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Never visited a Whole Foods or Trader Joe's in my life ..

  • j

What can I expect? Is there anything that's particularly GREAT that you make sure to get everytime you go into one of these places?

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  1. m
    Morton the Mousse

    Whole Foods will sample nearly everything they carry upon request-it's official policy. Produce, bulk bins, cheese, deli don't hesitate to ask. If you know what you're trying before you spend $$$ you're less likely to feel cheated.

    2 Replies
    1. re: Morton the Mousse

      Actually, the manager at my Trader Joe's opens anything to try as well that can be eaten on the spot, so they probably all will. That's how I tried the Spicy dried mangos- interesting!

      1. re: pamd

        And after that, go to a Central Market and you'll wonder how you ever lived without TJ's, WF, and CM.


    2. Trader Joe's has a wonderful roasted red bell pepper and tomato soup. Perfect with a grilled cheese sandwich.

      Their spicy dried mangos are really good, if you like spicy foods.

      They have a 3 cheese pasta sauce in a jar. I am not a big fan of jarred spaghetti sauce, but this one is heads and shoulders above any of the Ragu varieties. Their lemon-artichoke pasta sauce in the fridge section is really yummy too!

      They have 7 oz bags of fresh arugula in the produce section. Cheap and fresh.

      Lately we've been snacking on the marinated mozzerella, sun-dried tomato and artichoke hearts salad in the fridge section. Very addictive.

      Their frozen cherry-berry blend is very good. We just defrost the fruit and eat it for dessert.

      If you're into making pizza, their refrigerated pizza dough is very good.

      Whole Foods has a good olive bar. We really like their blue cheese stuffed olives. Good, pungent blue cheese!

      1 Reply
      1. re: daantaat
        torta basilica

        RE: that mozzarella antipasto salad - I mix it in with a bag of their Spring mix lettuce & add some balsamic for a great lunch!!

        I personally love TJ's Marcona almonds with rosemary. I sprinkle some more Maldon sea salt on & am in heaven. Lots of people put these down (they're not cheap), & I admit they are different than the Marconas you get in Spain, but I still find them addictive & better than ones I've bought elsewhere in the States.

      2. Since you asked, first, WholeFoods is a good place to buy ground beef if you have been grossed out by stories of sick cows collapsing then getting ground up anyway. WF meat is raised organically from happy delighted cattle and is always pristine and elegant. Second, browse TraderJoe's frozen food aisle and you will find dozens of things (many on their own label) not available anywhere else or not at that price. Some aren't so good, others are terrific. I like their Del Sol frozen raw pineapple, which is extraordinarily sweet, and their frozen artichoke-filled tortellini which makes an ace pasta salad if you combine it with TJ's frozen artichoke hearts (everything cooked but just barely) and some olive oil and lemon juice. TJ's is also a good source for nuts, dried fruit, and trail mix, and they have a lot of pretty good pretty cheap wine. WholeFoods, on the other hand, has no pretty cheap anything.

        1. Thanks also for the feedback. I have long read about TJ's on this board but have only recently moved to an area of the country (Baltimore) where I have access to one.

          3 Replies
          1. re: Jimmy Buffet

            Did you escape from Columbia, or do I have you confused w/ another poster?

            Here in Greenville, SC, our first Whole Foods opened Wednesday. I have been there 3 times since then. It has been a madhouse. I would have thought you could hear crickets. Apparently there's more pent-up demand for decent food in Greenville than i thought.

            Fluer Vert goat cheese. Olives. mmmmm.

            1. re: danna

              We've been to our brand new Whole Foods twice in the 5 days since its been open. Danna, you beat us by one. :)

              Funny thing, we went to another local store (Earth Fare) for coffee beans on Sunday and it was EMPTY. Seriously, only one car in the parking lot. Wonder if they'll stay in business.

              We buy the Whole Foods 365 brand of olive oil for everyday use - very tasty. Also, proscuitto de parma was on sale this week. yummy!

