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Mar 16, 2008 07:31 AM

Trader Joe's - "prepared" foods

So I broke down and stopped at TJ's the other day on my way home from the gym. I'm not a huge fan of the place, but I do like their individual-serving-packaged nuts and dried fruits (the cashew-almond-cranberry combo is divine) and decided to take a stroll around the store and see if anything looked interesting. I've tried some of their "prepared foods" (i.e. marinated, pre-seasoned, etc.) in the past and been less than impressed, but I decided to give them another try and picked up the curry chicken tenders.

What a huge mistake. They smelled OK on the grill, but when eating them, the flavor was harsh and very chemical-ish. They were so bad that even the dog wouldn't eat them, so I basically tossed $6.50 into the garbage can. And I love curry, so it wasn't just that it was a new or unusual flavor for us.

I also bought some frozen garlic chicken stir-fry and some chicken and apple sausages, but now I'm reluctant to even try them. Am I just missing some *gem* that TJ's sells?

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  1. You can take anything back that you don't like for a refund.

    I haven't tried the curry tenders, but I alway keep some of their rice bowls in the freezer for lazy days. I also like the lemongrass spring rolls.

    1. I really like their rice pudding. My wife and kids enjoyed the Risotto with asparagus on a time-strapped dinner night. Other than that, not much success.

      1. I've had mainly bad experiences with their "simmer sauces" and frozen entrees(excepting the minimalist neapolitan pizzas). New-ish products at my locations include carne asada and whole carnitas(not pre-shredded); these are surprisingly decent with the carnitas being my definite favorite. I also sometimes enjoy their roast beef and bleu cheese sandwiches(depends on the quality control of the factory line). However, I've mostly whittled down my TJ's purchases to frozen(un-marinated) fish, milk, juices, very rarely cheeses, two buck chuck, and the odd impulse buy. Okay, impulse buys make up the bulk of my TJ's shopping, but the aforementioned are the core and what gets me in the stores.

        2 Replies
        1. re: aelph

          I've had terrible experiences with my many purchases of their frozen fish and seafood. I've tried many different kinds and forms, and they always turn out bad. They must put extra water in them or something. I would avoid buying their frozen seafood.

          1. re: Jacey

            Depends on how and what you're cooking: the uncooked shrimp is perfectly good(I lament the disappearance of the TJ's rock shrimp from my markets a couple years back...they were perfect for po-boys) and the tilapia(regardless of what you may think of tilapia) fries up wonderfully flaky. I would never buy their scallops or calamari or thicker-fleshed fish including frozen salmon and tuna(who on earth wastes money on those)?

            It also depends on your skill and methods of defrosting and cooking.

        2. I'm not a TJ's diehard either but of their prepared foods I do enjoy their frozen vegetarian pad thai. Had a very bad experience with their fozen spanakopita but was too lazy to bring it back. Have yet to find a "gem" but I just bought a bottle of their olive oil, I'm hoping that will be a gem.

          1 Reply
          1. re: moymoy

            O yeah! That Vegan Pad Thai is the awesomest! I used to buy stacks of them and eat nothing else....
            Its a terrible waste to live near a Trader Joes and not to buy That delicious frozen noodle delight. A terrible shame.

          2. I don't like the frozen rice/noodle bowls--they taste chemical to me, as do the simmer sauces. However, I really like the frozen biryani rice, veg tempura, veg masala burgers, and Tarte d'Alsace "pizzas". My son loves the frozen mac'n'cheese so much I call it crack'n'cheese and only buy one box at a time, otherwise he consumes them in mass quantities!

            I don't like the refrigerated prepared foods either, the wraps are soggy and taste stale. The soups were meh. Those chicken/apple sausages you mention are OK but the Aidell's are better.

            1 Reply
            1. re: coney with everything

              The vegetable masala burgers - a misnomer, they're not imitation burgers but savory Indian-style potato-based vegetable patties - are a big favorite, always have at least one box in my freezer and they don't stay there long.