HOME > Chowhound > Chains >


Surprisingly good finds--at Trader Joe's [Moved from General Topics]

Not that it's surprising to make a good find at TJ's but:

A refrigerated 1 lb can of crab that made EXCELLENT crab cakes for >4 (I made everyone eat up to the point of fullness but another person could have been easily accomodated.) $7.99!

And their 1 lb + Belgian chocolate bars. 3-something. I really liked the bittersweet and my husband the milk (I hate milk chocolate.) Only drawback was the wrapper. Flimsy, can't close it up. But the chocolate resides safely in a Safeway plastic bag as we speak.

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. We have one TJ's in the Twin Cities and I will not go as parking is a nightmare. Fortunately, we are not starving in terms of having gourmet grocers to fill our deepest desires. You just need to know where to look!

    1 Reply
    1. re: cooknKate

      TJ's isn't necessarily gourmet. I buy frozen chicken tenders which come up great for quick dinners, Morningstar Farms vegetarian things, meat balls, smoked salmon, cheese, milk, buttermilk, etc: staples. All of great quality and way cheaper and better than the Safeway's.

      Try it once. Go early to get parking. It's great.

    2. Great prices on raw or roasted nuts
      3 buck Chuck wine - great for wine punch
      Always leave with the frozen lime cheesecake
      Ginger gummy bears - use for an upset stomache

      We drive about 30 min to the closest TJ so I usually bring a cooler w/me to keep frozen stuff solid traveling back.

      I learned some time back that TJ's altho popular throughout CA, is fairly selective about opening new locations. So, for the bargains and unique food items it's nice to have one nearby.

      1. I tried the regular chicken nuggets and hated them, but I HIGHLY recommend the Soy Nuggets. Microwave them to take off the freeze for 30 seconds, or so, then pop 'em in the toaster oven. They are DELICIOUS.

        1. They have really delicious, very cheap balsamic vinegar too.
          The mixed dried fruit bag is great - LOVE dried nectarines, and not many places have them (especially for such a good price!)
          Try the frozen stir fry meals - delicious and the sauces aren't bad for you at all.

          1. I've been wondering about that can of crab meat!!! I'll be sure to pick it up next time I go! Thanks!!! :)

            7 Replies
            1. re: Dommy

              I just melt some butter, grab a fork, tear off a hunk of bread and viola!

              It is the same brand sold at Costco for about $13 a can..one is back meat and one is claw meat....

              1. re: Cathy

                Okay, I ALMOST bought these but got confused with the back meat and claw meat. Which do I want to make Crab Cakes or Crab Ravioli? Should I get both and do a mixture of the two? When i buy fresh, I just get 'lump meat'.


                1. re: Dommy

                  back meat will be shredded more; claw meat will be in a bigger, solid piece...or moe liek lumps. There is a touch of difference in flavor, but I do think that is attributable to the texture.

                  1. re: Cathy

                    I got the regular meat and it was pretty good. Not as good as the lump dungeness we buy fresh, but great for the price! I had a whole TJs short cut dinner...

                    I used the crab for the crab cakes (I mixed in chopped shrimp, which made it less 'crabby' and added great texture!)

                    On top of the crabs, I used their refridged Bruchetta topping (We like the canned one, so I wanted to give this a try). It worked VERY well with the rich crab cake...

                    And on the side we had their ginger carrots. Which were the BEST tasting prepared frozen veggie I've had from TJs. Most of their other stuff have been too salty. These were JUST right! :)

                    It was a very nice dinner! :)


                2. re: Cathy

                  I was at TJ yesterday and saw they have one kind of refrigerated crab meat that says it is a mix of claw and back meat from some kind of crab packed in Thailand. It's $8.99. Can't remember the brand, though. Is this the same thing you are talking about? Do you know what the brand is?

                  1. re: monkuboy

                    Its the same brand-blue/white can- as at Costco in San Diego...price is same. I have to get milk at TJs tomorrow morning; will let you know... (its amazing, I only go there to get milk, and it *always* costs at least $20....)

                3. re: Dommy

                  Here's what I used to make the crab cakes: 1/2 package TJ's oyster crackers, crushed, scallions--sliced, lemon juice--quite a bit, Worchestershire sauce--not too much, a dash of Zatarain's before I realized I didn't want it Cajun-y, egg--beaten, pepper, prepared spicy brown mustard, and a good bit of chopped fresh parsley. Then shaped, coated with bread crumbs and fried in butter-Canola oil mix.

                  Deliciously crabbish with subtle spice undertones and a definite zing. I had used bread crumbs instead of oyster cracker inside before and it was just *wrong*. These, the crab-cake lovers reported, were best ever. Wish I'd written down the amounts of stuff added.

