Trader Joes? Healthy?

topic posted Thu, January 4, 2007 - 8:34 PM by  wil
I've been shopping at Trader Joes lately and have been buying the pre-packaged meals. I was wondering if they are "healthy" or if they just give the image of healthy because they are at trader joes? Any help?

Also, check out :) thanks guys/gals
posted by:
offline wil
San Diego
  • Unsu...

    Re: Trader Joes? Healthy?

    Thu, January 4, 2007 - 9:41 PM
    I'd go with "image of healthy" for the most part.

    Individual items will vary, of course, but most of the prepackaged things are still pretty high in sodium and/or fat. Check the labels for what you want. If worse comes to worst, you can always get things just as "treats" and not as "every day food".
    • Re: Trader Joes? Healthy?

      Thu, January 4, 2007 - 10:09 PM
      I agree, sodium is often high to enhance taste of course...
      Good advice from Dragon
      • Unsu...

        Re: Trader Joes? Healthy?

        Fri, January 5, 2007 - 3:22 PM
        trader joes hasa lot of processed food, not much bulk grain, and almost no produce.

        i do not recommend then if you have a better store to go to
        • Unsu...

          Re: Trader Joes? Healthy?

          Fri, January 5, 2007 - 4:45 PM
          i agree with the above posters.... BUT, trader joes packaged/processed food IS better than regular grocery store's processed food because most (if not all) do not contain artificial preservatives/ additives. some are even organic.

          my recommendation (like the poster above), eat more organic whole foods, stay away from ALL processed foods (whenever possible).

          (eat grains, veggies, fruit, lean proteins, herbs, spices, beans, legumes.... :)
          • Unsu...

            Re: Trader Joes? Healthy?

            Fri, January 5, 2007 - 5:08 PM
            i guess the point is to make your own packaged food.

            I understand that the "time thing" is always a big issue, but by utilizing some time management techniques and by preparing ahead of time, you can make your own quick and easy meals.

            we have gotten into this mentality that packaged food is the only alternative because we "don't have time"....well, we do, its just that no one ever showed you how to utilize that time.

            i have worked with women with 3 kids, 2 jobs, and had no support from their SO or husband, and we figured out how to find the time.

            its a matter of paradigm-how you see the world and how you fashion your understanding of reality based on that perception. by shifting your paradigm from "i dont have time " to "how can i find the time or utilize my time more effectively" then you wont have to rely on prepackaged meals from trader joes, whole foods ,or swansons.
            • moRe: Trader Joes? Healthy?

              Fri, January 5, 2007 - 5:38 PM
              ... but this is the "Healthy Food For _Lazy_ People" tribe ...

              • Re: moRe: Trader Joes? Healthy?

                Fri, January 5, 2007 - 6:02 PM

                though sometimes it's not's time budgeting constraints (eat something pre prepped, or not eat at all...always better to eat some food than no food, we're not snakes who can gorge and then fast for a month ;-)).

                I found TJs good for condiments that could be used in simple things, and some of the stuff in the freezer section, like the potstickers, the salmon, these were good too (and better priced than if i went to a more chi chi store ;-))
            • Re: Trader Joes? Healthy?

              Fri, January 5, 2007 - 6:03 PM
              a couple of other things to remember:

              Sharing is caring :P... seriously, if you get together with a friend or two once a week and make meals together, it's tons of fun, and you can make big batches of stuff (soups, chili, etc.) and split them so that you don't get sick of the food.

              One of the things I learned from Mrs. Anna Madrigal [Tales of the City] is that "life is work, darling" (it's a bad paraphrase). If you can learn how to enjoy the process (journey, etc.) then getting there is SO much more satisfactory.

              Finally, lots of healthy meals that you can make to freeze are super simple! Like 20-60 minutes of prep, then just keep an eye on it while it hots up... it doesn't have to be labor intensive to be delicious, both the day of and later.

              • Re: Trader Joes? Healthy?

