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What to stock up on at Trader Joe's when you don't live close by

Hopefully I have found the right place to post this.

I live an hour away from the closest Trader Joe's. There is a decent co-op in town but there are lots of items they don't carry and I usually have to wait until item goes on sale. I will be visiting the town soon for an event and I would like to stock up on some items I know I can only get at Trader Joe's. So I would like to ask a question to those of you lucky enough to shop at Trader Joe's frequently.

What items do you do you love and what can you not live without?

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  1. Wine is the first thing that comes to my mind, but then again, it usually is! :-) TJ has some incredible (I think) bargains in the $4 to $6 range. Other things that come to my mind are pita chips, blue corn tortilla chips, cereal and breakfast bars, they have a great tea tree oil shampoo that is a real bargain, honey crisp apples when they're in stock, hummus and chick pea salad (if you take a cooler), baguettes and other bread, cheese (ditto for the cooler)...

    10 Replies
    1. re: carolinadawg

      Sadly, Honey Crisp apples are out of season... I will miss them. Until next year...

      I would stock up on cheeses(their triple cream brie & Swiss gruyere rock), marcona almonds and all the other nuts and trail mixes and dried fruits. I enjoy their frozen fish, mushroom turnovers, carmelized onion & goat cheese puff pastry apps, and their water crackers are significantly cheaper (and just as good) than Carr's brand.

      Much of their cheap imported wines are swill, but occasionally they stock some good buys. I had found a good Amarone Valpolicella for like $16 bucks and you can stock up on some vinho verde for like $5/bottle in preparation for warmer weather.

      1. re: lynnlato

        I'm surprised by your wine comment. I almost exclusively buy their italians, and really enjoy them, especially the nero d'avola, montepulciano d'abruzzo (sp?), aglianico and prosecco. I don't think I've tried anything from other countries, though.

        1. re: carolinadawg

          I do get the Riondo prosecco when they have it. But generally speaking I believe there is a reason that many of their wines are $5/bottle.

        2. re: lynnlato

          LL: It's not a Honey Crisp but I am munching right now on a delicious Empire apple that I got at Harris Teeter for $0.99/lb. They may be gone but were in the "locally grown" section of the produce aisle. Gotta jump on anything in the HT produce section for $0.99/lb!!!

          I'm not the biggest Trader Joe's fan but they do have good prices on cheeses, staples like artichoke hearts and roasted red peppers, and various oils/vinegars/mustards.

          1. re: HungryGrayCat

            I haven't tried an Empire apple - I'll look tomorrow. I do miss the Honey Crisp apples. The produce dude had me sample the pink crisp (or something like that) and it paled in comparison to the HC. :-(

            1. re: lynnlato

              lynn, go into the Empire apple with low expectations. it's a hybrid of Red Delicious and McIntosh - nothing like Honeycrisp.

              1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                EEK! No bueno. :-( GHG, the only other apple that comes even close to the Honeycrisp for me is Fuji. Do you have any others you love that might offer that tart, hard apple taste I love?

                1. re: lynnlato

                  yep - Pippin or Winesap.

                  i actually stopped eating Fujis because they're just not as flavorful as they used to be, and they're too big...and even the organic Honeycrisps i bought back in the Fall were tasteless. apples just aren't what they used to be :(

                  1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                    I have been buying the organic fujis - the others are ridiculously large at 8-10 oz. Yes, all this engineered food has not been for the better. :-(

                    I'll try to find the pippin & winesap. Thanks for the suggestions!

                2. re: goodhealthgourmet

                  Normally I would agree but this particular Empire was super crisp and sweet with a touch of tartness.

                  (Of course, they won't even be there now so it's probably a moot point.)

        3. this web sight might help plan your purchases;

          1. nuts. lemon curd. green olive tapenade. olive oil. corn-and-chile-tomatoless-salsa. all of these are shelf stable, so won't take up cooler space, and will last for a while in your pantry. (although i frezze nuts...but that's just me!)

            1 Reply
              1. Q. What should you stock up on?

                A. Virtually every single product you like - or even so much as think you may like - there.

                Q. Why?

                A. Because you're talking about Trader Joe's, a chain notorious for routinely and abruptly ceasing sales of a countless number of much-beloved items. If you try something at Trader Joe's and like it, don't be surprised if on your next visit they no longer carry it.

                Beyond that, as goodhealthgourmet suggested above, this discussion is bound to be just another thread about everyone's favorite TJ products.

                1. This time of year it is chocolate. Just read more good news about the health benefits of dark chocolate so I'm heading over there soon. I like it that TJs has both gigantic bars of chocolate and also bite size pieces for portion control. I'll probably grab some assorted salsas and jams and preserves. I like some variety in my coffee so I will also try something new from their big assortment. I'll get some more Refresh shampoo, some cookies and trail mix, and I probably won't be able to resist the frozen chocolate croissants that you let rise for nine hours and then bake. Those croissants are the devil!

