The 5 Things I Never Buy at Trader Joe’s

updated Oct 23, 2020
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(Image credit: Diana Liang)

I’ve never been shy about professing my love for all the wonderful things Trader Joe’s has to offer. I’m a huge fan of everything from those quirky snacks and smart solutions that make dinner prep easier to the cheese case and freezer section. And yet, there are some things I just can’t bring myself to buy at this beloved store (for a multitude of reasons).

Here are five things I never buy at Trader Joe’s.

1. Coffee

I’m not a coffee snob by any stretch, but I really love a good robust, full-bodied cup of Joe to start my day. Perhaps I just haven’t tried the right blend, but Trader Joe’s coffee just doesn’t do it for me. I used to drink their French roast regularly and have sampled a number of other beans, but the flavor always tastes muted and flat.

(Image credit: Michaela Cisney)

2. Produce

I have given TJ’s produce so many chances because I really want to love it. The selection is robust and the prices are almost always better than my traditional grocery store, but the TJ’s stuff often spoils so quickly. Instead, I stick with a mix of seasonal produce from my CSA, farmers market, and local grocery store.

In full disclosure, and to be fair, I have a few exceptions to this, including cauliflower rice and strawberries.

Read more: Why Is the Produce at Trader Joe’s So Freaking Disappointing?

3. Fresh seafood

While I love a good bargain, there are certain times I’m willing to pay a premium for better quality, and fresh seafood is one example. I’d rather make a trip to my local fish monger (or even to Whole Foods), even though I know I could get something for less money at Trader Joe’s.

4. Marinated meats

Trader Joe’s has an especially wide variety of marinated meat, from chicken to pork tenderloin to beef. But these marinated meats don’t make their way into my cart, because they are way too salty for my taste. And I’m a salt-lover, so that’s saying a lot!)

5. Pancake mix

Usually I’ll whip up a batch of homemade pancakes, but some mornings the convenience of a boxed mix just works better for my schedule and level of motivation. I’ve tried the TJ’s mix several times, most recently during a family trip, and it didn’t deliver as well as other name-brand box mixes.

Your turn! Are there any products you prefer to pass up at Trader Joe’s?