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What products at Trader Joes to avoid?

Last night I had the polenta lasagna with chicken sausage..... Avoid it... It was horrible

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  1. So any things are great there. They make a better peanut butter cup than Reeses.
    I do not like their mayo. You can read some discussion on the mayo thread that is running now.

    2 Replies
    1. re: phantomdoc

      Sorry to go off-topic, but if you enjoy peanut butter cups, try Newman's Own version...even more addictive than Reese's.

      1. re: phantomdoc

        Yeah for the pb cups, and most dark chocolate products -- they're great!

        I don't think much of the bread.

        Many years ago tried the beef stew in a can. I don't know why -- I would never buy beef stew in a can at a regular supermarket! anyway, it was terrible.

        But I go to TJ about every 6 weeks, stock up on all the many things I DO love, and am mostly very happy with the experience. although sometimes when i get home I find I have no read food, just great snacks . . .

      2. I recently bought a refrigerated dinner for a quick meal, might have been meatloaf. Not very good...

        1. I am not a fan of the frozen bowls, produce for the most part, most of the refrigerated prepared foods (soups, sushi), and the breads are hit or miss.

          But my Indian-food loving son really liked the refrigerated chicken vindaloo dinner, I think they're $4.99 so I'll buy that again.

          2 Replies
          1. re: coney with everything

            I keep a supply of the chicken vindaloo in my freezer. It has no veggie -- just the meat and rice, so when I cook one in my toaster oven, I'll lay some zucchini or green beans into the pan to round out the meal.

            1. re: Sharuf

              Oops, I meant to say LAMB vindaloo.

          2. I've seen the orange chicken listed as a favorite on threads here, but I find the sauce to have an overpowering ginger flavor that I dislike.

            1 Reply
            1. re: Emm

              Try the tempura chicken instead, but don't use the sauce straight. Doctor it up with some lemon juice, and maybe a little salt.

            2. Been a while since we had bad luck with anything I can remember, except for a frozen fish entree we tried recently. We have a horrendous record with fish, so maybe it's just us. Frozen, fresh, exact recipe and time, I even checked the oven temp, and it still never comes out decent. (Grill, stovetop, broiler, doesn't help at all, never comes out right regardless of prep or fish type or recipe.)

              Anyway, this was one of their newer fish entrees that have sauce. The one we tried was tilapia, and I can't remember what the sauce was. I can't tell you how it tastes, either, because prepared precisely to the box directions it was part raw and part done. If we had left it in to try to cook more, the already done parts would have been overdone, of course.

              The thing was 7 bucks so we took the cardboard sleeve back and got a refund. Wish I could figure out a way to make any fish at home come out right....

              1. The frozen battered halibut was just dreadful. One of my favorite guilty pleasure foods is Van de Kamps frozen battered fish filets, so I was hoping for a somewhat more upscale version. This was not it. In my experience, the canned clams are always a weird shade of gray. At one time, in my TJ's, there was a sign over the canned clams that said that the gray color was harmless, but it just looks too horrible to eat. I was also dissappointed in the frozen french onion soup. Of course I've not tried everything, but these are the only dissappointments I can think of. I've only brought things back to them once or twice (the gray clams and a gift item I didn't want or need) but they were always perfectly willing to give a refund.

                1. Someone on CH raved about their organic mayo, so I tried it - it was rancid but even if it hadn't been, I think it would have tasted bad. Chacon a son gout...for me, it's back to Hellman's Light (almost as good as the regular)! I once bought the apricot-almond tart because I love apricots. Had I read the ingredients, I'd have seen that it includes citron and wouldn't have gotten it. To me, the citron overpowered everything else - I returned it. They have some sort of granola-like bar cookie, in a paper bag, that has raisins and omega-3's. Tastes like fish oil. Mostly, however, I like their products or am able to doctor them up a bit to suit my preferences.

                  1. I don't care for either the refried beans or refried black beans. For things I consider staples (for me in the summer refrieds are most definitely a staple), I can usually substitute one brand for another but not so for refried beans when it comes to TJ's.

                    I also don't much care for any frozen vegetarian Mexican dish I've tried. Bean and cheese taquitos (really greasy, grainy and weird), vegetable burritos and enchiladas taste raw to me no matter how long I heat them.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: MplsM ary

                      I buy the 69 cent canned black beans. Heat 'em up and smash 'em. This produces muy pronto refried beans.

