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Trader Joes

susan Nov 10, 2004 08:19 AM

I love to shop at Trader Joes but have a hard time choosing what to buy. Please share some of your favorite purchases.

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  1. v
    ValL RE: susan Nov 10, 2004 08:44 AM

    My staple purchases are: Peanut Butter filled Pretzels, Garlic Chicken Sausages, Pineapple Salsa, Banana Cereal, Frozen Bowtie Pasta (spinach, carrot and pepper), the Frozen Eggplant and Zucchini Pasta, any frozen fish, frozen Sweet Potato Fries, and usuallly some variety of nut. I dont leave without those. Their layered mexican dip runs out fast but if they have it, I get that as well.

    3 Replies
    1. re: ValL
      redglass RE: ValL Nov 10, 2004 09:24 AM

      What is not to like at TJ's? I buy my Olive oil and balsamic vinegar there...tofu...milk...greek yogurt, any cheeses that catch my eye. There's an artichoke spread that is awesome. The thai simmer sauces are great for quick dinners- just add chicken or pork. The whole bean coffee is as good as any I've ever had, and at a great price. While their fresh meat selection is rather small, I did pick up some boneless/skinless chik breasts for about 2.99/lb (comp. to 5.99/lb at whole foods) and they were good quality. Ditto for the salad bags- great selection and cheaper than other stores. It's also fun to see what cheeses and wines they're featuring.

      Ok, so I have so many favorites at TJ's that I may not have provided any help. But I've come across very few duds from what I've bought!

      1. re: redglass
        south shore suzy RE: redglass Nov 10, 2004 11:57 AM

        I love the frozen french onion soup.

        1. re: redglass
          kim c RE: redglass Nov 10, 2004 05:36 PM

          Oh, I forgot about the salads in my previous post.

          I love: the spinach salad with dried cranberries, goat cheese, candied walnuts with raspberry viniagrette dressing, the crab and sashimi seafood salad with Thousand Isalnd dressing and the Greek Salad.

          On more: the frozen orange chicken, my DS just made these last week, almost as good as Panda Express! ***kim***

      2. k
        kjoconnor RE: susan Nov 10, 2004 09:37 AM

        A few of my "must haves" from TJ's:
        -Fresh corn tortillas-fresh corn, no lard, preservatives
        -Wild rice-1lb. $2.39!
        -Organic udon noodles-$1.69
        -Plugra butter-$3.49
        -Tj's Mayo-$?-cheap & better than Hellman's
        -French Dijon mustard-$1.99!
        -Vidalia sweet relish-$2.99
        -Vanilla (tahitian)-$? cheap, but outstanding
        -Valrhona chocolate 5.5oz. bar-less than $2.50!
        -Savory mini-thin crackers-$1.79 (dangerously addictive)
        Avoid most of the Tj chips-they stink!
        Other items that stink: Most of the prepared items, frozen or canned.
        Most of the candy, cookies are not worth the calories.
        (besides the butter waffle cookies, which are good)
        Cheeses, in general, are bargain priced, but seem to have a limited shelf life...
        It's a fun place, they're always stocking new stuff, but they do have a bad habit of hooking you onto an item and then suddenly discontinuing it!
        It's fun while it lasts, though.

        1 Reply
        1. re: kjoconnor
          Marge RE: kjoconnor Dec 10, 2005 05:45 PM

          Where can you find Trader Joes savory thin crackers that you said are $1.79? We live in Buffalo,NY area. WEhere are Trader Joes Stores?

        2. d
          dork RE: susan Nov 10, 2004 10:41 AM

          I love the Carr's Ginger Lemon cookies, dried fruits, nuts and Puffins cereal.

          1. g
            Gary Soup RE: susan Nov 10, 2004 10:47 AM

            I don't have many needs that can be filled best by TJ's, as my wife cooks Chinese food exclusively and has good access to the Chinatown markets. But I'm not complaining that a TJ's opened recently in my neighborhood!

            I still go to TJ's for what drew me to their LA store 20 years ago: nut butters. (Haven't seen pure hazelnut butter there in a while, though.) Otherwise, I'll forage for interesting snack crackers and the like.

            Link: http://eatingchinese.org

            1. c
              Carb Lover RE: susan Nov 10, 2004 11:25 AM

              Based on my 5 yrs. of shopping at TJ's:

              What they generally do well at and for good value: all dairy products (great eggs, butter, basic cheeses); nuts; dried fruit; jarred sauces & pestos; pasta; juices (their OJ rocks!!); some produce (salad bags, avocado, onions, lemons, mushrooms); good table wine that won't break the bank; floral bouquets

              What I stay away from: most meats (way overpriced given quality, sometimes get spicy italian sausage but "gourmet" flavors can be odd tasting); fruit (apples in a plastic box??); most pre-made frozen foods; cookies/snacks made by TJ's; cereals; spices and baking products (way overpriced, except saffron threads for $3 was a bargain find!)

              Even though every TJ's I've been to is always packed and you need creative maneuvering w/ the shopping cart, I keep coming back for the good quality products, value, and excellent, efficient service.

              15 Replies
              1. re: Carb Lover
                Mr. Taster RE: Carb Lover Nov 10, 2004 12:04 PM

                I think the fruit is plastic boxes is to prevent bruising, and to make their inventory system easier to manage. Of course having said this, I usually limit my produce purchases at TJ's to apples and onions and buy the rest of my produce at local farmers markets. Things like grapes and berries at TJ's tend to be soft and go bad very quickly (probably because their produce is usually not refrigerated)

                Mr. Taster

                1. re: Mr. Taster
                  Carb Lover RE: Mr. Taster Nov 10, 2004 12:59 PM

                  TJ's must have its reasons for packaging some of the fruits/produce in those plastic boxes, but it has always baffled me; I don't see how it would be economical or environmentally-friendly--tenets that I thought TJ's was founded upon. It may help prevent bruising, but seems like they get enough hoards of people coming through that the fruit would be gone before a blemish could even occur.

