Trader Joe’s is one of the most prominent grocery store chains in the United States, with an annual revenue of more than $13 billion.
That’s even more amazing since Trader Joe’s lacks sales, a reward program, and even an internet shop.
Customers, however, swear by the chain’s offerings, which include cheese, tequila, and the renowned 19-cent bananas.
Yet, not everything at Trader Joe’s is a fantastic deal. To determine the greatest and worst Trader Joe’s goods for consumers, we looked to culinary blogs, internet reviews, and social media.
With that in mind, here are 38 Trader Joe’s goods to purchase and 16 more to avoid at all costs.
Several states and locations do not allow Trader Joe’s to sell booze, but if yours does, you should try the tequilas.
Drinkhacker recommended the silver tequila, which costs less than $20. It’s one of your finest options for cheap margaritas.
Purchase: Name-brand spirits
TJ’s also has some of your favorite name-brand liquors on sale. According to one Reddit user, “Wild Turkey 101 is almost $4 cheaper than everywhere else in my city.” There’s a reason the store’s outstanding booze section is one of its claims to fame.
Trader Joe’s provides such a fruitful shopping experience that you may be tempted to cross everything off your list while you’re there. Do not attempt it.
Several customers have complained that most of the food, particularly delicate things like peppers, greens, and broccoli, is frequently beyond its prime. If you don’t utilize them on the first day, or even if you do, you may wind up with spoiled items. On Quora, Rima Hesham Reda said, “for most types of vegetables, I’d pass.”
Nevertheless, the Penny Hoarder site claims that Trader Joe’s vegetable costs may not even be competitive with your local store.
Purchase organic avocados.
Avocados are a produce item that is often a solid bet at Trader Joe’s. “I don’t purchase vegetables at TJ’s but I make an exception for two items… one of which is avocados,” according to the blog What’s Gaby Cooking.
Purchase goat-milk brie
Trader Joe’s provides some excellent bargains on premium cheese. The goat-milk brie from the chain comes in self-contained rounds (less possibility of moldy too quickly) and is creamy and mellow.
The lifestyle website A Cup of Jo suggested incorporating this delectable brie in a cheap and simple cheese tray.
Purchase: Surprising cheddar cheese
Unexpected cheddar cheese is a popular and famous TJ’s deal. On Spoon University, Sarah Arora commented that it “lies up to the moniker with notes of Parmesan, which delivers a surprising but nuanced taste.”
When Bon Appetit asked readers to choose their favorite Trader Joe’s items, this cheddar came out on top.
Purchase: Stilton blue cheese
Erika Kubick, the cheese expert behind the site Cheese Sex Death, suggested Trader Joe’s Stilton cheese, which she characterized as “barny, meaty, and strong.”
It would be wonderful to have a quick lunch while picking up a few staples at Trader Joe’s, but avoid the urge to sample the sushi.
Former Trader Joe’s employee Emily Baxter stated on Spoon University that the sushi “sits in a box from manufacturing to your shopping bag,” while Sarah E. Rogers remarked on Quora that “the sushi is gummy and often bizarrely sweet-tasting.”
Don’t take a risk on Trader Joe’s dubious sushi, no matter how appealing it seems.
Although Trader Joe’s vegetables might be hit or miss, customers love the $0.19 bananas and organic apples that are less expensive than at other retailers. The supermarket’s choice to offer individual bananas has a funny backstory, and their low price makes it simple to grab a fast and healthful snack.
Purchase: Seasonal produce
Everything in a large box or on a table directly at the entry is an exception to the rule of not purchasing produce at Trader Joe’s. When a merchant receives a huge supply of something truly nice, you might get a terrific discount on fresh, seasonal products.
The Tuscan cantaloupe was suggested by Brooke Eliason on the blog Female Foodie. Watermelons may be enormous, inexpensive, and tasty in the summer. In the autumn, you may see pumpkins in large containers.
Go for it if it seems decent and the staff advises it.
Purchase: greeting cards
Not everyone is aware that Trader Joe’s sells greeting cards. The business offers cards for a variety of events for less than $1.
The greeting cards beside the Trader Joe’s checkouts, according to Eliason, are “simple, peppy, and not excessively marketed.” The selection is limited, but that means it just takes a minute to choose the finest birthday/holiday/congrats card.
Purchase coconut oil
TJ’s coconut oil is half the price of what you’d pay elsewhere for the same quality.
Tiffany Kim described it as “cold squeezed, organic, and virgin” on Quora.
