I'm pretty new to TJ's so I was wondering if you all had any suggestions. Thanks in advance!
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I would just go to Whole Foods Market, higher quality standards. :)
That may be true...but to be fair, Whole Foods can be really expensive. Probably depends on your area -- it is a great place, but I at least can't replace my TJ and regular grocery store runs for weekly trips to Whole Foods.
Disagree! Please see my post down below. WF has been using food coloring and sugar in their prepared foods. Produce quality is identical to Trader Joe's with TJ costing significantly less. I am a recent convert from WF to TJ in Manhattan and have already noticed saving $50 - $75 a week in groceries.
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Their grain mix: it has Israeli couscous, split mini garbanzo beans, and quinoa, I believe. I cook it and stir in sliced scallions and Trader Joes sun-dried tomatoes (in the bags) which are the best. A little olive oil and salt. The kids love this side.
The chocolate-covered ice cream bon bons are scrumptious. I also like their chocolate hazelnut biscotti. Their breakfast cereals are good. Seasonal specials are good, whatever they may be (seems to vary from year to year). Last year the Peaberry coffee beans were excellent, but usually I don't go for most of their teas or coffees.
The hummus, especially the masala lentil hummus and mediterranean hummus. The frozen veggies with different marinades (so easy). The fresh cheeses. The various raviolis they have, love the butternut squash ravioli. I buy their frozen fillets of tilapia, tuna and salmon a lot. They come in twos - so easy to pop out of the freezer for a quick dinner.
The produce is... meh. I get my fruit and veggies elsewhere. They always go bad within 2-4 days.
lemon curd, all manner of chocolate covered candy, laundry soap, dish soap, grapefruit, cereal, chai
Their dark chocolate covered cocoa nibs are addictive,
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Wine! Also they have all kinds of reasonably priced nuts in their trail mix aisle.
Oh and Israeli cous cous yes which I haven't been able to find in Whole Foods for over a year. I bought five boxes last time I was there.
I like getting a lot of my dairy products here (yogurt, cheese, heavy cream) -- cheaper and better quality than at the average supermarket. I also love TJ's for dried fruit, nuts, and certain pantry staples (e.g., everyday olive oil and vinegars).
They have some surprisingly good wines priced below 10.00!
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Chocolate anything (especially dark chocolate); bags of frozen artichoke hearts; dried fruit and nuts; hummus; various crackers; mini mint choc. chip ice cream sandwiches; yogurt; and organic dog biscuits.
Also, just got a new flier, touting fig butter. Must investigate.
oh yeah, the dried California apricots are usually really good. The shelled pistachios, cashews, walnuts. I like their yogurt selections. The goats-milk yogurt is more reasonable there than elsewhere.
pizza dough! delicous and makes it very convenient to make your own pizza!
toasted sliced almonds, diced pancetta, dark chocolate peanut butter cups, quinoa, oatmeal, and their frozen indian lunch entrees. Oh yeah, the little frozen croissants that you leave out overnight and bake in the morning are pretty awesome too.
I have endless favorites! Some availability varies from store to store but: the frozen croissants that proff over night are delish, I am currently really enjoying their frozen Wonton soup (but cant find it at every store), Their olive oil is affordable and has a nice balanced flavor for cooking, their stocks are good in a pinch if you don't make your own, I get their various goat cheeses frequently, their mascarpone is top notch, their frozen appetizers are great to pop in the oven for impromptu parties. I agree with some of the other commenters- the only down fall is most produce is mediocre (often under ripe) but there are still good staples (apples, onions etc) the best part of Trader Joe's is exploring! There is always something new and fun to try
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Jenny, i will look for their frozen wonton soup in CT! I hope it doesnt contain shrimp though.
We buy a wide variety of the items available. They have much organic produce (within the range of what they sell), great cheeses, frozen entrees, wonderful dips and snacks, organic chicken... I have kids with allergies and have had great success shopping here because many of their packaged goods are relatively free of additives they used to print brochures that told you what was gluten free. Part of why i like going there is because the products move quickly, so are fresh. That being said, i have a friend who no longer shops here because she says they discontinue everything she falls in love with!