                Fri, January 5, 2007 - 6:28 PM
                <<<Sharing is caring :P... seriously, if you get together with a friend or two once a week and make meals together, it's tons of fun, and you can make big batches of stuff (soups, chili, etc.) and split them so that you don't get sick of the food. >>>

                wow thats a great idea milo!
              • Unsu...

                Re: Trader Joes? Healthy?

                Fri, January 5, 2007 - 7:15 PM
                dude! that is an awesome IDEA!!!

                i am going to recommed that to my clients!!!


                it IS possible to get around the time stuff.

                you just have to be creative-and you dont have to be any less lazy!!!

                awesome comment-one of the best I have seen yet, milo!
                • Re: Trader Joes? Healthy?

                  Fri, January 5, 2007 - 7:48 PM
                  All I have to say is that I opened up a can of TJ's fat free re-fried black beans today and even after warming it up, it had the consistency of dog food.

                  • This is the maximum depth. Additional responses will not be threaded.

                    Re: Trader Joes? Healthy?

                    Fri, January 5, 2007 - 7:51 PM
                    i have to admit, TJs fat free reefer beans haven't been my favorite either ;-)

                    rosarita brand chile and lime reefer beans low fat are much better...consistency wise, that is.
                    • Re: Trader Joes? Healthy?

                      Fri, January 5, 2007 - 11:06 PM
                      THat makes sense though, it's fat free...
                      Fat is what brings lots of flavor and consistency...
                      Now, I think T.J.'s is great to compliment your grocery shopping, that's how I use it.
                      I get some stuff that I use when I am in a hurry, like their organic veggie blend, corn/soybeans/redbellpepper/sweetpeas and I steam it and add to quinoa, millet or any grain.
                      I think again it's all about balance...
                      • Re: Trader Joes? Healthy?

                        Sat, January 6, 2007 - 6:03 PM
                        "... but this is the "Healthy Food For _Lazy_ People" tribe ... "

                        You guys are not *always* lazy with food... please tell me I am right...
                        • Re: Trader Joes? Healthy?

                          Sun, January 7, 2007 - 9:34 AM
                          You guys are not *always* lazy with food... please tell me I am right...

                          if i am eating alone, than yep, lazy lazy.. raw vegan is the style. i picked up shift at arestaruatn and that helps.. pitiful i know...

                          i do go all out if i have someone in the kitchen with me, or if i have some fablouse tunes on and ight that is "themeatic"... i live in a camper so there is very little prep space and my fridge is the size of a pea, so that too can make you shy away from lots of ingredients and the need for more then one pot or pan.....
                          • Re: Trader Joes? Healthy?

                            Sun, January 7, 2007 - 10:37 AM
                            with the kitchen i have, i might as well live in a camper!
                            almost no prep space, not enough space to store more than minimal amt. of pots and pans, doing one pot meals or one pan meals is the norm (okay, sometimes two, 1 for the pasta and 1 for what's going on top). and usually not large amts because i don't want to be eating the same food as leftovers forever and a day.

                            i thnk a lot of cooks would consider my style of cooking lazy....because i just don't have the time, the space or the tools to do a lot of prepping, so i rely on canned foods, frozen foods, pastas, some fresh veggies, a loaf of bread and a package of tortillas.

                            oh, and a WIDE variety of condiments ;-). they don't take up much room, they last for quite a while, and they can make something ordinary....extraordinary (and lazy!)

                            a nice selection of spices in the rack is good too.
                            • Re: Trader Joes? Healthy?

                              Sun, January 7, 2007 - 2:46 PM
                              I think that if you want to use TJ's packaged foods YOU MUST READ labels.

                              Look for the additives (or non additives...salt free, trans fat free). A LOT of their foods now are multigrained....Many will have 3+ grams of dietary fiber/serving.