                    2. Roasted vegetable pizza. It was vegan...and disgusting. The veggies were mushy and bland. The nail in the coffin was the balsamic "sauce", which was thin and tasted like vinegar of low quality.

                      4 Replies
                      1. re: madgreek

                        I agree. The roasted vegetable pizza is absolutely gross....

                        1. re: snoobie

                          I'll third that. It had the most peculiar after taste. Peculiar and very unpleasant. One bite was enough for me. My vegan son ate it and lived however. He even liked it.

                          1. re: boppiecat

                            I COMPLETELY disagree. I just tried the Roasted Vegetable Pizza for the first time tonight and I wanted to devour the entire thing. Maybe its because I'm vegan, but I really love the flavors and the way I don't feel like an obese cow after I finish my serving.

                        2. re: madgreek

                          I like it; but only coated with lots of shredded four-cheese and parm before sticking it in the oven

                        3. The {frozen} breaded cod filets are AWFUL! The other tragedy still sold is the vegetarian burrito; ugh.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: The Ranger

                            I agree about the cod..but he cod fish sticks were good. Th ething with TJ's is that they will take anything back for a full refund

                          2. I think their current line of beef and turkey jerky is just plain wrong. One of the first ingredients listed in sugar. Nasty. So sad because they used to carry snackmaster's jerky which I absolutely love and now have to order on Amazon :(

                            1. I don't like their roasted peppers - they are mushy and bland. Their baba ghanoush - meh. Lite smoked gouda - huge mistake (but this may be because it was lite, not because it was from TJ's).

                              4 Replies
                              1. re: jeni1002

                                Agree on the roasted red peppers. Didn't taste like anything at all. Also, not crazy about their bread and the "seaweed snack".

                                1. re: Faraway11

                                  I like the red roasted peppers but find that they don't last very long once opened. Any portion that sticks out above the liquid in the jar starts to get a mold on it after what seems like a rather short time in the fridge (10 days??).

                                  1. re: Faraway11

                                    ...love the seaweed snack! :^)

                                    Have you tried the newish Tuscan Bread country loaf? It's a very good soft, moist, white bread with a decent crust. Makes wonderful toast and paninis. I likehtat it's sliced a wqee bit thicker than most fo their pre-sliced breads. It now comes 100% whole wheat as well, and is a good bargain at under $4 for a large loaf.

                                    1. re: toodie jane

                                      Have you noticed this thread? http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/775837

                                      It keeps all discussion of the Yeas and Nays of TJ's products in one convenient, up-to-date thread. The thread is re-booted each quarter. There's also a quarterly thread for Costco.

                                2. Cheeses, butter, eggs, wine, pasta and pasta sauces are very good and much cheaper than Vons or Ralphs

                                  1. The mixed dried mushrooms $1.99. Absolutely no taste.

                                    1. why does anyone shop there with such hit or miss? sorry, side rant. I do not like their raw almond butter. I thought it was a steal at around $6, whereas most places sell organic raw almond butter for $16. it tasted low quality and i couldn't eat it, was very surprised b/c you would think almonds are almonds.

                                      7 Replies
                                      1. re: fara

                                        "why does anyone shop there with such hit or miss?"

                                        Do regulard supermarkets do any better? I don't think there is any grocery store out there that is only stocked with products that you are guaranteed to like. I've had a higher success rate on foods found at TJ's and I also like that there are far fewer items with HFCS and transfats in them.

                                          1. re: Humbucker

                                            Not only that but their return policy is far more liberal and friendly than other markets as well. If you don't like something, just return it or even tell them what you had that you didn't like and back comes a refund, no questions asked. No receipt necessary, not even the product itself.

                                          2. re: fara

                                            Because the things we buy there that we like, we like very, very much. Why is that such a hard concept?

                                            1. re: BarmyFotheringayPhipps

                                              ITA, barmy!

                                              I go to TJ's with a list (ever-growing, by the way) of favorite products, and get what they have. If they're out (AGAIN, dammit) of freeze dried mango or whatever, I don't buy it and life will go on. If they don't have 1% organic milk on hand, I'll get that somewhere else. And inevitably I'll see something new and give that a try. If we don't like it, I can bring it back (if it's cheap, I don't bother). If we do like it, onto the list it goes.

                                              The TJ list is "nice to have" stuff or things that although they can be bought elsewhere, the TJ offering is either superior, cheaper (like FAGE) or both. It's just one more store--I wouldn't get all my groceries at a single supermarket anyway.