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Funny, they discontinued the grilled veggie pizza and I think people (like me) kicked up a lot of fuss and they brought them back! But the bags of frozen spelt dinner rolls we were VERY into (2 bags per week!) never came back :(
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I think all Trader Joe's are a little different, but I love mine for dairy (including cheese) also, their multi-grain boule and seeded corn crackers, dish soap, laundry detergent (lavender!); it's the only place I can find meyer lemons; their fig butter and apple cranberry butter are amazing. They also have organic kosher chicken and turkey which was a big deal to us when my mother-in-law was alive. Haven't really been crazy about their fish. Some produce is ok--great frozen edamame and artichoke hearts. Sometimes they have huge boxes of blueberries which I always indulge in. I agree that they have discontinued a lot of things I loved--peanut flour, hazelnut coffee, French butter, some breads. Love their chocolate biscotti, and their dark chocolate. Anything chocolate actually. They don't sell wine in ours unfortunately.
I agree on the wine. Decent coffee, great array of frozen food (at ours at least including products that are too expensive for us regularly other places like buffalo and fish we can't find all that readily), great fast party snacks, great froze produce, love the pizza dough, love the cookie dough. I've found the baking mixes sometimes have wonky directions so I have to watch those. Ours has good prepared hummus and salsa and great bread. Produce as others have said is hit or miss. I overall love TJs. It's a reasonably priced alternative to other places in our area.
amanda. www.chowhound.com has an ongoing thread about TJ new items, and threads about what people buy there.also, just fyi, some items are not found in all TJs.
i find this blog useful and informative ; he tests TrJ products and shows good taste:
MY TRADER JOE'S SHOPPING LIST:
Stir fry snow pea mix
French green beans(HARICOTS VERTS- stir fry these; do not blanch))
Chicken spring rolls- both Coconut and Lemongrass types
Tamales- Grn chili and cheese, and Chicken, and Beef- all are excellent
Mini Beef Tacos ( i have detested all their other frozen mexican products- skimpy fillings and poorly flavored)
Tr Joe’s Spinach Pie (not Filo Factory version)
Chicken Tika Masala
Artichoke hearts(nuke 2 min.; much better than in jar)
Tarte d'Alsace w/ gruyere and ham(what a tremendous product)
Fetuccini nests with Mushrooms
Cilantro lime noodle salad
Spinach, red chili, flour tortillas
Corn tortillas (much better/more flexible than Whole Foods)
Mexican layered dip
Hoomus 3 Layer
North Atlantic (navy label)smoked salmon
Grated parm in navy blue bag(watch out- this can go moldy)
Wine soaked Toscana cheese
Aged Old amsterdam gouda w/ black rind
Goat cheese crumbles
Greek yoghurt w/ honey on the side
Greek cilantro yoghurt dip (spread)
Pate in mini loaf- shaped crock
Bags of Baby Spinach
Triple ginger gingersnaps in tub
Brown Rice Medley -wonderful components for color and texture
Trotolle Pasta – great shape for catching sauce between its coils
All nuts/ roasted sunflower seeds
Thai chili lime cashews
Raspberry chocolate trail mix
Dark chocolate bars- the single source ,and the larger tr joes 72% bittersweet and extra dark ones( i use all these for baking)
Chocolate coated almonds with sea salt and demerrara sugar
Calcium w Magnesium
Cans and Jars:
Canned hearts of palm( neat addition to salads; though some of theirs are too fibrous)
Thai Coconut, Mojito and Moroccan simmer sauces ( many discontinued now)
Vodka marinara sauce
Salsa with corn and black beans
Black truffle oil (better than the other cheap[less than $25] ones i've tried)
Crackers and chips:
Stoned wheat thins
Parmesan pita toasts
Blue bag potato chips
Trader Giotto crostini (best crackers for cheese I have found)
Mini multi seed rice crackers
Snap Pea Crisps ( i am completely and helplessly addicted)
From this list, what stands out: Parmesan crisps (though expensive--not the pita kind), salsa with corn and black beans, Thai chile lime cashews that I mentioned above, the Truly HaNDMADE CORN TORTILLAS, AND ALSO THE HANDMADE FLOUR ONES, agree the Tarte d'Alsace w/ gruyere and ham is outstanding.
Tuscan Whole Wheat Bread, Almond Butter with Flax Seed, Fig Butter --
Way better than PB&J.
