questionswhat amazing foods should i look for at trader…

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When I first moved to Washington from California, I used to drive over 90 mins ea way to get to the nearest TJs.

To me, the most important thing about TJ's is that anything under their brand does not contain high fructose corn syrup, GMOs, artificial flavors, colors or preservatives; MSG; or added Trans Fats.

They have the best prices on cheeses, dried fruit & nuts, tons of snacks (chips, salsa, hummus, etc), and you can get low salt/no salt versions of many foods. Their frozen foods offer great selections of international meals and combinations not seen in mainstream grocers.

I recommend frozen black bean and corn enchiladas, chicken gyoza (I make won ton soup), orange chicken, and all of their wonderful vegetable combinations.
Also check out the produce, vitamins, juices, & dairy. Recently, out of a dozen free-range chicken eggs I bought, 10 had double yolks.

Bottom line, you just have to go and browse, but Don't Go When You're Hungry!

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Just noticed the gifting question - Imported chocolates!, & maybe some jams or marmalade.

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You might ask one of the mods (@thunderthighs) to take the first "should" out of your question. She probably will anyway, because she's cool like that. As far as Trader Joe's, I have no idea what they have because there isn't one anywhere close to me. Good luck!

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If nothing else, try their "21 Seasoning Salute." Someone here recommended it a while ago, and the only place I could find it was on eBay. Utterly remarkable and useful on almost everything we cook. And it's great for gifting!

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@magic cave: Agreed! And that reminds me of Flower Pepper. Peppercorns and flower petals in a grinder for under $3. So good on tomato sandwiches, salads, and everywhere you use pepper.

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@thunderthighs: I knew you would. You're a sweetheart!

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From the refrigerated section, their chicken salad, party salsa (we prefer mild), and cilantro salad dressing. Frozen taquitos, beef and chicken. Dark chocolate covered raisins (sinful). The jarred red pepper spread with eggplant and garlic -- great on sandwiches. Lemon curd. Honestly, it's hard to find something that isn't great. The fun part is wandering around and discovering all the wonderful new things.

Oh, and around Christmas, definitely try their Peppermint Bark.

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I like the Trader Joe's "Funyons" a lot.

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They have good chocolate covered pretzels. I also like the multi-grain pretzel nuggets, and the roasted plantain chips.

But the two main things I get there are roasted, unsalted almonds, and almond butter. Best price, consistent quality.

On the other hand, I think their frozen burritos & pizza are terrible.

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Lately I've been loving their orange muscat champagne vinegar (great with a little olive oil on salad) and the Island Soyaki marinade, which you can put on just about anything--chicken, tofu, fish, etc.

I try to eat a lower sodium diet, and I also really like their fire roasted salsa with no salt added.

Other faves: 3-layer hummus, peanut butter cup trail mix (which I would totally give as a gift), their tortilla chips shaped like surfboards, superfruit spread (cherry, grape, etc. with no sugar) and their flattened bananas, which are moister and tastier than dried bananas and. . . I just can't properly describe their deliciousness.
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Other gift ideas: There are always a variety of sweet treats around the holidays. They also have chocolate covered edamame, which I think is pretty cool.

Keep in mind that some items are only available regionally.
I have to admit, I'm not a huge fan of the 21 Seasoning Salute. . . it's basically Mrs. Dash.

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I like their Mediterranean hummus, their fresh pizza dough in a bag, different flavored chicken sausages, tomato pesto frozen pizza, almond milk, frozen Indian butter chicken entree, premade sushis...

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The frozen Ahi tuna steaks at around $5.00/lb are probably the best deal you'll find, if you like fish. I'm also a fan of the honey wheat pretzels and the peanut butter filled pretzels.

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One great little trick, you only need a pot. Put 1 bottle BBQ sauce, 1 bag party meatballs, 1 can pineapple, and 1 chopped onion into a big pot. Boil it until cooked.

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@curli76: All of these(peanut butter cup trail mix, their tortilla chips shaped like surfboards, superfruit spread (cherry, grape, etc. with no sugar) and their flattened bananas, which are moister and tastier than dried bananas) you mentioned sound awesome. Makes me wish there was a TJ closer than 10 hours away. :(

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so many things, but look for the cookie butter. yes, cookie butter! it's from europe, tasty little cookies smushed up and mixed with oil to the consistency of peanut butter. I don't know what stoner came up with it, but it is so bad for you and so amazing! eat it with a spoon, also good on toast!

