gems at Trader Joe's
I have stumbled across a few items from Trader Joe's that I can highly recommend:
- Frozen French Onion Soup
- TJ's Frozen traditional Tiramisu (not the frozen tiramisu torte): It's better than most of the tiramisu I find at restaurants. You have to thaw it out in the refrigerator for 2.5 hours.
- Trader Ming's Instant Peanut Satay noodles: The noodles are actually pretty good; the most "al dente" instant 2-minute noodles that I have experienced. Even though it says "satay," I don't think there is any meat in it; just peanut sauce. I don't recommend the Pad Thai or Kung Pao versions.
- TJ's Frozen chocolate lava cakes: I bake them for the full 17 minutes, to get a slightly crunchy exterior. Better than what I usually get at restaurants.
- Tarte D' Alsace: a version of a pizza with a very thin, crispy crust; ham + caramelized onions + gruyere cheese.
- Schloss Biebrich champage: It's around $3.99, and it has a plastic cork, but it has a very clean, dry taste.
- Loacker chocolate-hazelnut wafers. Even more addictive than nutella.
- The hemp granola cereal.
Most of the other frozen foods I've tried from TJ's are disapointing, with the frozen pizzas particularly bad.
Can anyone recommend other gems at Trader Joe's?
To the Owners of Trader Joe's:
I know you must be reading this (!!!). Can you please tell us when you'll be opening in Canada, Toronto being your likely inaugural city?
Some of us have actually been to your stores and love your products, while others of us continue to read and drool...
We love the Tuscan Pane. We also buy the David somebody-or-other frozen Chocolate Tort. It's a lowered fat type and is still very edible. And all we drink is TJ's French Roast.
They also have a great Walnut/Cranberry Tart.
They used to have a moderately hot Salsa, but they discontinued it. I think it was called Salsa Taquera. But it's not surprising. Finding truly hot salsa anywhere (in New England) is difficult.
-Middle Eastern Flat Bread is amazing with hummus. Put it in toaster or on the stove burner briefly before eating. yummy
-Le Gateau desert - 3 layer moose (frozen). Quite tasty, but doesn't always seem to be in stock.
-Peanut Thai salad dressing. Sorry I'm not at home so don't have the bottle to look at, but it's in the refrigerated section by the salad usually. It's a spicy peanut salad dressing in a glass bottle... red-orange label, I believe. A little spicy and very good.
-Organic catsup. Nirvana in a bottle. I'd say about 50% of the time when I checkout with a bottle, the cashier will pick up the bottle, look me dead in the eyes and say, "OMG Isn't this the greatest catsup ever?!" It was kind of creepy the first time (before I tried it). Now, I understand, have happily joined their cult and welcome our new ketchup overlords.
The Cilantro salad dressing, next to the Peanut Thai dressing in the refrigerated case, is excellent. I like to mix it with black beans, corn and salsa.
I love the gyoza, which have been discontinued by the manufacturer. TJs says they're looking for a replacement.
The veggie eggrolls are awesome. They bake up crispy in 20 minutes, and the veggie and tofu filling is tasty (and I don't like tofu!).
So, I am about an hour from my TJ's but here is my list of faves to secure..
The plain bagels and lemon tart from the baked goods.
Steel cut oats
Chocolate Hazelnut spread
white balsamic vinegar
frozen roasted corn
baby green beans
spinach and artichoke dip
french onion soup
frozen steel cut oatmeal discs
2 buck chuck
cheeses (but gotta watch because they go bad FAST)
red hawaiian sea salt
soooooo many more!
Just a few of our favorites:
--NY Cheesecake (frozen)
--TJ's brand Banana Nut Crunch cereal
--frozen thin green beans, from France
--Dunkers choc chip cookies
--Kettle Ground Black Pepper chips
--Soy Vey teriyaki sauce
--French Onion soup (frozen)
--******frozen minced garlic cubes and basil cubes!!!
and always try what they are cooking up for more ideas.
Cod fingers -- like fish sticks, only good! Also salmon patties (not salmon cakes) - something like 3.99 for a pack of 5 and they're really excellent, especially on the grill in summer (or global warming NY winters). Ditto the french green beans, an especially excellent value, the white balsamic and the cheesecake. The mixed frozen tropical fruits have gone a long way toward enlivening my summer BBQs when blended with rum, also. On the flip side, among the very few disappointments were the crab cakes (mushy), a corn and red pepper salsa that was bizarrely sweet (sugar is a top ingredient) and some of the bread, which while very tasty, can tend to go moldy very fast (even before expiry date in some cases).
