Food

Trader Joe's - 20 Things To Buy and 20 Things Not To Buy

August 3rd, 2018

Trader Joe’s is one of America’s favorite grocery stores – it carries an assortment of great products and for many, offers a cheaper alternative to other ‘healthy’ chains like Whole Foods.

Got a Trader Joe’s near you? Want to know what great deals and products you can score there? Well, we have got you covered.

We’ve compiled a list of 20 fantastic grocery products you should buy on your next trip to Trader Joe’s and 20 more that you would be better off skipping.

First, the good!

Don’t let these great deals pass…

#1 Hummus


Everyone out there should try Trader Joe’s selection of hummus. They’re a fairly easy and healthy dip to snack on or use in other recipes, and Trader Joe’s has some of the best around. We especially recommend the cilantro hummus dip.


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hummus
Faith Durand via The Kitchn Source: Faith Durand via The Kitchn


#2 Frozen naan


This Indian bread is a versatile food that goes well with a variety of meals and snacks. TJ’s frozen naan is an excellent alternative to authentic naan if you can’t find an Indian grocery store in your area.

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naan

Faith Durand via The Kitchn Source: Faith Durand via The Kitchn


#3 Organic chicken broth


Here’s another perfect pantry staple. Quickly whip up soups and casseroles with this affordable organic chicken broth.

Each box is a great deal at just $1.99 each.


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broth

Faith Durand via The Kitchn Source: Faith Durand via The Kitchn


#4 Nut butter


They also have a great selection of nut butters from regular peanut butter to almond butter which many of their regular patrons swear by.


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nut butter

Faith Durand via The Kitchn Source: Faith Durand via The Kitchn


#5 Triple ginger snaps


If you have a sweet tooth, don’t miss out on these yummy triple ginger snaps. They’re a crunchy treat made with fresh ginger, ground ginger, and candied ginger. Now, that’s a combo you won’t find anywhere else.


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ginger snaps

Faith Durand via The Kitchn Source: Faith Durand via The Kitchn


#6 Frozen chocolate and almond croissants


It’s no secret that Trader Joe’s makes prepared and processed foods well. These frozen chocolate croissants are proof of it. Just pop them in the oven and enjoy the fresh baked goodness without any effort.


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croissants

Faith Durand via The Kitchn Source: Faith Durand via The Kitchn


#7 Gluten-free rolled oats


Available in large packs, these gluten-free rolled oats are a great deal. Vegans will especially appreciate this great deal, but everyone can enjoy this breakfast staple.


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oats

Faith Durand via The Kitchn Source: Faith Durand via The Kitchn


#8 Roasted red peppers


Trader Joe’s is a go-to for cheap canned foods. But their jarred foods are also amazing. Case in point is their roasted red peppers in a jar. They’re perfect for spicing up a variety of recipes.


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peppers

Faith Durand via The Kitchn Source: Faith Durand via The Kitchn


#9 Pop-up sponges


Here we have something a little bit different. Let’s shift our focus from food to kitchen products. Trader Joe’s pop-up sponges are popular among shoppers because of their low price but high quality.


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sponges

Faith Durand via The Kitchn Source: Faith Durand via The Kitchn


#10 Cheese


Get fancy cheeses for less at Trader Joe’s. You can find small cuts of cheeses like Bellavitano and Brie for less than $5 and the quality is spectacular.


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cheese

The Penny Hoarder Source: The Penny Hoarder


#11 Cereal


If you’re not married to your current cereal brands, try out a box of Trader Joe’s store brand cereal instead of the big brands. Their Joe O’s barely cost $2, and their fancier ones don’t go over $5.


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cereal

The Penny Hoarder Source: The Penny Hoarder


#12 Eggs


While we’re on the topic of breakfast foods, they also have great deals on fresh eggs. They’re even cheaper than the ones you’ll find at your local Walmart but probably a whole lot healthier.


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eggs

The Penny Hoarder Source: The Penny Hoarder


#13 Coconut oil spray


The Trader Joe Coconut Oil Spray is a great alternative to other cooking sprays and baking sprays. It is perfect for baking kale chips and other leafy greens.


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oil

Faith Durand via The Kitchn Source: Faith Durand via The Kitchn


#14 Greek Kalamata extra virgin olive oil


Of their vast selection of oils, the Greek Kalamata extra virgin olive oil is probably the best and the most popular among smart shoppers.

Olive oil expert Tom Mueller describes it as having a ‘nice mature fruit’ flavor.’


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olive oil

Faith Durand via The Kitchn Source: Faith Durand via The Kitchn


#15 Sea salt & turbinado sugar dark chocolate almonds


Another great pick from the sweets section are these delicious chocolate covered almonds dusted with sea salt and turbinado sugar.

It’s the perfect mix of sweet and salty.


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chocolate

Faith Durand via The Kitchn Source: Faith Durand via The Kitchn


#16 Baking chocolate


Avid bakers should give the Trader Joe’s baking chocolate a go. It just might be the final ingredient you need to make the perfect batch of chocolate chip cookies or brownies.


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dark chocolate

Faith Durand via The Kitchn Source: Faith Durand via The Kitchn


#17 Dried fruits


Dried fruits are a healthy and tasty snack everyone should have in their pantry. Good thing Trader Joe’s has a great range of these natural fruit snacks.

We highly recommend that you stack up on the Turkish apricot variety.