                  Main reason it bugs me is that I am one of those who likes to touch my produce (gently) before buying, and a plastic barrier will surely squelch that, as I'm too lazy to open it. I, too, get most of my produce from my farmer's market since I know it's going to be fresher and I can poke, prod, and taste to my heart's content.

                  1. re: Carb Lover
                    Jen RE: Carb Lover Nov 10, 2004 01:51 PM

                    I always assumed that the fruit and produce were packaged because the checkstands aren't equipped with a scale. Maybe thats just at the Rosemead location.

                    1. re: Jen
                      Ruth Lafler RE: Jen Nov 10, 2004 03:28 PM

                      No, I'm sure that's it -- they sell it by "unit" (or piece in the case of bananas) not weight because they don't have scales. It's inherent in their business model.

                      Anyway, I rarely buy produce at Trader Joe's -- I think of it as a convenience rather than a core product there -- about the only thing I buy regularly is the red peppers, which are usually a good value (I'm a roasted red pepper junkie, so I go through a lot of them). I also occasionally buy some of their prepared produce items (cut-up butternut squash, for example). This time of year they carry tubs of pomegranate seeds, which sure beats trying to seed them yourself!

                      1. re: Ruth Lafler
                        Carb Lover RE: Ruth Lafler Nov 10, 2004 07:45 PM

                        Perhaps selling pre-packaged units may be easier for them in some respects, but every other store that I know of (outside of the Costco types) does the majority of their produce by weight--thus, allowing customers the freedom to control the amount. What if I want 2 apples instead of 4, 3 zucchini instead of 10, etc.? There have been a # of times that I would have bought more produce from them if I could have that choice...

                        1. re: Carb Lover
                          Mr. Taster RE: Carb Lover Nov 11, 2004 12:21 PM

                          The upshot of this is that often you'll find pieces of loose produce (like onions or potatoes that have fallen out of other bags) and they'll let you take these for free.

                          Mr. Taster

                          1. re: Mr. Taster
                            Carb Lover RE: Mr. Taster Nov 11, 2004 03:05 PM

                            Well, well, is that so?...Thanks for clueing me in on a perk that I had NO idea about in my 5 yrs. w/ TJ's, Mr. Taster. They are so cool that way...

                            I'm trying to picture how that logistically works...do you grab a full container and then allow yourself a loose one in the cart?? In other words, what is the etiquette for this?

                            1. re: Carb Lover
                              Mr. Taster RE: Carb Lover Nov 11, 2004 03:37 PM

                              Usually there's a bin or a low shelf and invariably there's a loose onion or something there. I just put it in my basket and when I get to the checkout, I ask "how much for this" and they always give it to me for free :-)

                              Mr. Taster

                              1. re: Carb Lover
                                Mr. Taster RE: Carb Lover Nov 11, 2004 03:37 PM

                                Similarly, I've seen them give away the bakery bread at the end of the day as well (this was in the west hollywood store)

                                Mr. Taster

                                1. re: Mr. Taster
                                  Carb Lover RE: Mr. Taster Nov 14, 2004 11:20 PM

                                  Man, I've been in the Glendale store several times near closing and have never had such luck!!

                            2. re: Carb Lover
                              Ruth Lafler RE: Carb Lover Nov 11, 2004 04:58 PM

                              *shrug* Yeah, but Trader Joe's isn't just like every other store -- that's the point. Their business model is based on everything in the store being sold by unit. Not only do they not have do deal with scales, they don't have to deal with shipping, stocking, storing and displaying loose produce. They don't need a produce manager or anyone with special training, they just need to open cartons and put packages out, which saves them both time and money and helps them keep their prices down. As I said, I don't think of them as a place to buy produce -- I think of the produce there as a convenience: something that allows me to skip making a trip to another store if I'm willing to settle for what they have. They don't claim to be a full-service grocery store and I don't expect them to be. They are what they are.

                            3. re: Ruth Lafler
                              Linda W. RE: Ruth Lafler Nov 11, 2004 08:20 AM

                              This time of year they carry tubs of pomegranate seeds, which sure beats trying to seed them yourself!

                              I just wish they carried them in the East Coast stores. I asked last year when it was mentioned on this board, and the Arlington, MA manager said it would definitely be a regional thing and probably wouldn't be carried in the Northeast. But I'll have to check again, with the new Burlington store opening up.

                        2. re: Mr. Taster
                          sarah RE: Mr. Taster Nov 17, 2004 04:41 PM

                          We do not have a trader joes in our area. How do we get their attention to consider the Kansas City area worthy of one or more of their stores? I have shopped at trader joes in other cities and so have many friends who would also love to see one here.

                          1. re: sarah
                            Nancy Berry RE: sarah Nov 18, 2004 12:34 PM

                            They're getting closer. There are two new stores in Missouri, one in Brentwood and one in Chesterfield.

                        3. re: Carb Lover
                          LBQT RE: Carb Lover Nov 10, 2004 01:21 PM

                          I agree on the produce issue - however, some of the TJ's products are actually quite good. I like the TJ's spices, vanilla, frosted shredded wheat cereal and their version of Cheeri-o's. They were sampling their Oreo cookie knock off a while ago, and I thought it was as good as the original. The frozen pizzas are good, as are the frozen berries and veggies. It's like anything else: you have to sample, then pick and choose what you like.

                        4. m
                          mels RE: susan Nov 10, 2004 11:30 AM

                          We have quite a few staples we always buy from there. You can’t beat their prices on a lot of items.