              1. re: LynnP

                Hi Lynn-

                I hope they don't drive Earth Fare out of business...it would be nice to have a critical mass of superior stores. Unfortunatley, the EF on Augusta Road has already failed. I think EF in Asheville has also surely been hurt since Greenlife opened...I haven't been there since.

                Try the Fluer Vert at Whole Foods. I'm in heaven. Thanks for the procuitto tip. I'm actually having a hard time forcing myself to think more widely about what to cook for dinner. There are so many things I could not get prior to last Wednesday. I've learned to turn the page when I see a recipe for things that I know will be unavailable (at least in decent quality.)I have found myself buying shrimp and tenderloin as always when I should be trying out the Spanish Makerel, veal shoulder, etc.

                Oh, and speaking of trite...I couldn't resist the smell coming off the pulled BBQ pork...it was pretty good. I hear there is a wine bar, but I missed it. The fig/orange gelato is a winner as well. Only the pastry case has disappointed me so far.

                Bon Apetit!

          2. Whole Foods 360 house brand is good and cheap. Orange juice, crackers, yogurt, frozen stuff, canned stuff, salsa, juice, soda etc..-- it's all available from their 360 brand and it's less expensive then other grocery stores in New York.
            Many people on this site love saying "Whole Foods is expensive" but it's not at all if you buy the 360 brand.

            6 Replies
            1. re: cal

              Actually, the house brand at Whole Foods is called 365, not 360. The name 365 implies that it is economical enough to use every day of the year.

              I can tell you that this brand of products is consistently good, as well as reasonably priced for the quality that you receive. For instance, their balsamic vinegar is better than many other products that sell for far higher prices. Their organic fig bars (fig newtons) are better than Paul Newman's brand, and far cheaper. Needless to say, they are also better than the ones from Nabisco. I am also a fan of the 365 dark chocolate bars, which are so popular that it is not unusual for my local WF to be sold out of them more often than not.

              1. re: JB

                The olive oil and the Italian (fizzy) mineral water are awfully nice, too. And cheap.

              2. re: cal

                Any more good suggestions from Trader Joe's? I'm makin' my first shopping list...

                1. re: Jimmy Buffet

                  you might want to try trader joe's "thai lime and chili cashews". they're not hot at all just have a mild bite. i also second the banana chips, they're wonderful and next time i'll buy two bags. the goat cheeses are really good. you might want to start with the variety pack of three different flavored cheeses.

                  1. re: acme

                    Triple Ginger Snaps are wonderful!

                    They also have various snack/granola mixes that are good and reasonably priced, and their nuts (cashews, almonds, etc.) are priced way better than other places.

                  2. re: Jimmy Buffet

                    Cultured organic butter.

                2. My Trader Joe's Shopping List:
                  Banana Crisps (A recent discovery, highly addicting and low calorie)
                  Meatless Meatballs (Tastes like the real thing, non-veggie husband loves them)
                  Soy Corn Dogs
                  Goat Cheese Log
                  BBQ Chicken Pizza
                  English Muffins
                  Roasted Garlic Hummus
                  Tzatziki Dip (Great with pita bread)
                  Low Fat Chicken Chow Mein
                  Fage Yogurt
                  Soy Flaxseed Chips
                  Crunchy Unsalted Peanut Butter
                  Cinnamon Sugar Pita Chips


                  1 Reply
                  1. re: jen

                    I also enjoy:
                    fruit leather- variety of flavors
                    Capionni (frozen seafood)
                    great coffee (per my husband & other customers-I don't drink coffee)
                    flattened banana (sounds odd but that's all it is!)

