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Old 10-15-2019, 01:37 PM
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Trader Joe's opening store in LR. What should I try first?


Trader Joe's opens in LR Oct 22. It's in a convenient location. Just a couple blocks from Whole Foods. I'm in that area frequently.

I'm a bit confused by their store brands. I gather you can't buy Bush baked beans or Smuckers jelly? Only the Trader Joe's brand?

I'll still shop at Kroger for many items. I love my Smuckers strawberry jelly.

What items are really special at Trader Joe's? Their store brands are what I've heard praised for many years.
Quote:
Fans of the grocery chain in Arkansas have been asking for years that it come to the state.

The chain focuses on its own Trader Joe's brand products, many of which have a cult-like following.

Last edited by aceplace57; 10-15-2019 at 01:41 PM.
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Old 10-15-2019, 01:40 PM
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Trader Joe's is for treats, not for food.
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Old 10-15-2019, 01:56 PM
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Trader Joe's opens in LR Oct 22.
In a building that used to be "Toys R Us."
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Old 10-15-2019, 02:02 PM
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Everyone at work has been talking about Trader Joe's for weeks. There's a Facebook page, Bring Trader Joe's to Little Rock.

People have waited years to get one in Arkansas.

I've never been in Trader Joe's and have no idea why people are so excited. I'll check it out, but I'm pretty loyal to my favorite brands at Kroger.

Last edited by aceplace57; 10-15-2019 at 02:05 PM.
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Old 10-15-2019, 02:12 PM
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I did find this article on products.
https://www.thepennyhoarder.com/save...t-trader-joes/

I'd still like to know the best stuff to buy at TJ.

I'm always looking for good frozen dinner options.

Good prices on beef and chicken.

Last edited by aceplace57; 10-15-2019 at 02:15 PM.
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Old 10-15-2019, 02:14 PM
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Their frozen mac and cheese is really good, but really bad for you.

I like a lot of their frozen Asian meal kits for a quick weeknight meal. My favorite is the kung pao chicken. The Szechuan beef and broccoli is good, too.

Their "fresh squeezed" orange juice is pretty much the only bottled orange juice I really like.

Their store brand olive oil is high quality and inexpensive.

And of course there is inexpensive wine. The Charles Shaw, aka "Two Buck Chuck" is of course the best known, but there's a huge selection of other wines that are only a bit more expensive and are quite good for the price.
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Old 10-15-2019, 02:18 PM
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DIL and Me are coming to LR just to go to TraderJoes as soon as it's open. Man, we must be awful bored to make a little road trip just to go to a grocery store.
Hey, you have to have your fun where you find it

Last edited by Beckdawrek; 10-15-2019 at 02:18 PM.
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Old 10-15-2019, 02:20 PM
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The fact that my house is walking distance from Trader Joe's was kind of a selling point for me.
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Old 10-15-2019, 02:20 PM
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You can get plenty of real food there but snacks are the big draw.

My perfect Trader Joe's shopping trip would include:
Bags of sesame and soy crackers.
Nuts, which are generally available raw or roasted and salted or unsalted.
Dried fruit, especially the unsweetened dried cherries and some of the dried mango. There is a dried mango I like and one I don't. I can't tell you how to distinguish between them.
Dried coconut
Ginger candy (it's sweet but they are really big chunks of ginger, so I find it
Almond butter and natural unsweetend peanut butter
Wine: You can get their house brand Charles Shaw (jokingly referred to as "two-buck Chuck") or other real wines. Two-buck Chuck is great for cooking and sometimes even drinkable. They usually have a cheap pretty good Cava for $12 the name of which escapes me.
Pralines
500g block of dark chocolate (way less than it should be, and usable for baking or snacking)

Frozen foods are another big draw. I like:
Soup dumplings ($3 for a box of six). These are as good as the ones I buy at the really good dim sum place near me.
Samosas
Edamame
Marinated BBQ teriyaki chicken (in a red bag). We cook it with veggies to add fiber and dull a little of the sauce's sweetness.