                          Usual buys for us include:

                          Frozen Stir Fry Veggies
                          Frozen Blueberry Waffles
                          Organic milk (MUCH cheaper than other stores)
                          Total Greek Yogurt
                          Bay Blend whole bean coffee
                          Woven Wheat Wafers (Triscuit knock-off)
                          Salted crunchy peanut butter
                          Salsa style canned refried beans
                          Chile flour tortillas
                          Whole wheat and regular pizza dough (@ $0.79 a pound, why make it at home?)
                          Cage Free Eggs (cheaper than at local grocery store)
                          Dishwashing liquid and dishwasher detergent
                          Trader Zen all purpose cleaner
                          Trader Johan’s Lip Balm Virtuoso

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: mels
                            mels RE: mels Nov 10, 2004 11:32 AM

                            I forgot to add spices! Standard spices cost about $4-$5 at our regular MegaMart, while TJ's runs about $2. Great deal. Saffron is also sold at a great price.

                          2. k
                            karin RE: susan Nov 10, 2004 12:34 PM

                            I feed my 15 month old daughter mostly from TJ's. She loves the all natural turkey hot dogs (not so tasty for adults though!),chicken apple sausages, the cat cookies, yogurt cheese, waffles, organic milk and bananas. And whatever we come across on our weekly trip there.

                            I also thought I should mention that they are no longer carrying the total yogurt due to an FDA problem.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: karin
                              LBQT RE: karin Nov 10, 2004 01:16 PM

                              I got Total yogurt at a So Cal TJ's this week. They must have cleared up the problem out here.

                            2. r
                              rebs RE: susan Nov 10, 2004 02:23 PM

                              my latest find... chocolate covered cranberries. so good!

                              1. p
                                Pia RE: susan Nov 10, 2004 02:38 PM

                                I usually stock up my pantry at TJ's. My favorites:

                                - Nirvana Vegetable Patties
                                - Individually quick frozen vegetables, especially sugar snap peas and organic spinach. Much better quality than the supermarket -- can pass for fresh after cooking.

                                - Wheat Thins (TJ's knockoff - forget what they're called)
                                - Various trail mixes and nut mixes
                                - Chocolate covered almonds - but be careful, these are addictive.

                                - Pesto
                                - Artichoke merlot sauce

                                1. g
                                  galleygirl RE: susan Nov 10, 2004 04:25 PM

                                  There was a new prepared packet of Yellow Fin Tuna in Red Curry sauce, about the size of an Indian Tasty Bites pack, but TJ's brand....$1.39 or so....Wonderful! Big ragged flakes of tuna with some veggies cooked in a hot, and I mean hot curry sauce...Surprised it was so spicy, thinking they would have dumbed it down...A great lunch for 240 calories......

                                  Link: http://www.bistrodraw.com

                                  10 Replies
                                  1. re: galleygirl
                                    Ruth Lafler RE: galleygirl Nov 12, 2004 12:47 AM

                                    Thanks for the tip -- I bought some today and it was indeed yummy and hot! Put it over some TJ's frozen jasmine rice and you have a nice dinner in five minutes.

                                    1. re: galleygirl
                                      Shaebones RE: galleygirl Nov 12, 2004 01:39 AM

                                      Where in the store will I find that? (tuna w spice)

                                      1. re: Shaebones
                                        leslie bistrowitz RE: Shaebones Nov 12, 2004 08:56 AM

                                        I originally found it on one of those "new product" end caps, but yesterday, it was next to the Thai instant noodles,Tasty Bites Indian food packets, and other prepared Asian food...I happened to be in a smaller TJ's, not my usual, but this positioning seemed to be in line with their norm...I *had* to get more, the stuff was great!

                                        Link: http://www.bistrodraw.com/

                                        1. re: Shaebones
                                          Ruth Lafler RE: Shaebones Nov 12, 2004 02:21 PM

                                          I bought mine on the West Coast, so unlike some products it's available in both distribution zones. I also found it in a "new products" display, or rather, I was directed there (after not finding it in the most logical places) by a crewmember I asked. Remember, TJ's folks are usually happy to help, and if they don't stock it, they often will if you request it.

                                          1. re: Shaebones
                                            galleygirl RE: Shaebones Nov 16, 2004 07:29 PM

                                            Just hit my local (Brookline) TJ's, and of course, they hid them next to the canned tuna and fish, as opposed to near the *other* packaged red curries...go figure...Its become a full-blown addiction, however...;)

                                            Link: http://www.bistrodraw.com

                                            1. re: galleygirl
                                              Ruth Lafler RE: galleygirl Nov 16, 2004 11:35 PM

                                              Funny, because in my store they now have it with the other packaged curries.

                                              Tried the yellow curry version today. Good, but not as good as the red.

                                              1. re: Ruth Lafler
                                                galleygirl RE: Ruth Lafler Nov 17, 2004 12:09 PM

                                                Yeah, I didn't think the yellow would be as exciting, for some reason....

                                                Link: http://www.bistrodraw.com

                                                1. re: galleygirl
                                                  Shaebones RE: galleygirl Nov 18, 2004 01:28 AM

                                                  OMG, that tuna was awesome! Another winner for Trader Joes. Thanks gallygirl for yet another great tip!!

                                                  1. re: Shaebones
                                                    galleygirl RE: Shaebones Nov 18, 2004 09:33 PM

                                                    I wannah make sure they sell so much of it, they keep it in stock.. ;)

                                                    Link: http://www.bistrodraw.com

                                              2. re: galleygirl
                                                Shaebones RE: galleygirl Nov 17, 2004 01:31 AM

                                                Found it near the Indian Tastey bites like you said before. Packed it for lunch today. :)

                                          2. t
                                            TomSwift RE: susan Nov 10, 2004 05:01 PM

                                            South Shore Suzy below nailed it: the frozen French onion soup. So convenient and tasty. The best price in the world on wild rice. Amazingly low prices on Annie Chung and Thai Kitchen dry soup bowls. The pizzas imported from Italy are among the best frozen pizzas I've had. But, as noted below, they do get you hooked and then discontinue: witness the frozen Muscovy duck breasts at almost give-away prices, now gone.

