorgonzola Gnocchi + Chicken Spring Rolls

“Eeeek! Gorgonzola gnocchi is 🔥! I can eat it alone, or add whatever veggies or protein I happen to have in the fridge. Always have two to three bags in my freezer. Also, their chicken spring rolls!” —Danielle Curtis-Williams, marketing coordinator

Photo by Trader Joe's

Produce + Mac 'n' Cheese + Butter Chicken

“I love the TJ freezer section for the staples: broccoli, artichokes, green peas. I’m never above their microwave “Joe’s Diner” mac and cheese. And I’m not gluten-free, but they even have a gluten-free mac and cheese that’s very good. The paneer tikka masala has my heart, as does the butter chicken (any of the Indian-food entrees, really). God, I love TV dinners.” —Eric Kim, senior editor

Garlic Naan + Tilapia

“I really like the garlic naan. It goes especially well with the Instant Pot butter chicken! I also really like their frozen tilapia”. —Micki Balder, software engineer

Cheese & Green Chile Tamales

“Green chile and cheese tamales, as well as the pork gyoza. They're tasty, easy, and filling!” —Funmi Ojo, junior web developer

Cauliflower Rice + Minced Ginger

“I love to stock up on simple staples in the TJs frozen isle to keep on hand. I always get the tri-colored cauliflower and cauliflower rice, along with other frozen produce (beets! artichokes! mango!). I also buy the minced ginger packs. It's not as good as fresh, but saves me time!” —Annalee Leggett, strategy and finance manager

Which Trader Joe’s products do you always have in your freezer? Discuss in the comments!

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Emma is a writer and recipe developer at Food52. Before this, she worked a lot of odd jobs, all at the same time. Think: stir-frying noodles "on the fly," baking dozens of pastries at 3 a.m., reviewing restaurants, and writing stories about everything from how to use leftover mashed potatoes to the history of pies in North Carolina. Now, she lives in Maplewood, New Jersey with her husband and their cat, Butter.

56 Comments

Helen H. April 28, 2019
I forgot their cauliflower gnocchi is fabulous. You have to sauté it in a little olive oil and get it brown. Then toss it in their vegan pesto delicious and I’m not vegan. It’s the bomb. I keep it in the freezer at all times.
 
Helen H. April 28, 2019
I always keep their meat lasagna and their vegetable birds nests. They are fabulous.
 
Madelaine L. April 28, 2019
I always keep TJ’s Roasted Corn on hand. And the Green Chili and Cheese tamales. My go to when I want a quick dinner. It’s a lot different now that it’s just me. And also frozen Vegetable Fried Rice. Vegetarian is a lot easier with TJ’s frozen food selections.
 
Madelaine L. April 28, 2019
I forgot to mention their Trader Jose’s enchilada sauce. It’s bottled so if you don’t use the whole thing, you can put the lid on it and use it for other Mexican meals that week. Love it. If you’re ambitious, pour it over a roast with a little added water and you have some mighty tasty beef for shredded beef burritos and tacos or machaca, etc. so good.
 
JJ L. April 26, 2019
Always keep the microwavable brown rice, some steak burritos, the green chile/cheese tamales, Hatch chili Mac n Cheese, and frozen mangos in the freezer. Oh, and some frozen dark peanut butter cups too!
 
Jaye B. April 26, 2019
I read all the comments and am surprised no one mentioned the frozen Organic Jasmine Rice. Along with many items in the comments, it's always in my freezer. Fast, no clean up, and delicious - kind of magical, really, when you're pressed for time or just feeling lazy.
 
Catherine April 26, 2019
I’ve become addicted to their mini-chocolate-dipped ice cream cones. 🍦 So good!!!
They also have excellent cheeses. I love eating the Cotswolds Cheddar with Chives!
I always wind up leaving with many more items than I went into the store for!
 
Rochelle April 27, 2019
I love that cheese! The stilton is a great buy as well.

 
Kristina H. April 25, 2019
And if you’re a lacto-ovo vegetarian, the paneer tikka masala is delicious, too. Pair it with the frozen naan and that’s a meal.
 
Teresa April 25, 2019
Chocolate croissants
 
Valerie G. April 25, 2019
Their chocolate dipped hazelnut biscotti are out of this world! Way better than any others I’ve found even at the trendiest baristas
 
Cathy T. April 25, 2019
Birdsnests at Trader Joe's
 
Jordan P. April 26, 2019
I dunno what that is but it sounds delightful!
 
ustabahippie April 25, 2019
Oh if only you would stock Organic puff pastry dough all year. Who else feels that fall winter are not the only time we bake with puff pastry!!!!!!!??????
 
Jaye B. April 26, 2019
This annoys me, too. I consider puff pastry a basic grocery item, not at all seasonal. My local Costco deletes soups from its cold cases during Summer as if there is no such thing as air conditioning and eating soup when outdoor temps rise. I have yet to figure out what "hot-selling" items replace these products.
 
ustabahippie April 26, 2019
I’ve been taking 3 home for my own freezer when they stock puff pastry during holidays.
 
ann April 25, 2019
great picks but check out the sodium %!
 
gremolata April 22, 2019
The Frozen Tamales are very good, even better than a local Mexican restaurant, sorry to say!
 