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dried fruit

Faith Durand via The Kitchn Source: Faith Durand via The Kitchn


#18 Thai chili lime cashews


Are you looking for fancy but affordable snack foods for your next party? Try out these Thai lime and chili cashews from Trader Joe’s. Just empty them into a bowl and serve.


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cashews

Faith Durand via The Kitchn Source: Faith Durand via The Kitchn


#19 Cookie butter


Say goodbye to your boring old jar of regular peanut butter and switch to this heavenly goodness in a jar. Almost everyone who tries the Trader Joe cookie butter loves it, and we’re sure you will too.


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cookie butter

Faith Durand via The Kitchn Source: Faith Durand via The Kitchn


#20 Frozen pizzas


Now, back to TJ’s frozen goodies. Starting at just $4, you can get a delicious frozen pizza that can feed a family of four. Just toss up a side of salad, and voila, you have a nice dinner. Easy peasy. As good as the previous deals are, Trader Joe’s has a couple of products shoppers are better off skipping. Don’t worry about missing out on these next ones…

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pizza
The Penny Hoarder Source: The Penny Hoarder


#1 Lactose-free milk


Now to start off on the list of items you should probably avoid: Trader Joe’s lactose-free milk is in this part of the list not because it isn’t a good product but because it’s not a very good deal. Smart and savvy shoppers are better off getting the Walmart version of this milk which costs 80 cents less.


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milk

Business Insider Source: Business Insider


#2 Nuts and fruits in honey


This may seem like a yummy and healthy treat, but it’s actually not. Because it’s bathed in honey, this snack racks up the calories at 300 calories per quarter cup. It also has 26 grams of sugar.


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nuts

Business Insider Source: Business Insider


#3 Zoodles


Save your money and make your own zoodles at home instead. TJ’s zoodles retail for as much as twice the cost of a whole squash.


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noodles

Business Insider Source: Business Insider


#4 Sunscreen


A can of spray-on sunscreen costs about $5.99 at Trader Joe’s. Think it’s a good deal? Think again. You can find packs of two bottles of sunscreen at other stores for the same price.


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sunscreen

Business Insider Source: Business Insider


#5 Tortilla chips


Trader Joe’s tortilla chips may be tasty, but they’re more expensive than generic brands which, let’s be honest, taste just about the same.


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chips

Business Insider Source: Business Insider


#6 Marinated meat


While they may be convenient to have in your freezer for those lazy days, marinated meats from Trader Joe’s aren’t popular among regular shoppers. They are way too salty according to some shoppers. Sometimes what you make yourself really is better.


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Racked Source: Racked


#7 Frozen veggies


According to the Kitchn, one shopper said that she stopped buying frozen veggies at Trader Joe’s because ‘it’s either just the stems or leftover pieces from veggies used for some other purpose.

Not good.


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Consume This First Source: Consume This First


#8 Frozen pie crusts


Their frozen pizzas may be a must try, but their frozen pie crusts are no-go for us. People have commented that these premade crusts are prone to breaking or melting down when baking.


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crusts

The Kitchn Source: The Kitchn


#9 Corn tortillas


You are better off buying your corn tortillas somewhere else. These tortillas have gotten a bad rep for smelling a little off. The texture isn’t so great neither.


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tortillas

Food Facts Source: Food Facts


#10 Sliced fruits


This is an overall saving tip: choose whole fruits instead of buying pre-sliced ones. You’ll get more food for your money by doing the slicing at home yourself. Five minutes with a knife can save you about a dollar each time.


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fruit

Business Insider Source: Business Insider


#11 Coconut oil


While we highly recommend their coconut oil spray, we can’t say the same for Trader Joe’s coconut oil. Like the previous products we mentioned on this list, you can find better deals for your money elsewhere.


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coconut

The Kitchn Source: The Kitchn


#12 Burritos


Give your body and your pocket a rest by skipping these burritos. Looking at its nutritional content, you’ll probably not want to ingest nine grams of fat, and almost 800 mg of sodium in one sitting. And that’s just for half of the entire burrito.


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burrito

Business Insider Source: Business Insider


#13 Lemonade


When it comes to lemonade, you’re better off buying it somewhere else or, better yet, making it yourself.


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beverage

Business Insider Source: Business Insider


#14 Shredded mozzarella


Trader Joe’s cheese blocks are a great deal. Unfortunately, their shredded versions aren’t. For example, the same size bag of shredded mozzarella cheese there costs a dollar less at Walmart.


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cheese

Business Insider Source: Business Insider


#15 Fresh meat


A few shoppers have said they had a couple of bad experiences with Trader Joe’s fresh meat selection. The quality may vary from store to store, so check out what people are saying about the one near you before your next shopping trip.


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meat

Chewing the Fat Source: Chewing the Fat


#16 Bread


The problem with the Trader Joe’s store brand bread is that they get moldy faster than other brands.

People who are living alone and don’t eat much bread might see purchasing these as a waste.


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bread

Get Healthy U Source: Get Healthy U


#17 Fresh produce


Like their bread, TJ’s fresh produce have a rep for spoiling easier. You may end up throwing away fruits and veggies because they get funky before you’re able to use them.


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vegetables

The Kitchn Source: The Kitchn


#18 Cold cuts


The selection is lackluster at best and the meat can be fresher. You’ll have better luck buying cold cuts elsewhere.


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