HOME > Chowhound > Chains >

Discussion

BEST PRODUCTS AT TRADER JOE"S!

  • w
  • Warren Nov 9, 2005 12:01 PM
  • 62
  • Share

Just got access to one and would like to hear what are the outstanding buys. Could you recommend your favorites?

Thanks in advance!

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
Delete
Posting Guidelines | FAQs | Feedback
Cancel
  1. 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

    1 Reply
    1. re: DB

      Thanks for all the great recommendations- will begin our tasting this week!

    2. 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.

      1. 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!

        1. This, or anything TJ's related, comes up every other week. You'll get dozens of responses anyway, but please! Do a search!

          http://www.chowhound.com/boards/gener...

          http://www.chowhound.com/boards/gener...

          http://www.chowhound.com/boards/gener...

          http://www.chowhound.com/boards/gener...

          Link: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/show/...

          1. 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 flatbread
            medditeranean shredded cheese mix
            dark chocoalte toffee squares
            mole sauce
            dried fruits

            Most of their premade frozen appetizers are terrible in my opinon. If you want frozen dumplings go to an asian market.

            10 Replies
            1. re: MV

              If you HAVE Asian markets where you live, that's good advice. Otherwise, TJ's shumai, har gao and gyoza are better than none at all.

              1. re: Will Owen

                And their frozen spanikopita (spinach pies) are quite good!

                1. re: LisaM

                  With no asian market around you are better off making your own dumplings and freezing them. The trader joes ones are awful in my opnion. I havent tried the spanikopita but that is because i make my own and freeze it too.

                  1. re: MV

                    >>With no Asian market around...<<

                    How can one make dumplings at home without one? Where would one find wonton skins, etc.?

                    BTW, I have not yet made my own spanikopita, but TJ's are a lot less work, and tasty too.

                    1. re: LisaM

                      The "work" in making spanikopita is well worth it

                      1. re: MV

                        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.

                        1. re: MV

                          Spanakopita is divine. But labor intensive with all that folding.
                          Save time and energy.
                          Try my easy span. recipe on the home cooking board.
                          Maybe a week and 1/2 back.

                      2. re: MV

                        gotta say the same-they're pretty bad. Alomst all major markets now have an asian section and carry egg roll and wonton wrappers, usually next to the tofu.

                        1. re: dano

                          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.

                    2. re: Will Owen

                      My favorite dumpling appetizer is actually the "shrimp har gao and shu mai" in the bright pink box that doesn't have the TJ's label. Those are pretty darn good.

                  2. 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.

                    1. 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.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: Stacy

                        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.

                      2. From the L.A. stores:

                        mini stroopwafels
                        double rainbow blueberry ice cream
                        chocolate-covered bananas
                        (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)
                        plugra butter
                        total greek yogurt
                        non-ultra-pasteurized heavy cream

                        1. 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!

                          1. m
                            Michele Cindy

                            They just started selling their own Greek style yogurt. It's really good.
                            Simmer sauces
                            Green Goddess Dressing
                            Frozen Bryiani
                            Cheese and pepper tamales
                            like the other posted said, do a search you will find tons of info.

                            1. p
                              Professor Salt

                              There's a blog that tracks Trader Joe's. All TJ, all the time.

                              Link: http://www.trackingtraderjoes.com/

                              1. 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?

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: Will Owen

                                  The hot sweet mustard is also excellent

                                2. c
                                  Caitlin McGrath

                                  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.

                                  3 Replies
                                  1. re: Caitlin McGrath

                                    I love this with their soba noodles.

                                    1. re: Caitlin McGrath

                                      I love these beans too. I'd like to know how to make the sauce myself, or would like TJ's to sell it bottled, since I use it on other vegetables. I can see the ingredients on the package, but don't know what the proportions would be. Any thoughts?

                                      1. re: Caitlin McGrath

                                        Thanks for the rec, Caitlin...I tried them this weekend, stir-fried with some salmon cuz the BF had a lousy tummy, and was just eating rice...They were great! Edible without "juicing", and reasonable....A freezer staple.

                                        Link: http://www.bistrodraw.com

                                      2. English Toffee candy
                                        Hummus
                                        Frozen haricot verts
                                        4 Cheese thin crust pizza (frozen)
                                        Chinese Chicken Salad
                                        Roasted Beet and Goat Cheese Salad
                                        Pita Chips
                                        Honey Wheat Pretzel sticks

                                        1. all butter madeleine
                                          tuna in red curry sauce
                                          chicken nuggets
                                          freeze dried strawberries
                                          toasted coconut shredds
                                          couscous
                                          pasta ($0.69/lb)
                                          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
                                          waffle cookies
                                          carnitas

                                          there are lots more, it'll take too long to jog them all down....

