Trader Joe's Cherry Creek
Trader Joe's Cherry Creek by Aranami (CC BY)

23 Things You Should Skip at Trader Joe's

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Trader Joe's Cherry Creek
Trader Joe's Cherry Creek by Aranami (CC BY)

Trader No-Nos

While many shoppers feel like Trader Joe's can do no wrong (and we agree, most of the time), we've frequented the store's compact aisles enough to know that not everything's a winner, no matter how quirky the packaging or inexpensive the price. No, we won't tell you to stop buying your beloved Everything But the Bagel or Mandarin Orange Chicken, but here are some products you may want to consider skipping on your next Trader Joe's run.

Prices and availability are subject to change. Raechel Conover contributed to this report.

Related: Why Trader Joe's Employees Are Surprisingly Helpful and Happy

Trader Joe's Organic Ranch Dressing
Cheapism

Organic Ranch Dressing

$2.79

For a store that does so well with condiments like hot sauce and salsa, TJ's ranch dressing is a big miss. It has a weirdly thin consistency, which is particularly disappointing for any self-respecting ranch lover who knows it is as much a dip as it is a salad dressing. It's not a favorite of The Kitchn, either, which notes its herb-happy flavor is off-putting.


Related: Costco, Trader Joe's, Aldi: How Do They Stay So Cheap?

Charles Shaw Wine
Cheapism

Charles Shaw White Zinfandel

$3.99

No one expects "two-buck Chuck" to please the wine snobs of the world, but some of it is surprisingly drinkable (for the price, anyway). Not in that category: the white zinfandel, which is perennially at the bottom of the barrel during expert tastings like this one from Thrillist.

Related: 15 Best House Wines From Costco, Aldi, and Trader Joe's

Trader Joe's Broccoli and Kale Pizza Crust
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Broccoli and Kale Pizza Crust

$3.99

Look, we'd rather not have pizza than have pizza crust that tastes like broccoli and kale, or as TJ's reviewer Become Betty puts it, a product that lets you "taste the sadness." If you must defile pizza, we begrudgingly approve of Trader Joe's less-offensive Cauliflower Pizza Crust, which is the same price. 


Related: Trader Joe's 25 Best Buys for Packing Your Freezer

Trader Joe's Macaroni and Cheese Wisconsin Cheddar
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Macaroni and Cheese Wisconsin Cheddar

$0.99

The bad news: Trader Joe's basic boxed mac and cheese earned a resounding "meh" in Cheapism's recent taste test of 13 store brands. The good news: Our favorite was actually TJ's higher-brow Organic Shells and White Cheddar, so as long as you're not feeding kids who will turn their noses up at anything unlike Kraft, choose wisely.


Related: Fun Facts You Didn't Know About Mac and Cheese

Trader Joe's Honey Walnut Shrimp
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Honey Walnut Shrimp

$6.99

This should be a dish TJ's has on lock, much like its other tasty frozen Asian fare. But what should be an addictively sweet, filling dish with a satisfying crunch instead is saddled by a sauce that tastes overwhelmingly like pineapple if you're feeling charitable, like the folks at What's Good at Trader Joe's, or like "toxic cheese fume" if you're not, like prolific TJ's reviewer Mantou Joe.


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Trader Joe's Plain Bagels
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Plain Bagels

$2.69

Taste-wise, these are on par with most other supermarket bagels. But unless you're planning to plow through the whole package the day you buy them, steer clear. As Brokelyn notes, TJ's doesn't load up its bagels with preservatives, which means they get hard and inedible faster than you can break out the cream cheese.

Trader Joe's Chipotle Vegetable Quesadillas
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Chipotle Vegetable Quesadillas

$3.69

While they taste relatively inoffensive (not a ringing endorsement), our main complaint here is the price: nearly $4 for two measly quesadillas that we could probably whip up at home for less than 50 cents. Also, note what they actually look like compared with the picture on the box before you decide to buy.

Trader Joe's Bath Tissue
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Bath Tissue

$3.99

If you are eco-conscious, you might like TJ's toilet paper. It's made from 100% recycled paper and doesn't have chlorine bleach to give it that whiter-than-white appearance. But if you're more concerned with softness, run away: This stuff is just a little more coarse than our tender behinds are used to.


Related: Things You Never Knew About Toilet Paper

Trader Joe's Cheese-less Cheesecake
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Cheese-less ‘Cheesecakes’

$3.99

Maybe, just maybe, these things are an acceptable alternative for vegans who don't remember what cheesecake tastes like: rich, creamy, and indulgent. For those of us who've had the real thing lately, they are a pale substitute at best. (Also, they're made with lima beans, which is just … wrong.)