We like the white cheddar/gruyere hybrid cheese and the Greek feta cheese particularly out of a nice cheese selection for reasonable prices. I always get the peanut butter stuffed pretzels. The chocolate crossiants that you rise overnight and bake off are delicious. I like the prepared frozen individual spinach lasagne and frozen pot stickers. I love the Thai spiced cashew nuts, so addictive. The hummos is especially good. Ditto if they still have the feta dip.
I tend to never do pre-seasoned meats but tj's has one where I make an exception: garlic and cracked pepper pork tenderloin. It's great for a quick supper. Grill 10 min per side and serve w grilled veggies and salad
Tahini spread/dip. It's basically whipped tahini and great for sandwiches.
Roasted Vegetable Pizza (frozen). Has to be doctored up with additional spices but good, quick meal in a pinch.
Tuscan Marinara in a can. Contains only veggies. No preservatives!! (Note: All their canned tomatoes do contain preservatives). Again, good for last minute meals and tastes great.
I second the dish soap. It is biodegradable and the lavender ones smells great.
Sicilian olive oil: Super-fruity & almost as good as Frantoia, which costs double.
Lentil chips: for the ride home. They are completely addictive.
I am not a big fan of any of their breads, but the best one they have is one of their seeded "hearth" breads and all I know is it has a blue and green label. It is one of the only ones that is both honey and soy-free. Only one of the stores in my area carries it.
For the most part I skip the produce. Most of it is flavorless. Although I do have to give them credit for having organic carrots cheaper than most wholesale distributors in NYC.
If you like maple syrup Trader Joe's is the place to buy, nice big bottles, good price, delicious grade B syrup.
Otherwise, I shop there too much to really be able to say, the frozen chicken is good (both the pre-cooked meal in a bag type and the frozen thighs type) as are most of the frozen vegetables (the green beans especially). I always get the Greek Feta. The chewy snickerdoodles are really good, especially if you have a friend with food allergies, but only come 12 to a box. The frozen coconut mochi desserts were great, I'm hoping they come back in the summer.
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The have a wonderful frozen puff pastry, made with real butter. The only other brand I know that uses real butter and not shortening is Du Four.
Cheeses to get: Petite Creme, spreadable goat cheese (in blue, teal, white little container), Australian parmesan.
Speculoos cookie butter (spread)
Milk (delicious, my husband loves it)
Frozen chocolate croissants
Pound plus dark chocolate, best price around.
Amandajli - loved your question as we, Sarasota, FL, are about to get our first Trader Joe's. Never
having been to one, I was wondering what all the fuss was about; people that have traveled, been to
a TJ's, and shelped back goodies, are estactic!! Made a shopping list from everyone's suggestions and
now will also count the days until it opens. Thanks to all.
All the above are good answers. I love to buy cheese, olive oils, vinegars, wine, grains, etc. It's also the best place / price I've ever found for steel-cut oats and dried fruits. While you may have to supplement from another store, I love shopping at TJs. And, their spices are good. Oh, and they have very good triple ginger snaps. :)
I echo the dried fruits and nuts, their apples are usually cheaper than anyone elses, and their large bars of belgian chocolate are good for baking when you don't want to splurge on the really good stuff. I love their tart frozen yogurt and they have popcorn in white and blue striped mini bags (pac kof 6 or so) that I like. Nutri grain bars and whole wheat english muffins. And if you like a sweetened greek yogurt, their vanilla greek yogurt in the purple container is really good.
But have to disagree on the cheese and produce. Find that both are not as good as they should be.
Organic red quinoa; Manchego cheese; 19-cent bananas; Pita Bite Crackers; cashews; peanut butter and almond butter with flax seeds; frozen artichoke hearts; frozen pork gyoza (cook in homemade chicken broth, serve over fresh spinach with a bit of hot oil, soy, sesame oil);canned diced tomatoes without added salt; white whole wheat flour; excellent prices on milk as a rule, also cream and half & half which is not ultra-pasteurized; dark chocolate; nice potato chip medley of purple, red, and white potatoes which is unsalted and tastes blissfully of potatoes.
The pre-marinated fish (chimichurri salmon and soy-miso cod). The giant white beans in light tomato sauce.
I've just been to TJs a total of 2 times (none near home), but they have great plantain chips, a zingy peppermint tea tree body wash & shampoo/conditioner, great bread, wine, baby potatoes, yellow grape tomatoes.. & although I've never bought their frozen foods, I believe their Indian foods are great as well.
