Shopped at Trader Joe's tonight. These are some items I picked up (w/ pictures)
I went overboard tonight and here are some I bothered to take pictures of:
King Oscar extra small sardines in purest virgin olive oil 3.75 oz from Norway!! It's good for sardines and the olive oil can be used for salad dressing. My hiking friend told me it's the best so I had to try it. He eats it by itself or with crackers. Nice hiking lunch. $2.69 for 6 oz! yikes.
Trader Joe's Tuna in Red Panang curry sauce-hot. Product of Thailand. It's good and can be heated in the microwave or in hot water. Good camping food. $1.39
Honey Roasted Peanuts-just very delicious. Can't stop eating them once opened. $1.99
Gerolsteiner natural mineral water-new favorite--sparkling water from Germany. $1.29 before tax and CRV.
Trader Joe's organic reduced sugar strawberry preserves-haven't tried but I think Ruth L. said that brand is good. $2.99
Balsamic Vinegar of Modena-cute bottle and I needed balsamic vinegar. haven't tried. $3.99
Fiji water-think Chowfun_Derek said it was good. $1.69 before tax and crv.
what do you like?
I like from TJ's....
-Tongol tuna, best price in town
-Flavored mayos, wasabi and chile lime. Makes tuna salad that much better
-House brand Nutella, $1 cheaper than Nutella
-Cottage Cheese, best price in town
-The "Confetti" nut mix, with almonds-cranberries-pecans-yogurt chips
-The plastic containers of little chocolate cookies
Yeah, you don't need a receipt or anything. Just save the rest of the package until the next time you plan to go. If you buy anything at all, just present the stuff you are returning to the cashier and they will deduct it from the bill. If you aren't buying anything, just go to the manager's desk up front and they will give you the money.
I really like their sprouted grain bread (makes great toast), homemade wheat tortilla wraps, store brand water crackers (like Carrs, only cheaper), their Rustica pasta sauce, and their large log of goat cheese (is it the Vermont butter and cheese company? I forget) - very reasonable. Other staples like peanut butter and olive oil are also good. Their frozen Gyoza dumplings make a great quick appetizer.
There are lots of local suppliers for the fresh (dairy and bakery and the plain unboxed/plastic wrapped prepared foods) so its gonna be different.
In San Diego we can get cream topped organic milk; haven't seen that at any other TJs, even in Pasadena, much less Michigan. The frozen burritos/mexican foods here are *very* spicy, the fresh salads are great, the fresh pizzas are different from place to place and the bread suppliers vary.
The pre-packaged TJ brand stuff is consistent. Cookies/sweets at Christmas are pretty much nationwide. As are most of the standard shelf stocking things mentioned in the OP.
Read *you* Frequent Flyer and decide. They have a liberal return policy and are good to their customers.
Thanks for listening!
Just went to TJ's in NYC today, and of my haul found two items to make mention:
-- 4 oz. of fresh hen-of-the-woods mushrooms for $2.99 -- fantastic price for these hard to find at the store 'shrooms. These are going in my mushroom risotto tonight, but if they turn out well, I'm going to try to prepare them Craft-style.
-- the premium imported dry penne in the fancy bag. 1 lb for $1.49, which oddly is just 30cents more than the crappy machine made pasta. This dry pasta has the rough texture outside of the really expensive dry pastas like Benedetto in the cobalt blue bag made in Puglia (you-know-what-I-mean) that usually cost $10 bucks a bag. Hope it tastes as good as it looks.
We buy a lot of stuff there, but here are some favorites:
1. Chocolate Cat Cookies (for people)
2. Frozen Garlic Naan bread (ok, so it's not like "real" naan, but it's great in a pinch)
3. Jarred capers, oil cured olives, roasted red peppers (cheap!)
4. Frozen Premium Salmon burgers (great quick meal)
5. Banana Crisps (NOT the fatty fried banana chips)
6. TJs brand High Fiber Cereal (same fiber as Fiber One, etc, but a bargain at $2.19)
7. TJs brand water crackers (way cheaper than Carrs)
and, of course, for the budget-minded, a few bottles of three-buck Chuck.
I heard a disturbing rumor that the banana crisps nutritional info is not correct. When I think about it, there is no way that a carby product like that with bananas, oil and sugar can be that low in calories and sugar. Plus, there are not 6 serving sizes. Just be forewarned when you eat these you're probably consuming a lot more calories than you think.
Another complain I have is TJ's non-fat cottage cheese. I love it, but there are not 4 1/2 cup servings in it (I measure all the time), more like a little over 3.
Yes, it's very hard to find the crisps. You have to happen to be there when they just put them out. One of the employees there told me that they were one of their most popular items and that they can't keep up with the demand.
To Jacey: I've thought the same thing myself...plus, they just don't TASTE low in fat/calories. But I guess they are so good that I just turn a blind eye to it. I still think they are not as bad as the banana chips.
Another post from the NYC store:
I love their house brand cereal, yogurt, frozen vegetables and fruit. I also loooooove their freeze-dried food - I have to restrain myself so I don't eat them all on the way home.
Recently discovered their frozen veggie shumai and veggie nasi goreng, both of which are fab. The frozen naan is restaurant-quality and addictive.
Haven't found a worthy sliced bread there yet, though.
I live about three blocks from my TJ's in CA, and I am probably there at least 2 times per week. some of my basic staples are
their museli cereal is great
zen muffins (blueberry/cranberry is hubby's favorite, mine is raspberry/blueberry... need to keep in fridge due to no preservatives)
frozen buffalo burgers
carne asada marinaded (fridge section).... had them on the grill for a few mins each side with grilled peppers and onions for amazing fajitas
love their cheese selection (goat cheese is a great price for the big log)
PIZZA Dough.... for 99cents, you can't beat it... trick is to let it sit out in the kitchen for about 20 or 30 minutes then stretch it out with flour... cook in preheated oven with a tad of cornmeal on the bottom for texture.
spicey red pepper dip (good with their pita chips)
Glad to hear Trader Joe's is finally in NY; now if only we could get some fair trade in the form of proper NY bagels out here in California...