                                          1. Straus yogurt at great prices
                                            Plugra butter
                                            Good quality cheap dijon mustard
                                            Dried apricots
                                            Nuts
                                            Chocolate
                                            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.

                                            1. 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.

                                              1. -Roasted, salted pistacios(not the flavored or low sodium)
                                                -Cage-free eggs
                                                -Plugra butter
                                                -Cottage Cheese (even the nonfat is good)
                                                -All those weird, cheap beers(3 Horses and Peter's)
                                                -sesame pretzles
                                                -.99$ roasted edamame
                                                -Kosher chickens

                                                1. Straus yogurt, Kellygold butter, dried Blenheim apricots, San Pellegrino, organic hearts of palms.

                                                  1. Along with the other "best products" there let me add the people who work there. The service is the best, every employee is knowledable about almost everyone of their products and are more than glad to help you. Very rare to find nowadays.

                                                    2 Replies
                                                    1. re: BluPlateSpec

                                                      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.

                                                      1. re: anon

                                                        THE CHOWHOUND'S PRAYER:

                                                        TRADER JOE'S
                                                        Great products
                                                        Great prices
                                                        Great employees
                                                        Great management
                                                        Please God, keep it that way!

                                                    2. 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)

                                                      My faves:
                                                      -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

                                                      1. 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!

                                                        3 Replies
                                                        1. re: valerie
                                                          c
                                                          Caitlin McGrath

                                                          Unfortunately, TJ's just discontinued the frozen garlic and parlsey.

                                                          1. re: Caitlin McGrath

                                                            Which means stock up while you can.

                                                            Funny, though--I work there and haven't seen the frozen herbs on any "soon to be discontinued" lists, and discontinued items are nationwide. hm. Maybe it was a while ago and I missed it?

                                                            1. re: KB
                                                              c
                                                              Caitlin McGrath

                                                              There was a "soon to be discontinued" tag over the shelf label at my local (northern California) TJ's maybe six weeks ago, and they disappeared soon after.

                                                        2. 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.

                                                          1. j
                                                            Judith Hurley

                                                            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.

                                                            1. 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.
                                                              Olive tapenade.
                                                              Mayonaise.
                                                              69 cent Italian dry pasta.
                                                              Fresh mozzarella.
                                                              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,
                                                              soy sauce.
                                                              PLUS - TJ's treats the workers really fairly - good benefits.
                                                              I LOVE Trader Joe's - what more can I say...

                                                              3 Replies
                                                              1. re: Niki Rothman

                                                                why wouldn't pizza dough be unusable after a week....and i thought domestic parm was unusable. Odd.

                                                                1. re: dano

                                                                  It failed to rise in the oven.
                                                                  Didn't cook through.
                                                                  Probably should be used w/in a couple of days.
                                                                  When I used it right away it was great.
                                                                  What's wrong with the parm?
                                                                  I love TJ's domestic Bel Gioso parm.

                                                                  1. re: dano

                                                                    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 ;-)

                                                                2. 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

                                                                  1. 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.

                                                                    1. So far as I can tell, no one has mentioned Pinjur, "a traditional Macedonian" eggplant and red pepper cross between a condiment and a sauce. I also like TJ's canned chick peas and beans - they seem bigger and less mangled than other brands.

                                                                      2 Replies
                                                                      1. re: phoebek
                                                                        j
                                                                        Jersey City Mods

                                                                        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:

                                                                        Taquitos
                                                                        Yogurt
                                                                        Smoked Salmon
                                                                        Hot Dogs
                                                                        Rack of Lamb - a truly outstanding buy!!
                                                                        Simmer Sauces
                                                                        Various Frozen entrees(Vindaloo, Kung Pao chicken etc. good to bring to work for lunch)
                                                                        Bruschetta

                                                                        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).

                                                                        1. re: phoebek

                                                                          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...)

                                                                        2. 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!

                                                                          1. 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.

                                                                            1. 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

                                                                              1. 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....

                                                                                1. 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.

                                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                                  1. re: Querencia

                                                                                    Just FYI you might repost this on the current thread. I'm not sure anyone from 2005 is reading this thread.

                                                                                    http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/9774...

                                                                                  2. 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.

                                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                                    1. re: emu48

                                                                                      You might repost this comment on the current thread active 9 years later http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/9774...