15 Trader Joe’s Brand Prepared Foods To Avoid at All Costs

Skip these prepared foods from Trader Joe’s.

Trader Joe's Retail location
Updated May 30, 2024
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Trader Joe's aisles overflow with tempting finds, from the ubiquitous mini totes to international favorites like Kimbap and butter chicken.

While many products become cult classics, a select few miss the mark. Here are some Trader Joe's prepared foods you might want to skip if you want to keep more cash in your wallet.

Editor’s Note: Prices are subject to change and may vary by location.

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Turkey Club Wrap

Courtesy of FinanceBuzz Turkey Club Wrap

Price: $5.49

Like some of the store’s other pre-packaged sandwiches, this isn’t made on-site, leaving Trader Joe’s shoppers to wonder just how fresh the wraps are.

If you’re a fan of turkey clubs, you might have better luck buying the ingredients and rolling up your own wrap at home.

Pesto Chicken Wrap

Courtesy of FinanceBuzz Pesto Chicken Wrap

Price: $4.99

At almost $5 per wrap, this pre-packaged cheesy chicken roll at Trader Joe’s doesn’t offer the most value for your money.

This wrap, made with pesto-seasoned chicken, ricotta, feta, zucchini, and sun-dried tomatoes, is also not made on-site. Like the other lunchtime options, the homemade version is a more affordable fresh alternative.

Lobster Bisque

Courtesy of FinanceBuzz Lobster Bisque

Price: $4.99

The sherry-infused soup may not give you the freshness you’ve come to expect from similar restaurant-quality options.

Quench your seafood cravings with one of the brand’s frozen shrimp or fish options, like wild-caught cod, blackened boneless salmon, Argentinian red shrimp, or branzino fillets.

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Turkey Apple Cheddar Sandwich

Courtesy of FinanceBuzz Turkey Apple Cheddar Sandwich

Price: $4.99

Like other pre-made Trader Joe’s sandwiches, this one isn’t made in your local store. For the price, you could get an entire loaf of bread and a package of sliced turkey.

For a few dollars more, you can add a bag of apples, and you’ll have freshly made sandwiches at home for an entire week.

Chinese Inspired Chicken Salad

Courtesy of FinanceBuzz Chinese Inspired Chicken Salad

Price: $5.99

Fans of Trader Joe’s salads may notice the serious price difference between this prepared food and the bagged options.

You can get your greens without going over $5 — just not with this ready-made option.

Hard-Cooked Peeled Eggs

Courtesy of FinanceBuzz Hard-Cooked Peeled Eggs

Price: $2.99

While some shoppers enjoy the convenience, others prefer to hard-boil their own eggs and eat them fresh.

And, at Trader Joe’s low prices, a dozen eggs from the refrigerated section may cost you less than the prepared version.

Garlic and Herb Pizza Dough

Courtesy of FinanceBuzz Garlic and Herb Pizza Dough

Price: $1.69

Trader Joe’s traditional ready-to-bake pizza dough is a favorite among the store’s shoppers. The same can’t be said for the garlic and herb version.

Maybe it’s the extra spices or the slightly off-greenish hue it takes on when baked that make the dough a less popular prepared food pick.

Mirepoix

Courtesy of FinanceBuzz Trader Joe's Mirepoix

Price: $3.49

This French flavor base is a traditional starter for everything from sauces to soups and stews. But you don’t need to buy an already-chopped version.

You can save money by swapping these cut veggies for whole carrots, celery, and onions. While this option may not offer added convenience, it may cost less.

Fresh Cut Fruit

Courtesy of FinanceBuzz Fresh Cut Fruit

Price: $3.99

These mango chunks are perfect for a smoothie, a salad, or your favorite recipe. They’re easy to take out of the container and toss into your next meal. But this convenience comes at a cost.

Instead of spending extra for fruit someone else already cut, buy a whole mango and slice it at home. The same goes for Trader Joe’s other prepared fresh fruit selections.

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Uncured Pepperoni Pizza Mac and Cheese Bowl

Courtesy of FinanceBuzz Uncured Pepperoni Pizza Mac Cheese Bowl

Price: $3.29

This creative culinary combo could have potential. But, if you’re a macaroni purest, this isn’t a prepared food buy to try.

The traditional mac and cheese, lower-fat guiltless version, or gluten-free frozen dinner are better choices for shoppers who don't want meat and a red sauce in this particular meal.

Simply Roast Chicken

Courtesy of FinanceBuzz Simply Roast Chicken

Price: $9.99

At almost $10 for a 16-ounce pack, you could save money with the raw option. Budget-minded shoppers who don’t mind skipping the convenience can choose the store’s fresh, uncooked chicken breasts.

While you’ll spend more time cooking and slicing this chicken, you won’t spend more money.

Organic Sliced Apples

Courtesy of FinanceBuzz Organic Sliced Apples

Price: $3.99

Save money and swap out the pre-sliced version for the whole fruit. These organic apples are a nutritious snack for shoppers on the go. But a full bag of pink ladies or Honeycrisps are more affordable options.

Steamed Lentils

Courtesy of FinanceBuzz Steamed Lentils

Price: $3.29

Lentils are an easy-to-cook vegetarian option that is high in fiber.

While this prepared food gives you all the nutritional goodness lentils offer, the added cost to pre-cook them isn’t worth it. A bag of dry, uncooked legumes is a more budget-friendly buy.

Mozzarella and Tomato Salad

Courtesy of FinanceBuzz Mozzarella and Tomato Salad

Price: $3.99

Wet mozzarella sitting in a container of salad can make this would-be crisp meal less than fresh.

Trader Joe’s lower-priced mozzarella from the cheese department, ripe tomatoes, and tangy arugula are a better (and longer-lasting) combo.

Italian Turkey Meatloaf

Courtesy of FinanceBuzz Italian Turkey Meatloaf

Price: $8.99

This heat-and-eat meatloaf may leave something to be desired. The time-saving prepared food just doesn’t have the same taste as a homemade meal.

If you’re looking for mom’s meatloaf, this ready-made turkey option may disappoint. Try making your own with the store’s fresh ground beef or turkey, ripe tomatoes, and rich jarred sauce.

Bottom line

progressman/Adobe frustrated woman doing grocery at store

Trader Joe's offers a fantastic balance of affordability and taste, helping you save more on your essentials.

However, to maximize your savings and freshness, consider skipping pre-made wraps and sliced apples. Instead, opt for their tasty tortillas, sliced turkey, or a crisp bag of Honeycrisps.

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Author Details

Erica Loop

With more than a decade of experience writing about everything from e-commerce to pets and parenting, Erica Loop has written for sites such as BuzzFeed, Brit+Co, Tinybeans, Family Education, and Care.com. Erica has a bachelor’s degree in Liberal Arts and an MS in Applied Developmental Psychology from the University of Pittsburgh.