                  2. I think TJ's has the best store bought hummus out there. I love the spicy, the olive and the tomato basil! Yum!

                    1. I love Trader Joe's! Here are some of my favorites:

                      *Frozen Pizza: all are good but I really like the 4 cheese
                      *Frozen Breaded Cod
                      *Papadum Chips: these are fairly new and come in two flavors "Yogurt & Dill" and Tandoori.
                      *Fage Yogurt: someone else mentioned it...it's Greek yogurt which is strained so it's super thick. It comes in large and small containers in full fat or low fat (2%). There is also a small container that comes with Greek Yogurt!
                      *Water Crackers: the Trader Joe's version are way cheaper and stack up really well
                      *Rice Pudding: found near the Yogurt.
                      *Lemon Ginger Cookies: made by Carrs and typically found above the frozen desserts.
                      *Le Chevarier & Le Chevalier Noir: butter cookie with chocolate (milk or dark) on top.
                      *Carrot Cake: it's in the frozen section and is a must try
                      *Frozen veggies: spinach, artichokes, asparagus are always nice to have in the freezer.

                      It's also a great place to get cheese at a low price but if you are really a cheese lover that you will LOVE Whole Foods cause their cheese selection is amazing.

                      I believe that TJs has a guarantee on their products and that you can bring it back if you don't like it.

                      Have fun shopping!

                      1. I'd like to put in my 2¢ worth about TJ's frozen fish: it's gotten decidedly mixed reviews here, but I've figured out that the vacuum-sealed packaging frequently gets ruptured by the time it's in the store freezer, which can let the fish inside get freezer-burned or pick up odd flavors. Whenever I've made sure the vacuum seal was intact, I've been really happy with the fish. Good prices on wild-caught salmon, cod, mahi-mahi and halibut, plus farmed tilapia. The premium salmon patties are really good, too - I like to make salmonburgers on toasted English muffins with TJ's tartar sauce and a slice of tomato. Use their whole-wheat "British" muffins and it's the tastiest "health food" imaginable!

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: Will Owen
                          Niki Rothman

                          The orange roughy and cod filets are great pan fried with a seasoned flour coating.

                        2. reading the lists, sounds like i can agree with i think bryan, that trader joe's is nothing that you really need, just like no one really and truly needs the products sold at the sharper image.

                          1. I sample close to everything before I buy anything. I've found Whole Foods sells some pretty neat and tasty ice cream. Make sure to check out their dairy section for Bubbies (mochi) ice cream.

                            1. We don't have Trader Joe's here,but we do have Whole Foods.Been in it several times.It's over in the Alamo Quarry marketplace so not real close to me.This shopping area which has Chico's Whole Earth Provisions Company,Borders,etc.
                              is located in what used to be a quarry,and a few of the old buildings from Cementville the workers town in the quarry are now little shops.
                              We also have Sun Harvest Farms here,which is a local health food chain.

                              1. Not exotic or particularly great but I go to Trader Joe's for:


                                which are all substantially cheaper than the dairy products in the local (Los Angeles area) supermarkets.

                                teacakes are tasty
                                good cereals - also less expensive
                                sun dried tomatoes (in the little jar)

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: lad1818

                                  Yup. Here in LA their X-Large eggs are 99¢, milk 89¢/qt. The "fancy" breads (La Brea or Il Fornaio) are mostly around $2 per loaf...all of this works out to about half the price of similar items in supermarkets. Between TJ's and the ethnic markets you can eat awfully cheap in SoCal!

                                2. I am lucky enough to live within one mile of a whole foods, a traditional supermarket, and a farmers market. I also have a TJs about 4 miles away. Here is how I use them:

                                  I do all of my weekly shopping at Whole Foods. This includes fruits, vegetables, and most other staples.

                                  I go to the traditional supermarket once a month to buy soda, some cereals, and cleaning or beauty products, bags of frozen shrimp, and chicken. Sometimes I splurge at Whole Foods and buy an organic free range whole bird, but really the price difference between chicken at the regular store and whole foods is too large. I do not eat beef or pork. My husband does, but usually just when we go out.

                                  I go to TJs about once or twice a month -- I buy frozen entrees for the occasional conveinence lunch. The frozen individual kung pao, shrimp red curry, and chicken masala are my favorites. I also get a burrito out of the refrigerated case, and I love their oat bran muffins: specifically carrot ginger, but the berry is also good. I also like their shrimp gyoza.