                                              1. re: coney with everything

                                                I like the fact that Trader Joe's often has a cheaper version of a product that I've heard about, and that they take some risks. They're also very accommodating if you don't like something: they give you your money back. The things that I like, I like a lot, and the things I don't like, I don't have to pay for.

                                                1. re: coney with everything

                                                  They've discontinued the freeze dried mango - sob!!!!

                                            2. I love having a Trader Joe's nearby but find their plain organic yogurt chalky.

                                              1. I just bought the Roasted Gorgonzola flavor oven crisp crackers. Not good. They're just little crackers with a dusting of gorgonzola flavored powder. These are going back.

                                                7 Replies
                                                1. re: brendastarlet

                                                  Funny, brenda, I had a box of those very crackers in my hand last night contemplating whether to buy them. I ended up with the little multigrain crackers, which are pretty good. Sounds like I was right to skip them. Gorgonzola powder...eek.

                                                  And they actually HAD freeze dried mango in stock!

                                                  1. re: coney with everything

                                                    jDoes anyone remember their dried canteloupe? It was incredibly delicious!

                                                  2. re: brendastarlet

                                                    I tried these too and agree that they're not tasty at all. weird "gorgonzola" powder that really has no discernable gorgonzola flavor at all.

                                                    1. re: mollyomormon

                                                      Aww! I actually like them! They were like a tangy version of Chez-Its!


                                                      1. re: Dommy

                                                        Yeah I liked them too. They were a little buttery and the calories can't be beat!

                                                        1. re: Dommy

                                                          I like the Gorgonzola crackers too, although they're not consistent with how much cheezyshake is on each cracker.

                                                      2. re: brendastarlet

                                                        I just tried these crackers for the 1st time and love them! They can be a bit salty, so I top each one with bit of TJ's Cheddar & Gruyere cheese (yes, I'm a cheese-a-holic) and it tastes even better - try it!

                                                      3. Bought something called "Beef Short Ribs" in a vacu-pack. It was horrid - all fat and seemed more like a really gross piece of skirt steak than what I expected a s short ribs.

                                                        On the whole, though, they do a great job. This morning I picked up a Vietnamese-style chicken/veggie wrap with a ginger/lime dippmng sauce. Very tasty and only $3.99 (I think).

                                                        5 Replies
                                                          1. re: Whosyerkitty

                                                            The dishwashing soap is also horrid...


                                                            1. re: Dommy

                                                              Hint of barnyard? Or reminiscent of "getting-your-mouth-washed-out" days? : ) Sorry...

                                                              I have tried most of their canned soups and I dislike all of them, from clam chowder to black bean soup. Way too much onion powder, not too much else by way of flavoring.

                                                          2. re: Midlife

                                                            I saw that wrap and was curious. I had the chicken with udon noodles for lunch today. I added some fresh corn after cooking, and mixed it in. Overall pretty good, but the sauce is quite sweet. It wouldn't be a bad idea to drain some off before eating.

                                                            1. re: brendastarlet

                                                              LOVE that wrap... the flavors are very good together...


                                                          3. i've posted the following on a couple of other threads about TJ's, but the product is so bad that it warrants repeating it here...

                                                            a HUGE nay [can i give it multiple votes?] for the refrigerated containers of 'just chicken.'

                                                            not the sort of thing i'd normally waste my money on because i always prepare my own chicken breasts to keep in the fridge for convenience. but the latest issue of one of my nutrition newsletters gave this product a big thumbs-up, so i figured i'd give it a try.

                                                            never again.

                                                            this stuff was truly vile. slimy, spongy, gristly...and the flavor of canned chicken broth/seasoning was so overpowering i might as well have been eating a straight bouillion cube.


                                                            1. Fried rice in the freezer section - even as emergency fried rice, it's horrid.

                                                              Eggrolls in the freezer section - tragic.

                                                              1. I've always been curious about their frozen fish, but they look so unappetizing. Based on the responses here, glad I haven't tried them. Any of TJ's soups in a box should be avoided. Have tried just about all of them b/c I love soup, but bleh.

                                                                5 Replies
                                                                1. re: gloriousfood

                                                                  DId you try the roasted rep pepper tomato soup? I found that one to be pretty good.

                                                                  1. re: Humbucker

                                                                    I think so, since I pretty much went through all its selections. However, a friend just mentioned TJ's canned lentil soup is pretty good--have you tried?