                                            1. e
                                              Emme RE: susan Nov 10, 2004 05:24 PM

                                              In addition to a lot of what's already been said:

                                              Dairy, dairy, dairy.
                                              I like the convenience of their precut butternut squash bags.
                                              Frozen Wild Mushroom Medley
                                              Madeleine cookies
                                              Organic Jams (Blueberry, Blackberry)
                                              Milton's Wheat Bread (the "lo carb" one)
                                              Protein bars
                                              Trader Jose's Mild Salsa
                                              Cheese- particularly the soy cheese blend
                                              Frozen Eggplant Parmesan
                                              Capuccino Foam
                                              McCann's Irish Oatmeal
                                              Honey Wheat Pretzel Sticks
                                              Chocolate Truffles coated in cocoa... mouth waters upon the thought of these...

                                              1. k
                                                kim c RE: susan Nov 10, 2004 05:31 PM

                                                We shop there at least once a week, we were just there last night after a Costco run for our large family. I enjoy:


                                                TJ OJ
                                                The Sonoma Sparkler Sparkling Pear Juice
                                                San Pelligrino by the case
                                                Papaya Juice


                                                Honey-coated cashews
                                                Chocolate Covered cherries
                                                Hazelnut filled candy seashells
                                                Papaya spears
                                                Goat cheese to put in salads


                                                Garlic chicken enchiladas
                                                Spinach quiche
                                                Gnocchi in gargonzola sauce


                                                All of their pasta noodles, especially the spinach fettucine and the gnocchi

                                                The lavender lotion

                                                Of course, all the great wines, DH buys the Charles Shaw Shiraz by the case for $24!!!

                                                Also, the pumpkin flavored Double Rainbow ice cream.

                                                I didn't care for their key lime pie, it was rather tart for my liking and I returned it for a cheesecake that my DS took up to our condo to enjoy with homemade strawberry sauce. TJ's is just a great place to shop, it's never a chore, I enjoy it every time. ***kim***

                                                1. c
                                                  corydon RE: susan Nov 10, 2004 05:43 PM

                                                  Thanks for the post. I'll make my shopping list right now for later today:

                                                  chicken breakfast sausage
                                                  bag salad
                                                  cagefree eggs
                                                  organic butter (TJ brand is good for me)
                                                  cheese tortellini
                                                  tangerine juice
                                                  pellegrino orange soda
                                                  chicken sicilian sausage
                                                  raw cane sugar
                                                  canned albacore
                                                  irish kerrygold cheese
                                                  greek yogurt
                                                  organic wheat bread
                                                  heavy cream

                                                  I stay away from the produce except for the hothouse cukes, small potatoes, bananas, and sometimes berries.

                                                  Oh and I am partial to the oatmeal vegan cookies

                                                  1. v
                                                    Val Ann C RE: susan Nov 10, 2004 06:00 PM

                                                    Here are my 10 favorite items at TJs in Westfield NJ:
                                                    - Joe O's (like Cheerios but much cheaper)
                                                    - chocolate covered dried cherries
                                                    - orange-scented liquid dish soap
                                                    - chewable Vitamin C tablets - grapefruit flavor, very tart
                                                    - really delicious raisins (jumbo goldens and organic thompsons)
                                                    - Armenian style string cheese with nigella seeds
                                                    - 'Tasty Bite' bengal lentils - heat and serve pouch
                                                    - organic crunchy peanut butter
                                                    - basmati rice
                                                    - canned beans

                                                    Link: http://flyingfur.typepad.com/flyingfur/

                                                    1. s
                                                      Sarahpet RE: susan Nov 10, 2004 07:07 PM

                                                      I adore TJ's and also go at least once a week, more if my husband runs out of "fizzy water." In addition to what others have said, I buy:
                                                      Crystal Geyser 1.25 liter carbonated flavored waters (fizzy waters - $.85 each)
                                                      regular water- $.35/bottle for sport top 26 oz bottles
                                                      frozen berry mix - great in plain yogurt or in their hot cereal
                                                      5 min hot cereal mix - $1.79 or so - healthy & yummy
                                                      eggbeaters (different brand) - way cheap
                                                      better n peanut butter - very thick but low in fat
                                                      muir glen canned whole tomatoes - cheap
                                                      british crumpets
                                                      plain yogurt
                                                      la tortilla factory low fat tortillas
                                                      frozen asparagus & red/orange bell peppers (super cheap)
                                                      morningstar farms sausage
                                                      dr praeger's fake burgers
                                                      frozen sockeye salmon
                                                      frozen shrimp stir fry
                                                      frozen stir fry veggies
                                                      fresh stir fry veggies
                                                      wasabi mayo
                                                      better than bouillion (love this, esp for steaming veggies)
                                                      frozen chicken breasts
                                                      fat free black bean dip
                                                      fat free refried black & pinto beans
                                                      regular canned beans
                                                      whole wheat pasta for cheap & good
                                                      goat cheese
                                                      coppola wines
                                                      jarred minced garlic
                                                      hot & spicy mustard
                                                      laughing cow cheese
                                                      tj's brand chicken sausages
                                                      tj's brand veggie corn dogs

                                                      I really love the customer service there, too. Friendly workers, happy to take returns, gleefully throw free stuff in, nice food samples too. They pay their workers decently, I think, though sadly they aren't union.

                                                      1 Reply
                                                      1. re: Sarahpet
                                                        Mr. Taster RE: Sarahpet Nov 11, 2004 12:24 PM

                                                        The union comments is interesting-- the whole concept of labor unions is to ensure that their workforce is being treated/compensated fairly. Trader Joe's seems to operate their business a great deal more honorably than the unionized supermarkets (and they have happier employees for it) giving generous wages, healthcare and retirement contributions... it would seem that unionizing TJ's would take their employees a step backwards.

