Trader Joe's - 20 Things To Buy and 20 Things Not To Buy
August 3rd, 2018
By Catherine Marucci
Contributor at Shareably
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…
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.
#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.
#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.
#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.
#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.
#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.
#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.
#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.
#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.
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.
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.
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.
#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.
#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.’
#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.
#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.
#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.
#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.
#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.
#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…
#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.
#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.
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.
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.
#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.
#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.
#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.
#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.
#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.
#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.
#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.
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.
When it comes to lemonade, you’re better off buying it somewhere else or, better yet, making it yourself.
#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.
#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.
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.
#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.
#18 Cold cuts
The selection is lackluster at best and the meat can be fresher. You’ll have better luck buying cold cuts elsewhere.
#19 Salad dressings
Shoppers are split about TJ’s salad dressings. Some find them delicious and convenient while others hate them because they’re too sweet and taste a little bit syrupy.
Still, it’s better to err on the side of caution.
#20 Sushi and premade sandwiches
Supermarket sushi and sandwiches are just a bad idea. Period. It really doesn’t matter which store you get it from. In the case of Trader Joe’s sushi, they’re pretty sweet while their wraps are bland at best.
Do you agree with the items on this list? Which ones are you planning to pick on your next grocery trip? Don’t hesitate to tell us your thoughts in the comments!