                                                                    Over the weekend I picked up something else from TJ that was unappealing: its low-fat chocolate meringues. Think I'll stick with the full fat....

                                                                    1. re: gloriousfood

                                                                      Stay away from the Two Buck Chuck.
                                                                      Oh, that's right. This is Pennsylvania.

                                                                  2. re: gloriousfood

                                                                    I've never tried a prepared frozen fish entree (nor would I ever). However I have never had a problem with the frozen fish fillets and steaks, the wild salmon in particular is good for emergency use. Perhaps salmon holds up better to freezing than some of the thinner white fish choices.

                                                                    1. re: gloriousfood

                                                                      I adore the Butternut Squash soup in the box. Delicious with some fresh cracked pepper and some crackers on the side.

                                                                    2. I heard wonderful things about their jarred marinara sauce- There were about 3 varieties, I played a shell game and apparently chose the wrong one...

                                                                      I went with the Traditional Marinara sauce, Recipe #99- It was very watery, and very bland-

                                                                      Not a good sign when i had to thicken it up with a stray jar of Ragu from the depths of my pantry

                                                                      4 Replies
                                                                      1. re: paulispumonti

                                                                        If there is a "next time" for you I think the Three Cheese marinara may be a better bet. I dunno if it's for everyone, and I'm sure it's nothing fantastic, but in a pinch we have liked it fine.

                                                                        1. re: CrazyOne

                                                                          I like their "starter" tomato sauce in a box better than the jarred ones.

                                                                        2. re: paulispumonti

                                                                          I actually prefer their marinara sauces that come in big cans. The Toscano one is very good, as is the original. Both are under $2 in my area. I just transfer the contents to quart-size ball jar to store it in the fridge.

                                                                          1. re: paulispumonti

                                                                            The Organic Marinara Sauce has only 25 mg of sodium per half-cup (name brands have from 300-700). If you cook for a heart patient this stuff is a major find, very tomato-y and good---and it won't land you in the Emergency Room later that night.

                                                                          2. I picked up some Shropshire Blue cheese last week and ended up throwing it away. It wasn't moldy or past its expiration date, it was just bad. It tasted more like packaging than anything else and it had a pretty strong ammonia smell as well.

                                                                            I have to admit, I want to like them, I've tried really hard and having given them 20-30-40 chances. I think it's time to close the book which is too bad, everyone there is SO NICE!

                                                                            4 Replies
                                                                            1. re: sebetti

                                                                              Their new Brown Rice Krispies Treats. I opened up a box at the store and tried one. They were hard as a rock. I mean I understand Brown Rice is different than White Rice and I do consume Brown Rice so it wasn't a foreign concept to me. But d*mn they were just awful. I was expecting them to be more soft, buttery, and gooey like regular RK Treats. Guess thats not possible with Brown Rice or maybe TJ's just made them awful :(

                                                                              1. re: Woof Woof Woof

                                                                                I agree. I got them last week and they are truly horrid. Hard as a rock, and a strange flavor. One of the worst products I've gotten at Trader Joe's.

                                                                                1. re: zhelder

                                                                                  Have to agree with this one. I was excited to find a slightly healthier option for RK Treats and was truly disappointed when I tried them.

                                                                                2. re: Woof Woof Woof

                                                                                  Rice Krispie treats with brown rice? Oh man...that's just wrong.

                                                                              2. We bought frozen fish filets there, and they were literally inedible, so tough as to defy in amount of chewing. Very strange. I have no earthly idea how one can manage to make a snapper filet un-chewable.

                                                                                We never went back.

                                                                                1. Their sushi is the worst ever! Costco's sushi is just as bad which makes me think they might be made by the same vendor. And don't get on my case about buying supermarket sushi because some Vons or Ralphs locations make some really good sushi!

                                                                                  TJ's frozen shu-mai is vile as well. And again, it doesn't have to be!

                                                                                  8 Replies
                                                                                  1. re: kawachi

                                                                                    > TJ's frozen shu-mai is vile as well.

                                                                                    I'll strongly disagree with this. I find the chicken shu mai a great stand-bye for a quick meal while we regularly use the vegetarian shu mai a side dish. Both are easy to cook up and have good flavor.

                                                                                    1. re: kawachi

                                                                                      Lol. I tried their sushi about 4 years ago when I first discovered the beauty that is sushi. It was the most vile and hideous sushi I have ever eaten and I have eaten tons.