As for TJ treats, I defy anyone to eat only one or a few of their THAI LIME AND CHILI PEANUTS. It is the perfect snack in this summer weather, along with a Sierra Nevada Pale Ale or other worthy beer/ale.
Chocolate-covered espresso beans...I don't eat them as candy, though you sure could, cause they're really good, but as pick-me-ups. If it was a short-sleep night, or I'm just not thinking too well, or whatever, 3 or 4 of these (add a short coffee on a really rough day) and a few minutes later, yowzaa!
I really like the canned Pink Salmon, its in a small cat-food size can. Less metallic taste than any canned tuna. I think the label says Alaskan. BTW, my cats go crazy for the cat-food tuna. I haven't got to the poor-old-starving stage YET, but the label for the tuna cat food says "for pet consumption only", and really it isn't as appetizing as Fancy Feast Beef Grill with Gravy....
In Northern CA and SoCal, consistently dry, poor shelf life for breads. I don't know where it is distributed from. Over the years I have gone more low-carb and rarely need to buy bread anyhow.
Isn't TJ's a great resource? I'm fortunate to have three about the same distance from my house in Northern Virginia.
My favorites include:
Frozen cubes of garlic and basil, already pressed and ready to add to any recipe.
The multigrain crackers sold under the TJ name.
Simmer sauces and garlic naan.
Their 69 cent bags of pasta and their marinara and vodka sauce.
I just bought a bottle of basalmic vinegar with a spray top, what a great idea! I also love the clear balsalmic, and use that mostly these days.
Wine! At a fair price!
Bath soap and gel.
Their cheese section.
Gardenburger BBQ Riblets.
That frozen French Onion Soup.
Frozen Chicken Enchiladas.
The best apple cider in the world!
Now, I have to say, not everything is wonderful. The ready to eat Sesame Noodles are the blandest I ever ate! Someone needs to learn about spices! I'm not fond of their breads either.
If you like ginger at all, you might find the Triple Ginger Snaps just about the most addictive cookie ever invented. Great for parties: eat six of them yourself and give the rest away. By the way, these are very crunchy, not chewy like the traditional recipe. I think their organic ginger snaps are more in the chewy style.
The Triple Ginger Snaps are my absolute favorite buy from TJs. I've hooked many friends on them, and they curse/praise me for it on a regular basis. I'm a TGS Pimp. :-)
I was disappointed when TJs (just) stopped selling Florida Crystals Milled Cane Natural Sugar. Supposedly a "slow seller". Arrrggghhhh! Yes, I know I can buy it elsewhere here in the Boston area, but not at the price that TJs sold it for. Same thing for their wonderful candied ginger puree they used to carry several years ago.
I'm always tremendously disappointed when TJ's drops one of "my" products. Costco does the same thing to me now and then. Why don't they call and suggest that I stock up first? ;-)
The most recent TJ's product that disappeared on me was a "Sao Tome" single origin chocolate bar. The flavor was good, but the manufacturing quality was spotty: sometimes it was as crisply tempered as a Swiss bar, and other times it was lusciously soft (which I preferred). Whether it was product problems or slow sales, I really do wish they would mark their close-outs and "to be discontinueds" for those of us who depend on them to always be there for us.
I've asked my store workers about doing that. They say they only know when they get the "sheets" from their stocking orders, telling them the item is (or will be) discontinued. And by that time, the item has usually be sold out at the store. One of the staff members had the same love affair with the candied ginger puree. She said if she had known ahead of time, she would have bought them out.
The percentage of my income spent on groceries increased dramatically when TJs opened in Cincinnati, but I'm not complaining. The things that regularly end up in my cart:
*Garlic Naan (my favorite find so far)
*Soy Dream Chocolate Velvet (several dollars cheaper than at other stores)
*Various nuts and trail mixes(soooo much cheaper)
*Organic Granny Apple granola cereal (not the best ever, but perfect to mix in my yogurt for lunch)
*Organic apples, bananas and avocados
*Snack bars with chocolate chips, cranberries and almonds (a million times better than the "styrofoam" peanut bars mentioned above)
*Chili & lime white corn tortilla chips
*Sea salt pita chips
*Hot salsa (in the refrigerated section)
*Kalamata olive hummus
*Organic crunchy peanut butter
*Frozen tempura birds nests
*Dark chocolate covered caramels
*Peppermint and lavendar soaps
*Rawhide bones (for my dog, obviously!)
I have been unimpressed with many things too ... various soups, sauces, and frozen entrees (burritos, vegetable biryani, spanakopita come to mind). They were either too salty or flavorless. I've also learned to read ingredient lists pretty carefully ... I was surprised to find that the vegetable paad thai contained chicken meat and fat.
Organic, free-range eggs
Buffalo mozzarella (my local deli sells it for 3x the price)
Alsatian tart (gruyere, ham, creme fraiche...love this!)
Frozen steel cut oatmeal (mix with a little maple syrup and nutmeg)
Spiced apple cider
Four cheese (or is it three?) pasta sauce
Double wide cat scratchers
Devon cream butter
High-fat cream (the best, so thick)
Organic valencia oranges
Canadian maple syrup
I don't buy many vegetables there, though, because I hate the pre-selected, shrink-wrapped style. And a lot of it looks a little past-its-prime.