Related:Best Store-Bought Desserts from Trader Joe's

Trader Joe's Bay Blend Coffee
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Bay Blend Coffee

$12.99

Trader Joe's has a wide-ranging and surprisingly sophisticated selection of coffee, but unless you are committed to the darkest of dark roasts, there are better choices than Bay Blend. It's not just us: Thrillist says "you're better off steeping some pennies in a cup of hot water." Mmmmmm.

Related: The Best Cheap Coffee, According to a Coffee Snob

Trader Joe's Queso Cheese Dip
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Trader Joe's Joe-Joe's
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Joe-Joe’s

$2.99

We're totally here for the seasonal riffs on Trader Joe's staple cookie, like Chocolate-Covered Peppermint Joe-Joe's (droooooool). But when it comes to what's on the shelves year round, we're just ... underwhelmed, and we're not alone. Oreos still win the sandwich-cookie game.

Trader Joe's Protein Patties
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Protein Patties

$4.49

Meat substitutes are all the rage, and Trader Joe's has hopped on the bandwagon with several products, including its soy chorizo, a well-loved classic. But these? Well, we wanted something beefy tasting, and we got beets. And peas. And some other nebulous flavors that try to taste like meat but fail. In other words: A veggie burger, yes. But nothing that will make the executives at Beyond Burger fear for their day jobs.


Related: Can't Get Ground Beef? This Meatless Burger Fooled Our Tasters

Trader Joe's Organic Watermelon Jerky
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Organic Watermelon Jerky

$3.69

File this seasonal offering, introduced a couple years ago, under "Just because you can, doesn't mean you should." Watermelon is fantastic precisely because it is so juicy. Eating leathery strips of it? Not fantastic, even if it is organic. As one reviewer concludes, "Y'all can do better than this."

Trader Joe's Pizza 4 Formaggi Pizza
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Pizza 4 Formaggi

$3.99

Most of Trader Joe's frozen food is a grand slam, but in Cheapism's comparison of 13 grocery-store frozen pizzas, the Pizza 4 Formaggi was truly disappointing. The cheese wasn't anything to write home about, and the wood-fire taste touted on the box was undetectable.

Trader Joe's Baked Cheese Crunchies
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Baked Cheese Crunchies

$1.99

Trader Joe's Baked Cheese Crunchies are akin to what Cheetos might taste like if they were, well, less cheesy. But when was the last time you wished for a less-cheesy Cheeto? Never? Exactly.


Related: Store-Brand Foods That Deliver Quality and Savings

Seasoned Kale Chips
Cheapism
chocolate lava gnocchi
Cheapism

Chocolate Lava Gnocchi

$2.99

We put this on a list of must-buys for the holidays based on our knowledge of Trader Joe's other varieties of gnocchi. And, well, we're sorry. We expected sweet little lava cakes, and we got some kind of chocolate-potato goop. If it reappears on shelves next holiday season, this one is a hard pass.

Trader Joe's Paper Towels
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Paper Towels

$3.99

Honestly, just skip the paper products at TJ's. We have no doubt that you can wipe up a mess with these, and like their toilet-paper counterparts, they're made from 100% recycled paper and contain no bleach. But at $3.99 for three rolls, they're kinda pricey. As one Redditor puts it, "Only for emergencies when I don’t want to go to Target."


Related: Cleaning Products That Are a Complete Waste of Money

Matcha Green Tea Powder
Source: Cheapism
Trader Joe's Joe's O's
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Joe’s O’s

$1.99

We're not sure we're as offended by Joe's O's as Real Simple, which calls this cereal out for "a stale, dry texture and excessively bland flavor." But we can agree they're definitely not great (and we'd go so far as to say that about most TJ's cereals). They cost about 13 cents an ounce, but savvy shoppers can combine sales and coupons at other stores to get real, honest-to-goodness Cheerios for close to that price, too.


Related: Things You Didn't Know About Your Favorite Childhood Cereals

Trader Joe's Thai Shrimp Gyozas
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Thai Shrimp Gyoza

$4.99

Oooooh, exotic. Or … not. "They don't taste like anything special at all," laments What's Good at Trader Joe's. “There's nothing that sets these apart in any discernible way, shape or form.” In other words, don't expect any hints of lemongrass, any heat, any … well, anything, except a doughy shrimp dumpling that has no business being branded as Thai.

Trader Joe's Broccoli and Cheddar Cheese Quiche
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Broccoli and Cheese Quiche

$2.29

We'd be here for awhile if we called out everything at TJ's that's unhealthy, but the Broccoli and Cheese Quiche deserves a special shout-out, especially as shoppers look for protein-dense dishes like this one. But this seemingly healthy meal totals more than 900 mg of sodium. Each quiche also has 30 grams of fat, including 15 grams of saturated fat — 75% of your recommended daily value.


Related: Unhealthy Fast Food Breakfasts