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Trader Joes Suggestions Anyone???

I will be taking a trip into the city a couple times this month picking up the relations from the airport. That means a major shopping spree at Trader Joe's. Anyone have any suggestions on what to buy there? I always pick up the same goodies so I would love suggestions of favorite finds from fellow Chowhounds. I am uo for anything and will be bringing a mammoth cooler!!! Food,wine, household goods... anything!

Thanks ahead!

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  1. some of my random faves:

    fage total greek yogurt (other stores carry it now, but tj's is still the cheapest)
    reduced fat santorini salad dressing
    thai chili-lime peanuts (actually, all their nuts & dried fruit rock!)

    honestly, your best bet is to take your time ambling up & down the aisles, browsing all the items. i usually stumble upon new & interesting cheeses, condiments, cereals & snacks when i do it that way. depending on the location, some stores also have a dedicated "new products" kiosk (it's typically near the coffee grinders and/or wine section). you can always check out the latest stuff there.

    1 Reply
    1. re: 1_healthnut

      I will do that AND take your suggestions! That is how I discovered pistachio bark. Heaven!

    2. ________________________________________
      Here's my list of favorites at Trader Joe's AND whole Foods!

      TRADER JOE'S:

      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)

      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) ; Stir fry Citrus Chicken
      Chicken spring rolls- both Coconut and Lemongrass types
      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 Ravioli
      Tr Joe’s 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(nuke 2 min.; much better than in jar)
      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)

      Indian(vaccuum packed in foil pouches in box):
      Eggplant ; Dal ; etc.

      Deli:
      Niman bacon
      Niman ham/corned beef
      Cilantro lime noodle salad
      Spinach, red chili, flour tortillas
      Mexican layered dip
      3 layered Hoomus
      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(for salads)
      Greek yoghurt w/ honey on the side
      Greek tzatziki yoghurt sauce
      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
      Raspberry chocolate trail mix
      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:
      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
      Salsa verde
      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.)

      WHOLE FOODS MARKET:

      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,but i pre-bake 7 min. before topping)
      Nature's Touch veggie patties- vegetable medley and spicy black bean- good low carb starch
      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 drag)

      Chocolates:
      Vosges Bars- esp. Red Fire Bar and the Barcelona with salt and smoked almonds
      Newman's own peanut butter cups
      Orange Choc. bar :Black and Green, and Chocolove

      Cheese dept.:
      Fresh ricotta
      Red pepper and feta spread in jar
      Vermont cheese co. lightly salted or unsalted butter in yellow paper-wrapped tube
      bruderbasel smoked cheese- for pizza
      Parmesan (their new wisconsin parm is very very good, as cheaper alternative to the expensive 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; and Pea and mascarpone
      Cilantro pesto (Bear pond farm)

      Dairy:
      Eggs
      Lifeway Raspberry Kefir

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

      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
      Meats:
      Assorted Chicken Sausages

      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
      Quiche
      Teryaki Chicken Wings

      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)
      Butternut Squash Soup

      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).
      Bulk:
      Flours, Grains, Spices, Dried Fruit
      Ginger Chew candies

      1. My lord! I may have to seek out a Whole Foods. There is a market similar to Whole Foods in Poulsbo (WA) on the way home. I may try to find some items on your list there. I am still trying to get over the fact that some TJ's have delis! None of mine do! I mourn.

        So far I am definitely going for greek yogurt, santorini dressing, chili lime nuts, both coconut and lemongrass spring rolls, mushroom rav's, tj spinach pie, tarte d'alsace (OMG) and calamari rings. I just read off my list so sorry about misspellings. Luckily I have a cavernous freezer!

        I am still in shock over TJ's having a deli! I am beginning to think my loved ones who shop there have been sheltering me. GASP!

        You had to mention those Pea Pods????? I had JUST purged then from my memory! I could gorge myself on those crunchy bits of heaven. I have tried the calamari steaks, Curious about the rings...

        4 Replies
        1. re: Wanda Fuca

          Poulsbo - would that be Central Market? I haven't been to that one, but do shop at the Shoreline and Mill Creek ones every now and then. There's a lot of overlap in character between these and Whole Foods. The only Seattle Whole Foods that I'm aware of is in Ravena/North University district.

          If you cross over on the Edmonds ferry, consider stopping at 99 Ranch, a large California/Asian grocery on hwy 99 (used to be a Kmart).