                              My fav fast food, built from a TJ's item: My gourmet pizza:

                              1 TJ's Italian quattro formaggi frozen pizza (very thin....exceedingly LITTLE topping and little to no red sauce!!!!)
                              1/2 pckg prewashed baby spinach
                              some grated parmesean and romano cheese
                              1-2 cups fresh basil leaves
                              1-2 bell peppers sliced
                              1-2 roma tomatoes, sliced
                              any other steamed veggies (broccoli and asparagus are my favs)
                              low fat pizza cheese
                              Soy-sensation pizza cheese
                              chopped or sliced proscuitto (optional)

                              pre heat oven to 425 .remove wrapping from pizza. put on stone

                              IN a bowl... cut up spinach and basil get the rough chopped look. put on top of frozen pizza. drizzle some of the parm/romano mixture over. Then arrange bell peppers on top, then add tomatoes on top. Top with combination low fat and soy cheese to your satisfaction (peoples amt of cheese varies). On top of cheese put steamed veggies and perhaps the prosciutto and some sliced basil.

                              Put in oven 20 - 25 minutes (or watch).

                              What I love is the crust is thin and crispy. And while Soy has fat in's good fat. And it adds protien. I've cooked this for NON veggie people who absolutly LOVE it.

                              Hope you enjoy it. It gets made at my house at least every other week. I have 2 slices for dinner.... then can have at tleast 2 more meals from it... lunch or dinner.

        • Re: Trader Joes? Healthy?

          Tue, January 9, 2007 - 2:50 PM
          This propably depends a lot on which Trader Joes and where it is . Some have much better Produce than others We have two nearby and they are very different in what items they carry
  • Re: Trader Joes? Healthy?

    Sun, January 7, 2007 - 2:50 PM
    I also use TJ's for various things, but not my main shopping. The frozen salmon patties(salmon, water, salt) are great just broken up in a frying pan with various veggies. I get frozen veggies there.. mainly spinach, green beans, and asparagus, because I love green food, and it's cheap! I get a lot of basic sauces and chutneys there(carefully watching labels) and I can't really pass up the baklava. :D

    What's so unhealthy about honey and nuts? *laughs*
    • wil
      offline 1

      Re: Trader Joes? Healthy?

      Sun, January 7, 2007 - 4:54 PM
      woah, didnt think i'd get such a huuuuge response.Thanks to everyone that responded to this post. I'm going to post my schedule so you guys can figure out where i'm going wrong.

      Here's my daily food:

      Breakfast: - at work snacking on something - eating some breakfast burritos. ( i work at a start-up so this kind of thing is fine) :)
      Lunch: Come home and eat something that ive prepared the night before or some TJ's. Or i'll eat at johnny mananas in oceanside, great and healthy burritos.
      Dinner: whatever i can get my hands on , Chicken, etc... not a lot of red meat - TJ's

      Here's my schedule:

      8:30 wake up
      8:37 Get on the road to work
      9:00 - 6:00pm at work
      6:00-630 driving to the skatepark
      6:30-7:00 warming up
      7:00-8:30 or 9:00 - skating hard.
      9:15-9:30 - Driving home
      9:45 eat dinner... i'm exhausted at this point and really dont have the energy or ambition to prepare food.

      Any ideas? :)

      Thanks so much
      • Unsu...

        Re: Trader Joes? Healthy?

        Sun, January 7, 2007 - 11:02 PM
        Yes, TJ's prepackaged meals are often very high in sodium and fats. Some things in the frozen section are pretty clean and convenient, though. And if you can afford it, their pre-chopped and washed produce is great. TJ's can be good IF you shop carefully.

        but first, I'd ask why you think you're "going wrong" somewhere.

        how's your energy and alertness? do you get sick often? feel hungry often? are you overweight?
        if none of those, then why trouble yourself too much?

        however, I do agree that 9:45 IS rather late to be eating dinner. most folks don't have time to digest dinner before bed at that hour - which means digesting while you should be resting, which means less restful sleep AND poorer digestion, which can lead to all manner of complaints from ulcers and heartburn to overweight to fatigue. I often skip dinner because of this, but I get plenty of nutrition during the day.