                                                        Mr. Taster

                                                      2. t
                                                        torta basilica RE: susan Nov 10, 2004 07:29 PM

                                                        My favorite thing is the large frozen scampi - already seasoned. I drizzle some oil & garlic over, broil & put on top of fettucine with some wine, garlic & spices stirred in - yummm!!! Also their Comte cheese to delicious! Just found that...

                                                        1. j
                                                          Janet RE: susan Nov 10, 2004 08:17 PM

                                                          We want a Trader Joes! We're feeling deprived after reading the many posts re TJ's. Think they'd want to come to a college town in FL?

                                                          1. k
                                                            kc girl RE: susan Nov 10, 2004 09:05 PM

                                                            I like the Doro brand frozen cubes of crushed garlic. Incredible freshness, better than a clove sometimes with more of a bite. Each cube is one clove.

                                                            Can find crumpets there and not elsewhere.

                                                            Fat free half and half.

                                                            Frozen gnocchi (in the gray bag, only) for a fix. Homemade is better. No other commercial brand is even edible.

                                                            Cubed butternut squash (for incredible price).

                                                            Bagged baby spinach.

                                                            Bagged lettuce varieties.

                                                            Coconut cashews.

                                                            Plugra butter for a great price.

                                                            Cafe twists (regular and maple flavors).

                                                            Parmesan toasts for a great price.

                                                            Bruchetta spread - the one with the black cap.

                                                            More, I'm sure.

                                                            1. t
                                                              Tracy L. RE: susan Nov 10, 2004 10:19 PM

                                                              Garlic herb pizza dough (the other doughs are great too and only $.99)
                                                              Peanut Butter Dog Biscuits
                                                              Beef Knuckles for Dogs
                                                              Frozen Mandarin Chicken
                                                              All the hummus varieties
                                                              Cornmeal Rye bread (a find if you live in certain parts of CA, not such a find if you live back east)
                                                              The Indian dinners that cook in minutes
                                                              Pound Plus Chocolate bars
                                                              IMHO If you are on a tight budget, you can't go wrong if you buy the TJ equivalent of the things you ordinarily buy in grocery stores. If you entertain on a tight budget you can afford to indulge your guests without having to mortgage the house! I stock up on the wine and dairy prior to dinner parties because it seems my friends go through a lot of wine, butter and half and half.

                                                              1. k
                                                                katy RE: susan Nov 11, 2004 12:21 AM

                                                                OK call me a spoiler, but I've found most TJ house brands to be pretty icky. I do appreciate their non-house brands of some things and their prices are fantastic, but after several bum puchases, I stay away from anything labelled TJ.

                                                                4 Replies
                                                                1. re: katy
                                                                  kc girl RE: katy Nov 11, 2004 09:08 AM

                                                                  Most prepared and/or frozen foods are "icky" IMHO if you're a good cook (with time and desire) or eat out a lot in good places. But, there are a few exceptions. Same with their TJ produce, with a few exceptions.

                                                                  I think TJ should also quip the Carl's Jr. ad that states paraphrased, "without us, some guys [non-cooks] would starve." Poor guys!

                                                                  Their TJ brand nuts and dried fruit section is good. If you like coconut, I think you will like the coconut cashews. A few other posters hit the good stuff, too. Ginger lemon cookies for one.

                                                                  You're not a spoiler.

                                                                  1. re: kc girl
                                                                    ValL RE: kc girl Nov 11, 2004 10:38 AM

                                                                    Im considered a good cook, but dont eat out THAT often. I hate to admit it but I went to Bertuccis yesterday, bypassing the new Grimaldi's, with my son. As always, its a matter of opinion. I pretty like much of TJ frozen products, but tried once and havent gotten again the frozen Paella and the (Impretty sure Crab) canned Bisque. The refrigerated Lobster Bisque was ok. I do take shortcuts sometimes :-) I used to get their dressings but have been making my own. I also started doing a cranberry/walnut salad myself. So.... and its my kids that are hooked on the PB pretzels but they are good. I like the chocolate Cat cookies, and the dunkers. Oh well, so far those are the two things that I DIDNT like. You cant beat the prices on Dairy/nuts. See I responded too early the first time, and Im sure more will come to mind, meanwhile it reminds me its time to take another trip. My oldest kid went once and came home with the dried Wasabi peas et. al.

                                                                    1. re: ValL
                                                                      kc girl RE: ValL Nov 12, 2004 02:19 PM

                                                                      ooooh, yes. The wasabi peas are good. My Keith likes to eat dried peas (produce section in many grocery stores). I saw the wasabi peas at TJ and bought some for him. We both like them. Except, I noticed my tongue going numb after a few mouthfuls.

                                                                      I put them in a pasta salad for the crunch with smoked salmon, fresh red peppers, and a few other ingredients. It was great, but you have to eat the salad right away. They mush up fairly quickly with moisture.

                                                                  2. re: katy
                                                                    Melissa RE: katy Nov 11, 2004 09:09 AM

                                                                    I agree! While I love the deals on all the staples, I've found that the prepared foods more often than not leave something to be desired, so I try to steer clear. Same with produce: sometimes great, sometimes awful.

                                                                  3. n
                                                                    Nancy Berry RE: susan Nov 11, 2004 09:07 AM

                                                                    chicken and pork gyoza (potstickers)
                                                                    rock shrimp
                                                                    large frozen uncooked shrimp
                                                                    frozen red, green and yellow pepper strips
                                                                    Pomi marinara sauce (in the box)
                                                                    Muir Glen fire-roasted tomatoes
                                                                    pizza dough
                                                                    refrigerated full sour kosher pickles --they also sell half sours (made by Strub's in Canada)
                                                                    Ak-mak crackers
                                                                    refrigerated rice pudding
                                                                    corn chips (the thick, little ones)
                                                                    cabot cheddar and other good buys on cheese
                                                                    butter (best price around for both salted and unsalted)
                                                                    milk and half and half
                                                                    eggs (great prices and good quality)
                                                                    greens (chard mix, greens mix, spinach in packages in the fresh produce area)
                                                                    sliced or whole cremini mushrooms
                                                                    frozen hash brown potato patties
                                                                    frozen peas, corn, blueberries
                                                                    dried fruit and nuts -- the best and freshest around
                                                                    honey roasted peanuts -- fantastic!