          I'm close enough to a Traders to shop there regularly, buying things as much for price as uniqueness.
          - handmade flour tortillas (best around)
          - cereal selection, like healthfood shops, but much cheaper
          - nuts - good selection and prices
          - baking items - oat bran, ground almonds, King Arthur flour
          - 69cent pastas; also wide italian style noodles
          - frozen vegies, I especially like the green beans from France
          - good price on eggs, butter
          - chocolate, esp. the lb plus bars

          I used to get most of my cheese at Traders, but get less because prices have gone up. Central has a pretty good selection of cheese. The Mill Creek one often has a lot of cheese samples. There's a Thriftway on Ballinger Way (north Shoreline) that has a good cheese selection as well. There's also a cheese monger in downtown Edmonds.

          For a massive selection of hot sauces, and bargin prices on cheeses and lunch meats try DD Meats in 'downtown' Mountlake Terrace.

          paulj

          1. re: paulj

            a new whole foods just opened up in south lake union, fyi.

            1. re: mcgillfoodie

              Holy crap, that place finally opened?? I'm shocked. They had quite a unique interpretation of the phrase "coming soon."

          2. re: Wanda Fuca

            wanda, its not tr j that has the deli; it's whole foods!will be happy if you find the list useful.

          3. I LOVE the french rose (cote du rhone, I think)with the Coq on it. about $5 and darn tasty.

            1 Reply
            1. re: LeBone

              Excellent! I will pick up a bottle or so and if it pleases "Chez Fuca" I will purchase a case when I drop the guests back at the airport. Thank you.

            2. -Pita Chips (multigrain with sesame seeds or sea salt)
              -Joe Joes (like Oreos, but better...they have the Candy Cane ones right now...yum!)
              -Frozen pizzas
              -Banana Crisps (if you can find them....we haven't had them in our MD store in awhile...NOT the chips, but the crisps)
              -Nuts/Trail mix
              -Truffle Brownie mix
              -Simmer Sauces for a quick meal
              -Frozen Naan
              -Pound Plus Chocolate Bars
              -Edamame
              -Roasted Red Pepper and Tomato Soup (in a box...really good)
              -Chicken Broth

              1. Wow, what great recs so far. I love the frozen vegies and fruits from T.J. and since your going to take a cooler, you will be able to buy some. I don't buy many other frozen items from there, but do like the nosi-goree(sp), which is a indo vegie/rice mix. The wheat tortilla shells , pizza dough, chocolates,cookies and the cheeses are pretty good too. I love the vinho verde white wine. Shave is a great product,which was gone for a while, but is now back. As the op said, look around,you'll find plenty of things to try.

                1 Reply
                1. re: jackie de

                  the carne asada in the meat dept. is wonderful...Served about 4 and had a fantasitic marianade.
                  Second, i'd go for the roasted red pepper soup
                  Third, the papadum chips ...yum

                2. Frozen food: If you like Mexican food you should try the roasted vegetable enchiladas (no cheese) or the chicken burritos. It's not gourmet food but a tasty frozen entree when you come back from work and are too exhausted to cook. Any of the frozen Japanese gyoza is done really well. Salmon patties are also really good along with the chicken drummettes.

                  Soup: Tomato and red pepper soup, and the roasted corn and red pepper soup! Stay far far away from the canned soups, though. not worth it.

                  Snacks: the nuts and trail mix! Stay away from the hummus (too lemony IMHO). Pita chips, soy chips - all done reall well. The snack bars (apple, strawberry, trail mix-type) are not any better than the ones in the regular grocery stores.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: taylor_blair

                    I'm surprised about the reactions regarding their hummus. I regularly get their garlic or spicy versions. In my Middle Eastern cookbook, the hummus recipe calls for 2-3 lemons or to taste. This is one of those dishes where 'to taste' is very important, whether it be the lemon, the garlic, the salt or the oil.

                    But hummus is also an item that is readily available in regular groceries.

                    Many of the good prepared items the Traders sells are produced in Europe. I like the strong dijon mustard from France. Their 'nutella' copy is from Turkey, in a hexagonal jar. Their dried tomato bruschetta is also from Turkey in the same shape jar. I also like their plastic tub of Sicilian dried tomotes in oil.