                                                                                        1. re: somervilleoldtimer

                                                                                          We recently tried their vietnamese summer rolls. (we are desperate here in westchester county, ny with no vietnamese restaurants). awful.

                                                                                          1. re: rolise

                                                                                            i agree 100% on the TERRIBLE vietnamese summer rolls! i got a refund and told them how they were bad. this was at least a year ago....

                                                                                          2. re: somervilleoldtimer

                                                                                            Agreed +1 - I'll eat almost any sushi on the planet, and I can't find anything edible in TJ's selections. Gross, mushy, bizarrely sweet..yuck.

                                                                                              1. re: somervilleoldtimer

                                                                                                I really think that "pre-packaged market sushi" is something of an oxymoron. Real sushi is something else altogether.

                                                                                        2. the whole wheat pitas are sometimes moldy and the Tahitian vanilla extract tastes strongly of alcohol.

                                                                                          2 Replies
                                                                                          1. re: silvergirl

                                                                                            I bought a small bottle of the Tahitian vanilla and it has no vanilla taste or little flavor. I'm baking cookies this weekend and I have decided to double up the amount of vanilla just to use it up.

                                                                                            1. re: silvergirl

                                                                                              I have had the same thing happen to me when it comes to the pitas, after one day the are moldy. The Quattro Formaggio frozen pizza from Italy is awful, it reminds me of the old Appian Way boxed pizza mixes when I was a child with the paper bag of flour, can of tomato paste and packet of cheese. Their pizza was completely tasteless.

                                                                                            2. whole wheat pizza dough--weird flavors.

                                                                                              (haven't tried the regular)

                                                                                              the light mayo--ugh

                                                                                              beef stew--bland and nearly meatless

                                                                                              canned beans are undercooked

                                                                                              frozen mandarin chicken (nuggets) sickly sweet

                                                                                              1. I have never had luck with their frozen fish.

                                                                                                2 Replies
                                                                                                  1. re: TerryG

                                                                                                    I like the salmon patties, but I usually layer them with fried polenta, goat cheese, and other veggies in a giant salmon stack. I've never had them in a bun like a burger.

                                                                                                1. I just made a TJ's run and so far one big-time loser has come forward: Blueberry oat bran muffins. Extremely gummy, like they were underbaked or something. They were ok toasted but you should not have to toast muffins to make them edible.

                                                                                                  2 Replies
                                                                                                  1. re: Bob W

                                                                                                    Toast them and put peanut butter on them. But seriously, you can bake better muffins with Hodgson Mills whole wheat muffin mix or even with Jiffy's corn muffin mix.

                                                                                                    I cannot stand their Fleur de Sel caramels. They're too soft, and they stick to the cellophane so you end up fighting your way past plastic. However, the dark chocolate covered caramels (available only through the holidays) are delicious, if a tad cloying.

                                                                                                    1. re: Bob W

                                                                                                      All of their muffins are horrible. And I agree you should not need to toast them or put peanut butter on them to make them edible. I have tried several varieties and have now given up on muffins. Also the breads spoil quickly so you have to freeze them.

                                                                                                    2. I'm a HUGE TJ's fan, but didn't care for the canned clam chowder.

                                                                                                      1. They make a sort of pasta pilaf mix called Harvest Grains Blend, the main ingredient of which is Israeli cous cous. Normally I love this kind of thing, but this mix has ingredients that take different amounts of cooking time. This is alright if you like your cous cous perfectly cooked and your baby garbanzos extra al dente -- I'll take a pass.

                                                                                                        1. I find their frozen burritos and enchiladas to be absolutely awful. However, I have never found a frozen burrito anywhere that was any good.

                                                                                                          1. The vegetarian 'chicken' should be avoided at all costs. It tasted absolutely disgusting.

                                                                                                            Of course, once you try Quorn vegetarian 'chicken' then anything else does not taste good but this was particularly bad.

                                                                                                            1. new one to add:

                                                                                                              Chewy Crisp Tom Yum Cashews

                                                                                                              they're SO BAD that i'm actually considering taking advantage of TJ's generous return policy...i can't remember the last time i lunged for the sink so quickly to spit something out.

                                                                                                              1 Reply
                                                                                                              1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                                                                                                I have to disagree....I was somewhat unsure about the cashews initially, but I ended up liking them by the end of the bag. Even if I hated them, I like the fact that they tried to make something new and different and I could return it, no questions asked.

