I am new to CH and I really enjoy it,lots of good info,lots of good people.I have never heard of Trader Joe's ,but apparently many people on this board shop there.I found TJ,s web site and they have a store about 30 miles away.Should I get a pocket full of cash and gas up the truck?
Sure! Check it out at least. While I wouldn't make it an every day or even twice a week occurrence, there are many items, most of them organic/natural, which are much better than those bought at local markets: dry pastas, oils & vinegars/other condiments, cheeses, yogurt/eggs/butter, frozen shrimp....dry cereals, jams & relishes. Some TJs offer beers & wines and other liquors. It's a fine place to get interesting things which
are usually not available near-by for much less $$$. Have a good trip!
You're forgetting the most important part... Frozen Artichoke Hearts! They're about half the price as in other grocery stores, they're of higher quality, and you get 14oz instead of 8oz. I wish they would hurry up and open one in Kansas City.
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I do like TJ's. They don't have everything a big market has, but they have a lot of great stuff at a really good price. Some things I get there regularly...garlic/herb pizza dough (refrigerated section), jarred roasted red peppers, nuts, an assortment of good cheeses, and much more. Plus "two buck Chuck", their inexpensive Charles Shaw wine. The cab. sauv. is pretty good. Not two bucks in all markets, but should be inexpensive.
It's a grocery store with the prices of Sam's. For a lot of products they only sell their house brands (Trader ___'s), which I think are great -- they have really wonderful sauces, which is usually what I'd buy there back when I lived near one. (If I lived 30 miles away from one I'd still go regularly). Frozen items are excellent too. I wouldn't really shop there for produce as much as prepared items, though.
I don't think I'd drive 30 miles out of my way for Trader Joe's unless I was having a party or some other event for which I wanted to stock up, but it is definitely worth a swing by when you're headed that way. Take a cooler because many of their best deals are to be found in the refrigerated and frozen sections.
I think you should check it out. Be prepared, though, that it is not a large store and, for instance, won't have a large meat department and probably will not meet all of your shopping needs. Some of the frozen foods are excellent, so you'll probably want to be prepared to bring some home (definitely try the chocolate croissants). What I like a lot about many of the prepared foods is that they don't have a bunch of weird, chemical names on the ingredients list. The frozen pizza I buy has the same ingredients you'd use if you were making it at home.
Definitely check it out. The closest on to where I live is about 25 minutes drive, so I do a monthly pilgrimage and stock up on things my family likes that we can't get (or can't get at prices as good as TJ's) locally. Some faves:
-organic veggies at great prices. Not a huge selection, but onions, potatoes, apples
-Dunkers (finger-shaped chocolate chip cookies with one side dipped in chocolate)
-valrhona dark chocolate bars; TJ's brands are pretty good too
-great selection of natural cereals (hot & cold)
-great selection of nut butters, most organic
-great selection of sparkling juices in flavors like cranberry and blueberry
-natural pet foods & treats
-whole grain pastas, selection of rices
-chocolate covered bananas (in the freezer section)
-frozen vegs-- edamame, organic corn, spinach,
You're going to get a lot of rave reviews about Trader Joe's on this board - there are a lot of loyal fans out there. I don't happen to be one of them, though. The stores that are local to me are okay, but nothing too special; if I was driving by I might stop, and sometimes do, but I wouldn't make a special trip. I pick up things now and then, but there's little there that I couldn't live without.
To echo what emily said, be prepared - I was actually a little shocked at how small the store was after hearing all of the hype.
read all the tj's threads. make a list, and spend some time there!
happy hunting (and get some pumpkin butter, and mojito simmer sauce)....
oh, and those frozen chicken shu mai. darn tasty.
I'd say the only way you are really going to know is to visit for yourself. Personally I feel it is worth a 30-mile drive to check it out if only to satisfy your curiosity. However, I also feel you will find that it is a very interesting store in a good sense. Were I ever to move away from So Cal, the two criteria I would have for the place I moved to would be that it have both a Trader Joe's and a Costco! That plus the internet is all I'd need!
I went to a TJ for the first time this weekend. They had Meyer lemons that none of the large up-scale produce stores in our area carry. I also bought some Kuai coffee that was very good and a fair price. Overall the store is very small. Nice micro brew selection. Very different than what I had anticipated. I wouldn't drive 30 miles just for TJ but I will go back.
I can never make TJ's a "one stop" shop as there's too much they don't carry. However, things I absolutely LOVE there are their own greek-style yogurts (the honey and pommegranate flavors are available here), the chili-spiced dried mango, frozen Asian "bird's nest" appetizer, frozen chopped bell peppers and their cheap wines. Fortunately, where I live, there is a TJ's just a block away from a Whole Foods (or as we say, Whole Paycheck, 'cuz it's so easy to spend there).
Take a cooler to keep your frozen stuff in. I'd definitely drive 30 miles to a TJ's, but my trips would be a lot less frequent!