                    In fact, when I starting shopping at Traders a number of years ago, that's what stood out - the private label import items.

                    paulj

                  2. None of y'all have mentioned the whole, peeled, plum tomatoes (TJ's brand), which at $.99 for a 28-oz. can is a terrific deal. I get the no salt version because I prefer to do my own seasoning, but the must-buy appeal for me is the quality of the tomatoes and the juice in which they're packed. The juice is thick, not thin and watery, and the tomatoes taste like (gasp!) tomatoes. Highly recommended.

                    1. To go along with the whole peeled plum tomatoe sthat Xanthippe recommends, I suggest the fresh lasange noodles in the refrigerated section. Believe it or not these are a seasonal item at TJ's (not sure what "season" but they are here now)--they are great quality and a good price.

                      1. I like most of their trail mixes, dried fruit (especially the dried pineapple), nuts. Some of the frozen dinners. We especially like the samosas, both veggie and shrimp tempura, chicken masala. Tofutti cutie "ice cream" sandwiches.

                        Their cheeses are good. Particularly fond of their yogurt cheese.

                        Peanut butter, almond butter, cashew butter, all with no trans fat.

                        Good price on the Hansen's soda if you like them. Same thing with the canned kalamata olives.

                        Love their prepacked salad mixes too. Tomatoes on the vine.

                        We like their hummus and always get the assorted 4 pack for parties along with some Stacy's pita chips.

                        1. In the pasta section of Trader Joe's: Italian Egg Noodles. They are thick and delicious...nothing like you have ever tried. In the bakery section of Trader Joe's: High Protein Banana chocolate chip muffins. 100 calories a piece.

                          In Whole Foods frozen foods: Chicken and Vegetable Potstickers ... the best.

                          1. i personally am NOT a fan of any tr j mex products EXCEPT their mini beef taquitos and their tamales; i've found their othet mex frozen products to be dreadful. same with their froz tempura and potstickers. and the first time i had their carne asada i thought it was good, but the next time it was way too salty (and i do like salt). i wish their pnut butter were good, but it cannot compare with arrowhead mills pnut and almond butters from whole foods. but remember,they will give you back your money for anything you didn't LIKE, no questions asked (same smart policy at whole foods). this policy enables you to try new things and not feeled ripped off if you didn't like them.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: opinionatedchef

                              the TJ organic peanut butter is very roasty and salty
                              so it depends on what you like . .

                            2. anyone had that sparkling bluberry juice? i buy like 6 bottles at a time!!

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: barbtastic

                                Try the organic Aronia berry juice ($3.99 qt.)with a shot of Blue Italy sparkling mineral H20 (.99)& a squeeze of a Tj's Key lime ($1.99 a bag).
                                Incredibly thirst-quenching, habit forming and completely overloaded with anti-oxidants. More than cranberry, blueberry or pomegranate-and tastes way better.
                                Also on my weekly TJ hit list are the dried pet aisle chicken breast strips for psycho-pooch. Super fresh and a must-buy to prevent "man's best friend" going postal.

                              2. kelvin- i will definitely check it out... i hope they sell the aronia berry juice here in cowtown!

                                i also can't get enough of that addictive cilantro salad dressing they have in the refrigerated section... yum! Strangely, it doesn't taste much like cilantro, but it's so good.

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: barbtastic

                                  BarbT, thanks for the blu-juice rec! Excellent!

                                  Saw sparkle-cranb. & grapefr. & pomegran.-these any good?

                                2. A second vote for the Candy Cane JoJo cookies--those things are great, and (comparatively) healthy. Lots better than the regular JoJos, but I suspect they are only around for the holidays.

                                  3 Replies
                                    1. re: KellBell

                                      Regarding above...
                                      My TJs is out of the candy cane JoJos, when I asked about them, they said that they are out of stock and not expected to be back in at all.

                                      The peppermint bark that have is also wonderful and a great price!! 6.99 for the tin of (i think) a pound. It's also out of stock at my Tjs, but they said that they ARE expecting to get that back in.

                                      Regarding the sparkling pomegranate juice -- it's wonderful. Super good with vodka. Very holiday-ish we thought.

                                      I had a cocktail party last night. I was completely last minute and 6 people converged on my home with only about 2 hours to prepare. I headed to Tjs and basically, it was a Tj's party.

                                      I had fresh tomatoes from the farmers market, so I bought the organic basil and marinated mozzerella (bite sized), a baguette, mixed olive tapenade, the red bell pepper and eggplant spread that I adore. I made crostini and topped it with these spreads. Also did an assortment of pita, veggies and hummus from TJ's.