        can you get up earlier and make and eat breakfast at home? and/or make lunch and snacks at home, too? I get up at 6am when I need to be at work at 8am. I make breakfast, lunch and snacks in this time, in addition to feeding the cats and getting dressed and checking the weather and a quick peek at tribe.

        maybe you could bring dinner and eat it before or immediately after skating so you can just go home and crash.

        can you ride a bike to and from work sometimes so you don't need to visit the skate park after work every day?

        just some thoughts.

        • Re: Trader Joes? Healthy?

          Mon, January 8, 2007 - 12:24 AM
          Yep, great suggestoins Madeleine!
          I agree, your current dinner time is way too late and leads you to poor sleep and digestion.
          Try to eat in between your warm up and super skating.
          There are so many ways you can still eat healthy, okay you might eat cold since you'll eat "out" in between your practice but I think soon you would feel quite energy coming back.
          Or don't you have a fellow you could eat with that skates with you, you guys could motivate each other by preparing meals for each other, you one week and him or she another week or every two days, whatever?
          It's always fun getting involved with other people.
          Think about it..
          You'll have more fun skatin cause more energy to burn! and you won't be THAT burned out, just enough to crash like Madeleine was saying.
      • Unsu...

        Re: Trader Joes? Healthy?

        Tue, January 9, 2007 - 2:37 PM
        Eat something better for breakfast. While a breakfast burrito may be acceptable at your company, it's not a five-a-week-acceptable thing for your body, heavy skating or no.

        I make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich in the morning. Takes minimal time, and it can be as good for you as you want. (Mine's super-chunky peanut butter, a good quality strawberry jam with giant hunks of fruit, and on crushed wheat bread, which has oodles of fiber but still tastes good.) When people at work make fun of me, I just say "it's the original power bar!"

        While I'm ALL for sleeping as late as humanly possible before leaving the house, and I don't do "breakfast" per se, I've still found a marked improvement in my health when I have my sandwich in the morning vs when I skip or have a pastry.
  • Re: Trader Joes? Healthy?

    Mon, January 8, 2007 - 8:37 AM
    An old roomie of mine referred to them as Trader Salt and after infiltrating their facility we noticed that one end of their mega production facility was a cardboard recycling plant while the other was the shipping dock for their products. Hmmm ... good to know the cardboard is going somewhere other than a landfill I guess.
    • Re: Trader Joes? Healthy?

      Mon, January 8, 2007 - 5:04 PM
      I must say... that I find way MORE salt free items in TJ's unless I go to the local organic store or Whole Foods.... which frankly charge MORE. IF you want some semi-processed or pckged foods..... I believe, based on experience, that TJ's offers more for less $$$$. I have never cooked with salt and always try to find sodium free or reduced items as well as fat free or reduced items...... I have more CHOICES at TJ's.

      That said.... the produce is more pricey than a regular supermarket. However, my favorite market for price, produce and choice (WinCo in Oregon) is WAY outta the way... so I must make special trips on Sat. to do that shopping.

      IF you are a FAMILY... TJ's is definitely not the place to go if price is an issue.... cuz it will cost tons more. But since my daughter has left and I'm now single... TJ's is just the right fit. NO MORE COSTCO!!!!

      This is great forum BTW. Love all the input. ;-)
    • Unsu...

      Re: Trader Joes? Healthy?

      Tue, January 9, 2007 - 2:40 PM
      You gotta remember that TJ doesn't produce most of their own products. They have deals with other producers and repackage *their* stuff. Lots of it is from other countries, even. It's just repackaged and described with all the US-specific warnings.

      So, really, it's not that surprising that they'd just be a shipping dock on one end and a packaging place on the other :)
  • Re: Trader Joes? Healthy?

