BEST PRODUCTS AT TRADER JOE"S!
- Warren Nov 9, 2005 12:01 PM
Just got access to one and would like to hear what are the outstanding buys. Could you recommend your favorites?
Thanks in advance!
Big question, but I'll tell you my favorites:
Chocolate covered peanut butter-filled pretzels
Spicy Apple Cider
Fat Free Cottage Cheese (caveat that the fat free stuff doesn't bother me, and this is so much better than any other brand's version)
Plain Turkey Jerky
Cranberry Almond Clusters Cereal
Blue Cheese and Roasted Walnuts Dip
That's right off the top of my head. They have tons of good, reasonably priced stuff
Their frozen soups.
The frozen vegetables.
The little 3-piece packets of chocolate.
The restaurant style tortilla chips.
The simpler pasta sauces.
The 1-pound blocks of Plugra butter (rewrap in foil when you get home).
The Milton's whole wheat bread (not a TJ product, but I can only get it at TJs).
The frozen racks of lamb. I am not partial to their frozen fish, because I unfortunately can taste when fish has been deep frozen versus chilled on ice, and I much prefer the latter to the former.
The large jug of Grade B maple syrup (much better than higher grade syrup in terms of flavor -- the higher the grade, the less the flavor) for $10.
The soups that come in those paper, parmalat type boxes. Some are organic, all are very good & quick.
Frozen dumplings - shrimp or vegetable, but ignore the instructions and just fry them in oil. they turn out much nicer that way.
frozen spanakopita - delish!
This, or anything TJ's related, comes up every other week. You'll get dozens of responses anyway, but please! Do a search!
Roasted Tomatillo salsa is my new purchase. That and tejava iced tea. It is goo dunsweetened iced t.
Other proiducts i enjoy:
Cilantro Jalapeno Hummus
medditeranean shredded cheese mix
dark chocoalte toffee squares
Most of their premade frozen appetizers are terrible in my opinon. If you want frozen dumplings go to an asian market.
Tj's spanikopita is to handmade as
Cheezwhiz is to a good Vermont Cheddar. At least CW doesn't call itself what it's imitating.
Handmade spanikopita is like heaven.
Much of TJ's supposedly ethnic foods are watered down, cheaped out versions with the flavors and textures all wrong. (sometimes they don't even check the spelling on the lables) Do yourself a favor, find a good recipe and make it yourself. Everybody has a weekend at some point, spend the time and be rewarded for it.
It's the old argument, convenience vs culinary perfection. I live in a city with a big Indian/Pakistani neighborhood where the food is authentic heaven, but I can't always get up there. Meanwhile TJ's line of frozen Indian entrees beats hell out of a bowl of cornflakes for dinner. There is legitimately such a thing as being busy.
Keep in mind, aside from the differences is product from East coast to West coast, EVERY TJ's does its own product mix, so things aren't available at all stores.
That said, their boxed cereals are an outstanding value compared to supermarket prices for the same brands.
I also like the 1 lb. Scottish smoked salmon pieces ($6.99). The various nuts, such as pistachios, are a good deal, as are the frozen mango chunks. Some of the frozen fish is a great deal, especially the deep sea varieties, which are normally sold frozen and thawed at most fish mongers anyway. Keep an eye opened for deals on cheeses too. I liked their all natural peanut butter when it came in the glass jars, but the new plastic jar variety does not taste the same.
Faves of the moment:
Pita Chips....I like the Sea Salt ones and the Sesame ones. Yummy with hummus, or straight outta the bag. Totally addictive!
Frozen Pizzas....better than the normal supermarket ones.
Truffle brownie mix.....YUM!
Indian Simmer sauces are good for a quick meal with whatever protein and veggies you have on hand.
Frozen Naan...again, good for a quick meal with the above.
Single serve soy milk for my dairy free daughter....cheapest around.
Try this on the Truffle Brownies right after they come out of the oven: in a saucepan put 1 cup sugar and 1/ 3 cup each of milk and butter. Bring to boil. Boil 1 minute by clock. Dump in 1 cup chocolate chips. Stir until melted. Pour immediately over brownies in pan. This will set up as it cools.