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Waay back, when my kids were kids, we shopped there a lot.
High fiber, protein rich bread, with TJ nut butter (nuts, oil and salt) and fruit compote (fruit, juice) made a decent snack. We all loved the peanut butter pretzels.
2Buck Chuck was very popular around here a while ago.
Waay later, I was hit up for being overweight, diabetic, and high LDL. Back to TJ for whey protein mix (two daily meals replacement) and oat bran (cardboard flakes in a bag). I lost 30 lbs, and my sugar and LDL numbers went waay down.
Like any store, you have to look around, and only get what you wanted. You never leave there with too much money.

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This blog has lots of TJ reviews, both good and bad, with which I generally agree.

Our favorites change with the seasons and our moods, but I generally find at least one new thing to try every time I go. Just be warned that because they constantly add new items, they also winnow out a comparable number of slow-selling items. Most TJ customers have stories about one or more favorite foods that disappeared. (Other items are considered seasonal and will likely return next year...like corned beef for St. Patrick's Day, and, at my store at least, sauerkraut for summer.)

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I'm a real big fan of the Orange Chicken, Sweet Potato Tortilla Chips, Honey Apple Butter and Double Roasted Salsa.

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I would try a few things every time you go. I've had good luck with just about anything, and when I was single and lived 10 minutes from one, I pretty muchdid my grocery shopping there exclusively.

Some things that are staples for us are: trail mixes, nuts, and dried fruits. They are very reasonably priced and delicious. As mentioned before, the cranberry chicken salad is so good! As is 21 seasoning salute. If you are single, their frozen section is fantastic you can have a different type of cuisine every day and they all taste way better than most of the brands sold in other stores. We love the peppered salami, I've found it elsewhere, but it is a few dollars a pound more. The fondue mixes are a great shortcut if you're into that kind of thing. The green beans in the chip section are awesome if you like green beans and crunch. Also, the corn salsa is always a hit. We have found corn salsa at Walmart, but there is no comparison. I often buy flowers there too.

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Reliably good are trail mixes, dried fruit, nuts, peanut butter. I always buy jars of marinara there -- tasty and no added sugar. Fresh and dried pasta. I love the cheese and green chili tamales from the freezer case. They have a jarred caramel sauce that is very, very good. And, at Christmas time, they have Peppermint Jo-Jos (or maybe they are called candy-cane jojos?) that are like oreos but with bits of candy cane in the filling. I love those things. I also like their Reduced-guilt potato chips. Oh, and I buy cereal there, too. And olive oil. And balsamic vinegar.

I do gift baskets from their stuff all the time. Nuts and dried fruits, pasta and sauce, chips and jarred salsa and jarred queso. It might cost a fortune to ship but they seem to always be appreciated.

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I don't buy as much produce there -- everything is in wrapped and on trays -- but is sometimes a good deal. You do have to make sure it is still fresh, sometimes the bagged salads are distressed. I don't really like the quality of their meat and their cheese almost always goes bad a day or two after I buy it.

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Peanut butter stuffed pretzels. Trust me.

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Whew! Gonna double up on some of the replies, but just shopped there last night, so here are my thoughts (Falls Church, VA)

Staples:
Milk is $1 per gallon cheaper
Second the pizza dough
Organic Pasta Sauce (No salt added!)
High-fiber bread
Pitas & store brand Hummus
Tiny frozen peas
Joe's O's
Anything from nuts & dried fruits
Frozen Seafood
Turkey Meatballs
Pasta (tortellini esp.)

Mixed luck on their produce. Flowers don't last very long.

Goodies:
Dunking cookies
Butter cookies with chocolate dots!
Chocolate covered anything (jellies, nuts, raisins, pecan clusters, etc)
Somebody Glass Chocolate cake (frozen)
Joe-Joe Cookies (candy cane @ Xmas)
Key Lime Cheesecake

You can go wrong, but it's definitely the exception rather than the rule. And, like anything else, know your products & prices. For example: shredded cheese, regular yogurt, and OJ can generally be gotten cheaper elsewhere. But it is rare that I get something bad.

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I'm a big fan of their pretzel rolls. It's a regular kaiser-type roll but made with pretzel dough. Fantastic for turkey sandwiches and other similar things. Very hard to find these rolls anywhere else.

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The best thing about Trader Joe's is that you can buy anything in the store, try it and, if you don't like it, take it back.

I get a BBQ Chicken Salad at least once a week. The Chimchurri rice and Japanese rice frozen packs are awesome and fast. I've gotten addicted to the Cheddar and Gruyere mixed cheese, it makes fanastic grilled cheese sandwiches. I also get Protein with Pizzazz drinks if I stop in after a workout. The alcohols are good and inexpensive too.

We used to get the bbq rib packs but they have seriously shrunk in the last six months or so.

We love Trader Joe's!

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Love the olive bread and Ezekiel bread and other breads. Hummus. Chocolate cherries. Muffins.

And let me offer an off-topic salute to Fort Worth :)