                                                                                                              2. The cottage cheese. The last 3 containers I bought were spoiled WELL before expiration date. Must be a problem in the delivery of the product. I'm done w that.

                                                                                                                1. avoid any pre made food there, like buritos, crab cakes, the hummus is a double yuck!Do the purchasers at t.j's really taste the stuff they sell? they have great prices on good cheeses , olive oil, and vinegars.

                                                                                                                  1. I think the tortillas are stale tasting, and the hummus is yuck. The frozen chicken fried rice is horrible, absolutely flavorless with gristly dark chicken. The bread is always awful. I have yet to find a loaf of bread that is edible. The good far outweighs the bad though.

                                                                                                                    1. Their fresh juices are notorious for going bad and literally exploding. As the juice goes bad, the plastic container starts to bulge and grow bigger. The person stocking them joked with me about it.

                                                                                                                      I had much better paying a buck for a container of OJ at Albertsons.

                                                                                                                      1. Tri Tip. When they first opened here in Maryland a few years ago they were not bad and the only place to find one. Over the years they have become extremely tough and the pre-marinated ones taste like chemicals. I can now find them at either Wegman's or a local butcher in Ellicott City.

                                                                                                                        1 Reply
                                                                                                                        1. re: stratocaster68

                                                                                                                          There is a much more recent thread for TJ's here: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/756766. It is started anew each quarter. It's a little unwieldy now, since it's so long, but a new one will start on April 1, 2011.

                                                                                                                        2. I tried the aracini on a whim, as a friend was coming over for wine. Skip it.

                                                                                                                          1 Reply
                                                                                                                          1. re: mtngirlnv

                                                                                                                            +1 or should I say -1? Those were horrid.

                                                                                                                          2. We're rarely disappointed in anything from TJs but had their bleu cheese and three other cheeses flatbread pizza the other night. Really boring. We ate it but would never do that again.

                                                                                                                            1. It's been really handy to keep all of the TJ's hits or misses in one timely thread, which is re-booted each quarter: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/756766. It's a little unwieldy right now as we end the quarter, but should see a new one on April 1, 2011.

                                                                                                                              1. Having avoided them for months, I succumbed again to the lure of the orange and raspberry chocolate covered jellies, and then was very disappointed to find that I was very disappointed! Did they change the darkness of the chocolate to lighter, or did I maybe happen on a less-than-fresh batch? They just were not completely compelling as they always had been in the past.

                                                                                                                                1. The Garden Vegetable soup is so bad we couldn't even doctor it. Very spicy but not in a flavorful way. I think it's the first food I've ever completely thrown out - I forgot about their return policy.

                                                                                                                                  1. I like many things from Trader Joe's BUT recently tried the reduced guilt vegetable pizza (with the eggplant and squash)...very inedible. Mushy unidentifiable veggies and nasty taste. Don't really like their breads or hummus either but that's a personal preference.

                                                                                                                                    5 Replies
                                                                                                                                    1. re: highforpie

                                                                                                                                      wow !!!read most of the reviews, and I wonder how they stay in business... One just opened close to work and now I am not so sure I want to run right over there!!!

                                                                                                                                      1. re: Barbarella

                                                                                                                                        Read other of the many posts about TJs- the inventory constantly changes.

                                                                                                                                        Read the TJ "Fearless Flyer" and it will explain how they give you a good deal because they only could buy 3000 cases and have to distribute between all the stores.

                                                                                                                                          1. re: Barbarella


                                                                                                                                            You REALLY need to read those other topics!!!!! Also........... understand that not everyone agrees on the winners or losers at TJ's.

                                                                                                                                            1. re: Barbarella

                                                                                                                                              It's a terrific store with hundreds of wonderful thingsā€¦like with any store, there's going to be things that people don't like. Go to one of the other Trader Joe's threads and find out what people are loving...

                                                                                                                                          2. AVOID at all costs the HORRIBLE thai som tam papaya salad in the frozen section. Smells like cat pee. Inedible!!!

                                                                                                                                            2 Replies
                                                                                                                                              1. re: cosmogrrl

                                                                                                                                                one if the worst smells in the world!
                                                                                                                                                it was vile, and don;t know how they put this on the market.

                                                                                                                                            1. Clam Chowder (canned): Absolutely horrible. No taste at all and was super bland. Tried adding some pepper and other stuff into it but it didn't help. Ended up forcing myself to eat it.

