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Trader Joe's Products (2002–2011)

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It might be interesting to pass along that Trader Joes is trying to limit its trade in products coming from China.  Cathy and I glean for our local food bank and a week or so ago we picked up a case of Chinese pine nuts and another one of dried fruit and one of the employees told us about the effort.

  We hope there is success.

Dave

I've seen this story confirmed as well as allegations that the scope of the reduction is even broader. Frankly, I think it panders to non-thinking consumers who associate 'China' with 'poison' and would boycott the chain over such items. With some additional quality control, there should be no risk for these products.

Looks like I'll be having to find alternate sources for some of my staples (Edamame!) soon.

Edited to correct spelling and wording.


Edited by DCP (log)

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Their Jo-Jos are really dangerous!

I just tried the peppermint Jo-Jo's last month... they are addictive and I'm not even a huge Oreo's fan.

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I always buy coffee there (love the New Mexico pinon), love the cheeses, yogurts and now some of the cereals and chicken sausages. Plus all kinds of odd staples like tomatoless corn salsa, salt-cured olives, olive oil and vinegars, etc. But the thing that has me coming back more than any other is the Tuscan Pane.

One of the best breads around, for cheeeaaaappp.

I don't buy many prepared meals or produce there. But for what I go for, at the prices, T.J.'s is indespensable.

I've kicked the Ritter-Sport-at-checkout habit. And oh, when I'm in Virginia (Maryland doesn't let them sell alcohol) I enjoy the $3 Buck Chuck shiraz.

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I just finished a Shepherd's Pie for lunch, and it definitely has a packaging issue with the gravy boiling over. Maybe it needs to be heated on low for a while and then turned up to high? The "blast on high for 9 minutes" directions seem a little suspect.

Anyway, the pie is definitely somewhat bland. But it's also only 380 calories and 7 grams of fat, so it's on the lighter side, and that explains why the gravy isn't richer and the potatoes are watery instead of creamy. Whether the sacrifice in quality is acceptable obviously depends on what you're looking for.

TJ's frozen stuff varies widely in both quality and healthiness, but I've found several things I keep in the office freezer so I can have lunch for $2.50 instead of $6 to $10 at a nearby deli. For between 300 and 400 calories there's the shepherd's pie, chicken sesame noodle bowl, veggie tamales, corn and black bean enchiladas, a couple different kinds of vegetable lasagna, the aforementioned eggplant parmigiana, and three-cheese cannelloni.

All depends on what you're looking for.

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I too have found TJ's house brand premaide frozen dinners rather hit-or-miss ... the big hits in this house, at least for Mr. E, are the chicken teriyaki rice bowls. There have been other frozen dinners we've tried that have been just meh. But then, I find most frozen prepared foods kind of meh almost by definition, mainly emergency things to heat up when there's no time to cook and no access to take-out, so there you go.

TJ's frozen fish, though, I've had great experiences with--not the frozen cooked breaded fliets and such, I mean the flash-frozen raw fish. We had a filet of their flash-frozen wild-caught Alaskan salmon that was extremely impressive--great flavor.

I've always ever shopped TJs for fairly specific items, but find a lot to love them for just based on those itmes. For example, TJ's still have the lowest prices on eggs in this town, at any rate $1.19 for a dozen basic extra-large eggs where other stores' prices are now regularly well over two bucks a dozen.

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I just tried one of the vegetable lasagna and really liked it. I'd certainly buy that again.

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I just finished a Shepherd's Pie for lunch, and it definitely has a packaging issue with the gravy boiling over. Maybe it needs to be heated on low for a while and then turned up to high? The "blast on high for 9 minutes" directions seem a little suspect.

Anyway, the pie is definitely somewhat bland. But it's also only 380 calories and 7 grams of fat, so it's on the lighter side, and that explains why the gravy isn't richer and the potatoes are watery instead of creamy. Whether the sacrifice in quality is acceptable obviously depends on what you're looking for.

