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10 Products You (Probably) Aren’t Buying at Trader Joes—But Should Be

10 Products You (Probably) Aren’t Buying at Trader Joes—But Should Be



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Reddit users adore these underrated TJ’s products.

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Trader Joe’s is best known for popular products like Mandarin Orange Chicken, Everything But the Bagel Seasoning, and Speculoos Cookie Butter, but some fans of the food retailer recently took to Reddit to share the items they feel aren’t getting enough love. Here are 10 healthy options you might not think to buy at Trader Joe’s, but should consider adding to your cart ASAP.

Frozen Fish

We are big frozen fish fans here at Cooking Light—it’s a quick and delicious way to add protein to a healthy weeknight dinner. Several Redditors spoke out about their love for Trader Joe’s high-quality frozen fish—particularly their fillets, swordfish, and fish sticks. One Redditor said TJ’s fish sticks are an easy way to make “lazy fish tacos”—just add a little slaw mix and Avocado Green Goddess dressing. Yum!

Bread

The bakery section doesn’t have all the colorful bells and whistles many of the other displays do in Trader Joe’s stores, but don’t let that stop you from stocking up there. Some Redditors feel the retailer’s private label bread deserves some credit—specifically the Ezekiel Bread-like sprouted and cracked wheat sourdough varieties.

Olive Oil Spray

Cooking spray is a great way to grease baking dishes and cookware without using extra fat, and olive oil spray is a favorite of ours. Trader Joe’s sells an olive oil spray that one Redditor found helped her practice better portion control and makes all her vegetables taste even better. Simply spray a light coat on top of your veggies in place of regular olive oil before roasting.

Baking Supplies

Redditors in this thread posted several times about various baking necessities we should all be buying from TJ’s. From cinnamon and chocolate chips, to coconut sugar and flakes, you can find everything you need for a glorious weekend of baking at a fraction of the price.

Nutritional Yeast

A beloved umami-flavoring agent (and source of Vitamin B12) of many vegan home cooks, nutritional yeast is becoming a more popular kitchen staple for its impressive flavor and health benefits. Many Trader Joe’s shoppers raved about their nutritional yeast, as it is much less expensive than in just about any other grocery store. And it makes our vegan nacho cheese sauce recipe taste nutty and cheesy, sans dairy!

Looking for more Trader Joe’s tips, tricks, and insider information?

Morello Cherries

These jars of dark, sour cherries have a secret cult-like following. Whether you’re looking for the perfect topping to a TJ’s New York cheesecake or a want to make a delicious cherry pie when cherries aren’t in season, morello cherries from Trader Joe’s are (apparently) your answer. One Redditor has been buying them for 15 years!

Manuka Honey

Manuka honey is one of those specialty health products that can you can find at Trader Joe’s for a much lower price. One Redditor said TJ’s even offers a more impressive deal on this product than Costco. While we aren’t 100 percent sure about the validity of its health claims, Reddit users love it both plain and on a hot, buttered biscuit. We’ll take one too, please!

Tofu

Tofu can be frustrating to purchase if you only use a little at a time, and several Redditors commented on how much they loved the twin packs of tofu because they help prevent food waste. Plus, you can purchase organic tofu for cheaper at TJ’s than many other supermarkets.

Sweet and Spicy Pecans

While it may not be the first thing you add to your grocery list every week, you just might want to start. Several Redditors noted they love these pecans on everything—from a fluffy stack of pancakes to a seasonal salad. One even mentioned they wish Trader Joe’s sold them in a bigger bag.

Greeting Cards

OK, OK, we’ve mentioned this one before—and we’re obsessed with this one. But if you are an avid Trader Joe’s shopper and aren’t stocking up on your greeting card collection there, you’re missing out!

We shared this mostly to let you in on a little-known secret we learned from another Reddit thread (yes, we realize we’re internet trolls). Trader Joe’s employs their own greeting card designers and every print is only made once. So if you really love a certain design, grab the whole stack while you can!


The Best Healthy Foods to Buy at Trader Joe's

Trader Joe&aposs has a bit of a cult following for a reason. You can only buy its branded foods at its stores, and its prices and selection for some items are hard to beat! It&aposs not all healthy deals all the time at Trader Joe&aposs, though. You should still read labels to make sure you&aposre getting a food you feel good about eating. Here are some of our favorite healthy foods we always make sure to stock up on at TJ&aposs!