                                                                    2 Replies
                                                                    1. re: Nancy Berry
                                                                      cat RE: Nancy Berry Dec 17, 2004 03:23 PM

                                                                      Yes, the honey roasted peanuts are good, but the "Ying Yang peanuts", a mix of honey roasted and wasabi peanuts, are fantastic!

                                                                      Also love their dried Montmorency cherries for baking and mixing in oatmeal.

                                                                      1. re: cat
                                                                        Val Ann C RE: cat Dec 17, 2004 08:24 PM

                                                                        I love those dried Montmorency cherries. Great in oatmeal cookies, or eating out of hand. I put them on my corn flakes.

                                                                        I just tried the dried Rainier cherries and was disappointed. They taste sugary with no discernable cherry flavor.

                                                                        The dried dark bing cherries are pretty good.

                                                                        Link: http://flyingfur.typepad.com/flyingfur/

                                                                    2. l
                                                                      lissar RE: susan Nov 11, 2004 10:19 AM

                                                                      Sorry if this should go on the New York board, but I've been wondering for a while- are there any TJs near (within an hour or so's drive) the Canadian Niagara border?

                                                                      I've only been to one TJs, when I was in Pennsylvania, and I'd love to find one closer to home.

                                                                      2 Replies
                                                                      1. re: lissar
                                                                        middydd RE: lissar Nov 11, 2004 01:36 PM

                                                                        I've never heard of one in the Niagara Falls/Buffalo area. I've been thinking the Ann Arbor Trader Joe's might be worth a trip at some point. It might be the closest to the Canadian border.

                                                                        1. re: lissar
                                                                          PayOrPlay RE: lissar Nov 11, 2004 01:58 PM

                                                                          Doesn't seem to be. You can look up locations at

                                                                          Link: http://www.traderjoes.com/locations/i...

                                                                        2. m
                                                                          MzMaggie RE: susan Nov 11, 2004 11:14 AM

                                                                          Three words: Two buck Chuck

                                                                          1. c
                                                                            caliston RE: susan Nov 11, 2004 12:35 PM

                                                                            I'm going to foucs on TJ brand things that you can't get elsewhere.

                                                                            I love TJ's house brand lowfat cottage cheese. I love it. It is the best cottage cheese ever.

                                                                            Their packaged, already washed broccoli and cauliflower are great if you are lazy about cleaning vegetables. Last a while.

                                                                            Whole wheat couscous! I don't know what this stuff is, but it has a much more interesting flavor than normal couscous and a ton more fiber.

                                                                            The red pepper-tomato soup is really good. I had a dinner party disaster once where my homemade tomato soup tasted like nothing (damn $4/lb tomatoes at the Ferry Plaza) and served the TJ's boxed soup instead. Got lots of compliments :)

                                                                            I like their canned tuna. Better than most grocery store brands.

                                                                            For really lazy, I don't want to cook days, their frozen chicken teriyaki, enchiladas, pizzas, and french onion soup are pretty good. Not fabulous, acceptable when you just need food.

                                                                            1. l
                                                                              lahgreen RE: susan Nov 11, 2004 01:28 PM

                                                                              Chocolate-covered-peanut-butter-filled pretzels
                                                                              Tomato-basil hummus
                                                                              Balance bars (cheaper than the grocery store)
                                                                              Annie's Naturals White Cheddar Mac & Cheese
                                                                              Tasty Bite Indian meals (I like the Peas & Paneer)
                                                                              Maryland Crab Cakes (frozen) which are awesome with TJ's Wasabi Mayonaise
                                                                              Bottled water (very cheap!)

                                                                              1 Reply
                                                                              1. re: lahgreen
                                                                                Trent RE: lahgreen Dec 8, 2004 08:49 PM

                                                                                are those the crabcakes that come two in a vacu pouch? if so.. wasnt too keen on them.. might give em another go sometimes.. hmm

                                                                              2. l
                                                                                Linda W. RE: susan Nov 11, 2004 03:37 PM

                                                                                Triple-ginger gingersnaps (these are *so* freakin' good!)
                                                                                Total Greek yogurt (when they have it)
                                                                                Tri-tip roasts (which can be hard to find on the East coast)
                                                                                Kirk's Castile bath soap
                                                                                Canned tuna
                                                                                TJ's ginger granola (great in vanilla yogurt)
                                                                                Nuts and trail mixes
                                                                                Dried edamame
                                                                                Frozen edamame
                                                                                Sumatra coffee beans, in a pinch
                                                                                Presidenté butter
                                                                                Roasted frozen corn
                                                                                One-pound plus chocolate bars

                                                                                I know there's more, but...