They have a wide range of frozen dinners but, in general, they are tasty but roughly 80% rice, so they aren't really a great deal. Other people love the frozen burritos but, for my money, they aren't cheap enough to be worth compromising for and they are too small and not tasty enough to replace a fresh burrito from a decent taco stand. When Mrs. Charming and Rested wanted to stockpile burritos, we just made a bunch ourselves instead of buying theirs. Their frozen enchiladas are disappointing. Some people won't leave without a jar of the Speculoos Cookie Butter but I'm not a fan.

Bananas are sold by piece rather than by weight so big bananas at 19 cents per piece are a good deal. I can shave nearly 40 cents off my food bill that way!
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Old 10-15-2019, 02:25 PM
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English coastal Cheddar is better than any regular store bought type.

The frozen indian food is great, lamb, chicken korma etc.

Soups are decent. use the lentil soup as a base to make a bigger pot of homemade lentil soup. That will work best.

You can get a lot of dairy and orange juice and yoghurt products cheap.

Small watermelons are 3.99 in season
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Old 10-15-2019, 02:27 PM
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Their cereals are great. My favorite is the Oatmeal Flakes.
You're opening at the prime time of the year for hundreds of pumpkin spice products. They pride themselves on the excessive numbers of pumpkin spice products.
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Old 10-15-2019, 02:30 PM
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Is TJ's bakery and deli good?

Do they offer in store dining like Kroger? We often buy meals from the deli. Eat there or take home.

I'll check out TJ's cereal. The Oat rings sound good.

Last edited by aceplace57; 10-15-2019 at 02:31 PM.
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Old 10-15-2019, 02:31 PM
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The fact that my house is walking distance from Trader Joe's was kind of a selling point for me.
A good one. Trader Joe's has a policy of having as small a parking lot as they can, so it's always hard to find a space.
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Old 10-15-2019, 02:34 PM
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Parking won't be a problem in LR.

It's a huge shopping center. Barnes & Noble on one end and Petsmart on the other end.

Toys R Us was in the middle. It's a good location for TJ.

Last edited by aceplace57; 10-15-2019 at 02:38 PM.
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Old 10-15-2019, 02:41 PM
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Is TJ's bakery and deli good?
They don't have one.

Trader Joes isn't meant to replace a traditional grocery store, it's meant to supplement it.
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Old 10-15-2019, 02:41 PM
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I'll check it out, but I'm pretty loyal to my favorite brands at Kroger.
I'm loyal to low prices.

Do these guys carry Mexican frozen dinners? Kroger does not.
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Old 10-15-2019, 02:42 PM
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They don't have one.

Trader Joes isn't meant to replace a traditional grocery store, it's meant to supplement it.

Ok. I'm starting to understand TJ better. Thanks

Last edited by aceplace57; 10-15-2019 at 02:44 PM.
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Old 10-15-2019, 02:45 PM
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Is TJ's bakery and deli good?
Trader Joe's doesn't have a deli in the sense that big grocery stores do. Same with bakery. They just have a section of bread and pastries that were shipped to the store, not an actual in-store bakery. You have to realize TJ's is more like a small specialty store, not a big full service grocery store.

They do stock a selection of partially baked loaves that you can take home and finish baking in your own oven fairly quickly -- stuff like baguettes, Italian breads, etc. Those are especially nice for when I want a nice warm, crusty bread to go with a stew or something.

Quote:
Do they offer in store dining like Kroger? We often buy meals from the deli. Eat there or take home.
No. Again, TJ's is much smaller than the stores you are comparing them to.

ETA: I see I've been beaten to the punch while typing up my long winded answer.

Last edited by WildaBeast; 10-15-2019 at 02:47 PM.
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Old 10-15-2019, 02:49 PM
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The fact that my house is walking distance from Trader Joe's was kind of a selling point for me.
You're not alone. I recently read an article (and I'd supply a cite if I could remember where I read it) that said that living near a Trader Joe's tended to increase the value of your home more than any other grocery store. Whole Foods was next.
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Old 10-15-2019, 03:02 PM
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I like the pre-made salads at Trader Joe's.
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Old 10-15-2019, 03:03 PM
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Their Peanut Butter-filled Pretzels are the best I have found, and pretty cheap.

