Trader Joe's has established for itself quite the following. People are attracted to their unique products and smaller scale stores. That have tons of unique and interesting items from their cookie butter to coconut oil in a spray can. One thing that I personally don't think is all that and a bag of sriracha chips is the produce department. It is not a big draw, at least not for me. I prefer to shop places that have sales and more local produce. That doesn't mean you should just avoid produce at TJ's. While I won't typically go to Trader Joe's for produce specifically, there are things I might be there if I am already in the store. Below you will find my recommendations on items that are worth purchasing.
1. Bags of apples
They always have bagged apples for a decent price. You are better off buying them by the bag instead of individual apples. The single price of an apple is more pricey. Remember Trader's doesn't do things by the pound. You are paying a per apple price.
2. Large sized Bananas
My strategy when choosing bananas at Trader Joe's in the opposite of what I do everywhere else. Typically for my kids sake I choose bunches with smaller sized fingers (that is actually what they are called!). Since again no by the pound pricing, I pick the bunches with the largest bananas on them since I will be paying the same price no matter the size of the actual banana.
3. Bagged salads
They have a good selection of packaged salads. Their organic selections are actually Earthbound Farms. I have watched employees take the salads out of boxes that said Earthbound on them. It's not uncommon for Earthbound to package their salads with store brand labels. The same is true at Whole Foods Market.
4. Bagged avocados
My son loves avocadoes, which I am so happy about. They are so good for you and he will just eat them with a spoon. I usually will pick up a bag of avocodos when I am in the store. The price is pretty good - $2.99 for a bag of 4. Lot of places you have to pay at least $1 for one avocado and that sizes can vary quite a bit.
5. Bagged multi-colored or small potatoes
They are good at having bags of multi-colored or small potatoes in stock. I see them every time I got to the store. These are really good for quickly boiling or sauteing.
6. Special Seasonal Items
There are some cases where they do have special seasonal produce items, that I will buy there. They were the first store I got Thomcord grapes from. These are seedless grapes that are a cross between a green Thompson seedless grape and a concord grape. They have that Concord flavor that you know in love from your Welch's grape juice and jelly jar. No seeds to worry about like you do with regular Concords.
During citrus season I pick up their bags of Sky Valley Heirloom Navels. These are navel oranges grown the traditional way that put California on the map for citrus. They are super sweet and full of flavor you will never find in a standard Navel orange. I do buy their Cara Caras and Satsuma mandarins sometimes, but they can be hit or miss in terms of flavor.
A super sweet variety of apricots, called an Angelcot. I have made some amazing jam with these apricots.
Trader Joe's sells nectarines and peaches in little cardboard crates. The nice thing about these crates for a foodie like me is that they list the variety that is inside. I once found some Honey Fire nectarines. Those were all kinds of amazing. Sweet with a rich nectarine taste. I recommend checking the boxes for this name whenever nectarines are in season. I saw this variety in June before.
Another piece of stone fruit to watch out for are the Rose apriums from Family Tree Farms. They come around in August. An aprium is a cross between an apricot and a plum, with a higher percentage of apricot. These are some of the sweetest fruit I have ever had. And so juicy. Can't wear a nice shirt while eating these guys.
A Final Thought
One last thing to add is that I never buy berries at Trader Joe's. Each week some other grocery store will have some type of berry on sale that will make it cheaper than Trader Joe's. So I completely avoid them.
Thanks for the great post with helpful advice!