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TRADER JOE'S and Whole Foods- BEST PRODUCTS

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There was a time when i did not buy many items at these stores, but as i have trial-purchased more things over the years, and their product lines have improved, these stores have come to contribute substantially to my larder.Below, I am listing my favorite things from them (and some 'Never Buy Again's).I would urge you all to keep in mind that both stores GUARANTEE a refund on anything you did not like- no questions asked. so be adventurous and reach for that thing you've hesitated to try- you can always get your money back if you don't like it- for any reason. this policy is actually a very smart one for both stores, i think, as it encourages trying new things.I do return things fairly regularly, because i AM always trying new things, and i have never had a problem at either store.
please post your own favs. - anything to make our lives easier and more delicious!!:

TRADER JOE'S:
Crackers and chips: stoned wheat thins / parmesanpita toasts/ cheddr pota chips and blue bag potato chips/ tr giotto crostini/ Snap Pea Crisps ( i am completely and helplessly addicted)////

Frozen: stir fry snow pea mix/ french green beans(HARICOTS VERTS- stir fry these; do not blanch))/ grilled corn/Mandarin orange chicken (in a pinch)/ TAMALES- Grn chili and cheese, and Chicken /MINI BEEF TACOS/( i have detested all their other frozen mexican products- skimpy fillings and poorly flavored)/ MUSHROOM RAVS (though bj'S are better, to my great surprise)/TR JOES SPINACH PIE (not Filo Factory version)//TJ's eggplant parm in filo (good flavor but yes it is mushy)/exotic mushrooms/shiitakes/ edamame/artichoke hearts/ Tarte d'Alsace w/ gruyere and ham(what a tremendous product)/ turkey stromboli/calamari rings( good for quick protein/seafood addition to a soup or entree)////

Deli: niman bacon/corned beef/ cilantro lime noodle salad/ spinach, red chili, flour tortillas/ mexican layered dip/ North Atlantic (navy label)smoked salmon/ grated parm in navy blue bag(watch out- this can go moldy)/ aged Old amsterdam gouda w/ black rind/ drunken goat cheese/salmon caviar/pate in mini loaf- shaped crock//////

Baked Goods: all scones/ almond croissants/ triple ginger gingersnaps in tub///

Dry Goods: all nuts/ roasted sunflower seeds/thai
chili lime cashews/ dark chocolate bars- the single source ,and the larger tr joes bittersweet and extra dark ones( i use all these for baking)/coffee////

Cans and Jars: hearts of palm( neat addition to salads; though some of theirs are too soft)/ thai and moroccan simmer sauces/ vodka marinara sauce/ salsa with corn and black beans/ salsa verde///black truffle oil (better than the other cheap[less than $25] ones i've tried)/ presidents choice extra virgin olive oil///

WHOLE FOODS:
Packaged Starches: Seeds of Change 7Grain Pilaf(TREMENDOUS ), and Cilantro Quinoa/ Casbah Saffron Jasmine Rice/Casbah? Moroccan Rice w/Lentils ,and Couscous w/Lentils and Tomatoes

Chips etc: Barbara's Cheese Puffs in White Bag (the ONLY great cheese puffs i have ever found); Frontera Chipotle Lime Tortilla Chips

Frozen: Blue Moon sorbets- grapefruit campari, and peach melba/ V cornmeal pizza crusts (TREMENDOUS;the ONLY pizza crust for me; just bake longer than they say)/Nature's Touch veggie patties- vegetable medley and spicy black bean/RUDOLPH'S WHOLE RYE BREAD, brown wrapper- The most toothsome hearty Rye bread i have found -for toast- not sandwiches)

Bread: Pigs Fly- Dark Rye , Harvest/ Iggy's- all theirs but especially Francese(though the holes are a real drag)////

Chocolates: Vosges Bars- esp. Red Fire Bar and the one with smoked salt//newman's own peanut butter cups/Black and Green dark chocolate bar/ Lemon Chocolates in box (by bakery)////

Cheese dept.: fresh ricotta/ red pepper and feta spread/ vermont cheese co.? lightly salted or unsalted butter in yellow paper-wrapped tube/ bruderbasel cheese- for pizza/ parmesan (their new wisconsin parm is very very good, as cheaper alternative to the exp.italian ones)/danish feta in a jar (with herbed marinade which can be used to marinade lamb or chicken or beef; add red wine vinegar first)/ fresh ravioli- smoked mozzarella and red pepper, and lobster////

Dairy: Eggs/ Lifeway Raspberry Kefir///

Salad Dressings: Cindy's Chipotle ranch, Cilantro, Deeply Roasted Sesame, Greek with Feta and Olive, (Ranch , and Creamy Miso need work)// Annie's Goddess/ 365 Peanut Sauce////

Seafood: trout, skate ( both are very flavorful fresh fish that won't break the bank); charlie trotter's 2 gravlax types/ frozen minced clams/ smoked scallops/
whole foods teriyaki orange marinade next to seafood////

Deli: Risotto Cakes/ Masa Cakes/ Cilantro Fritters/
the best deli Corned Beef i have had/ Turkey/Smoked Turkey/ Sesame Noodle salad/Roasted Beets//Guacamole-not low fat////corn tortillas/ red pepper hoomus///

Soups:corn chowder(i add cooked shrimp, smoked and regular scallops,clam juice, cilantro and pesto to this)/ clam chowder(i add more clams, and corn to this)/tomato fennel soup (i add cooked wheatberries or brown and wild rice, and/or chopped ham to this)/////

Produce: peeled garlic/ mixed sprouts- for salad/ chanterelles////

Jars: arrowhead crunchy peanut butter and almond butter/maple syrup- grade B for stronger flavor)///

Spices: they are the only ones who carry my fav curry powder-Sun brand Madras-in small gold square can- TONS better than any other brand,(even from Indian food stores).

o.k. i've been working on this posting for the better part of this day. i quit now! it's YOUR turns!!

