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Ever since the first Trader Joe’s opened back in 1967 (yes, they’ve been around that long!), the grocery chain has amassed a large and dedicated following. Maybe it’s because of the private-label goodies you won’t find anywhere else. Or perhaps it’s their dedication to keeping prices relatively low. Heck, it could be because customers love those snappy Hawaiian shirts employees wear. Whatever your reason, if you shop Trader Joe’s, you want to know some Trader Joe’s hacks to save you money.
“Save at Trader Joe’s?” you ask. But how? If you’ve been in a Trader Joe’s, then you’ve probably noticed a few things — they’re all pretty small (even the parking lots), and they don’t run sales. Ever. But that doesn’t mean you can’t save money on the best Trader Joe’s food while shopping there. Seriously, there are ways.
We’ve rounded up our top tips to save at Trader Joe’s, and you’ll find all of that goodness below. But if you want deals galore from a wide range of retailers, you’ll want to download The Krazy Coupon Lady app. With this, you’ll learn all of the best ways to save.
1. Save at Trader Joe’s with manufacturer coupons.
It’s a little-known fact that all Trader Joe’s locations accept manufacturer coupons. Only a small percentage of their products are name brands, but you can still use coupons on them. For example, they sell Fage yogurt at $1.19 each, which is $0.10 less than at my Kroger. Pair this with a coupon for a really good deal.
2. Don’t panic if you miss the Fearless Flyer.
The Trader Joe’s Fearless Flyer is fun — and full of recipes and seasonal products — but it isn’t a sales flyer or a weekly ad (they don’t have one). They don’t run sales, and they don’t offer any frequent-shopper discounts with loyalty programs.
3. You can return any of their products for a full refund.
Trader Joe’s store return policy mimics Costco’s generous policy: you can return almost anything — with the exception of “oversold” products (i.e. toilet paper during the height of the pandemic) — no questions asked. This is a pretty nice perk considering they’re always coming out with new products that you may or may not love. It’s a great way to try things risk-free.
4. Save time when you hit TJ’s at the right hour.
Time is money and TJ’s can get pretty packed, especially on weekends and around rush hour. One of our best Trader Joe’s hacks is to head there in the early morning to avoid crowds. This will get you in and out of the store in half the time it would if you went later in the day. You’ll be enjoying that newly purchased box of Joe-Joe’s lickety-split.
5. Get their $0.19 bananas.
TJ’s hasn’t changed the price of bananas since the 1970s — so naturally, they’re cheaper than anywhere else. Compare this to about $0.25 to $0.35 apiece at other major supermarkets or $0.65 per pound (a pound is usually about two to three bananas).
6. Save $2 by buying Trader Joe’s cereal.
One of the most little-known Trader Joe’s hacks is that TJ’s-branded products are made by well-known manufacturers but sold under the Trader Joe’s label. Trader Joe’s negotiates with the manufacturers to repackage their products under the Trader Joe’s name, and with as many stores as TJ’s has, they can get rock-bottom wholesale prices.
That’s why you’ll see Joe’s O’s for $1.99 compared to Cheerios at $3.99. Not saying that Cheerios are Joe’s O’s, but you get the idea. Identical or comparable products for half the price.
7. Buy popular snacks at Trader Joe’s and save at least $2.50.
Trader Joe’s seaweed snacks are hugely popular and super cheap. They run a package of six organic seaweed snacks for $3.49. I can buy a single pack at Fred Meyer for $1. That’s a huge savings!
8. Buy fresh produce (but skip the precut stuff) to save money.
You can grab an entire pineapple for under $3, or you can buy an 8-ounce container of precut pineapple for $3.49. We suggest saving some cash by slicing it yourself.
9. Don’t skip the Two-Buck Chuck!
OK, it’s actually called Charles Shaw, but it’s been a cult favorite for years. It’s also closer to $3 now, but its ratings are pretty decent. And if you don’t finish the whole bottle, there are tons of uses for leftover wine.
They have plenty of great bottles of Trader Joe’s wine under $5, so don’t be afraid to branch out! You may just find a new favorite.
10. Grab some cheese to go with the wine.
TJ’s selection of gourmet cheese is pretty darn good, and the prices are better than most other grocery stores.
An 8-ounce chunk of smoked gouda will set me back at least $8 at Fred Meyer and $9 at Safeway, but I can buy a half-pound of Dutch smoked gouda cheese for just $2.99 at Trader Joe’s. That’s insane savings.
11. Just skip the shredded and sliced cheeses because they can cost up to 40% more.
The prices on these are always high compared to other stores. A bag of shredded mozzarella is almost $4 at TJ’s, while Kroger regularly runs them for $2.50 or less a bag.
12. Save up to 50% on organic frozen broccoli at Trader Joe’s.
Walmart charges $0.22 an ounce for their brand of organic frozen broccoli, but TJ’s only charges $0.17. I mean, obviously I’m buying it at Trader Joe’s.
13. Save at Trader Joe’s when you buy seasonal fall products.
Trader Joe’s has some pretty epic seasonal products — both edible and decorative. Take fall, for example. I’ve personally tried most of their 100+ pumpkin products, and I am here to tell you that they are brilliant. I’ll also tell you that they go fast, so stock up as soon as they hit shelves.
You can get fall candles for less than $3, and you’d pay at least $10 for the same size at Bath & Body Works!
14. Pay half the price on Christmas products at Trader Joe’s.
They start rolling out their Christmas goodies in early November, and just like their fall line, you should grab them when you see them because they sell out quickly.
I get my kids chocolate advent calendars there for $0.99 every year, which is half of what I would pay at Kroger.