                                      Happy Holidays!!

                                      1. re: geg5150

                                        Ditto the sparkling pomegranate juice. It has blackcurrant juice too, giving it a wonderful currant flavor.

                                  1. Has anyone tried their frozen shumai? Saw it last time I was there, but did not pick it up. Am going this weekend, and love the suggestions so far. My list will be long!!!TIA

                                    5 Replies
                                    1. re: macca

                                      macca, i thought they were awful; same w their potstickers.

                                      1. re: opinionatedchef

                                        i haven't had the shumai, but i've had the japanese gyoza. they're pretty good as long as you boil them and use them as gyoza in soup. fried up, they're not so tasty. if you're looking for tasty pot stickers (fried) you're better off to get to your nearest chinese grocery story and buy a bag - they're probably going to be cheaper there anyway. :)

                                        1. re: opinionatedchef

                                          Thanks for the headsup. Will pass on these. HAte to buy it, and then ahve to return it. I loke almost all of their products- but did not care for the baked brie. I guess it was my own fault- I mean how difficult is it to wrap it on phyllo and bake it myself! But- did get a full refund with no questions.

                                          1. re: opinionatedchef

                                            I'm not crazy about the potstickers either, but they are pretty popular with other people.

                                          2. re: macca

                                            Catching this thread a few days late, but I also didn't care for the shumai, which made me wary of other frozen dumplings.

                                          3. TJ has a perfectly decent and brilliantly priced white truffle oil.

                                            1. i'm a big fan..i mean BIG FAN of their peanut-butter filled pretzels. they come in salty and not salty varieties, so take your pick. they're the most satisfying and STUFFING salty snack, so you usually can't eat more than two cups or so at a time. and delicious! perfect if you love peanut butter.

                                              :)

                                              1. Me too, you might be better off to ask what not to buy. The list will be smaller.

                                                They are just a great store, and part of the fun for me is to try new things. I love their pastas and cheese aisle. Oh and the bread baskets, ohhhh and the fresh produce too...The frozen food section has got to be one of the most enticing stolls. I can spend days in that store.

                                                1. FYI, when i return things to TrJ i didn't like, or they went bad before their expir date, i never take back the orig pkg; i just take back the receipt and TELL them. sometimes i haven't even HAD the receipt, and they still gave me my money back, no problem.

                                                  1. TJ's faves:

                                                    Frozen Aisle:
                                                    Asparagus Spears
                                                    Sweet White Corn (White Bag)
                                                    Frozen Coho Canadian Salmon Filets
                                                    Garlic Fries
                                                    Boneless Skinless Chicken Breast
                                                    Cheese Enchilada's in the Green Package
                                                    4-Cheese Pizza
                                                    Amy's Sorbet's

                                                    Fridge Section:
                                                    Chicken Lasagna
                                                    Nicoise Salad
                                                    Aaron's Kosher Chicken
                                                    Cilantro Lime Dressing
                                                    Cream Top Black Cherry Yogurt

                                                    Shelves:
                                                    Green Label TJ's Marinara in Cans
                                                    Soy Vey Teriyaki Marinade
                                                    Organic Spagetti Noodles
                                                    White chedder popcorn
                                                    Chile Lime Pistacios
                                                    French lime-aid type drinks
                                                    Raw hide chews for the pooch
                                                    Grapefruit salt scrub in the soap aisle

                                                    1 Reply
                                                    1. re: davinagr

                                                      I LOVE the grapefruit salt scrub! The other day they only had lavender though...

                                                    2. A friend introduced me to the frozen risotto - at first I thought she was nuts, but now I'm addicted. I get the mushroom risotto, add some TJ frozen asparagus and a few of the TJ frozen artichoke hearts and then sprinkle the shaved parmesan. Love that!

                                                      I also love those Triple Ginger cookes! If you like tart cherries, they have bags of Montmorency cherries that are fabulous to much on straight or toss into oatmeal.

                                                      1. We were at dinner at a friend's house friday and she brought out some Marcona Almonds with Rosemary and Sea Salt she'd picked up at TJ's. I had never had these before (don't know if they're new or not) but they were DELICIOUS. I nearly stole the package from the pantry to bring home as a doggie bag!

                                                        And it must be said again - the Candy Cane JoJo's this time of year. YUM