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  1. A few things to add off the top of my head:

    TJ's - Chocovic chocolate bars
    WF - Neal Yard cheeses, Guittard chocolates (my favourite US chocolate so far)

    2 Replies
    1. re: Limster

      I agree with you on the Chocovic -- $2.00 or less for a 2.8 oz criollo chocolate bar is an absolute steal. Guittard is a master of midrange cacao content chocolate (60-65% or so) but personally I like the darker stuff. My favorite U.S. chocolate maker is Dagoba, from Oregon.

      Link: http://eatingchinese.org

      1. re: Gary Soup

        Yes - Dagoba's also available from WF. :)

    2. Your post is forcing me to stay up later than I should but here goes.
      As a long time and frequent (was there tonight) TJ shopper, I am well aware of their return policy. My brothers family returns so much stuff, they have to do it in shifts!
      IMHO, in general, most of the prepared foods, whether they're boxed, frozen or refrigerated are skippable. I'm not too thrilled with the teas or coffee, although the organic camomile has some snap to it. Tonight I'm gambling on TJ Organic Earl Grey Green tea...we'll see.
      And all that TJ candy in tubs is ultimately very unsatisfying, heavy-handed & definately not worth the calories.
      Of course there are exceptions. The tamales are good, for frozen. The rice chips w/sesame are good. Had a new chip tonight that was good: TJ's "Rice Sembei snacks". But the TJ corn and potato chips are consistantly pretty rotten. Ditto for most TJ cookies-ugh!
      Mostly I rely on TJ's for staples like good cheap pita, some of the breads, plain nuts (giant cashews are a fave), Valrhona chocolate (3 varieties huge value, low price) most cheeses-dirt cheap & good but you MUST check for exp date! (got a Grana Padano Parm tonight @$8.99lb.)
      They have great vanilla extract (Madigascar or TJ bourbon style)
      TJ Mayo, organic ketchup, organic sugars and E/V olive oil are all low priced but actually better than mainstream alternatives!
      Come to think of it, they do have an organic choc-chip cookie that's excellent-it's made w/butter, unlike most of their other ones. And the ginger gelato is yummy, as opposed to the green tea gelato, which is...strange.
      So even though it's mostly staples I'm there for, they're high-end staples at a low price.
      Also pick up Tom's of Maine products, some pet products (chicken jerky and biscuits get a paw up from the hound)
      I think TJ's is a great place, you just have to be very selective.
      I'm too tired to get into whole foods now, goodnight!

      1. My only suggestion is for a don't buy product at Trader Joe's-the frozen avocado halves. They are disgusting.

        1. Buy all my fresh eggs at TJ's. the jumbos are outstanding for the price, $1.29/dozen yesterday. Plus, I've probably gotten more double yoke eggs in 6 months than I've seen in my entire life.

          There price of some liquers (Irish Whiskey) is very good. Salami, ham, very good. Their heavy cream is excellent. Frozen petit peas.

          Plus, as a non-food item, their flowers are priced far below anyone else in the area. Since I'm there probably twice a week I always buy my wife at least one bouquet, many times 2.

          1. Thanks for taking the time! I printed your list, and when our new WF opens in March.....I'll be ready.

            Also thanks for making me realize it's time to start concentrating on eating the things that are in my pantry so I can prepare for the deluge of new products! A 6 day power outage already took care of the freezer :-(

            1 Reply
            1. re: danna
              h
              Hungry in Seattle

              Thanks for this thread.
              I try to keep my trips to WF to a minimum, but do make a point of buying the Guittard cocoa powder from the bulk bin. Infinitely superior to Hershey's.
              On a splurge, I looove the Neal's Yard cheeses and fresh sausages.

              TJ's on the other hand, is a lifeline for me. I don't know what I'd do w/o it.
              What you'll find in my cart:
              Crumpets
              Eggs, milk, and butter,
              Fage Yogurt (great w/fig jam!)
              Irish Oatmeal
              Green Chile tamales
              Chicken Taquitos
              Triple Ginger Cookies (the other cookies are nasty, but these are spectacular)
              Neiman Ranch bacon
              Orange Chicken and frozen brown rice
              Frozen veggies of all sorts
              Herb salad mix
              Cheap Wine (but I'm tired of the Chuck)
              Japanese Rice Crackers
              Spa shampoo and Conditioner
              Handmade corn tortillas
              Buddees liver dog biscuits

              TJ's coffee and tea are missable, for the most part.