                4. Candy and I were at TJ's in Indy last Friday, where the sample of the day was vegetarian "chicken" wings. I don't know what demon possessed me, but I took a little nibble -- blecchh!!! It's a good thing I didn't put the whole piece in my mouth; I never could have gotten it down. Candy had the good sense to steer clear. My advice is to do likewise. We did score some excellent bitersweet chocolate, though.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: pikawicca

                    The TJ's veggie chicken wings are bleech, the Morningstar Farm ones are really pretty good, esp with wasabi or Chinese chili&garlic paste or on salad with Oriental dressing, like from Good Seasons. The TJ's Chinese chicken salad dressing is nauseating sweet.

                  2. I'm always buying the Thai peanuts and Thai cashews. They sell some tasty bran muffins too.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: J T

                      I like the cashews better than the peanuts because it can be hard to navigate around all those sticks and leaves they throw in the bag. But YES-very delicious!

                    2. their beef and chicken jerkys for dogs actually taste like real jerky... and their mint biscuits for dogs actually taste like thin mints...

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: Danimal n Hustler

                        Ummm...how would you know unless you tasted them...did you???!!!

                      2. yes... don't everyone try their dog's food once in awhile???

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: Danimal n Hustler

                          well...I don't have a dog...so no dog food. So I really couldn't say.
                          Glad you're taking one for the team!

                        2. My favorite Trader Joe's items:

                          Burrito Verde: delicious! with a dollo of sour cream.

                          Chicken Vindaloo frozen dinner.

                          Trader Giotto's vodka sauce.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: tamerlanenj

                            I like the Vodka sauce a lot too, it's quite good!

                          2. I find TJ's frozen pizzas to be the best I've ever had from a grocery store. They are New York style, with thin bubbly crusts and excellent cheeses. I suggest starting with the bare margherita version, which is sprinkled with flavorful grana cheese. I live in Los Angeles and, honestly, these pies are better than most of the ones available from local pizza shops.

                            Another bonus: they actually fit in my convection toaster oven, and are ready in about seven minutes - much faster, cheaper, tastier and less soggy than ordering for delivery.

                            3 Replies
                            1. re: Arthur

                              I too live in a crappy pizza city (Boston), and agree that TJ's frozens are better than most pizzerias. Don't know why I forgot to mention them.

                              1. re: tamerlanenj

                                I threw the pizza's on my list. I love the four cheese version. To me it's the closest thing to NY pizza in LA. The crust is very, very good.

                                OMG...I forgot one other killer reco....the GARLIC FRIES!!! Has anyone had these, they are incredible! Oh...and one last one, the Pecan Pralines, my gf and I call them crack, they're so addictive.

                                1. re: davinagr

                                  You want TJ crack? Try the TJ Triple Chocolate Chip Cookies. Some friends of mine and I are ready to start a special 12-step program. You have been warned.

                            2. Turkey Meatballs (frozen)
                              Belgian Profiteroles (frozen)
                              Chicken Fried Rice (frozen)
                              Pita chips (cinnamon and sugar flavor)
                              Chocolate Truffles
                              Chocolate Caramel Tartlet Cookies
                              Triple Chocolate Gateau
                              Low-fat Cinnamon rolls (drenched in ooey gooey cream cheese frosting)

                              1. Kate,

                                I was there on a Monday and a Tuesday night and it was much less crowded and there was parking available.

                                1. My TJ fav's:

                                  The frozen Spinach Pie, very low calorie and fat and delicious
                                  Frozen Creme Brulee, it comes in real ceramic ramekins, that can be reused, I love this and it tastes great
                                  Frozen Veggi Baskets, excellent! excellent!
                                  Frozen Tirimisu
                                  As you can see, I love the desserts!
                                  I always look to see when they get in the Black and White Truffle Oils, price is spectacular!
                                  Cheese, Cheese and more Cheese

                                  and last week I bought a bar of that Belgium Chocolate. I got the Dark chocolate and used it to cover strawberries. I let the chocolate cool, not in fondue fashion. I took them on a picnic with husband on weekend. They were great.
                                  I hope to find more uses for it, I still have half the bar left! Any ideas?

                                  1. Trader Joes in NYC is amazing, the turnover rate is very high so the produce is very fresh, excellent, and cheap. I instantly became a convert. I can't get enough of their:

                                    -triple ginger snaps
                                    -orange flavored dried cranberries
                                    -77% dark Valhorona chocolate bar
                                    -Hawaiian bbq potato chips
                                    -$6.99/lb frozen Alaskan salmon - cooks up amazinigly flaky
                                    -Orange peach mango juice

                                    Also, I have a question for Bostonites: is there a better and fresher TJ's than the one in Cambridge next to the water? The produce wasn't so hot.