                                                                                                                                              Sweet Potato Bisque (boxed): No taste at all. Actually, yes there is taste -- tastes like the box it came in! Again, tried doctoring it up with some other seasonings, but no luck. Ended up tossing it out.

                                                                                                                                              Low Sodium Minestrone Soup (canned): Again, very bland. When I was eating it and tasting it, it smelled like cigarettes or smoke. Also, it had a slightly bitter taste to it. Threw out the entire bowl of soup.

                                                                                                                                              I still have a beef and barley soup in the pantry from them. I'll be trying it out later this week. Hopefully it won't be as bad as the ones listed above.

                                                                                                                                              However, I did find their canned Beef Chili to be delicious. Yes, a lot of chili taste (powder?), but loaded with a ton of beans and meat!

                                                                                                                                              2 Replies
                                                                                                                                              1. re: scoobydrew

                                                                                                                                                +1 on the canned beef chili - I agree with you that it does taste really good/very flavorful. Makes a great chili topping on organic uncured hot dogs! I heard that the turkey chili was not very well received, not as well as the beef chili.

                                                                                                                                                1. re: littleflower

                                                                                                                                                  I agree that TJ's canned beef chili is very good---it's my fallback when I don't have homemade in the freezer. Also the Latin style black bean soup in a cardboard carton is good.

                                                                                                                                              2. Their challah rolls are consistently stale

                                                                                                                                                1. Pasta. If you're making any sort of delicate sauce - or really any sauce that you're making or putting any effort into, avoid their dried pasta. There is background flavor of cinnamon or nutmeg - it's VERY off putting. Steer clear.

                                                                                                                                                  2 Replies
                                                                                                                                                  1. re: ssgarman

                                                                                                                                                    OMG- I thought it was just me!!!!! ssgarman, so glad to know someone else tastes that!

                                                                                                                                                    1. re: PotatoPuff

                                                                                                                                                      I have seen this issue mentioned in multiple places, yet have never experienced it myself. I am beginning to question my taste buds :(

                                                                                                                                                  2. Have never understood why anyone shops at these places. Produce/meat/fish are generally old. Processed food is, well, processed. Wine is really bad, for the most part. Marketing works miracles, I guess.

                                                                                                                                                    7 Replies
                                                                                                                                                    1. re: pikawicca

                                                                                                                                                      They have some great products, but they aren't their meats, wines or produce! Above average cheeses, steel cut / quick cook oatmeal are good...

                                                                                                                                                      1. re: pikawicca

                                                                                                                                                        >>> Processed food is, well, processed

                                                                                                                                                        I've changed my mind about TJ's. It is the one place I don't have to fear the ingredient list or even look at it. There is rarely anything in there that requires a science degree.

                                                                                                                                                        To their credit the brined turkey had just that ... brine ... salt, water, spices. I know I am getting sugar and not HFCS. Even the cold cuts have little crap in them. The prices are surprisingly good. They have a good cheese selection. The dairy selection is from local artisans under the TJ name. Etc on the bread and baked goods.

                                                                                                                                                        I'm not a fan of the produce because locally we have great farmers markets. I don't buy meat much. The frozen seafood is often sustainable.

                                                                                                                                                        It sounds like you haven't stepped in a TJ's ... at least not recently ... or you haven't looked closely.

                                                                                                                                                        1. re: rworange

                                                                                                                                                          I've been inTJ's in the Bay Area, Portland, and Indiana. Last time was about 6 months ago. Made the mistake of buying a can of "extra virgin olive oil." Dreadful.

                                                                                                                                                        2. re: pikawicca

                                                                                                                                                          Have never understood why anyone shops at these places.
                                                                                                                                                          suum cuique.

                                                                                                                                                          1. re: pikawicca

                                                                                                                                                            I'd agree that, in the land of Berkeley Bowl and Rainbow, TJ's fresh food section is woefully inadequate. Where I live, their stores are pretty high-traffic so the meat is always fresh and the produce seems to be getting better. But TJ's is more of a 'quick stop' for that kind of thing anyway, so it's not critical. The rest of their product offerings are really good IMHO.

                                                                                                                                                            Regarding their wine.................. if you're a 'serious' wine drinker they don't have a lot of 'better' or even interesting wine............... BUT, if you work at it a bit, I find that they really do have some very good values in the <$10 area. You just can't try to compare them with 'better' wine. We find several serviceable 'daily drinkers' there. I might suggest the following website, if you're not familiar with it: http://jasonswineblog.com/ . This guy has a pretty good grasp on value buys.