Same for their potato chips, roasted cashews and pistachio nuts, sliced smoked Gouda cheese.

Also, try any of the varieties of goat cheese and the Cubano sandwich!
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Old 10-15-2019, 03:05 PM
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A good one. Trader Joe's has a policy of having as small a parking lot as they can, so it's always hard to find a space.
I didn't know that. That does explain why even though my local TJ's in a shopping center, there seems to be a limited amount of parking on the end where their store is. The lot is quasi triangle shaped, with a massive amount of parking on the other end in front of Lowe's, but tapers off and gets smaller on the end where TJ's is.

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You're not alone. I recently read an article (and I'd supply a cite if I could remember where I read it) that said that living near a Trader Joe's tended to increase the value of your home more than any other grocery store. Whole Foods was next.
That's interesting, because the neighborhood adjacent to the shopping center where TJ's is probably one of the more affordable neighborhoods in my city, mainly because it's made up of older, more modest sized homes than the newer subdivisions around here. In fact being more affordable was the other selling point. But perhaps my house is worth more than a modest 1970s ranch house would otherwise be worth around here to the proximity to TJ's.
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Old 10-15-2019, 03:05 PM
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I'm a bit confused by their store brands. I gather you can't buy Bush baked beans or Smuckers jelly? Only the Trader Joe's brand?
Generally true; for most categories, they only sell their own brands (and they have a number of different "store brand" names). There are some categories, like some cheeses and beers, where they sell some brands that you would find in other stores (but even then, it's typically not the major brands -- craft beers, smaller cheese brands, etc.)

As others have noted, TJ is a *lot* smaller than a big supermarket like Kroger. And, if you visit once, don't expect that everything you find on the shelf that day will be there the next time you visit -- while some products are always there, others rotate in and out.

As far as specific products to try -- they have a brand of sandwich cookies (i.e., Oreos) called "Joe-Joes." They do special seasonal flavors for Joe-Joes, and the candy cane ones (which are typically only in the store for a week or so in December) are something that my wife and her friends obsess about.

Last edited by kenobi 65; 10-15-2019 at 03:09 PM.
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Old 10-15-2019, 03:15 PM
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Trader Joe’s strictly controls its inventory. You don’t get any choice with respect to brands. If you like it it’s because they have things you can’t get anywhere else. But if something stops selling well, they’ll ruthlessly discontinue it.

These are the kinds of we get there—

Cheese sticks
Unexpected cheddar — really exceptional cheese
Prepared salads
Dried bean snacks
Nut and fruit-and-nut mixes
Peanut butter
Canned beans
Frozen pizza—they have a Torte d’Alsace that’s fantastic
Frozen berries for smoothies
Frozen vegetables
Frozen dinners
Prepared smoothies
Oatmeal, breakfast cereal, breakfast bars
Bath soaps, salts, moisturizers, etc.
Bags of vegetables like English peas, spaghettified zucchini etc.
The wine and beer seems to be very popular (Four-Buck Chuck)
Cookies, crackers, and chocolate

We never go there for full grocery shopping, just for a few things you can’t get anywhere else. The prices are generally good, especially compared to Whole Foods.
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Old 10-15-2019, 03:15 PM
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Cubano sandwich!
Wait, they have a Cubano sandwich? Why did I not know about this? I've been craving a Cubano ever since the recent discussion about someone's disappointing experience with one at Panera. I was planning on trying my hand at making one myself. In fact was planning on substituting Trader Joe's pre-cooked carnitas for the roast pork even though I know that's not exactly right, because that's about the only roast pork I can obtain apart from roasting it myself. But it's a challenge finding the right kind of bread. I was going to see what a nearby international market has, but I'm not optimistic about finding Cuban bread there. Finding Mexican ingredients in California is of course pretty easy, but Cuban ingredients not so much.
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Old 10-15-2019, 03:23 PM
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Trader Joe’s strictly controls its inventory. You don’t get any choice with respect to brands. If you like it it’s because they have things you can’t get anywhere else. But if something stops selling well, they’ll ruthlessly discontinue it.
And a lot of stuff is seasonal, and you'll never know when they run out. Speaking of which, I need to go stock up on Butternut Squash Mac N Cheese.
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Old 10-15-2019, 03:26 PM
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Triple Ginger Snaps. They're one of TJ's top-selling items... and for good reason.