From the L.A. stores:
double rainbow blueberry ice cream
(Guess I'm on a bit of a sweets kick lately)
chili lime pistachios (come to think of it, I haven't seen these lately)
cheapest crimini mushrooms anywhere
bagged arugula and other greens (the mixed mustard/kale/etc. is good)
total greek yogurt
non-ultra-pasteurized heavy cream
One thing that I always get there is the roasted red pepper and eggplant dip. It comes in a small jar and is under $1.50. I make risotto with it, put it over pasta, serve with cheddar and crackers. Very useful to have on the shelf!
They just started selling their own Greek style yogurt. It's really good.
Green Goddess Dressing
Cheese and pepper tamales
like the other posted said, do a search you will find tons of info.
Sometimes their bagged little potatoes are a bargain, sometimes not. What I mostly depend on (besides the wine) is better-grade poultry and those racks of lamb, the cheeses, their dairy products and eggs, and the "specialty" breads. I also like some of their heat-to-serve entrees, particularly the meat lasagna, and if I want potato salad faster than I can make it I'll get some TJ's and add HB egg and a tad more mayonnaise, and it's ALMOST as good as mine.
Oh, and their Dijon mustard is so much better than Grey Poupon for - what? - a third the price?
I really like the frozen Prikh King string beans. Cooked in a saute pan, they come out crisp-tender and are definitely among the best frozen veggies I've had. The bag comes with two separate sauce packs, so you can split it easily. The sauce is made with real Thai ingredients, including dried shrimp, fish sauce, etc. When I first tried it, I assumed I'd be doctoring it with sriracha, but it has a pleasant medium chili heat on its own.
English Toffee candy
Frozen haricot verts
4 Cheese thin crust pizza (frozen)
Chinese Chicken Salad
Roasted Beet and Goat Cheese Salad
Honey Wheat Pretzel sticks
all butter madeleine
tuna in red curry sauce
freeze dried strawberries
toasted coconut shredds
roasted garlic spagetti sauce
organic unsweeted soy milk
cornmeal crusted pizza
chocolate traveler bittersweet chocolate wedges (70% cacao)
chocolate covered chocolate chip dunkers
butter almond thins
there are lots more, it'll take too long to jog them all down....
Straus yogurt at great prices
Good quality cheap dijon mustard
Canned black and navy beans
Instant Miso soup
Ezekiel bread and tortillas (High protein whole grain - - hard to find fresh/not refrigerated or frozen anywhere else)
I've never gotten into any of the frozen products. Most seem tasteless to me. I buy the frozen potstickers for my husband when I'm away and he's cooking like a bachelor.
Always bought Hellman's Mayo, until TJ. Their Real Mayonnaise is every bit as good, and 1.99/pint.
Canned Atlantic Pink Salmon @2.19
Shepherd's bread, malty, and good for sandwiches and toast.
Their Organic Creamline Plain yogurt. It's as good as Stonyfield Farms whole milk plain. Add a teaspoon of TJ Cherry preserves to it, and you have delicious cherry flavored yogurt. The preserves are wonderful.
And of course, the cereal Joe's Os, like Cheerios, but better.
I don't go nuts at Trader Joe's, but there are surely some things I'd miss a lot. I go about twice a month.
-Roasted, salted pistacios(not the flavored or low sodium)
-Cottage Cheese (even the nonfat is good)
-All those weird, cheap beers(3 Horses and Peter's)
-.99$ roasted edamame
Straus yogurt, Kellygold butter, dried Blenheim apricots, San Pellegrino, organic hearts of palms.
You're totally on it. Full disclosure: I just started working part-time at TJs and the crews are amazingly supportive and the company truly treats the employees as well as the customers. (Honestly, this is not spam.)
Thus the great customer service from really, honestly enthusiastic and supported, respected employees. TJs rules.
Keep in mind that there are some local variations in the stock, especially when it comes to fresh stuff (like brands of dairy, bread and nonfrozen meats)
-frozen pork gyoza (use the pan cook method, not microwave)
-excellent canned artichoke hearts
-Great nuts, trail mixes & dried fruits
-peanut butter filled pretzels (to die for)
-Frozen shrimp (both cooked and uncooked).