                                                                                                                                                            1. re: pikawicca

                                                                                                                                                              TJ's in Manhattan has such a high turnover that nothing is old... at least not that i've bought

                                                                                                                                                            2. Not a product complaint, but the thing that annoys me at TJ is that so many of their products are a moveable feast that disappears off and or or forever. They used to have a ginger paste that was great to rub on pork chops and chicken: adios. I haven't found frozen pearl onions this holiday season. Last year Truffle Brownie mix disappeared for months on end. Rio Coffee Candy has gone missing lately. Rosenpop & Guildencorn is now history. They seem to have changed their supplier of gingerbread mix (the old one was better). Standard brand stuff goes on forever and has been around for decades but at TJ you never know what to expect from one shopping to the next.

                                                                                                                                                              1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                              1. re: Querencia

                                                                                                                                                                They had frozen pearl onions in my store the other day.

                                                                                                                                                                Sorry, I just noticed how old this thread was.

                                                                                                                                                              2. Resurrecting this thread because TJ's have exploded in S Fl in the past few weeks and I have been twice to see what it's all about.

                                                                                                                                                                So far, vegetable pad thai - salty and gloopy
                                                                                                                                                                curried chicken salad - overpoweringly curried and salty
                                                                                                                                                                curried chicken (fresh) OMG too salty
                                                                                                                                                                curried veggies Jaipur - underwhelming
                                                                                                                                                                pumpkin coffee tasted of cloves and chemicals
                                                                                                                                                                french baguette chewy and doughy
                                                                                                                                                                frozen cod pieces were good for the price but watery and needed draining.

                                                                                                                                                                Half and half is good, sliced breads ok, the dogs like their dog food, cheeses look fine, eggs are fine.

                                                                                                                                                                I got excited to see all their own brand ready to eat meals but I'm thinking I'd use the place only when I'm nearby and need some staples.

                                                                                                                                                                8 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                1. re: smartie

                                                                                                                                                                  No need to resurrect a thread that went from 2008-2011 when you can merely give a "Nay" on the monthly board. http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/990762

                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Cathy

                                                                                                                                                                    I disagree. Having a "no way" thread is valuable to me.

                                                                                                                                                                    I'll pile on. The cornbread mix is so sweet it's actually corn cake. Could be frosted for a b-day cake, should never be served with chili.

                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: MplsM ary

                                                                                                                                                                      We love the cornbread mix. It's always a hit and I didn't grow up with sweet cornbread. I usually added cheddar cheese and scallions.

                                                                                                                                                                    2. re: Cathy

                                                                                                                                                                      ah the joy of using the search button. Plus new to TJ's I didn't even know there was a monthly board.

                                                                                                                                                                    3. re: smartie

                                                                                                                                                                      TJ's refridgerated premade meals are hit and miss at best, really is not their forte. The premade green salads are decent but for a buy it and eat immediately option this isn't the place to go....more of a buy it, cook for 10-15min and then have a great meal kind of store.

                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: Ttrockwood

                                                                                                                                                                        If you do decide to try some of the fully cooked prepared/heat-and-eat foods here are some safe bets that routinely get yays:

                                                                                                                                                                        Rosemary chicken breast with rice pilaf, Greek chicken with orzo, Grilled Lemon as well as the Balsamic Rosemary Chicken Breasts, carnitas, and personally I like the Fully Cooked Turkey Breast in the box (not sure if it has been reviewed by anyone else). The beef hot dogs (NOT the turkey or chicken), chicken sausages, and applegate deli meats also are safe bets. Ttrock is right that in general be wary of the prepared foods but the ones I mentioned above I think you may enjoy.

                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: Ttrockwood

                                                                                                                                                                          And in our state, Massachusetts, they add a meal tax when you buy one. pisses me off.

                                                                                                                                                                        2. re: smartie

                                                                                                                                                                          I think a single nay thread is useful also.

                                                                                                                                                                          I just tried their spelt risotto, boy was that nasty. Had some smokey smell/flavor not explained by any of the ingredients.

                                                                                                                                                                        3. I've only returned two things at TJ's..
                                                                                                                                                                          Veggie burgers, blech. Dry, crumbly, disgusting.
                                                                                                                                                                          Chocolate covered ginger (in the candy section). Worst. Thing. Ever. Chocolate covered ass-soap.