                                                                                1. t
                                                                                  twistyhair RE: susan Nov 11, 2004 05:02 PM

                                                                                  Wow! Who-da thought there were so many different approaches to TJ's? After reading EVERY post, I amazingly discovered that while I heartily second many of the suggestions, I have a few things I buy that were not already posted:

                                                                                  Seasonal -
                                                                                  - Baumkuchen - OMG - delicious little morsels of rum drenched cake covered with dark (or milk if you prefer) chocolate. Surprisingly not too many calories for the exquisite confection rush

                                                                                  - Tangerine Juice - It's already been mentioned, but this stuff makes incredible Mimosas! Oh yeah, and has Vit. C

                                                                                  Year-Round -
                                                                                  - Akbar W. W. crackers - hi fiber, delicious and low price - $0.99
                                                                                  - Kalamata Olives in jars
                                                                                  - Brown, Jasmine Rice
                                                                                  - Dried Fruits & Nuts - indispensable at this time of year - esp. good prices & quality on pitachios, macadamias, apricots & cranberries
                                                                                  - Frozen Mango Cubes - lovely & cheap
                                                                                  - Capers
                                                                                  - Organic Dk. Chocolate, Pecan & Raisin bars - OMG
                                                                                  - Sugar or Salt Body Scrubs
                                                                                  - Citrus Body Wash (they replaced Shikai with house brand - still great stuff)
                                                                                  - Apricot-Mango or Black Cherry Fat Free Yogurt
                                                                                  - Soy Chorizo Potato Taquitos
                                                                                  - Seasoned Tofu (still expensive, but not as bad as elsewhere - it's tofu for crying out loud!)
                                                                                  - Baking Powder
                                                                                  - Evaporated Cane Juice - a great sweetener with a little less guilt
                                                                                  - Pearl tomatoes - I know, I know, Farmer's Markets, etc. but sometimes you just gotta throw a salad together


                                                                                  1. c
                                                                                    creepygirl RE: susan Nov 12, 2004 01:49 AM

                                                                                    One thing I like are the pink grapefruit preserves--perfect to stir into plain yogurt. The pumpkin butter, which was mentioned in its own thread a few days ago, is also great with yogurt.

                                                                                    2 Replies
                                                                                    1. re: creepygirl
                                                                                      susan RE: creepygirl Nov 12, 2004 11:08 AM

                                                                                      Thanks to all who responded. I made a list of your ideas. Will let you know how I like them in the future.

                                                                                      1. re: creepygirl
                                                                                        Ruth Lafler RE: creepygirl Nov 12, 2004 02:26 PM

                                                                                        I love the pink grapefruit preserves in my plain Total as well, although I usually find it needs just a drop of honey to counteract the bitterness, at least when combined with non-fat yogurt (which doesn't have the natural sweetness of full-fat). After trying several of their preserves, I also really liked the organic reduced sugar apricot preserves (better than the other two apricot spread/preserves they carry) in my yogurt (especially the full-fat -- as a friend I turned onto this combo said, the others combos he tried were good, but this was "something special").

                                                                                      2. a
                                                                                        alfalfa RE: susan Nov 13, 2004 07:12 PM

                                                                                        Just a related question -- (by the way their egglplant parm in filo -the purple package- is quite the meal for $5)--

                                                                                        Does anyone know of a Trader Joe's in anything that resembles an inner-city neighborhood?

                                                                                        Don't you think their clientele would want them to take a shot at it?

                                                                                        7 Replies
                                                                                        1. re: alfalfa
                                                                                          saucyknave RE: alfalfa Nov 14, 2004 08:18 AM

                                                                                          While not actually in an inner city neighborhood, Philadelphia's CC TJ is within easy distance of people who live in them. Until they opened it, the other TJ's were suburban and not easily accessible to those who live in the inner city.

                                                                                          1. re: saucyknave
                                                                                            ChowFun (derek) RE: saucyknave Nov 14, 2004 10:18 AM

                                                                                            In San Francisco, our third T.J.'s has recently opened on the ground floor of newly reconstructed "Public Housing Project"...they also went out of the way to hire people from this complex...It is however, not far away from higher rent districts such as Russian and Telegraph Hillsand Fisherman's Wharf (North Beach and China Town) from which it also draws clientele.

                                                                                            1. re: ChowFun (derek)
                                                                                              Gary Soup RE: ChowFun (derek) Nov 14, 2004 10:46 AM

                                                                                              I talked to them last weekend and they said they had hired eight from the complex so far. Trader Joe's business model is to avoid high-rent neighborhoods generally so as to retain profitability at each location while keeping prices low, and I believe that they got a favorable deal for locating there (as will the other enterprises opening there). It's a good fit, especially since TJ's is known for having an extraordinarily good compensation package.

                                                                                              1. re: Gary Soup
                                                                                                Ken RE: Gary Soup Nov 14, 2004 01:45 PM

                                                                                                Any idea if they are a publicly traded company?

                                                                                                1. re: Ken
                                                                                                  Gary Soup RE: Ken Nov 14, 2004 10:16 PM

                                                                                                  They've been privately owned by a German billionaire for about 25 years, strange as it seems.

                                                                                                  1. re: Gary Soup
                                                                                                    carter RE: Gary Soup Nov 15, 2004 01:29 PM

                                                                                                    Said billionaire is also the 3rd richest man in the world behind Bill G, according to the annual Forbes list. I believe he also owns the largest, or one of the largest, grocery chains in Germany.
                                                                                                    As to their avoiding high rent neighborhoods, they surely do not here in So. California, as they are in as many of them as they can be, given the rent pro-forma of volume vs. rent ratio. If the store projects high volume, they will do what it takes to make the deal, within reason. With their credit standing, they can get VERY favorable leases as there is a 100% guarantee for the landlord of collecting the rent and on time, something many competitors wish they could say.

                                                                                          2. re: alfalfa
                                                                                            tallullah RE: alfalfa Nov 22, 2004 06:48 PM

                                                                                            A TJ's recently opened in downtown Boston...definately not a low rent area!

                                                                                          3. j
                                                                                            Jeanette RE: susan Nov 15, 2004 01:27 PM

                                                                                            The balsalmic vinegar in the smaller square bottle. good quality for the price. The frozen WHITE corn. The frozen green beans. The chicken potstickers - nice in soup, btw. The fresh baby artichokes, a terrific bargain when they have 'em.