TJ's frozen stuff varies widely in both quality and healthiness, but I've found several things I keep in the office freezer so I can have lunch for $2.50 instead of $6 to $10 at a nearby deli. For between 300 and 400 calories there's the shepherd's pie, chicken sesame noodle bowl, veggie tamales, corn and black bean enchiladas, a couple different kinds of vegetable lasagna, the aforementioned eggplant parmigiana, and three-cheese cannelloni.

All depends on what you're looking for.

I was looking for "enjoyable" at the bare minimum, and certainly didn't get that .

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I would like to echo the recommendation of the Tuscan Pane bread. My wife and I also like their soups,especially the cream of tomato. I like TJ Turkey Jerkey too. Not too preservatives or nitrates

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I bought some of the Chicken Chile Verde and thought it was OK for the calories and fat. (I go by Weight Watchers points in assessing frozen meals. It does seem like a lot of the TJ products are trying too hard to be healthy and lack a certain seasoning punch, as well.)

I'm a happier with TJ products that are assembled but not quite "meals." A recent standout for me was a frozen vegetable blend called "Greens" or some such. It had edamame and spinach and a couple other vegetables. I sprinkeld it with sesame oil, used it as a bed for some spicy seared tuna. Next time I'll add some cucumber or avocado or something, maybe some pieces of nori or shaved bonito.

I try a lot of the vegetable mixtures and am usually not that disappointed. The Thai green beans were OK. I'll add some tofu or shrimp to something like that for a meal. Like mizducky, I use TJs plain frozen fish sometimes. I miss the dirt-cheap rock shrimp they used to sell-- a casualty of Katrina?

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I was at TJ's today in Ann Arbor, MI. Didnt buy any frozen foods, but I did hear a customer inquire about his favorite beef stirfry. The cashier told him a lot of the foods are out of stock because TJ's is not carrying any more products from China. I used to get an Asian mushroom blend( frozen) that I really loved.

They discontinued my favorite real blueberry syrup( no HFCS, just maple sryup and blueberry juice). I'm totally bummed about that.

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They discontinued my favorite real blueberry syrup( no HFCS, just maple sryup and blueberry juice). I'm totally bummed about that.

Shame, that. I just finished the dregs of a bottle a couple days ago and had it on the list for a next visit.

As others have noted, products can be hit-or-miss. When you have a hit, though, it's often cheaper and/or better than what you get at other grocery stores. Their no-questions-asked return policy (didn't like it? No problem.) goes a long way toward helping find the hits.

The Tuscan Pane is also our go-to bread when not baking homemade. Frozen 10-20 count scallops are also shockingly good, and more consistent than the local supermarket. Without a good, accessible fishmonger nearby, we find much of the IQF (individually quick-frozen) fish indispensable.

And I may just be being picky but just cause they slap a Trader Joes label on things doesnt make them better then items in other stores...

For what it's worth, their standpoint on house-brand items is that they are one of two things: either private-label versions of products they like without the branding and associated markup (in other words, same thing as the grocery store but cheaper) or reformulated versions made without trans fats, artificial colors/flavors, or GMO.

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This doesn't qualify as a "meal" per se, although it could. I had them for breakfast each day this week....

Several months ago I got a box of frozen chocolate croissants at TJs. You let them thaw & rise overnight at room temp and bake them off. They were AMAZING. I'm on the hunt for at least another 2-3 boxes when I make the TJ trip this weekend. So so good.

And I second the vote for the frozen veggie mix with the edamame and spinach. It also had green beans in it. It was excellent. As are the flash-frozen fish, they have a good selection of wild caught varieties. And at least in SoCal they have a frozen, breaded orange chicken that, stir-fried and combined with their General Tsang's stir fry sauce makes a good, quick meal with rice.

Try the chocolate croissants. You will NOT be disappointed.

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I'm pretty wary of TJ's prepared food, but have found a few things we keep in the back of the freezer to keep us from ordering in. The cheese and green chile or beef tamales are good, unlike the chicken tamales, and go well with their roasted garlic salsa. Their shu mai, vegetable or shrimp gyoza, and spinach artichoke dip are tasty as well. Oh, and I love their frozen organic sweet corn.