1. Crunchy Almond Butter

Almond butter delivers heart-healthy fats, filling protein and fiber. But the price at some places makes our jaws drop. Trader Joe&aposs sells affordable almond butter and the only two ingredients are almonds and salt.

2. Organic Popcorn with Olive Oil

Did you know popcorn is a whole-grain snack? It&aposs a great food to eat if you&aposre watching your weight because it&aposs naturally low in calories and, since popcorn is so airy, a serving is a generous 2 cups. The ingredient list in this bag is super-simple, and it&aposs a great price for prepopped organic popcorn.

Between the low prices and variety, TJ&aposs is a great place to stock up on frozen fruit. There are apricots, mangoes and berries galore. Plus, there are a lot of organic options. Frozen fruit is great for smoothies or to thaw and mix in with yogurt or oatmeal.

Have you ever been almost done making dinner and realized the whole grain you intended to whip up as a side dish never made it onto the stovetop? Ten-minute whole grains to the rescue! These bags deliver plenty of fiber and nutrients, but can save you between 20 and 45 minutes of time.

5. Cauliflower Pizza Crust

Cauliflower pizza crust is a low-carb-lover&aposs pizza dream. But sometimes making your own crust from scratch can feel daunting. This is a nice, affordable option to keep in your freezer and top as your heart desires on pizza night.

Trader Joe&aposs has an affordable selection of organic dairy. Cottage cheese, yogurt, milk-you name it, you can probably buy an organic version at an affordable price at TJ&aposs. We like plain (unsweetened) varieties best.

Ginger has a number of health benefits, but if you&aposre one of those people who never goes through a knob of fresh ginger, this paste is an amazing way to add flavor and boost the nutrition of your favorite dishes.

8. Dark Chocolate Honey Mints

Trader Joe&aposs has a budget-friendly selection of dark chocolate. With just three (real) ingredients, these mint patties can be a healthy way to satisfy your sweet tooth.

If you&aposre on board the Spindrift train, Trader Joe&aposs is the place to stock up. Great prices on our favorite fresh-fruit flavors of seltzer with only 10-15 calories per can and no added sugar.

10. Whole-Wheat Pizza Dough

Just like TJ&aposs cauliflower pizza crust, this whole-grain dough has saved our pizza night on more than one occasion. While you&aposre there, grab mozzarella and pizza sauce plus some salad ingredients and you&aposve got dinner in a flash.

Edamame is a great vegetarian source of protein. Trader Joe&aposs has super-competitive prices and sells edamame both in the shell and out of the shell. Choose shelled to add to stir-fries or buy the in-the-pod version for a healthy protein-packed snack.

12. Trader Joe&aposs Wine Selection

We would be remiss not to mention the wine at Trader Joe&aposs. It has some seriously amazing prices-even beyond its famous 3-Buck Chuck (which, personally, I outgrew a few years ago). Look for the employee recommendation tags or ask for suggestions. The staff is beyond helpful for picking out a bottle to meet your needs.

13. Applegate Naturals Oven-Roasted Turkey Breast

While TJ&aposs doesn&apost have a full-service deli, it does offer presliced cold cuts. This turkey is a well-priced lunch staple from a brand we trust.

Nuts are a fantastic source of heart-healthy fats and protein. But they aren&apost cheap. Trader Joe&aposs has a fantastic selection and prices that can save you some serious cash. Almonds, walnuts, pistachios, pine nuts and cashews are all great choices here.


Not buying Trader Joe's private-label brands

If you're used to shopping at other large grocery store chains, you may have opted for the national brands in the past, even when there was a store brand available. Oftentimes, shoppers buy the same products again and again without seeing if there's a better option out there. It makes sense — why take a risk when you know what you like? At Trader Joe's, though, you'll want to try some of the private-label brands. The store stocks plenty of its own products instead of offering a wider variety of products from other companies. According to Kiplinger, about eight in ten items you'll find at Trader Joe's are from a store brand. Don't think that means you're getting a raw deal, though. The Trader Joe's private label is super popular, as it offers simple, high-quality products at a competitive price point.

These products include those with the Trader Joe's name as well as several other names, such as Trader Jose's and Trader Ming's. You can find everything from salad mixes to soy milk to frozen meals with the Trader Joe's stamp of approval. And since these products are often essentials, it's easy to fill up your cart with a wide variety of them to see which ones you like best.