My daughter particularly likes their frozen paneer and chana masala dinners!
Oh, I forgot to say their hand-made flour tortillas. I really like them. Ours doesn't get Grade B maple syrup. Too bad. Or wine. I do buy produce there sometimes. The huge boxes of peaches last summer were terrific. Their onions are good. Organic eggs are reasonable. Cats cookies in the big plastic containers are addictive, either the spice or the chocolate.
With all those answers what's not to love.... Beer wine chocolate, Mimi chocolate peanut butter cups , frozen cherries, nuts , almond flour need I go on... Have fun shopping
The short list:
Any of the frozen croissants that you let rise overnight and then bake in the morning. They're not as buttery as the ones from Williams Sonoma, but there's no wasteful packaging or shipping.
Their Hawaiian Style potato chips actually taste like potato.
Any frozen Indian entree for a lazy evening.
I keep their boxed Indian food in the cupboard for when i am late and starving. All of the premade food is pretty high quality and nice to have in the freezer if you come home exhausted at 8pm. Otherwise I agree with the others- nuts, grains, dairy, meat...no produce unless you need to grab a tomato or onion. I shop there a lot but buy produce at the farmer's market and more unusual ingredients at Whole Foods. TJ doesn't stock things like fish sauce, whole cumin, or tahini, for example
yes, how could i forget that terrific puff pastry and frozen choco croissants...
thanks everyone for the suggestions!
I think this guy has a lot of reviews worth looking at! http://www.clubtraderjoes.com
Charley Bear Dog Treats (and there's a cute dog on the package)
The TJ in Napa has horrible wines , but it's next door to Whole Foods which has an amazing wine selection.
truly handmade flour tortillas
Yes, the Charley Bear Dog Treats are reasonably prices and I know 4 dogs who love them.
I am a convert from Whole Foods to Trader Joe's. I don't buy processed foods so I will say that produce, grains and lentils are much better and significantly less expensive than Whole Foods. Warning: For a family emergency, I purchased mashed potatoes, soup, veggies and chicken from Whole Foods' prepared foods counter. I was shocked to find that they used food coloring and/or sugar in all of their food.
TJ's has been in our neighborhood for about a year and a half. Between Fairway and TJ's, I'm pretty much covered. I go to WF maybe once a week or less for their coffee beans, which they roast on the premises, and usually end up buying other stuff as well. It can be quite expensive vs. TJ's. So glad they opened near us! I no longer have to bring their treats back from California...
Mostly, I'm glad that Trader Joe's finally signed on to the Coalition of Immokalee Workers' Fair Food Agreement last month. I had been boycotting TJs since the early summer and I definitely missed some of their items. That said, it also caused me to explore some other stores like my local organic market and coops more fully. I am back to shopping there now, but I don't think I'll return fully to my old shopping habits now that I've branched out.
The frozen tamales, crab cakes, and fish fillets are always in our freezer. Also, the edamame hummus is delicious. I've recently become addicted to their "powerberries" which are chocolate covered acai balls...hard to describe but so good!
One caveat if you are concerned about sodium consumption: the prepared foods at TJ's, their frozen entrees, mixes, etc., have massive amounts of sodium per serving, routinely several hundred milligrams. This isn't an issue for everyone, but something to be aware of.
I just discovered TJ's Crispy Jeju Mandarin Orange Slices --- they are freeze dried and absolutely delicious.
ALL frozen foods have shocking amounts of sodium in them. It's the nature of the beast. Whenever you freeze anything, the freezing temp can kill almost all the flavor and you have to compensate by adding more salt. Which is why there's so much sodium in those frozen foods, even if it doesn't taste like there's much.
this is true - I do have to carefully read the labels there!
So excited to read this post--I live in Lexington, KY and we have a TJ's opening this spring. We also have Fresh Market and Whole Foods--all good!
all forms of chocolate
white chocolate morsels during the holidays
Italian espresso roast (decaf & reg)
polenta in the tubes (crazy good)
mint JoJo's at Christmas time
We watch the sodium content on everything, and stay away from high fructose corn syrup.
Ruby Red Chai (rooibos) and Bay Blend Coffee. The nuts and dried fruit.
And the frozen Alaska salmon.