Recommendations For Trader Joe’s Shopping From An Avid West Coast Shopper

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REFRIGERATED STUFF

  • Pre-cooked lentils (in the morning, I put some of these on spinach for my work lunch, chop up a red pepper, add some TJ’s fat-free feta, and then at lunch pour on some of TJ’s low-fat champagne vinaigrette and some crumbled TJ’s pita chips and mix it all up).
  • The refrigerated raviolis are all great. This weekend we had the sundried tomato and goat cheese; the parmesan and arugula is also great. They’re all so tasty.
  • Avocado’s Number guacamole is delicious, reasonably priced, and freezes well (and has a witty name!).
  • I have a weakness for the Cat Cookies (actually for humans to eat, but shaped like cats), so I don’t buy them. But they’re delish!
  • Pre-chopped onions! I know you don’t like onions, so maybe you won’t want these. But they make cooking with onions so much easier. There’s also a mix of pre-chopped onions, scallions, and garlic. I try to keep some of the pre-chopped onions in the freezer so that I have them on hand.
  • Note that TJ’s produce often has earlier sell-by dates than produce from some other stores (e.g., Whole Foods).
  • The spicy (chipotle?) hummus is tasty.
  • Pre-made refrigerated pizza crust (at some stores, it’s kept in the cheese section) is great. I like the regular kind better than the wheat or herb. This also freezes and thaws well; I try to keep it on hand.
  • I like the TJ’s tzatziki (yogurt with cucumber), especially on Indian food, or in salads in place of dressing.

SWEETS

  • The “Pound Plus” bars of chocolate are a great price and high quality — I chop these up for cookies instead of using chocolate chips.
  • Triple Ginger gingernsaps are good
  • There are some candy bars at the checkout that are really good, such as the TJ’s Dark Chocolate with Sea Salt Caramel.
  • I like the green tea mints at the checkout. They have a tiny bit of caffeine, but I can never feel it.
  • D loves the chocolate-covered pretzels (the flat kind of pretzels) and also likes the graham crackers, which are a little unusual at TJ’s.
  • All the ice creams I’ve tried there have been tasty!

 

CHEESE

  • Goldmine of inexpensive cheeses!!!
  • Non-fat feta cheese (half the calories of regular feta, and no fat)
  • We really like the Basque Shepherd’s Cheese and the Delice D’Bourgogne (a soft one) — both of which are also commonly available at Whole Foods, but cheaper at TJ’s. And I buy a ton of their parmesan and we grate it at home.

PANTRY STUFF

  • Arrabiata spaghetti sauce (in a jar) is SO GOOD and spicy and fresh. I sometimes spoon it into my mouth on its own because it’s so delicious.
  • The pumpkin-bread mix is really good and also makes tasty muffins.
  • I really like the African smoky seasoning (by the pepper), basically on anything that would normally take pepper. It’s great on roasted sweet potatoes — grind it onto sliced sweet potatoes before baking, along with some salt and spray oil.
  • I like the orange muscat (?) vinegar — I put it in salad dressing
  • The balsamic glaze is good, though not all stores have it.
  • Low-fat champagne vinaigrette (usually in the produce department) — there will be a shelf of dressings.
  • On that same shelf in the produce department, the parmesan crisps are good in salads!
  • The TJ’s Cookie Butter (consistency of peanut butter, flavor of cookie dough) is tasty; if you’re ever at a party where some TJ’s frequent shoppers are present, just saying the name of (“Cookie Butter!”) makes people familiar with it groan and squeal in delight/anticipation.
  • There’s no better food store than TJ’s in the fall — pumpkin everything!! The pumpkin bread pudding was great this year, but they don’t sell it year-round.
  • Great selection of nuts and dried fruits at reasonable prices.

FROZEN FOOD

  • Spelt risotto is DELICIOUS. You’ll love it. And super healthy. The other frozen risottos are tasty, too, but the spelt is the best.
  • The frozen croissants are so great — not healthy to have daily, but so nice when you have people coming for breakfast. You just leave them out to rise overnight and then bake them fresh in the morning. The regular croissants, chocolate croissants, almond croissants, and pumpkin croissants are all great.
  • Frozen quinoa oatmeal and steel-cut oats are both good.
  • Frozen mac and cheese (the full-fat version is way better than the lowfat) is bad for you but really delicious.
  • Frozen Indian entrees are delish. There’s also good frozen naan and frozen brown rice, so you can do a whole Indian meal in a jiffy.
  • There’s a new roasted-veggie lasagna that I haven’t tried yet, but we have it in the freezer, so I will keep you posted.
  • The flatbread pizzas are not extraordinary, but are reliably tasty.
  • I like the Spinach & Kale Bites, and so will you!
  • Frozen spanakopita is tasty, and nice to have in the freezer in case people come by for appetizers. Same with some of the other frozen apps (e.g., the feta-and-carmelized-onions in puff pastry is good).

 

NON-(or almost non-)PERISHABLES

  • Bathroom products (shampoo, conditioner, body wash, etc.) get the job done and are very reasonably priced; some also carry a vow that they don’t test on animals.
  • Low-calorie lemonade is delicious and a good mixer for cocktails.
  • Big selection of vitamin supplements.
  • If your store carries taper candles, TJ’s is a good place to buy these inexpensively.
  • Spices, etc., are really reasonable.
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