Twice a week I buy TJ's Cobb salad. Just finished one, in fact. I cut out carbohydrates a year and a half ago, and the Cobb salad has been my go-to lunch on commuting days. Still not tired of it. If you're not avoiding carbs, try their other salads. (Personally, I would not recommend the Vietnamese wraps.)

Carnitas. It's in the refrigerated section. Pretty tasty, and easier than making it yourself.

Pizza dough. It's in the refrigerated section, packaged in little bags. Each bag of dough makes one pizza or two calzones.

Fish. Wild-caught Alaskan salmon and wild-caught white fish are tasty and cheap.

Cookies, candies, nuts, cheeses... Almost everything is good. And if you don't like it, bring it back for a refund. (After shopping at Trader Joe's since 1987, I finally returned something a couple of months ago. Their limoncello tastes a bit like bug spray. Got a full refund.)


Here's what you do: Browse the store and get some things that look good. They usually are. Then every time you go back, pick out something you haven't had before. And don't pass up the samples they make at the back of the store. They have some good ideas for using ingredients they sell there. (And they have the ingredients next to the demo.)
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Old 10-15-2019, 03:27 PM
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I like the pre-made salads at Trader Joe's.
Agreed. I always buy salads there. Their pre-made soups are also good.
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Old 10-15-2019, 03:32 PM
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Wait, they have a Cubano sandwich? .
Actually, it's a Cubano wrap. But very tasty!

http://sonovabob.blogspot.com/2014/1...oned-wrap.html
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Old 10-15-2019, 03:33 PM
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I'll check it out, but I'm pretty loyal to my favorite brands at Kroger.
Kroger is in no danger of losing your business. A trip to Trader Joe's is a fun and interesting diversion, and you might stop in occasionally to pick up your favorite items, but I can't imagine doing 100 percent of your grocery shopping there. It would be like trying to buy all of your clothes at Old Navy.

I don't have any favorite TJ items, but my daughter loves their Cookie Butter.
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Old 10-15-2019, 03:38 PM
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Kroger is in no danger of losing your business. A trip to Trader Joe's is a fun and interesting diversion, and you might stop in occasionally to pick up your favorite items, but I can't imagine doing 100 percent of your grocery shopping there. It would be like trying to buy all of your clothes at Old Navy.
Pretty good analogy. My wife adores Trader Joe's (and our local store is only 10 minutes away), but she *might* go there every three to four weeks. Whereas, we go to our local supermarket two or three times a week.
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Old 10-15-2019, 03:50 PM
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I'm glad that I started this thread.

My impressions of TJ's was completely off.

We have a Whole Foods that I visit occasionally. I like their yogurt and take out food. Really good cakes. Whole Foods isn't a replacement for a supermarket.

Last edited by aceplace57; 10-15-2019 at 03:53 PM.
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Old 10-15-2019, 03:53 PM
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Love TJs... do all my shopping there on bike, except the big stuff that my wife gets in the car.

The "all your shopping at Old Navy" analogy works... if you don't mind looking like an Old Navy mannequin, you're okay.

Last edited by digs; 10-15-2019 at 03:56 PM.
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Old 10-15-2019, 03:54 PM
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I've spent an hour on Google, mapping software and abbreviations.com...

Where's LR?
Little Rock Arkansas

NLR is North Little Rock Arkansas. A different city.

Last edited by aceplace57; 10-15-2019 at 03:55 PM.
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Old 10-15-2019, 03:57 PM
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Trader Joe's is for treats, not for food.
I kinda agree with this. Usually when I go there I come home mostly with treats.

But they are also good for produce, nuts & dried fruits and cheeses. Their nut selection is vast and inexpensive.
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Old 10-15-2019, 04:17 PM
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A good one. Trader Joe's has a policy of having as small a parking lot as they can, so it's always hard to find a space.
Is that deliberate or just a consequence of locating in small lots? The store closest to me is in a small lot, with a Walgreen's next door but the lot is often full, so I have to visit the next-closest one, located next to a largish municipal lot.

