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Feb 15, 2002 11:55 AM

Trader Joe's must haves?

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I'm going to Trader Joe's on my way home from work today. Today was payday ;) and I want to try some new things. I hardly ever go to TJ's so most of their items are new. I am looking for suggestions.

Please advise. Thanks!

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  1. They have the best "instant" garlic mashed potatoes, and their hummus is nearly as good as mine! :) I get the "roasted garlic" hummus as I find the plain variety a little bland for my taste. I also love the little jars of olive tapenade, artichoke pesto & muffelata; very good quality & very cheap. Happy shopping!

    5 Replies
    1. re: Stacey

      Depends on what you like!

      Some things I regularly buy at TJ's:

      fresh tangerine juice (in season)
      nuts, dried fruit and crystallized ginger
      chocolate covered cranberries
      dark chocolate raisins
      Terra chips (my faves are the Red Bliss garlic and parmesan)
      Cage free eggs
      Milk (no RBST and cheap!)
      Schwartenbrocxxx Noir chocolate (77 percent cocoa solids from Belgium for 99 cents/100 gram bar).
      Chewable vitamin C (100 500/mg tabs for $4.39)
      Frozen white corn
      Frozen tuna steaks
      Chocolate chips (including my new fave Guittard cappuchino chips)
      Vanilla (the Bourbon from Madagascar)
      Canned dog food and rawhide bones
      Ecologically sensitive laundry and dishwashing detergent

      Hmmm ... my name is Ruth, and I'm a Trader Joe's-aholic!

      1. re: Ruth Lafler

        HI there! I have one of those observers lurking behind the who is now plucky enough to join in- I have always enjoyed the thoughts that come across this board and hope that I will be able to add to the array-

        I have recently proclaimed myself an addict of TJ's Peanut butter filled pretzels- They are nugget sized and have quite a thin crunchy pretzel component with a creamy peanut butter center- the buttery quality of the pretzel totally jives with the peanut flavor- my idea of a perfect movie-viewing treat!

        1. re: Cvrczech
          Caitlin McGrath

          Hey, Cvrczech, welcome, and thanks for de-lurking. We hope to see more posts from you. I live in a TJ-free zone, and this thread sure has me missing it. They have much more going on now than when I last shopped there 6-7 years ago!

          1. re: Caitlin McGrath

            There was no Trader Joe's in D.C. when I first moved here from L.A. five years ago. I used to take an empty suitcase with me when I went home to visit, so I could load up at TJ's. Three years ago, TJ's opened several stores in the greater DC area. O Joy! Definitely improved my quality of life.

            I started shopping at Trader Joe's back in the late 60's, at the precursor of TJ's, then called Pronto Market, on National Blvd. in W.L.A., which was a few blocks from my brother's house. Very different in those days, but was the place to go for low cost brie, coffee beans, nuts and wine.

            It didn't take long for the people in this area to get into TJ's, but I remember telling people at work about it when the first store opened, and they looked at me like I was a crazy person.

            1. re: zora

              I discovered TJs early on -- their San Rafael shop when it first opened. When my sister Rosie came to visit from Eastern Washington, she was blown away by the place and spent over $100. Now they have them all over the Northwest, I understand. Hope their parking situation is better than the gawdawful Montecito Center parking lot!

    2. One great new item is caramelized onions in a jar. I tried them for the first time last night (sauteed spinach with garlic olive oil, bacon, caramelized onion, and black fig vinegar) and they're really good--I can envision using them in all sorts of sauces or salad dressings.

      1. The meat and fish fresh selection continues to improve--their boneless pork chops are excellent. The Niman ranch ones are even better. The Niman applewood bacon is amazing (it's what fancier cafes around town use on their BLTs). The fresh salmon is also very good for non-fish market, but not cheap.

        On the shelves: hot and sweet mustard; manuka honey from New Zealand; "Plumb Magenta" mountain plum jam; and the bags of kettle corn

        In the freezer: mochi stuffed with ice cream, especially the green tea and the Kona coffee; also the lemonade concentrate is great

        They have the best prices on Valrona chocolate, Feline Pine cat litter, and pecans. Also milk and eggs.

        5 Replies
        1. re: Windy

          Aaach. Where do you find the Kona Coffee mochi? We go to the TJs at 9th & Bryant and they never have the coffee. We got them at Costco once, and are dying for them!!!

          1. re: Fatemeh

            Try the one on Masonic; I usually just get the green tea. I'll let you know next time I see them.

            BTW I think TJs will order them for you. Or at least the checkout people always ask if you found what you're looking for...

            One more must at TJs: frozen French onion soup from Canada. About $4 or 5 for two single servings, but so good! Pour a little sherry in, put it in the oven for 40 minutes, and you're set.

          2. re: Windy

            I thought I'd died and gone to heaven when they started carrying the Mochi ice cream.

            I have a question for you. How do you keep them from getting freezer burned after you have opened the package? I always have problems with this, because I don't eat them all in one sitting.

            1. re: katie young

              I think you have to eat them all at once. Sad but someone's got to do it.

            2. re: Windy

              we find the Plum Magenta jam is good with cheese on toast. (cheddar, Cotswold, Emmentaler)

            3. i love to discover new things at TJ's - my latest is the Aussie Red Licorice Chews (that's not the exact name), which are great. Their own brand of baking chocolate is excellent. The prices on hearts of palm can't be beat. They now carry Strauss yogurt (plain) which I hear is great. We always get a pack of edamame, frozen, which is great for a quick snack. Pirates Booty is my wife's favorite snack. I could go on and on . . .

              1 Reply
              1. re: brad kaplan

                i forgot - the spiced apple cider, the new "hand-made" penne from italy (in a brown wrapper) is wonderful (with the pomi marinara of course, then jazzed up a bit), the sprouted wheat bagels are really good and good for you too (as oppossed to most other bagels)

              2. Jars of Marinated Portabello Mushrooms and Roasted red peppers...Spoon over mixed greens for a great salad!! All it needs is a sprinkle of balsamic, and a handful of the nuts you've selected..You WILL splurge on something from that well-priced nut aisle?!?