I copied this from a very helpful post last year and I have since enjoyed many things and added some of my own:
TRADER JOE'S SHOPPING LIST:
Crackers and chips:
Stoned wheat thins
Parmesan pita toasts
Blue bag potato chips
Trader Giotto crostini (best crackers for cheese I have found)
Mini multi seed rice crackers
Snap Pea Crisps ( i am completely and helplessly addicted)
Stir fry snow pea mix
French green beans(HARICOTS VERTS- stir fry these; do not blanch))
Mandarin orange chicken (in a pinch) ; Stir fry Citrus Chicken
Chicken spring rolls- both Coconut and Lemongrass types
Tamales- Grn chili and cheese, and Chicken, and Beef- all are excellent
Mini Beef Tacos ( i have detested all their other frozen mexican products- skimpy fillings and poorly flavored)
Tr Joe’s Spinach Pie (not Filo Factory version)
TJ's eggplant parm in filo (good flavor but yes it is mushy)
Artichoke hearts(nuke 2 min.; much better than in jar)
Tarte d'Alsace w/ gruyere and ham(what a tremendous product)
Calamari rings( good for quick protein/seafood addition to a soup or entree)
Indian(vaccuum packed in foil pouches in box):
Eggplant ; Dal ; etc.
Niman ham,corned beef
Cilantro lime noodle salad
Spinach, red chili, flour tortillas
Corn tortillas (much better/more flexible than Whole Foods)
Mexican layered dip
Hoomus 3 Layer
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
Goat cheese crumbles
Greek yoghurt w/ honey on the side
Greek tzatziki yoghurt sauce
Pate in mini loaf- shaped crock
Bags of Baby Spinach
Triple ginger gingersnaps in tub
Brown Rice Medley -wonderful components for color and texture
Trotolle Pasta – great shape for catching sauce between its coils
All nuts/ roasted sunflower seeds
Thai chili lime cashews
Raspberry chocolate trail mix
Peanut Toffee- in black bags
Dark chocolate bars- the single source ,and the larger tr joes bittersweet and extra dark ones( i use all these for baking)
Jasmine Green Tea bags
Calcium w Magnesium
Cans and Jars:
Artichoke Crowns Marinated
Canned hearts of palm( neat addition to salads; though some of theirs are too fibrous)
Thai Coconut, Mojito and Moroccan simmer sauces
Vodka marinara sauce
Salsa with corn and black beans
Black truffle oil (better than the other cheap[less than $25] ones i've tried)
Black tea unsweetened, in jug (the bottled one is better but more exp.)
Let me add TJ's whole wheat blueberry waffles from the freezer section-
the local vendor relocated and the Boston area TJ's just got these back in stock- yippee!
It's not Saturday morning without TJ's waffles and maple syrups - we are trying their blueberry syrup and it's very nice
Salt & Vinegar Potato Chips
String Cheese (so milky and delish)
Bean Chips (yummy tortilla chips made with pintos... addictive)
Mini Bran Muffins
Great cheap olive oil
Buttery tub chocolate chip cookies
Chicken breakfast sausage (1 point per link Weight Watchers!)
I could go on forever...
(and my sister works there, makes it even worse)
I MISS TJ's! We moved fm LA a couple months ago and Trader Joe's is one of the things I miss the most. Here are a few favorites:
Just Grilled Chicken Strips - great for a quick dinner and no artificial colors or flavorings like the name brands in other stores.
Thai Green Curry in a jar - lemongrass, mmmm.
Cuban Black Beans
Mixed Olive Tapenade
Frozen mixed berries - can you say smoothie?
Gyozas - any kind from their freezer
Honey Moon Viognier
2 Buck Chuck
Wow! What fun it is to read these lists. I'm a Trader Joe's addict. I'll just add a few things that are my absolute favorites and staples in my kitchen and aren't yet on this list:
1) 99cent refrigerated bagged whole wheat pizza dough -- turns leftover veggies, meats and cheeses into a super easy, sorta healthy meal. I make these almost once a week.
2) Dark chocolate covered soy nuts -- these require no explanation.
3) TJ's brand all natural poultry. My budget can't yet afford to go all organic, but I appreciate having an option of affordable poultry with no hormones or antibiotics.
