Trader Joe’s Top Ten Update: Pluses and Minuses

Posted by on January 12, 2009 | 4 Comments

Trader Joe's

On my Top Ten Trader Joe’s post (If you don’t have a TJ’s near you, skip ahead in the post, there is more for you too!), Janelle left the following comment, “… sometimes my staples disappear as TJs continues to evolve what is on its shelf (which I actually respect and appreciate).” Well, in that small window of time between that original post (just a day after I went shopping there), and my next trip to Trader Joe’s (yesterday), they discontinued two items on my list!  I can’t say I am as accepting as Janelle, and I didn’t hesitate to harrass the man sitting at the Captain’s Quarters that day … it seems the Pasta w/ Flax was discontinued due to slow sales (apparently I didn’t get the word out about awesome this product was fast enough!) and I am guessing because of the cost of the commodities, the Tahitian Vanilla Extract is gone and being replaced with a Tahitian “blend.” I took that to mean, not as good. Has anyone tried their Bourbon Vanilla?  I wasn’t sure if it was worth the extra cost.  $4.99 seemed a bit steep. 

Regardless, we need some items to fill in the hole left by those two losses.  Luckily, I have another item or two to recommend, and several of you did as well!

  • Roasted Eggplant and Garlic Dip ~ This is my latest addiction.  I don’t just dip with it, it goes atop poached eggs, gets spooned and stirred into brown rice (with a tablespoon of ground flax) … really, anyway I can think to enjoy it!  It is $1.99 per jar, which only lasts me about 3 to 4 servings, but it is worth it.
  • Bagged Spinach ~ I know, I know, buy in season, but it seems like I always need spinach.  Their baby spinach leaves are organic (one of those top pesticide foods) and I seem to get more out of the bag with less waste than purchasing spinach in the regular produce department at other grocers. Oh yes, and it is $1.99 for 5 ounces.
  •  From VeggieGirl: “I really love their unsweetened/unsulphured dried mango slices; and you can’t go wrong with the Candy Cane Joe-Joe’s around the holidays!!”
  • From Tracey: “Frozen Vegetables…specifically the French Style Green beans (!.99) as well as the frozen asparagus (also 1.99); frozen Edame (!.99); broccoli and spinach (1.19). The organic prices are slightly more when available, but all are at least a quarter less than supermarket brands. – Frozen Lemonade is 1.19 a can…always. It used to be 69cents then 79cents…then it made the huge jump to 1.19, still a bargain and tastes very much like the homemade lemonade I used to make from the lemons on our lemon tree at our old house.”
  • From Maggie: “My favorites are the sesame-coated almonds and the dried lychees.”
  • From Ellen: “I like their refrigerated soymilk, their organic ricemilk (in a cardboard asceptic package), their extra-firm tofu (it’s excellent for stir-frying), and their mint tea, for starters.”
  • From Lori: “TJ’s Cherry Chocolate Chip Soy Ice Cream can’t be beat!”
  • From Nupur: “their selection of nuts and dried fruits (I use them to make my own granola, and as healthy snacks), whole wheat tortillas, chocolate almond milk, jarred roasted peppers, salsas.”
  • From Jean: “You must try Trader Joes’s roasted corn in frozen foods.”

Thank you all for sharing.  Please feel free to share more, and of course, if you have some value-able foods to recommend from other grocers / companies, I am all ears!

Also, before I forget to mention, check out Mambo Sprouts for printable coupons.  If you live in their designated shipping cities, you can have their coupon book shipped to you (I don’t, rats!).  If you don’t live in one of those areas, the coupon books are often available at Whole Foods Market (I have been known to stop in at Whole Foods just to pick up the coupon book and quickly scurry out … that store isn’t exactly frugal for regular shopping!).


Filed Under: Tips, Ideas, and Deals

Comments (4)


  1. Meghan says:

    Hey there! I thought of you when I posted this… well not really you but your blogs. Dairy free muffins made from food that would otherwise be thrown out. Check it!

  2. Hélène says:

    I love TJ but we don’t have these stores in Canada. Whenever I’m in the States I make sure I make a stop at TJ. Thanks for the list.

  3. katie says:

    The bourbon vanilla is the only vanilla I use. It has a very intense flavor that goes great with dark cocoa. And, TJs discontinued my favorite item a while back too – the ginger spreas. Luckily I have 4 jars left from my last trip!

  4. GuruJ says:

    IMHO (now I rant), the bourbon vanilla at TJ’s is truly horrible. Maybe because I learned some baking in the Bourbon Islands but the vanilla is hardly vanilla. Its flavor profile (not being sarcastic) is soil. Normal baking makes the vanilla sour and over flavor the rest of the recipe.

    If you make chocolates and use a grocery store vanilla you will never have great chocolate. They put water in it which seizes the crystals in the sugars & and the fats don’t mix.

    I was a huge fan of the old TJ Tahitian Vanilla for baking with exotic sugars and brown sugar recipes.

    If you are using the Bourbon (not the alcohol used in it but the region where the vanilla cuttings were transplanted from mexico way back when) from TJ’s I beg of you to spend some money, go online get some Rains Vanilla or even worst case scenario Nielsen-Massey Vanillas (overpriced for quality but 100x better the grocery store). Try a few smaller brands that specialize in smaller batches and find what works best for your pallet and recipe book. Also try to get your vanilla as fresh as possible. It’s fresh flavor profile is so much better and I swear fresh vanilla works as an aphrodisiac!!! Vanilla gets leathery in only a month or two. Buy in small usable batches or share with families & friends. Your baking will make others think you sold your soul to the devil.


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