I like some of the snack foods there, along with some of the Indian and other frozen meals. aceplace57 should just visit the store when it finally opens, even if he doesn't buy anything, just to get an idea of what he would like although I suspect that, as the first new Trader Joe's in his area, it's going to be really crowded for the first week or two or even for the first month.

And to give you an idea of just how nuts some people are about the store, there was a guy in Vancouver, Canada who would travel to Trader Joe's stores in Washington State, buy stuff in bulk and then resell it in his own store, until they sued him to stop him doing this.

Last edited by Dewey Finn; 10-15-2019 at 04:18 PM.
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Old 10-15-2019, 04:18 PM
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An interesting tidbit about Trader Joe's: the chain is owned by the family which owns the German grocery company Aldi Nord. Aldi Nord operates as one of the two Aldi chains in Germany, and in some European countries. Aldi stores in the U.S. are owned by a separate company, Aldi Süd, which also operates the Aldi stores in other European countries.
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Old 10-15-2019, 04:21 PM
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Whatever you get at Trader Joe's, don't fall in love with it. It will be gone next month.
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Old 10-15-2019, 04:31 PM
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I can't imagine doing 100 percent of your grocery shopping there. It would be like trying to buy all of your clothes at Old Navy.
I actually do a fairly large amount of my shopping there. Maybe not 100%, but a fairly high percentage. Like I said upthread, they're walking distance from my house, so they're the most convenient place to shop. And there are certain staple items that I prefer the TJ's version of, namely OJ which I also mentioned upthread, so I go there once a week just to stock up on that.

My usually shopping routine goes something like: A trip to the farmer's market Saturday morning for fresh produce. Then to Trader Joe's for as many of the other items on my shopping list that I can find there. Then Target or a regular grocery store if there was anything on my list I wasn't able to find at TJ's.

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But they are also good for produce, nuts & dried fruits and cheeses.
Actually I would say produce is one of the things Trader Joe's doesn't do all that wall. Much of what they have is packaged in plastic and isn't as fresh as what you can get elsewhere. I'll buy it there if I need something and I don't feel like going to another store, but I wouldn't recommend going there specifically for produce.
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Old 10-15-2019, 04:32 PM
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Whatever you get at Trader Joe's, don't fall in love with it. It will be gone next month.
Sam's Club is like that with some food items.
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Old 10-15-2019, 04:38 PM
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History fun fact- Aldi and Trader Joe's are corporate cousins. The original Aldi was started in Germany by a gentleman, and when he died, his sons partitioned the company into two separate companies- Aldi North and Aldi South. Both companies continued the original company's emphasis on house brand products and low costs. When one expanded to the US, they became more of a specialty store, but retained the low cost and emphasis on house brands. That's the store we know as Trader Joe's. The other expanded into the us as Aldi, and has the same emphasis on low cost and house brand products, but is a full service, lowest-cost grocery.

That said, Trader Joe's is kind of idiosyncratic, in that I suppose one could, if they really wanted to, buy everything they needed there. But in general, it's more like a specialty/gourmet food store that carries some staple ingredients than the reverse. And what they're best at IMO, is the relatively high dollar specialty stuff- cheeses, dips, chips, desserts/candies/cookies, frozen meals/ingredients, and alcohol. Stuff like plain milk, meat, bread and common produce isn't where they shine. None of it's bad, but it's not really cheaper or better than the normal grocery store.

So for my family, Trader Joe's is somewhere we go infrequently, and we tend to get stuff like cheap wine/beer and specialty treats/snacks. But if we want steaks, we're either just getting what the local grocery has, or we're going to the *real* specialty grocery nearby (HEB Central Market), which does shine in the meat, bakery and produce departments, as well as pretty much everywhere else as well, but you pay for it.
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Old 10-15-2019, 04:51 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by drad dog View Post
Small watermelons are 3.99 in season
Is that meant as an endorsement or a condemnation? Around here, gigantic watermelons are around $4.00 when in season.
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Old 10-15-2019, 04:58 PM
nelliebly is online now
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Originally Posted by silenus View Post
Whatever you get at Trader Joe's, don't fall in love with it. It will be gone next month.
It's like Costco that way, but like Costco, TJ's has perennial items. Their Chocolately Cat Cookies (for People) is one. My kids loved them, and they're grown now--and still love 'em!