                  1. Among their strong suits are preserves, rices, crackers, cookies, cereals, and nuts/dried fruit, all things that are shelf-stable so you can stock up. The French Truffle Brownie mix is deeply chocolatey and their sweet-style yellow cornbread mix far better than Jiffy. People like their nut butters. Their whole wheat dry pasta is cheap and has a fast turnover so is unlikely to be rancid. Their assorted natural dog biscuits (multiple shapes) are ALWAYS on the shopping list.

                    There may still be holiday seasonal stuff that hasn't all sold yet, like the wonderful chocolate truffles in the red box. If you ask what's still on the shelves from Christmas, their helpful staff will certainly steer you in the right direction.

                    1. Their shelf stable precooked brown rice packets have made quick dinners much easier at my house. We love all of their cooked grain combination's and always have a good assortment on hand.

                      The canned smoked trout fillets are excellent too.

                      4 Replies
                      1. re: meatn3

                        I've never seen these. I always get their frozen brown rice packets (3 to a box). 3 mins. in the microwave. I'll have to look for the one you mentioned.

                        1. re: lynnlato

                          I've heard the frozen are better, but my freezer is always stuffed to the gills....

                          1. re: lynnlato

                            The frozen brown rice is amazingly good. I used to get it all the time before I got a rice cooker.

                            1. re: woodleyparkhound

                              I have a rice cooker and still get them. 3 minutes beats 30 mins when time is short during the week! :)

                        2. Oh my.....where to start.....bring a cooler or two and load up!

                          Chocolate Covered Peanut Butter Filled pretzels - surely invented by the devil himself.
                          Frozen Veggies - Broccoli, Roasted Sweet Corn, regular sweet corn, Haricort Verts (green beens), edamame.
                          Frozen Albacore Tuna Steaks - the only place I can find them!
                          Curry Simmer Sauces - nice assortment and relatively authentic.
                          Pasta - assorted shapes and fillings!
                          Nuts and snack mixes - too many to list!
                          California Garlic Powder
                          Truffle Brownie Mix - nice to have on hand for those chocolate dessert emergencies (which we all have....admit it!!!)! Add a bit of chili powder for a kick!
                          Frozen Mushroom Turnovers
                          Balsamic Vinegar
                          Extra Virgin Olive Oil
                          Rice - Multiple varieties

                          I agree with Arthur; find something you like? Buy out the store. It might be the last time you ever see it.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: Dee S

                            I bought some frozen Panang veg curry last night and the cashier asked me about it. I said it's so good I'm afraid they'll discontinue it. She laughed and said that happened to her all the time!

                          2. Chicken Tikka Masala w/ Basmati Rice
                            Coconut Curry Chicken Stix
                            Gnocchi al Gorgonzola
                            Lemongrass Chicken Stix
                            Mushroom Risotto
                            Reduced Guilt Filet of Sole
                            Thai Style Massaman (Curry) Chicken
                            Brown Rice Marshmallow Treats
                            Frozen Artichoke Hearts
                            Eggplant Caponata
                            Artichoke Anti-Pasto
                            Island Soyaki
                            Orange Muscat Champagne Vinegar
                            Fat free Balsamic Vinaigrette
                            Almond butter
                            Tasty Thai Meal – Green Curry
                            Just the Clusters Ginger, Almond & Cashew
                            Buffalo Jerky
                            Soy Creamer
                            Frozen Eggplant Cutlets
                            Grilled Chicken Teriyaki
                            Masala Simmer Sauce
                            Garlic Naan

                            1. chicken shumai (frozen)
                              roasted corn (frozen)
                              Brittany blend veggies (frozen)
                              Orange Chicken (frozen)
                              OMG blue cheese pecan dip (deli)
                              lemon bread (bakery)

                              1. I love TJ's herbed pizza dough in the refrigerated section. I always have that on hand along with their Pizza Sauce. Stockmeyer Prociutto, Feta Cheese in Brine, Lemon-Pepper Papardelle are fantastic; Picillo Peppers, Kalamata Olives in a glass, Gerolsteiner Mineral Water, The Rosemary Batard Loaf, Miso Soup, Olive Oil, jarred Giant White Beans. These are a few of my perennial favorites. My closest store is 45 minutes away, but I still make it there once a week.
                                Regarding wines, pass on the Two Buck Chucks but do try some of their other special offers below $10. Then if you like one, go back right away and stock up.
                                Happy shopping!

                                1. Forgot a couple. Wasabi Mayonnaise is fantastic, as is the Cocktail Sauce for Seafood. And their soy sauce has become a staple.