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10 Things You Shouldn’t Buy at Trader Joe’s

We love Trader Joe's—but not all items make the cut for us.

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DENVER, CO - FEBRUARY 14: Deli meats line the shelves at the new Trader Joe's, located on Colorado Blvd. and East 8th Avenue in Denver, for the grand opening of specialty grocer, February, 14 2014. Two other Trader Joe's locations in Colorado will also open today. (Photo by RJ Sangosti/The Denver Post via Getty Images)RJ Sangosti/Getty Images

Meat and Seafood

Trader Joe’s has great prices on many things, but meat and seafood are not one of them. For instance, Trader Joe’s BBQ Cut Fresh Atlantic Salmon Fillets will set you back $9.99 per pound. Compare that to grocery stores like Fresh Thyme and Kroger, who regularly offer similar cuts of salmon for as low as $6.99 per pound.

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Shot of a confident man using a digital tablet while working in a health storeCharday Penn/Getty Images

Vitamins

You still need to take your vitamins. We’re advising you to buy ’em somewhere else, though. In general, vitamins at Trader Joe’s are more expensive than comparable offerings at other retailers, especially when looking closely at the package quantity and nutritional value.

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Supermarket display of assorted sushi items.Joseph Shields/Getty Images

Packaged Sushi

While some grocery stores make sushi in-house, Trader Joe’s does not. This means it’s definitely not the freshest sushi you’ll ever eat. In fact, in 2019 Trader Joe’s recalled some of its ready-to-eat sushi meals and poke bowls after learning of possible listeria contamination. Not good.

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A large stack of toilet paper. A stockpile toilet paper with pink print in packaging. Concept of hoarding products due to coronavirus pandemicEvelien Doosje/Getty Images

Paper Products

While Trader Joe’s gets points for making their paper towels, facial tissue and toilet paper from recycled paper, they lose points for price, quality and performance. Dollar for dollar, their paper products will set you back more per roll than competing products, and they also lack the absorbency and softness of other brands.

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CAMBRIDGE, MASSACHUSETTS - MARCH 23: A woman shops at Trader Joe's at on March 23, 2020 in Cambridge, Massachusetts. The store has begun limiting the capacity of shoppers allowed inside, and offering sanitizing wipes upon entry. Massachusetts. The store has begun limiting the number of shoppers allowed inside and offering sanitizing wipes upon entry. Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker ordered all nonessential businesses closed by noon on March 24 in an attempt to slow the spread of COVID-19. Grocery stores and pharmacies will remain open, with restaurants limited to offering take-out service. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

Spices & Seasonings

It’s not that you shouldn’t buy spices from Trader Joe’s, it’s just that their selection is unreliable compared to other retailers. Outside of their stellar Everything But the Bagel Seasoning and a few other pantry staples, when it comes to dried spices, you might be out of luck at Trader Joe’s.

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Trader Joe's dairy aisleMelissa Renwick/Getty Images

Sliced and Shredded Cheese

The price for whole blocks of specialty cheese may be the lowest around. Unfortunately, the same can’t be said for sliced and shredded cheese. A 12-ounce package of Trader Joe’s Sliced Sharp Cheddar will cost you $3.99, whereas an eight-ounce package of cheddar slices at Aldi will only cost you $2.19.

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DENVER, CO - FEBRUARY 14: Milk lines the shelves at the new Trader Joe's, located on Colorado Blvd. and East 8th Avenue in Denver, for the grand opening of specialty grocer, February, 14 2014. Two other Trader Joe's locations in Colorado will also open today. (Photo by RJ Sangosti/The Denver Post via Getty Images)RJ Sangosti/Getty Images

Organic Milk

Shoppers often cite that organic milk at Trader Joe’s has a closer expiration date than at other retailers and is priced higher, too. For instance, a half-gallon of Organic Whole Milk at Trader Joe’s will set you back $3.49 versus Kroger, where you can get a half-gallon for $3.29.

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Young man buying vegetables at the marketVLG/Getty Images

Fresh Parsley & Cilantro

The parsley and cilantro at Trader Joe’s are a hard pass for us. Just a pitifully small package of fresh parsley or cilantro will cost $1.99 at Trader Joe’s, whereas other supermarkets will sell much larger bunches of these herbs for as low as $0.50.

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Fresh fruit boxes in a market retail displaygerenme/Getty Images

Sliced Fruit

Yes, sliced fruit is a high-cost item no matter where you buy it. It’s the price of convenience. The prices for sliced fresh fruit at Trader Joe’s are comparable to other retailers, but shoppers often find that Trader Joe’s produce doesn’t last as long. It could be because they don’t slice fruit in-house like other grocers.

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Gregory Rec/Staff Photographer: -- Michael Jubinsky of Lyman looks over a frozen food selection at the Trader Joe's in Portland on Friday, October 29, 2010. The store opened on Friday and scores of its devotees thronged the aisles. Jubinsky and his wife Sandy run the Stone Turtle Baking & Cooking School in Lyman. (Photo by Gregory Rec/Portland Press Herald via Getty Images)Portland Press Herald/Getty Images

Broccoli & Cheddar Cheese Quiche

Just a quick glance at the nutrition label for this frozen food reveals it’s packed with 460 calories, 30 grams of fat, 160mg of cholesterol and 910mg of sodium. Yikes! You’re better off making some scrambled eggs at home with a handful of broccoli and a sprinkling of cheese. Here’s why most food at Trader Joe’s is so cheap.

Lauren Habermehl
Lauren Habermehl is a recipe developer, food photographer and creator of the blog, Frydae. She is a prolific quoter of FRIENDS, lover of weekend DIY projects and procrastinating fitness enthusiast who enjoys exploring the Milwaukee-area with her husband, daughter and ugly mutt named Tyson Doodles.

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