There’s rising evidence that coconut oil has health advantages, so this is a Trader Joe’s offer you don’t want to miss.
Trader Joe’s has some of the cheapest cut flowers around. They are diverse and inexpensive enough that you may brighten your kitchen table at any moment without feeling guilty.
“Trader Joe’s blossoms usually seem to survive significantly longer than things I’ve purchased at Whole Foods or Kroger,” Dana McMahan wrote for the site Kitchn.
Numerous customers have expressed dissatisfaction with Trader Joe’s milk. According to one Quora user, the milk “is continuously on the point of spoiling.”
If you need another reason to avoid it, Cheat Sheet included milk on its list of items you shouldn’t purchase at Trader Joe’s, claiming that organic milk costs more than Whole Foods.
Purchase: Potted plants
TJ’s also offers a seasonal assortment of potted plants in addition to cut flowers. They are typically fairly nutritious and quite inexpensive.
Purchase organic cacao powder
Although Trader Joe’s is renowned for its prepared goods, if you know what to look for, you may find amazing bargains on quality raw ingredients. The organic cacao powder from the brand is wonderful for baking, smoothies, and hot chocolate.
A Quora user described Trader Joe’s cocoa powder as “far better than Hershey’s and at least $1 cheaper.”
Purchase: Dark-chocolate peanut-butter cups
The dark-chocolate peanut-butter cups are a popular favorite in the chocolate department. Consumers claim they’re better than the major-label peanut-butter cups and much superior to what’s in the bulk bin at the supermarket.
These were voted the best Trader Joe’s sweets by Bon Appetit readers.
Purchase: Triple Ginger Snaps
Customers at Trader Joe’s can’t get enough of the supermarket’s triple ginger snaps, a crispy cookie with just enough ginger to give it a bite.
Charisma Madarang of Foodbeast commented, “After the first crunch, the cookie’s interior chewiness melts in your tongue when you bite into the hot, sour crystallized chunks” of ginger.
“I Adore the cookies! They have a very great, warm ginger-y taste. Just sweet enough, with the appropriate crunch for a cookie,” one reviewer on the site Trader Joe’s Fan stated.
These cookies may be too gingery for tiny children’s delicate taste buds; they’re more for adults to appreciate.
Purchase: Mandarin orange chicken
Several fan favorites include Trader Joe’s Mandarin orange chicken.
“Crispy on the exterior, delicate and flaky on the inside, the orange tang of the sauce gave a terrific punch of flavor but didn’t overpower the delicious chicken taste,” Foodbeast said of the frozen entrée.
The Mandarin orange chicken topped Bon Appetit’s list of favorite grocery dishes. Add this to your shopping list if you haven’t already.
Ignore: Shepherd’s pie
If you like this classic (albeit it’s cooked with beef rather than lamb) English meal — a meat-and-vegetable stew with a crust of mashed potatoes — you’ll be disappointed by Trader Joe’s frozen version. This dish was described as “completely flavorless mush” by one Reddit member, who added, “I ended up feeding half of it to my dog.”
Bamba, a popular Israeli snack, is a crunchy, mildly peanut-flavored maize puff sold at Trader Joe’s. Somewhat sweet, a touch salty, and completely crispy, they will delight any peanut-lover, even the kids.
According to a 2018 research, giving peanut snacks to newborns may help prevent a peanut allergy. According to the New York Times, bamba is “a type of inoculation contained in a sinful delight.”
Don’t feel bad about it. Just crunch.
Purchase: Blue corn tortilla chips that are organic
Trader Joe’s offers a variety of tortilla chips, some of which are superior than others. One of the best are the blue corn chips.
Trader Joe’s organic blue corn tortilla chips were praised as “‘flaky,’ ‘light,’ ‘great-tasting’ morsels” by Cheapism.
Purchase the spice combination “Everything But the Bagel.”
The spices at Trader Joe’s are dependably inexpensive and great, but the “Everything Except the Bagel” seasoning is a genuine standout: a simple way to enjoy the taste of an everything bagel without all the calories.
White and black sesame seeds, poppy seeds, sea salt flakes, dried garlic, and dried onions are used in the spice mix.
Ignore: Premade sandwiches
Trader Joe’s readymade sandwiches and wraps are nearly always gooey, dry, or both.
Several of the sandwiches are rich in calories as well. According to CBS MoneyWatch, the “turkey pesto sandwich includes almost a Big Mac’s worth of calories and 1,900 milligrams of salt.”