I'm not a fan of the frozen meat and fish, though the fresh meat section isn't bad, and is one of the few places I can find free range / organic meat in my neighborhood. The coffee's good, and they always have fair trade / organic. As for the fresh vegetables, I'd rather buy from the farmer's market. I hate prepackaged veggies and fruit; it always seems like such a waste. Especially when one out of four of each packaged quartet seems to go bad prematurely!

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They have several frozen items I like to keep on hand so that my 11 and 15 year old sons can be responsible for fixing dinner from time to time. We all like the barbecue teriyaki chicken and the orange chicken. Usually one of the boys will fix one or the other of those, along with the Asian veggies and some steamed rice once a week. I also like the turkey sausage stromboli --- I keep some in the freezer, either to take to work for lunch, or as a quick grab a meal at home.

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I just got the White Bean and Basil Hummus. VERY tasty, creamy and had pine nuts and oo on the top. Fewer carbs than garbanzo bean. (6 rather than 11, I think)

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on the "what's new" shelf this week--jo-jo's enrobed in dark chocolate. get behind me, satan!

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I love the peppermint JoJos -- I think I ate a whole box last December.

Other favorites:

Tarte D'Alsace

PB Cups

Beef tamales

Masala "burgers"

Wood-fired oven pizzas from Italy

Organic dairy products

Grass-fed ground beef

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I'll second Markk's recommendation for Tarte d'Alsace -- it's a thin cracker-bread style crust topped with creme fraiche, caramelized onions, ham and gruyere. I've also tried one of their pizzas -- I can't remember if it was Pizza Margarita or a four-cheese -- which was better than most frozen pizzas.

I like their frozen shrimp and vegetable potstickers, but wasn't too impressed with some chicken empanadas I got. The filling was pretty good, but there was no way I could find to make the crust anything but soggy.

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I'll second Markk's recommendation for Tarte d'Alsace -- it's a thin cracker-bread style crust topped with creme fraiche, caramelized onions, ham and gruyere.

This is one of our favorites as well. I just made a dinner last week out of one lurking in the back of the freezer - at 600 calories for the whole thing, not terribly unreasonable.

Of course, eating it inspires me to duplicate the effort, particularly tasting the caramelized onions and having a batch of onion confit in the fridge.

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I'll second Markk's recommendation for Tarte d'Alsace -- it's a thin cracker-bread style crust topped with creme fraiche, caramelized onions, ham and gruyere. I've also tried one of their pizzas -- I can't remember if it was Pizza Margarita or a four-cheese -- which was better than most frozen pizzas.

I like their frozen shrimp and vegetable potstickers, but wasn't too impressed with some chicken empanadas I got. The filling was pretty good, but there was no way I could find to make the crust anything but soggy.

JAZ, ditto and ditto (and Markk too). The Tarte d'Alsace is amazing, and the potstickers and the frozen pizzas are very good. I actually saw the chicken empanadas for the first time last week, and grabbed them for my end-of-the-week-its-Martini-Friday-and-I-ain't-cooking dinner, and thought exactly the same thing. Loved the filling but the crust was like wet cardboard. Had half of the package the day I bought them, and ditched the rest.

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Stopped by there, (Ann Arbor) yesterday. I picked up the chocolate croissants, Tarte d'Alsace, my yummy tamales (chili and cheese) and a couple other things. Not a ton of stuff, oh and flowers. Cheap and gorgeous. We are eating the chocolate croissants right now and my husband loves them. Cripsy layers with a chunck of warm chocolate in the middle. Nicely done. I am pleasently surprised.

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I forgot one of my favorites: the chocolate croissants. Made by Galaxy Desserts and also sold at Williams Sonoma (for a LOT more $!). You have to thaw & let them rise overnight and then bake them off in the morning. Delicious!

The mini plain croissants are good, too, though I'd prefer full size. And I just saw that they're now carrying pecan sticky buns which I'll have to search for next time I'm in the store (again, sold unbaked & frozen).

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There are no Trader Joe's in the state of Texas?!?! The hell. How can I move to such a state?

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