4) Small pork tenderloins. What a bargain. Roast it one night with cumin and other spices, use the leftovers the next night for fajitas. With one of this great little pieces of meat I have the protein portion of dinner for two for two nights for 5-6 bucks.
Gerolsteiner mineral water - no, not exclusively TJ's, but the best price around
French and Italian sodas - can't beat them for price and quality is VERY good (I particularly like the grapefruit soda)
Plain goat cheese log - I think I know who the source may be and if I'm right, this is 1.00-1.50 off; I buy several at a time
Stoned Wheat Crackers - I get my favorite cracker without having to look at Rachel Ray!
Organic milk - at 5.50 a gallon, it's priced competitively with the bodegas in my neighborhood (If I went to my regular market and got non-organic, I'd save $2, but that place is a haul for me to get to ... the trials of living in NYC)
Organic broths, vegetable and chicken for 1.79 per - no one comes close on price; if I wanted to upgrade to the stock of a competitor, I'd pay MORE than two bucks more
Sweet - they have some cranberry cookie that is off the HOOK!!!
Lemony-poppy scones (all scones, actually)
Frozen - I've been a tad disappointed, but friends like the rack of lamb (I like rack of lamb, but I don't see where this is all that)
The Indian Fare meals that come boxed with a pouch inside that gets heated up in boiling water. At $1.99 a pop, I'll never order Indian take-out again. The vegetables with paneer cheese is my favorite of the ones I've tried. I was lukewarm on the spicy chickpeas because the chickpeas didn't quite soften up enough, but I'll try cooking it longer next time to see if it helps. The frozen Garlic Naan bread is of course a must.
I also love the frozen teaspoon-sized cubes of cilantro and basil. I hate throwing away half a bunch of herbs because all I needed was a small portion for a recipe. I much prefer this option to buying dried versions.
Habanero pistachios for a spicy snack. I suck the habanero dust off the shells after I eat the nuts. Mmm.
I want to second the recommendation for the frozen Garlic Naan. The "fresh" naan loaves (kind of elongated, in aplastic bag with the breads) was the first naan I had at TJ's, and it was very mediocre - not especially naan-like.
The frozen Garlic Naan, especially if cooked in an oven on a pizza stone, is 98% as good as fresh naan at most Indian restaurants...esp. if you put a little butter on it. It has an uneven, circle-ish, hand-tossed shape and pleasing brown cooked spots. (There's plain frozen naan, too, also good).
If you like the Indian Fare meals, you MUST get the frozen naan to go with it.
Trader Joe's in the Boston area now carries a thin crust frozen apple pie. I think it is from the Tarte d'Alsace company but it is under Trader Joe's label. They had samples in the Cambridge store last week and it was very good. The bottom crust is paper thin and there is no top crust.
I bought one of these today at the Burlington store. Had a great shopping morining today. First to TJ's. Heard good things about their soups, so i picked up the tomato and the ginger carrot. Fage yogurt, brown basmati rice, cereal, multigrain crackers. The eggs were only .99 a dozen. some frozen naan. Also picked up a box of the pad thai. Have not heard any reports, but thought I would give it a try. Another poster mentioned the cod sticks. My 5 yo nephew loves them, and so convenient to have in the freezer for a quick snack.
Then off to Wilson Farms for my produce, butter and cheeses- and their wonderful burgers. Can't pass up their scones. And they also have large bottles of Lutenica ( pepper, carrot, garlic, vegetable spread). It is fantastic- a great low calorie topping for crackers, and a good way to get kids to eat vegatable.
Home again, and will probably spend the rest of the weekend puttering in the kitchen with all my good stuff!
I always get my energy bars there.
Jarlsberg cheese, organic ginger limeade, banana crisps, artichoke hearts, tofutti cuties (my fiance always hogs them), truly handmade flour tortillas, snap pea crisps.
The chicken egg rolls are surprisingly healthy too!
Hummus is nice, and anything fizzy (French berry drink or Orangina) is always yum.
And the peanut butter filled pretzels (with salt, without blows).
Just tried their truffle brownies mix, easy to make but much easier to eat, fudgy. All the nuts. The semi sweet chocolate chips are great and much cheaper than all the others. Try their chocolate dipped biscotti, really good. A lot of their fresh vegetables are really good and much cheaper.