    Tue, January 9, 2007 - 3:42 PM
    Pre packaged food can be very conveniant but you can bet its going to be high in sodium, perservatives, and the food quality can be pretty low.

    I suggest finding a day (like a weekend) where you have alot of free time. Cook large amounts of a few select meals then package them in food containers and freeze.
    Ta Da you have super quick meals all week long.
    • Re: Trader Joes? Healthy?

      Tue, January 9, 2007 - 5:12 PM
      I don't do a lot of pre packaged stuff from TJ's. However, the ones I do use (and really..... I think its only the multigrain biscuit batter mix) are relatively low in sodium. The rest of the canned stuff I buy @ TJ's is sodium free or packed in iether its own juice or water. Again... I"m a RABID LABEL READER... read the label..... but I still contend I can find more at TJ's that meet my needs than a safeway. Oh well. ;-)

      Regarding the comment about packaged elsewhere. I know for a fact that many of the spices under the TJ name are done @ Spice Hunter in San Luis Obispo, CA. It used to be locally owned. I had a good friend who worked there and told me about all the spices they make for TJ's. Spice Hunter specializes in low fat/sodium or sodium free spices. They make spice mixtures and rubs as well for TJS.

      I just moved 6 mos ago from SLO to Oregon. Anyhoo, hope the info helps.
      • Re: Trader Joes? Healthy?

        Tue, January 9, 2007 - 9:00 PM
        This is really good info thank you!

        I agree with the breakfast thing, above.
        In fact, skipping a meal is so bad for you...
        I am a firm believer of 3 hour diet, eating ever 3 hours, if not at least less but often...
        The body puts itself in starvation mode if you don't give it food and even if you don't notice it, the body actually starts to grab things from lean muscle!!!
        Ok, you do what you want you guys, but 5 meals a day is great thing, it keeps your energy up, the right way and you are used to eat less at a time, which is good too...
        Well, we're all different, see what works for you but don't understimate your body needs, we are used to mistreat it and there are so many things we don't notice...
        Don't starve your body...gosh I know some people who eat once a day, that's horrible, plus they say they want to lose weight??? best way is to eat less but often!
        If you can...
        But hey, breakfast is so key!
        I'd like to suggest to try to eat fruit on their own, I said that somewhere already and sorry about that but listen, if you can do that the great thing is you have your serving of fruit!
        Well, try to keep in mind fruit ferments in the lower intestines and is really hard on your body, giestion process you can deal with that by having a meal dedicated to fruit only, like breakfast or a snack, fruit and juice if you want!
        Again, a great way to have one serving of fruit per day, is there a better snack than a super good appel????? hmmmmm??
        Bon appetit
  • Re: Trader Joes? Healthy?

    Mon, January 15, 2007 - 3:52 PM
    Can hardly help but put my two cents on the matter, and my two cents are these: I'm a traveling puppeteer, who lives out of a van. I have a ten gallon box in my van, and a hot plate which I use in the motel room. In my ten gallon box, I have a lot of Trader Joes rice chips, soups, chili, noodles, sauces, fresh fruits and celery (because it travels awfully well for a green vegetable). After five hours of driving and two puppet shows I have trouble turning a motel room into a kitchen even though one can do a lot with a hot plate. Now I dislike salt greatly, and am an avid cooker of fresh whole foods, but being on the road, it's just not always possible. Trader Joes is by far the best choice for me with my given budget. And I have to say that except for two months of constant colds (first exposure to kiddy krud, working in schools), I'm as healthy as I have ever been. I may be storing up a heart attack for myself later, but I get plenty of exercise, drink lots of fluids, and don't plan on doing this forever (although, for those of you who are wondering, yes, my job is exactly as much fun as it sounds, and probably moreso!) So, I've tried Lean Cuisine, Progresso, etc, but far and away, TJ's tastes and feels the least like salted plastic in my tummy. So if you gotta be bad, be bad right, and TJ's is one good way to do that.

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