If you’re going to eat anything from Trader Joe’s that will cause you to gain weight, go for the chocolate and avoid the sandwiches.
Purchase: Soy chorizo
This meat substitute is vegan, gluten-free, and inexpensive. Food blogger Brenda Sickles rated it two thumbs up as a taco filler.
One Reddit user described the product as “excellent and affordable,” adding, “I’m a meat lover, and I’ll prefer it for tacos over anything else.”
Purchase: Lemon Verbena French Soap
Trader Joe’s has a limited assortment of bath and personal care goods that are worth adding to your shopping list. Female Foodie described the Lemon-verbena French soap as “light and pleasant.”
Ignore: Premade salads
When you get a salad from Trader Joe’s for a fast lunch, you’re taking a risk on anything from smelly, slimy greens to dry grains and dangerous meats. You could get lucky and come across a particularly fresh one, but why take the chance?
“Be prepared to scoop out the fish and deliver it to a stray cat, who very well could pass on it,” the Daily Meal warned of the honey-glazed miso salmon atop salad greens.
Purchase: cheese tortellini
Nothing beats Trader Joe’s cheese tortellini for a sumptuous Italian meal that’s fast and cheap.
According to Eliason, the tortellini is “one of my favorite quick meals paired with Trader Joe’s Vodka Sauce and a touch of Parmesan cheese.”
Purchase the “These Peanuts Go On A Date” bars.
These peanut-and-date-filled snacks are a tasty option for a fast energy boost.
“They’re just sweet enough without being overpowering and offer me the pick-me-up I’m looking for in the middle of the day, post-workout, or when I’m ravenous and trapped on a lengthy commute,” said Kitchn assistant food editor Kelli Foster.
Ignore: fresh meat.
Several choosy customers have had negative experiences with Trader Joe’s meat area. A typical criticism is that the supply chain is just too lengthy, with weeks passing between packing and delivery to your business.
“The quality may differ from store to store,” Shareably stated, “so check out what others are saying about the one near you before your next shopping trip.”
If you needed another reason to avoid the meat area, Eating Well cautioned against purchasing meat from Trader Joe’s since the items may not be produced in a sustainable manner.
Purchase: Spinach and artichoke dip
The creamy spinach-and-artichoke dip from Trader Joe’s is so delicious that you could pass it off as homemade.
“If you don’t have time to prepare it yourself, the Trader Joe’s version is a fantastic choice,” Southern Living magazine noted.
Although you won’t find Fruit Loops or Cheerios in Trader Joe’s aisles, the store’s private-label cereals are just as tasty — and at a fraction of the price.
“You can purchase a huge box of ‘Joe’s O’s’ for only $1.99, with regular-sized boxes of hundreds of different flavors beginning in the mid-$2 range and running up to roughly $4.30,” The Penny Hoarder writer Jamie Cattanach noted. “Most regular-sized boxes at my local Publix began about $4, so TJ’s is a win in my book.”
ignore: Paper goods
It may be tempting to pick up a pack of toilet paper when doing your monthly food shopping, and the pricing isn’t that bad at $3.99 for a bundle of six rolls. The Cheat Sheet, on the other hand, advocates purchasing paper items in quantity to get the most bang for your money, something Trader Joe’s does not provide.
Purchase dried fruit
Trader Joe’s offers a great assortment of trail mix, but you may be surprised to learn that it also has a good range of dried fruits, both sweetened and unsweetened. The Daily Meal recommends the Just Mango slices, but all types come in convenient resealable plastic bags.
ignore: frozen rice
Although frozen steam-in-a-bag rice packets from Trader Joe’s are handy, CNBC cautions that they come at a price. Three 10-oz bags of frozen rice at Trader Joe’s will cost you between $2.99 and $4.49, depending on the type, although you’re more likely to find lower offers elsewhere.
Purchase: frozen appetizers
Are you looking for some last-minute entertainment? Trader Joe’s has you covered – and at a low price. Nevertheless, not all appetizers are created equal. The pork gyoza pot stickers, small chicken tacos, and veggie samosas are all recommended by The Daily Meal.
Ignore: Nuts, fruits, and honey.
This jar of treats seems to be a piece of beauty, but it’s really stealthily harmful and high in fat and sugar. “Nuts, Fruit, and Honey may seem like nourishment in a jar, but don’t be misled,” Reader’s Digest’s Marissa Laliberte wrote. “The calories mount up with the components ‘bathing’ in honey — all the way up to a staggering 300 calories per quarter-cup serving!”