Tk April 21, 2019
You cannot leave TJ’s without the following in the frozen food section: Mexican style corn, baby peas, fire roasted balsamic vegetables, mango chunks, Dover Sole, chocolate and/or almond croissants. You also need their homemade flour tortillas, mini avocados, Cuban style black beans and fire roasted green chili’s. At the holidays make sure you get the hassleback potatoes and amarena cherries. And please join me in begging them to bring back the dark chocolate peanut butter cupcakes as well as the jicama mango slaw because fish tacos just aren’t the same without it.
 
Smaug April 22, 2019
Wait, your TJ's still has the frozen peas? Mine hasn't for about a year, I've pretty much given up. The Mexican corn I kind of like, but it does have the disadvantage that if you don't want to cook the whole pound you have to sort out the little flavor pucks and divide them. I have had a similar problem with the fish- if you don't want to cook it all, you have to thaw it enough to separate the pieces. Also it's frequently smashed up, and sometimes the pieces are weird shapes- hard to cook a piece an inch thick and one a quarter inch thick the same way.
 
Janet M. April 26, 2019
Well, I can--it's an 85 mile drive home and except in the dead of winter here in NC, too far to transport frozen foods. Too bad TJ isn't expanding into smaller cities.
 
ustabahippie April 26, 2019
Sorry to hear that. In the San Francisco East Bay we have 5 that I can think of within a short drive. Wonder why?
 
Smaug April 26, 2019
Possibly it's the billion and a half largely affluent people in the SF east bay.
 
Tk April 27, 2019
They only open stores where zip codes have higher incomes. They have a warehouse in Daytona Beach Fl but the closest TJs are in Orlando and Jacksonville.
 
Madelaine L. April 28, 2019
Frozen food bags and ice recommended! Lol.
 
Traveler April 21, 2019
I have been going ever since they opened - years and years. This was when they were mainly wine, beer, nuts, and snacks. Now this is where I spend about 75% of my grocery money.

I love the frozen beef and broccoli. TJs is the only place I can find frozen artichokes. I love their frozen red Argentina shrimp and their frozen sole. Not frozen, but their enchilada sauce is the best I have ever eaten, including my homemade. Their strip steaks are the best.
 
Susanna April 21, 2019
Chicken and cilantro mini wontons—add to homemade chicken stock and there’s lunch. The chicken soup dumplings are good, too.
 
Susanna April 21, 2019
(Oh, and I add scallion, ginger, a handful of baby spinach, and a dash of soy to the stock)
 
SweetFaceGypsy April 23, 2019
Hi Susanna,

It all adds to making the dish more flavorful. Ginger and cilantro... very good!
 
Joy L. April 20, 2019
Sampled Black Bean Soup w/Rice at TJ's & loved it: 3 TJ products heated tog and that's it - Serve & Eat: Chimichanga Veg-Rice (frzn) + cuban black bean soup (canned) + latin black bean soup (pkg) --- needs no tweaks! Enjoy
 
judy April 20, 2019
TJs has been part of my lifetime shopping experience. My folks started going when thy first opened in Pasadena, California when I was a young child. It was (what we call today) a destination shopping event for them about twice a month. Even my Mom, who hated to cook and was a terrible cook. loved to go. They Brough home mostly "$2 buck chuck", but others items as well. None of which I remember. But I now shop regularly sincere is finally one in our locale.. My staples are very berry and cherry frozen fruit, frozen cheese and green chili tamales and stir fy anything. I switch them up and have something stir fry about 2-3 times a month. I have not yet tried the orange chicken, but now I guess it will be on my next to try list. I use a lot of their not frozen items: canned corn. reduced sugar organic jams and marmalade, unsalted sardines. Fresh fennel is excellent as are the green onions and "California Cruciferous Crunch" salad blend. Rosemary bread is to die for. Recently tried both partial sound-dreid tomatoes and partial dried vegetable mix. These are really good on the rosemary bread. But as a condiment for sandwiches, or mixed in pasta, or on egg sandwiches. Just nice clean. Prices are excellent. Another staple for me is the full and reduced fat organic coconut milks. All of theses ingredients are must haves from TJs on a regular basis. Try sardines and avocado on sourdough or rosemary bread. With a smear of grainy mustard. What an amazing lunch. Pickled fennel on the side rounds it out nicely.
 
SweetFaceGypsy April 23, 2019
Hi Judy,

Thumbs up for fresh fennel. And what a remarkable memory you have of you and your family TJ’s experiences from Day 1.
 
Abigail Q. April 20, 2019
I have sodium limitations now so logs of Silver Goat cheese, Aged Swiss Cheese, Hatch Chili mac and cheese, Mandarin Orange Chicken, low salt Marinara sauce... I told the manager, hey I'm top of the baby boom. Everything that afflicts me is about to hit millions of Americans like a brick. Better get ready.


 
Roger D. April 19, 2019
OK Folks...I now work for TJ's....I call it my "therapy session" after my 8hr day. When I started, I wondered why my store (#506) was bringing in 2 cases of the "Mandarin Orange Chicken"....EVERY NIGHT! After I started on the register, I found out. In about an hour, at least 40 went through my register. So, I finally tried it. Along with the Vegetable Fried Rice, Pork Potstickers, and Gyoza Dipping sauce.....I now call this "The Triple Threat". It's an OUTSTANDING meal and MUCH BETTER (and cheaper) than ANY restaurant.
 
SweetFaceGypsy April 23, 2019
Hi Roger,

Your comment made me smiled!

I haven’t tried the potstickers & dipping sauce.

My opinion as well, regarding TJ’s meals and restaurants.
 
Susan S. April 26, 2019
The Roger you must go to some pretty bad restuaurants
 
Roger D. April 26, 2019
Snarky much?