I Know This Post Isn’t Making Me Any Friends: Why I Don’t Like Trader Joe’s


Growing up in Northern California, Trader Joe’s was the stuff of lore. Sometimes my grandparents would stop there on their way to us from Southern California. Eventually one opened about a half-hour drive away and sometimes we’d make a special trip.

But now, after taking a few years off from Trader Joe’s and coming back, I’m convinced something has changed. Since we moved to Pittsburgh we’ve been conducting an informal experiment by eating exclusively Trader Joe’s. I’m home all day, just me and the Trader Joe’s. My diet now consists of…junk food: Just the Clusters Vanilla Almond Granola Cereal, Frozen Veggie Enchiladas, Masala Burgers, fries, Multiseed with Soysauce Savory Thin Mini Rice Crackers. Even the trail mix has yogurt and peanut butter chips. I’m full up on salt and carbs. And the fruit and veggies…at first I was all dreamy about bagged pre-washed, but (surprise) turns out they don’t taste that great. And this, too:

1. Why don’t they have organic ice cream?

2. Or humanely-raised meat?

3. They don’t sell baby food.

4. I feel unhealthy.

I realize I have myself to blame for my food choices. As my sister points out, I can’t blame Trader Joe’s that I feel bad today after having eaten half a bag of TJ’s chocolate chips. Point taken. Today wasn’t the best day. D swears by their taquitos. And if we had the time or energy to cook (like in pre-baby days), instead of eating frozen food, this would’t be such an issue. Basically I just miss the Park Slope Food Coop, which is where we shopped in Brooklyn. Don’t worry, tomorrow back to regularly-scheduled cute baby announcements.



19 thoughts on “I Know This Post Isn’t Making Me Any Friends: Why I Don’t Like Trader Joe’s

  1. LOL! I hear you. We have zero time to cook, too, so I never quite feel like our diets are as healthy and veggie-full as they should be. We have just had a few TJ open up close to us, and I still haven’t made it out yet. I’ll have to check it out. 🙂

  2. I completely understand where you are coming from! We are a fair bit of convenience food and then finally started to batch Cook and freeze. One- pot suppers are handy too when you find you have a little more time on your hands. :0)

    • Yes, one of these days we are going to start cooking on Sundays and freezing. Or planning the week’s meals in advance. It’s no good feeling so full of sodium and sugar all the time–hard enough to stay positive home with babies when you don’t feel blah.

    • If I could buy all my food at a farmer’s market, but I could also have the TJs chocolate chips, life would be heaven. It’s the subsisting on chocolate chips and processed food that’s bringing me down. Thank you for visiting and commenting!

  3. I laud your bravery in stating your opinion here! My impression has been that they have a lot of cheap pre-packaged and frozen goods, which is a great time-saver but not really a healthy choice… I’ve never been able to tolerate theTJ NYC lines that wrap around the entire store like a serpent, squeezing you away from actual browsing. I just grab at things when I see them and shove them in my cart before moving to another cattle line.

    • Oh, the NYC TJs lines are a whole other blog post! And yes, I agree, there’s a reason it’s the cheap option… Processed food, not fresh or sustainable. Thanks for backing me up, Sherri! 🙂

  4. You know, this post came to my emails last night but when I tried to like it, it said the page was deleted. Thought you might have been having second thoughts about your ‘scathing’ review of Trader Joes! Anyway, just wanted to say it was a nice change of pace and really alarming when they mutate health food and junk food. (They should coin a phrase for that…)

    • I know–so annoying!–that was some sort of wordpress malfunction. Somehow it went out to people over email, but didn’t post on the web. Weird. I had to re-post this morning. I know, it is disconcerting, junk food with the aura of health food. Jealth food? Hunk food? No…

      • This is a question for the ages. I will have to ponder. Don’t be surprised if I get back to you with the perfect phrase in one of your comments sections like a month from now and please feel free to do the same if you come up with anything.

  5. I don’t like Trader Joe’s either, with the exception of a handful of things (their tilapia fillets and corn salsa, hummus, lebkuchen at Christmas). It just seems like a lot of kind of unhealthy packaged food. I’ve also had terrible luck with their produce– I’ve bought lots of things that ended up being rotten, and their selection isn’t good, and it’s just kind of unappealing. And I try to buy organic/humanely raised meat and dairy and that’s not a possibility there.

    Which is not to say that I’m too good for pre-made things or non-organic stuff, but I just end up going there for snack food, and it’s not like I need help locating snack foods.

    • I have a lot of those TJs things I like, too. But turns out subsisting on Trader Joe’s is a bad idea. And I completely agree about the dairy and meat. And the produce.

    • I think the price is good, but agree about the processed food. Thanks for visiting! I keep trying to figure out how to follow your blog but don’t see a way.

      • I know…I’m still trying to figure it out. I have no idea what the issue is…grr. There doesn’t appear to be any setting for me to change, meanwhile it tells me that some people are following, so I have no idea how they did it!

  6. Late to the party! We buy quite a bit at Trader Joe’s, but it’s definitely not a place to do your primary food shopping, nor do I think that’s what it’s intended to be. Some of what we get there is snack food, but there are also some good finds in the frozen section and some good cheap basics, like olive oil and flour tortillas and coffee and maple syrup, that we prefer to buy there. They also stock some good cheeses and reliably have organic eggs at a reasonable price. I basically ignore the produce section unless I spot something interesting out of the corner of my eye. I’m not a super stickler for organic meat (I would like to be, but on a practical level I’m just not there), so we tend to buy some of the vacuum-packed marinated meat that TJ’s sells and keep it on hand in the freezer for those “what the hell are we having for dinner” moments. Also, their cut flowers are nice, and our TJ’s moved half a mile up the street about 18 months ago and thus ended up in New Hampshire, so now they sell beer and wine, which is convenient.

    • Hi! Yeah, it’s not that I don’t like some of their products, it’s just trying to eat their stuff exclusively that I run into problems. I really like the time and convenience of one-stop shopping, but I guess that just isn’t going to happen here. Farmer’s market for some things, Coop for others, TJs for some and Target. Oh well. And I wish they had wine and beer at the TJs in PA (!), but there are some pretty intense blue laws around these parts, so I guess that won’t be happening for a while.

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