Anyone who has ever been inside a Trader Joe’s knows that there’s something really special about it. For one thing, I totally dig the Hawaiian shirts and leis that the crew members wear. Their laid-back, floral-printed garb makes them so much more approachable when I have a question. Overall, Trader Joe’s is funky, cool, healthy and completely inexpensive. They offer over 3 thousand items under their own private label—most are unique and hard to find anywhere else.
1. Low prices
Trader Joe's does a few key things to keep their prices low. Products are bought directly from suppliers when possible and are bought in volume. While most stores charge fees to have items on shelves, Trader Joe's doesn’t. I often find that Trader Joe’s prices are lower than most grocery stores—even on the staples like produce and eggs. Recently I checked the prices of several items at a Whole Foods and Albertsons to see how much I’m actually saving by shopping at Trade Joe’s. I focused on store brand items since that’s the majority of products sold at Trader Joe’s. Ultimately, I found that I save more money and get a higher quality product by shopping at Trader Joe’s. This is key for me especially when I buy things that don’t usually have coupons, like produce. Keep in mind, prices will vary slightly from store to store. Here’s what I discovered:
2. The Trader Joe's label
Find thousands of products under the Trader Joe's label. Look for "Trader Joe's," "Trader Ming's" and "Trader Jose's" to find products of all varieties and cuisines. They add 10-15 new products every week—just don't get too enamored with a certain product as they may only show up on shelves a few times.
Trader Joe's takes special care with the products they sell under their brand. You can safely expect that their brand will be free of GMO ingredients—although their animal products aren’t guaranteed to be fed non-GMO feed. If you’re looking for eggs from cage-free chickens, all eggs under the store brand will fit the bill. Trader Joe's is in the process of sourcing seafood from sustainable sources as well. Check the Trader Joe’s website to find specifics on the seafood you’re interested in.
Here are a few more assurances for their private label:
- No artificial flavors or preservatives
- No synthetic colors
- No MSG
- No partially hydrogenated oils
- Top 8 allergens will be listed under the "contains" statement on the label
Trader Joe's accepts coupons! The majority of products Trader Joe's carries are store brand and don’t have coupons, though. However, there are also national brands, so match the typically lower prices on your favorite product with a manufacturer coupon and start getting great deals! Check the Trader Joe's store page on The Krazy Coupon Lady to stay up to date on how to consistently save with coupons at Trader Joe's.
Produce is usually sold by piece or by package. Look at prices with this in mind. My first time in the store I was shocked to see bananas at $0.19 a pound; then I realized it was $0.19 per banana. Trader Joe's doesn't use rinses and sprays on their produce. This means that your organic produce stays clean and fresh. Remember, it will spoil faster, so buy only what you’ll use within a couple days.
Known for their "Two Buck Chuck," they have a selection of value-priced wines that are supposed to be just as good as the expensive brands. Let your taste buds decide on their own, but be sure to give it a try. Wine under ten dollars—or even under five dollars—could mean a huge savings at checkout.
6. What’s this? How do I use it?
Found a great, extravagant and fantastic new item at Trader Joe’s, but have no idea how to use or cook it? Check their website for recipes. Check crew members’ favorite recipes, or make something unique with their "Believe-Eat-or-Not" Recipes. My favorite is the BABP (Bacon, Apple & Brie Panini) and I can't wait to make the “Oh Mighty Omega Meal.”
7. Newsletter, Fearless Flyer and app
On their website, sign up for their newsletter by email and the Fearless Flyer by regular mail to stay informed about the latest news and products at Trader Joe's. The newsletter is the secret to getting a sneak peek at the Fearless Flyer before it comes out and to see details on products before anyone else. Have a first look at their new products then rate them, share them, and learn nutritional information and creative ways to integrate them into your meals.
Don't have a Trader Joe's near you? Check their website for new stores opening soon. Whenever I live in a place without a store near me, I check for Trader Joe's stores close to my vacation destinations because I love it so much. My friends and family are also aware of my love for Trader Joe’s and understand my need for their products. Now every time they come visit, they bring Trader Joe’s to me!
9. Dietary restrictions
When you’re in-store, ask (or check online) for a list of products that Trader Joe's carries that are: gluten-free, vegetarian, quick meals, vegan, kosher or fat-free depending on your needs. Use it as a quick guide to find your favorite products or a way to try new things while staying within your dietary guidelines. Keep in mind that products vary from store to store.
10. Decipher the package
If you’re looking for certain types of food, have restrictions, or are just wondering what that icon on the label means, look no further!
11. Finally, what are the bells about?
Next time you’re in the store, impress your friends and fellow shoppers when you know what the bells at the registers mean. Here’s what the ringing means:
One bell: Open a new register
Two Bells: Questions as checkout
Three Bells: Manager needed