-Great rice mixes (not boxed, flavored rices, but mixtures of different fresh grains to cook from scratch)
-Outstanding pickled herring
-Some of their olive oils are quite good and cheap. Can't remember the exact name of the one I like. It's a tall, square bottle and I think it's organic. It's a Trader Joe's label.
-Rosencrunch and Gildenpop. I gourmet "poppycock" type thing with popcorn and mixed nuts in it. FAR SUPERIOR than any other I've tried, and very addictive
Stay away from...
I have not been happy with any of their candies, unless they are just reselling a premiere namebrand thing, which they do around the holidays.
Not crazy about their smoked salmon either, but that will likely vary by region
Surpised nobody has mentioned the packages of frozen chopped garlic since I originally found about it from Chowhound. It's great. Comes in a little tray (like a very small ice cube tray) and you can just pop out 1 or 2 cloves of chopped garlic at a time when cooking.
I think they also have basil, but I've only bought the garlic. Love to have this in my freezer and I hate when I run out, since I don't really have a TJ that close to me. I'm out now, so I think a trip to TJ's is in order!
San Pellegrino, frozen chopped parsley, (when I am too lazy to chop fresh)non-fat Greek yogurt,packaged pomegrante seeds, (these go well with the yogurt)Kashi cereal,homemade corn tortillas, olive oil, pappardelle pasta and the box of risotto riso when they have it.
All the dried fruit, raisin bran crunch cereal, curry simmer sauce, the dinner candles, and they have a new thing which is like a loaf of bread stuffed with spinach onions and cheese.
My dog thinks the peanut butter dog biscuits are great. You'll have to take his word for it, but he's quite trustworthy.
I honestly do not know where to start - there is just so much that is great about TJ's that it would be much easier listing what's not good (spanakopita/fresh pizza dough unusable after a week/chicken liver pate' - funky)
But you asked what were the best. I love the frozen tilapia. I never buy any other frozen fish. But it's always fresh tasting and smelling and tender textured.
The Niman Ranch meats - top flavor, plus they are kind to the animals.
Pine kitty litter - lasts like 2 1/2 weeks (2 cats).
Chicken pot stickers and chicken siu mai - frozen.
69 cent Italian dry pasta.
Bel Gioso parmesan.
UN-cured beef hot dogs - no nasty prreservatives (yay! finally)- ditto the un-cured bacon.
Better than Bullion chicken base - much cheaper than in the supermarket
Smoked chicken breast - no preservatives.
TJ strawberry preserves and chunky PB.
The LOX - love them. The wild has a kind of tough texture so I process it with cream cheese and onion for a divine spred for bagels. The other one (that's colred)is great for using as is - perfect texture and flavor.
Their olive oils are very cheap.
They now sell truffle oil ($8.99)
Canned artichoke hearts - cheapest I've found.
Vitamins - fish oil, joint support, crusader multi.
Decaffeinated black and green tea bags.
Washed, bagged spinach - cheaper than supermarkets.
Pickles, olives, mustards, goddess salad dressing,
PLUS - TJ's treats the workers really fairly - good benefits.
I LOVE Trader Joe's - what more can I say...
In response to part 2: perhaps you're thinking of the fact that the pre-grated stuff in the green cardboard containers - what most of us grew up thinking of as "parmesan" - is more like sawdust than cheese. There are some domestic ones that are pretty damn good, if you buy it in chunks and grate it yourself as the Lord intended ;-)
So many items.....
