Tips for shopping at Trader Joe’s
First of all, let me just tell you that the seasonal items at Trader Joe’s have landed! You can get anything pumpkin flavored from ravioli to bagels to cream cheese to coffee to biscotti and more.
It is definitely a pumpkin lovers dream!
I was there this morning, and you can expect to see a mini-haul tomorrow.
As you know, I really love shopping at Trader Joe’s, but these days, I only make it there about once or twice a month since it is located a little out of my way. (I’m hoping to move closer to one in the semi-near future…)
Even so, I’ve picked up a few tips by shopping there throughout the years and hope that they are useful to you…
1. Just because it comes from Trader Joe’s, it doesn’t automatically mean that it is healthy.
It is a common misconception that Trader Joe’s is a health food store. Yes, their foods are free of high fructose corn syrup and some other nasty offenders, but at the end of the day, a cookie is still a cookie. Make sure that you always read the labels on the food, especially since many of them are very high in sodium.
2. Carefully examine the produce and check the expiration dates.
I love that Trader Joe’s has such great prices on organic produce, but there have been a few times when I was underwhelmed by the freshness. The quality probably varies a bit by store, but even so, be sure to examine that whole bag of apples to make sure that every one of them is worthy of being smeared with almond butter.
3. Bring your own shopping bags.
This is actually more important than you might think. Obviously, bringing reusable bags is better for the environment, but at my Trader Joe’s location, it earns you entries into a raffle where you can win free groceries. Plus, you know how heavily they pack those brown paper bags if you’re a frequent shopper there. I cannot even tell you how many times a bag has torn or a handle has ripped off on me!
4. You can use coupons.
Most of the items in the store are by Trader Joe’s, but if you have coupons for brands like Larabar, Luna, Almond Breeze, Clif, or Earth Balance (just to name a few), you’re in luck.
5. Take advantage of the low prices by sampling some new foods.
I love picking up something that I haven’t tried before when I go to Trader Joe’s, and if I don’t end up liking it, I am only out a couple of dollars. Thanks to the store, I’ve discovered that I love chocolate coconut water, kimchi, butternut squash soup, and edamame hummus. Where on earth would I be today if those things weren’t in my life?
6. You can save a lot of money on gluten-free products.
Eating gluten-free can be pricey, but I get MT’s bread (Udi’s brand) and gluten-free waffles there for a fraction of what I pay at larger grocery stores. And all of the shelves with gluten-free foods are clearly marked which makes shopping a breeze.
(See more ways to be gluten-free on a budget here.)
7. Never go in without a list.
Sure, the food is cheap, but the store also has so many amazing things that it is really easy to pick up a lot of random items that you don’t need…which can cost you way more in the end.
Do you have anything to add? I’d love to hear your tips!