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Oct 17, 2013 09:55 AM

Need Specific Trader Joe's Input

I'll be traveling on business next week, and though I have a kitchen where I'm staying, I generally don't feel like cooking after a long day just for me. And sometimes the thought of going out isn't always appealing (though sometimes it is). There's a Trader Joe's a quick walk away, and I don't have one close at home, so I'm really unfamiliar with the products.

For a lazy dinner that's not take-out, what frozen TJ's products do regulars recommend?

Thanks in advance!

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  1. That's kind of a fantasy--imagine you could eat only TJ's frozen foods for a week...

    I am very fond of the chicken tikka masala, with the frozen naan. There are other frozen Indian meals too (the lamb vindaloo is very spicy).

    I recently tried the ginger miso broth (shelf-stable, not frozen) and liked it a lot. I had it with udon and tofu, but it would also be good with the frozen chicken cilantro mini wontons.

    When I get home late and can't face cooking, I'm always really glad to find a Tom Yam soup in the freezer, but it's a very light meal.

    I'm not too fond of the stir-fries, I never buy frozen pasta, and the burritos really vary.

    3 Replies
    1. re: sciencediet

      The frozen saag paneer is also quite good - as good as I've had from many Indian restaurants. They also have a fairly nice variety of sliced meats, cheeses, dips, salads, spreads, etc. - you can put together a very nice sandwich or wrap without so much as a knife.

      1. re: sciencediet

        We really like the lamb vindaloo and while it's not bland I don't think it's overly spicy.

        1. re: c oliver

          I didn't think the lamb vindaloo was too spicy but it's definitely spicier than the butter chicken or chicken tikka masala.

      2. I like the Green chile & cheese tamales and the chicken enchiladas.

        Trader Joe's also has a section of refrigerated ready-to-eat salads, sushi, and wraps.

        There are also miniature loaves of bread & rolls that are personal size and would be good with a tub of spinach dip, a chunk of cheese, some slices of cured meats, and a bottle of wine.

        1 Reply
        1. re: seamunky

          Yeah, I'd go the cheese/cold cuts route. They also have some heat-and-serve meats in the refrigerated (not frozen) section, like pulled pork. I lived on the roasted beet and chicken salad with balsamic dressing one week. Oh, and sausages are my go-to for quick and easy.

        2. The Orange Mandarin Chicken is nice, but make sure to get some rice or veggies to go with it. I've found the frozen pastas and stir-fries about what one would expect - better than a grocery brand, but still frozen food. Same with the pizzas - a step up certainly, but will not exactly rock your world (the ham/gruyere is quite good though).

          For not-frozen stuff, I'll +1 the salad/sandwich/wrap suggestion. They have great hummus too. I'm not a fan of their cold cuts.

          1. I am a huge fan of the frozen Joe's Diner Mac and Cheese. It tastes better than some homemade versions.

            And every time I eat it, I look at the nutritional info and snicker because it says "2 servings."

            5 Replies
            1. re: Jelly71

              Huge fan of their fresh salads. I know its not frozen, but they are darn good. Grab some of their bread, some butter or hummus...yummy meal.

              1. re: Miri1

                I was going to suggest these as well. I like some of the frozen foods (especially the Indian entrees), but when I am traveling and am near a TJ's, I gravitate to the salads. They are just as good as most restaurant salads, and cheaper.

                My favorites:
                Field Fresh salad with chicken and couscous
                Kale & edamame bistro salad
                The one with wheatberries and quinoa and butternut squash

                When I worked at TJ's, one of these plus a yogurt was my usual work lunch.

                1. re: Rilke

                  +1 for the kale salad and the quinoa and butternut one

                  1. re: Ttrockwood

                    +2 on that one, had it for lunch this week and it was really tasty

              2. re: Jelly71

                #1 on the Mac'n'Cheese. There's also the "Less Guilt" variety that's single-serving, but it's also Less Good! The frozen meat lasagna and eggplant parmigiana are really good too.

                It's hard to remember all of the frozen/refrigerated things I've liked at TJ's, but one thing you'll want to do is look at the cooking instructions. Some of my favorite dishes are strongly recommended for stove-top preparation, and just won't be satisfactory microwaved.

              3. Many thanks! It will save me from mindlessly wandering, even though I know it's a relatively small store.

                Stove-top or oven is fine, I'm just being pro-actively lazy and know I won't want to do the prep and clean-up for just me.

                The salad etc. recs are also much appreciated -- because it may only be one or two nights on my own, it's really impractical to buy salad fixings just for one. Especially after business lunches, which are very often much more than I eat for lunch (if I eat lunch) on a normal day.

                Thank you all -- I'm probably all set for two trips (it's a regular thing). And it's in California, so they do have wine, beer and booze. Not like at home here in PA. One stop, one bag, everything I could possibly need.

                3 Replies
                1. re: lsmutko

                  They have a chicken salad that is to die for in the fridge section with the hummus and dips. It's got poppy seeds, cranberries and nice chunks of white meat. So good on one of their pita or flat breads!

                  Could also make a dinner of some of the awesome cheeses and gourmet crackers.... have to get wine of course!

                  1. re: bugablue13

                    They really do have an excellent cheese selection and the sizes are reasonable. The Delice de Bourgogne (?sp) is a fave.

                    1. re: c oliver

                      Love their cheeses! The goat's milk cheddar is my current obsession-among others