Vanilla Overnight Oats

Kiersten Hickman/Eat This, Not That!

The overnight oats taste perfectly fine, but it's one of the few items at Trader Joe's that are simply not great deals. The $1.99 packets are small, and you could quickly and easily make your own overnight oats for a lot less money.

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Made with tomatillos, garlic, cilantro, spinach, and habanero peppers, this flavorful condiment is a crowd-favorite of TJ’s shoppers and crew members alike. One crew member says they can’t live without Green Dragon Hot Sauce and has a pantry full of it. This would make the perfect addition to our Best Taco Recipes or drizzled on top of our Spicy Shrimp Noodles.

One of the Trader Joe’s crew members raved about this product for good reason. These sweet and savory chicken sausages contain less than half the saturated fat found in regular sausage links, but have just as much protein! TJ’s chicken sausage works wonders in our Healthy Chicken Cassoulet and would be the perfect substitute in our Sausage, Spinach, and Apple Breakfast Sandwiches.


1. Books

Amazon still has the best prices on books.

Every Costco has a huge table of books that I’m always drawn to for my next beach read. But the selection is pretty limited, and you will often find better prices on newer and popular books (and a much larger selection) at places like Amazon. Plus, if you own an e-reader like our favorite Kindle, you can often find bargains on all sorts of books that way.


One of the Trader Joe’s crew members raved about this product for good reason. These sweet and savory chicken sausages contain less than half the saturated fat found in regular sausage links, but have just as much protein! TJ’s chicken sausage works wonders in our Healthy Chicken Cassoulet and would be the perfect substitute in our Sausage, Spinach, and Apple Breakfast Sandwiches.

OK, who doesn’t love these? TJ’s peanut butter pretzels are a favorite of Dave, a 51-year veteran of Trader Joe’s, and their longest-working crew member to date. And little did we know, there’s also a variety that doesn’t come salted for those watching their sodium intake!

Can’t get enough of Trader Joe’s?


Trader Joe's Mandarin Orange Chicken

Trader Joe's Mandarin Orange Chicken is a grossly sweet interpretation of the popular Chinese takeout dish. If you like cloying, sticky, gloopy messes of sauce, this is your jam. Literally, it could be jam.

According to one user on Reddit, the chicken "tastes like hard crunchy balls of yuck," while another thinks the chicken is low quality. Others say the Mandarin chicken is good if you air fry it (we agree that air frying is the way to go if the sauce doesn't put you off, though a close second in terms of preparation is caramelizing the chicken in a wok). Despite the confusion, the Mandarin Orange Chicken was actually voted the best Trader Joe's entrée in the 11th Annual Customer Choice Awards.

So, if you like the Panda Express orange chicken, this could be for you. It's trying to give you that fast food stir-fry feel, and the sweetness is intentional (though you should maybe use just half the sauce) anyway. However, be sure to get some tips on how to cook it, or you could end up disappointed.


Mattresses

To be clear, you can get a great deal buying a mattress on Amazon. But buying a mattress is, at best, an imprecise science, and savvy buyers will want as long a trial period as possible before they're locked into their purchase. Unfortunately, with a few exceptions, you get only a 30-day window when buying on Amazon to decide whether your mattress is a match. Since longer mattress trials aren't hard to find these days, consider looking elsewhere, or checking to see whether buying directly from the mattress maker will get you a longer trial. For instance, you get a 30-day trial buying Brentwood Home mattresses on Amazon but a one-year trial on Brentwood's own website.

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Don't forget to take advantage of Trader Joe's sample philosophy

One of the coolest parts about shopping at Trader Joe's is you really never know what you might find. If you see something new and enticing, you could just go ahead and throw it into your cart. You can try it out at home to see if you like it. Or you could take advantage of Trader Joe's generous sample philosophy instead. The chain actively encourages customers to try items in the store before they buy them.

Obviously, there are limitations — PopSugar reports that you can't ask for a sample of frozen foods, for example, or alcohol (this isn't a bar!). But you can always ask an employee to help you taste snacks, fruits, vegetables, and some of Trader Joe's prepared foods like sushi, sandwiches, and salads. Don't abuse this generosity, but also don't be afraid to ask. Trader Joe's gets so many new products all the time that it would be impossible to keep up without trying some every now and again.