                                                                                            1 Reply
                                                                                            1. re: Jeanette
                                                                                              Ruth Lafler RE: Jeanette Nov 15, 2004 01:36 PM

                                                                                              What a brilliant idea! I've never cared much for the potstickers because I don't think the wrappers heat up well, but putting them in soup sounds fabulous (and easy!).

                                                                                              While we're in the frozen veggie aisle, these days I always have some of their frozen artichoke hearts in my freezer. And this time of year, you can save yourself both time and money with the frozen chestnuts.

                                                                                            2. r
                                                                                              Ruth Lafler RE: susan Nov 16, 2004 11:38 PM

                                                                                              I know, what am I doing buying turkey the week before Thanksgiving, but the Aaron's kosher whole bone-in (raw) turkey breast they stock sometimes is excellent -- since the kosher process is similar to brining, it's very moist and flavorful.

                                                                                              3 Replies
                                                                                              1. re: Ruth Lafler
                                                                                                Amin (London Foodie) RE: Ruth Lafler Nov 17, 2004 02:22 AM

                                                                                                Buying turkey at the last minute may also prove
                                                                                                to be cost effective. At my local supermarket
                                                                                                (in London) a 7.4 - 8.4kg turkey was slashed in
                                                                                                price from 24 bucks ($ 48 approx) to 12 ($ 24).

                                                                                                1. re: Amin (London Foodie)
                                                                                                  macca RE: Amin (London Foodie) Nov 17, 2004 05:47 AM

                                                                                                  I can't buy my turkey until the day before, because of a storage problem- We are getting at least a 25 pound bird, and that is much to big to leave hanging around!!

                                                                                                2. re: Ruth Lafler
                                                                                                  Ruth Lafler RE: Ruth Lafler Nov 17, 2004 11:40 AM

                                                                                                  Just to clarify, I meant what was I doing buying turkey to eat this week when I'm going to be doing the whole Thanksgiving turkey thing next week. ((gg))

                                                                                                  Maybe that's why they had it in stock, though -- they so rarely have it at my local store that I always buy it when I see it.

                                                                                                3. s
                                                                                                  susan martin RE: susan Nov 27, 2004 08:10 PM

                                                                                                  How come there isn't a tj in NYC? The closest one is far away in Long Island? ANd how do you contact them by phone or email to ask?

                                                                                                  1. a
                                                                                                    Amy RE: susan Nov 30, 2004 12:05 PM

                                                                                                    I love and am hooked on the Trader Joes brand of tomato with roasted red pepper soup, and it's organic. It is packaged in a red box, you can't miss it. You've got to try it, you'll love it!

                                                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                                                    1. re: Amy
                                                                                                      Torty RE: Amy Nov 30, 2004 05:56 PM

                                                                                                      The perfect pick-me-up after work or at work. I like it 3/4 mixed with 1/4 broth (now using turkey stock)and few drops of balsamic. Nuke and enjoy.

                                                                                                    2. t
                                                                                                      Trent RE: susan Dec 8, 2004 08:36 PM

                                                                                                      Chocolate truffles .. bar none.. a must try.
                                                                                                      The new blueberry estate juice is a bit of a dissapointment .. simply tastes like grape juice.
                                                                                                      Orange chicken in frozen... yummy
                                                                                                      New tempura shrimp in frozen.. yummy

                                                                                                      Last night.. cooked two fillets of their frozen swordfish and was very pleased with them. .. and their price 5.99 per pound.

                                                                                                      (i prepared them with a orange vinnegrette, and pumpkin seed cilantro pesto).. served with wasabi mashed potatos, and the mixed frozen haricots also from trader joes.

                                                                                                      1. e
                                                                                                        Ethan RE: susan Dec 14, 2004 10:53 PM

                                                                                                        Trader Joes has lots of tasty treats. Sometimes it feels like a specialty supermarket for stoners who have the munchies.

                                                                                                        I don't know if this is true of other stores but the San Francisco store has horrible turnaround on its stock. Everything perishable expires before its due date, from milk to salsa to pita bread to sliced mushrooms. I really can't understand it. They do such volume, the check-out lines are frequently intimidating in length, and the shelves can be near bare on a Friday evening. So who knows the answer to this riddle...

                                                                                                        Oh, and their website has no comment section, so here I am ranting about it on this website. Thanks for enduring my annoyance.

                                                                                                        Link: http://www.traderjoes.com/

                                                                                                        Image: http://www.traderjoes.com/locations/i...

                                                                                                        1 Reply
                                                                                                        1. re: Ethan
                                                                                                          Boris Carlitov RE: Ethan Dec 15, 2004 10:25 AM

                                                                                                          I've noticed similar problems - especially with the milk.

                                                                                                          Again: They do such volume so why?

                                                                                                          (Btw. I'm in Philadelphia)]


                                                                                                        2. l
                                                                                                          Lisa RE: susan Dec 17, 2004 12:28 AM

                                                                                                          I live in Hawaii (on Maui) and there is no trader joes here. I would love to have one, and I'm sure many other people would to. How can I get one over here? any ideas. thanks.

                                                                                                          1. f
                                                                                                            flowergirl RE: susan Dec 31, 2013 11:45 AM

                                                                                                            Turkey Gobbler Wrap - the best! Not sure how much longer they will carry it - Kale and spinach Balls - Greek Chicken and Orzo - Blueberry Greek Yogurt - Roasted Tomato and - Red Pepper Soup in the carton - movi8e theater popcorn - white cheddar popcorn - olive oil potato chips - port salut cheese - actually, almost all of their cheese! - chopped garlic - Italian Country Salad - Smoked Salmon - Apple Cider - Chunky Salsa - Frozen French Onion Soup - Boneless and Skinless natural Chicken breasts - most of their crackers - lavender sachets for the dryer - coconut body butter - lavender scrub.
                                                                                                            Enjoy your shopping.
                                                                                                            The employees are super helpful and most are more intelligent than regular markets. They really seem to care.

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