Trader Joe’s sells conventional eggs for the lowest price of any large supermarket shop. Nevertheless, The Penny Hoarder points out that Trader Joe’s does not offer ethical eggs, which is easy to overlook since most cartons are labeled “cage-free.”
According to Vox, increased care of egg-laying hens is minimal without extra labeling such as “certified humane” or “animal welfare approved.” If you’re looking to save money, it’s worth investigating.
Ignore: Piecrusts that are frozen
While handmade pie crust is notoriously difficult to produce, pre-made alternatives may save time and stress. But, customers informed The Kitchn that Trader Joe’s frozen crusts shatter or melt during baking.
“I just purchased Trader Joe’s premade pie crusts, and they were a catastrophe; they shattered into a million pieces along the fold lines and as soon as I attempted to form edges,” a reader complained to Kitchn.
If you, like us, like spreading hummus on just about everything, Trader Joe’s has you covered. Although brands like Sabra cost $4-7 per tub depending on size and flavor, you can get one at TJ’s for a few dollars less. You can get specific tastes like tomato and basil, Mediterranean, and sriracha, as The Daily Meal reminds out.
Purchase coconut cashews
Coconut cashews from Trader Joe’s are an excellent protein snack that will also satisfy your sweet appetite. They’re so wonderful that folks have started making their own variations.
Purchase vegan coconut whipped topping
Whether you’re vegan or not, this dairy-free whipped topping is a great alternative for whipped cream. According to one Reddit user, it tastes like coconut pie.
Purchase Cauliflower Gnocchi
Customers’ favorite vegan or vegetarian food at Trader Joe’s annual customer choice awards in 2020 was cauliflower gnocchi.
Ignore: Gnocchi with chocolate lava.
But the chocolate lava gnocchi are a different story. According to one Insider writer, although it smelled and tasted good, the potato-like texture destroyed it.
Purchase scented candles
Candles may not be the first thing that comes to mind when thinking about Trader Joe’s, but their fragrant candles were named the best home, bath, and cosmetic product in the 2020 annual consumer choice awards.
Ignore: Joe- Joe’s
According to a recent taste test comparing Oreos and Joe- Joe’s, Joe-are Joe’s blander than Oreos and do not absorb milk as well. Therefore you should stick to milk’s favorite cookie.
Purchase orange juice
The same test discovered that Trader Joe’s orange juice, although somewhat more costly, tasted fresher than Tropicana, which the test judged to be overly sugary and acidic.
Ignore: Birthday cake popcorn
As appealing as this may seem, one Insider writer found Trader Joe’s birthday cake popcorn to be too sugary and artificial in flavor.
Purchase: Burrata, prosciutto, and arugula flatbread
This premium frozen pizza wowed an Insider reporter with its crunchy outer crust and upmarket fixings. It also includes three servings for $4.99.
Purchase Charles Shaw pinot grigio
According to a blind tasting test, this wine is “extremely smooth” and simple to drink for just $3.99. In the same test, a fifth of blind tasters estimated the bottle would cost between $12 and $15.
Purchase Crunchy Curls
Crunchy Curls, beloved by TikTokers such as Bria Lemirande, were so popular in 2022 that the product began flying off shelves, leading rumors that it had even sold out at some places. TikTok has a loyal following for the lentil and potato snack, with over 11.1 million views of posts labeled #CrunchyCurls.
“It’s just been nice to connect with various individuals, whether it’s just sharing a love for Crunchy Curls, a basic snack, or simply people who have contacted out and spoken about how I’ve helped them with their perception of food and how they feel around food,” Lemirande told People.
Ignore: Supplements and vitamins
Blogger Aisle of Shame advises against purchasing vitamins and supplements at Trader Joe’s since they are more expensive than at typical pharmacy shops or big-box retailers.
“You’ll notice that the vitamins offered at Trader Joe’s contain fewer capsules per bottle and tend to cost more than vitamins purchased at other retailers,” Aisle of Shame noted in a March 2022 article. “The vitamins here also have a lower nutritional value than those found elsewhere.”
Purchase Cowboy Caviar
Trader Joe’s Cowboy Caviar, the retailer’s version on the famous Texan delicacy, is a fan favorite — and another product that receives a lot of love on TikTok. The savory food is created with beans, peppers, and corn and packs a lot of punch either eaten as a dip or on its own.
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