I'll second the mini peanut butter cups and add the chocolate covered caramels!
almond flour/powder - very hard to come by other than wholesale
Pounder chocolate bars - very good quality chocolate
Chopped and dry roasted pecans - ready to go for cookies, etc.
Butter(especially Plugra), Heavy Cream, Eggs - can't beat the prices
Vanilla extract and Vanilla Paste
King Arthur Flour - can't find it cheaper
I should get paid to promote all their baking ingredients.
When we're too lazy to cook, love the creamy tomato soup.
And finally their Hummus!
TJ's if you're listening......Please bring back Nutella.
My very favorite dessert from the frozen case - the Sticky Toffee Pudding cake! Last year it was available only over Christmas-New Year's so I've stocked up this year. Seven minutes in the oven and there's warm caramel sauce all over the cake. The sauce tastes very homemade. With some whipped cream on top, it's heaven on a plate....
The nearest TJ's is 30 minutes from me, but I always go and get the chocolate-covered espresso beans for my mom. They're something like $4 for a few pounds. You pay that for 4 ounces at Starbucks. I also really like the dry roasted edamame. My husband thinks I'm crazy because the rare occasions I go to TJ's, I come home with 5 or 6 bags.
Three layer dip (the one with pesto, sun dried tomatoes and cream cheese - its sinful)
99% Fat Free Chicken Burritos
The (now discontinued?) Chicken Potstickers
Frozen pastas in the bag (Fettucine Alfredo, Gnochi w/ Cream Sauch, Bowties with Tomato Pesto, Penne Arabiata, Gnochi Marinara)
Morningstar Farms Breakfast Links
Off the shelf
Stone Wheat Crackers
Multigrain rice crackers (these are addictive - can't think of the proper name, but they
are coated in soy sauce and have flax and black sesame seeds)
There is a brand of crackers that they sell in three flavors - plain . blue box, sesame / green box, and pepper / red box. All are delish, and the blue ones go great with the three layer dip I mentioned above.
The big tub of cat shaped chocolate animal crackers.
Mac & Cheese - their white cheddar version is a good change of pace from Kraft
Pastachio's coated with toffee and covered in chocolate - these are suprisingly good and my new favorite
Trail mixes - they've got a lot of varieties, my current fav. is the one with peanuts, chocolate chips, peanut butter chips, and dried cherries.
Blair - the 99% fat free chicken burritos come two per pack, cardboard tray in a white paper wrapping. I am pretty sure I've had the non-fat free ones before too, and I think their packaging is similar, but I can't recall for sure. Anyway, the fat free ones are quite good, they have chicken, rice, pinto beans and chili pepper bits. .
OMG, I don't know where to begin. Um... CHEESE (of any kind, although I have just tried the Salem Blue and LOVE, LOVE, LOVE it!)... I love that you can buy fruit by the piece... TJ's fruit popsicles (with REAL chunks of fruit), the chocolate bars that come in the 3-pack...non-fat cottage cheese (ROCKS!)...melange a trois (for my year round pepper cravings)... salsa kits... fresh tomatoes... TJ's dijon mustard (Better than many others IMHO)...whole wheat pizza dough... turnip chips... the list could get MUCH longer.
To add to the lists above...
- Macedonian Pinjur - they carry several kinds of eggplant/red pepper spreads, not all good IMO; this one has a purple label.
- Apple strudel - decent for a frozen dessert.
- Kefir - good quality, not as expensive as elsewhere.
...and I am sure I forget a few others.
We are in So Calif., so I don't know if you will have all these available, but my faves are:
chile-spice dried mango (try with beer, I kid you not it is delicious!)
Frozen mac and cheese (yummy!)
Greek yogurt with greek honey (comes together)
English muffin bread (to put it over the top, buy Kerrygold butter!)
Newest favorite is dark chocolate covered ginger pieces. I eat too many when I have them.
Also always have to get a few boxes of the brownie truffle mix, the dried mixed wild mushrooms and the precooked frozen brown rice.
And always a few cheeses: when they have the Guiness Stout-infused cheddar I hit a home run!
To coll--- I am also a fan of TJ Chocolate Truffle Brownie mix and recommend gilding that lily as follows: Boil 1 cup sugar with 1/3 cup each milk and butter for 1 minute by the clock, dump in 1 cup chocolate chips, stir until melted, and pour over the baked brownies. The weird thing is that this combination gets better the staler it gets; the two layers sort of bond and you're not sure if you're eating brownie or fudge. I also add nuts to the brownie mix.