The frozen cooked meatballs, very tender. Always keep
them on hand for the grandkids
Chinese chicken salad dressing in the refrigerator section
sour or half sour pickles in the refrigerator section
fresh squeezed orange and tangerine juices
brown rice, both in the frozen section and the pasta/rice section
fresh ground coffee
yellow corn tortillas
vegan chocolate chip and oatmeal cookies (bread section)
the little lemon and amaretto poundcakes (deeeelicious)
frozen artichoke hearts
canned corn (real crisp and good in a pinch)
their spices are much more reasonably priced than the supermarkets
the organic jams, especially the apricot
the list can go on and on
I agree with most of the posts so I won't repeat them but I tried something just last week that we thought was good - when you're not in the mood to steam some mussels yourself, in the frozen fish section - under the name Bantrey Bay frozen mussels. They're from Ireland and are all uniform size so must be farmed and are in a nice butter/garlic sauce. In the microwave for a few minutes, into a bowl, into my tummy! I rarely buy this type of thing but I was just too tired to cook and we were quite surprised at how tasty this was.
Yes the Pinjur sauce is good. It can be added to dishes that begin with sauteed onions or eaten as a topping.
Wish they had not gotten rid of the Curry Chick Peas.
Other staple items:
Rack of Lamb - a truly outstanding buy!!
Various Frozen entrees(Vindaloo, Kung Pao chicken etc. good to bring to work for lunch)
And these new chocolate Macadamia cookies are very good.
I think the worst thing I ever tried from there was the sushi (somebody else got it for a party and I tried it even though it didn't look good).
Do people really eat that? It's like the imitation crabmeat at the supermarket (dreadful stuff).
I agree, it's good stuff. I picked some up along with a bag of TJ's "Papadums - authentic Indian Style Snack" in Tandoori Masala flavor. While I didn't think these chips were much like papadum, I couldn't stop eating them and really enjoyed the red pepper dip (very low cal, hi fiber too for the WW set...)
Yikes, so many replies! I haven't had a chance to go through them all, but 3 items stand out for me...
1. Buttermilk - 99 cents a quart. Nothing special, just a good value.
Ok, to the good stuff...
2. TJ Hawaiian style Potato Chips (Blue Bag) - the best potato chips around...I just get the "plain" salted version. Had a friend visit from KC last month and he not only downed a bag but made me take him to TJ's so he could take some home!
3. Ghirardelli Chocolate Bundt Cakes - this 4-pack of individual cakes is chocolae heaven and unlike a lot of other chocolate cakes, this one really does taste chocolatey! A half-cake with a scoop of vanilla ice cream is a wonderful if indulgent dessert...of course a full cake is even more indulgent!
Don't have time to read through everything... has anyone mentioned the frozen gnocchi gorgonzola? it cooks in 5 mintues in a fry pan (recommend non stick pan). It's imported from Italy, which is both neat and ridiculous.
I love your Sweet Potato Bisque. My granddaughter lives in Seattle and she gets it there. I live in Florida and wonder if I can get it through mail order. Please reply. Thanks
Coffee Bean Blast - Super Premium Ice Cream - intense coffee flavor - good texture ( smooth & creamy ) and a very good price when compared to Ben & Jerry's/Haagen Daas etc....
Welcome to the ranks of TJ shoppers. I like:
Frozen broccoli flowerets.
Frozen haricots verts (baby green beans).
All frozen fruits, comparative big bargain.
Truffle Brownie Mix.
Indian entrees (there's a line of them).
Sweet chili sauce (tastes like a Thai restaurant).
Belgian chocolate pudding (comes refrigerated).
Frozen croissants (they rise overnight on your counter).
Ice cream mochi ( 50% of WholeFoods price for same).
1/2 kilo Belgian chocolate bar.
Nuts, dried fruits, and trail mix: all are good.
Low-salt Organic Marinara (25 mg sodium per 1/2 cup compared with 300-700 in name brands, very tomato-y and good, BEST low-Na product I ever found in 23 years of cooking for a heart patient).
Garlic hummos. I add a blob to any salad.
Coffee Rios, little wrapped intense coffee caramels---stick a few in your pocket when traveling.
And, an intangible---shopping at TJ is like going to a party, and the staff people are always so nice.
I find the white-flour (aka plain) refrigerated pizza dough a pretty good product, almost as good as homemade. And it freezes well. I buy it all the time.
The whole-wheat version, on the other hand, struck me as pretty nasty. Funky graham-crackerish texture and flavor, like some kind of bad hippie chow from my stoner youth. Refused to crisp up even when baked to the point of burning. Won't ever buy it again.