One seasonal item I like is their turkey en croute. My TJ's also has an excellent selection of breads, some from a favorite local bakery.
  #44  
Old 10-15-2019, 04:58 PM
Labor is offline
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Cheese! Wine and beer are good bargains. The boxed Shiraz is tasty.

My wife rolls her eyes each time but: Speculous - cookie butter spread.

I don't like the frozen stuff, too processed, but the variety is great.
  #45  
Old 10-15-2019, 05:02 PM
Johnny L.A. is offline
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Definitely get the Cocoa Almonds!

Quote:
Originally Posted by silenus View Post
Whatever you get at Trader Joe's, don't fall in love with it. It will be gone next month.
Oh, wait...
  #46  
Old 10-15-2019, 05:25 PM
Wheelz is online now
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They have some really good dry pasta. My wife and I especially like the lemon pepper pappardelle.

We also stock up on chocolate treats whenever we're there - English toffee, dark chocolate peanut butter cups, salted caramel squares... all way too delicious.
  #47  
Old 10-15-2019, 05:49 PM
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Originally Posted by Dewey Finn View Post
Is that deliberate or just a consequence of locating in small lots? The store closest to me is in a small lot, with a Walgreen's next door but the lot is often full, so I have to visit the next-closest one, located next to a largish municipal lot...
The papa of our little family-owned grocery store retired without an heir to take it over and it laid fallow for a season. Walgreen's made a big push to move in (because the two Walgreen's's... what would be the plural?... each half a mile away wasn't enough saturation bombing for them). They showed the neighborhood their blueprints: two floors, drive-up... NO parking. We said "No way!" And luckily, Trader Joe's moved in: one floor of tasty foods and alcohol*, and a full floor of underground parking.

*I stop there and ask "Hey, I'm on my way to a poker game full of wine snobs. What do you have for under $10 that'll taste like it's over 20?" I've discovered some great wines that way...

...including one that my boss loved. Next time I saw him he said "The wife and I loved that Grifone red so much, we made a trip downtown to Trader Joe's and bought a case. Now I know where to go for wine deals... and how little you spend on your friends..."
  #48  
Old 10-15-2019, 06:12 PM
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Missed the edit to mention just how cheap their good stuff is...

The Wine Idiot Reviews: Grifone Primitivo (2014, $3.99)

Quote:
FULL DISCLOSURE: I've had this wine before and I knew going in that it was an excellent deal. I was at Trader Joe's and the helpful wine-aisle expert was helping me find some bottles under $5 for my upcoming wine-and-Girl-Scout-cookies post, and he grabbed this bottle and said, "this is one of my favorites," and I squealed, "ME TOO!!"
A taste of Wine Idiot's prose: "This is just a big, feisty wine with lots of stuff going on, and I think black licorice was the closest thing in my flavor vocabulary to what I'm trying to describe. It's super peppery, and I also wrote, "Earthy?? Tobacco-y?????" Which means...I honestly don't know. Because it doesn't actually taste like dirt, or cigarettes. It reminds me of a Malbec, or even that La Finca Tempranillo (another great bargain red)".
  #49  
Old 10-15-2019, 06:41 PM
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Mean Mr. Mustard is offline
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Trader Joe's carries my all time favorite spice: Chile Lime Seasoning Blend.

If you're the type who might like it, you'll love it.

Runner up: Everything But the Bagel seasoning.

linky
  #50  
Old 10-15-2019, 06:49 PM
longhair75 is offline
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I buy wine there often. I am not sure if all Trader Joe's have it but in the Italian wine section there are four varieties from the Epicurio Winery. I but this stuff a case at a time. I like the produce section. The stuff is always fresh and somewhat less expensive than the full service grocery. Another plus: Their cut flowers are always nice and quite reasonable. The Incomparable Sunflower says they last longer than any other florist I have used.
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