Pass this wallet-friendly intel along to your friends.

By Betty Gold
July 30, 2020
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There are endless reasons why customers are willing to wait in line for hours at Trader Joe’s. The top five are obviously all snack foods, nut butters, and freezer-aisle finds, but shortly thereafter is the fact that most of our favorite products at Trader Joe’s are highly affordable.

That being said, what if we told you there were a few simple steps to scoring even better deals on your groceries from TJ’s? Try them next time you restock your supply of Everything but the Bagel Seasoning and Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups.

Think of this handy little newspaper as Trader Joe’s greatest hits of the month. It highlights featured products, the latest deals, and limited-edition items aisle-by-aisle. Find it online or in-store and give it a scan to see what’s on sale. You can also use it to create your shopping list ahead of time—meal planning is one of the best ways to avoid a cart full of impulse purchases and random ingredients that could get wasted.

Trader Joe’s maintains a strong “if you’d like to try something, just ask” policy. Their rationale is that they’d rather you find out whether you like a product or not before you buy it. This can help you save big—because how many times have you gone home with cauliflower pizza crust or pre-made sushi rolls only to taste them and reel? Next time you’re eyeing the Pickled Beets or Apple Cider Drinking Vinegar, just flag down a Crew member.

It’s a little-known secret that Trader Joe’s offers major incentives to shoppers that BTOB (bring their own bag). Certain locations will enter tote-toting customers that spend over $25 into a raffle to win a $25 gift card to the store. To find out if your local TJ’s participates, simply ask your cashier or a Crew member at the service desk.

These are a few of the food categories that you’ll save the most money on when you buy them at TJ’s versus other grocery stores. Trader Joe’s is known, for instance, for keeping the price of its bananas the same since the 1970s—you can still find them for just 19 cents a pop, which is cheaper than everywhere else.

The freezer aisle is packed with extremely affordable meals, too, like Chicken Gyoza Potstickers that cost just $2.99. And don’t skip the specialty cheese and wine sections. The selection of high-quality cheeses is stellar and comes without the crazy markup of other gourmet grocers—and who doesn’t love a bottle of Two-Buck Chuck? Find Real Simple’s favorite Trader Joe’s wines under $10 here.

Unlike the aisles above, Trader Joe’s produce section is packed with pricey bagged salads and pre-cut fruits and veggies. This means you’re paying a surcharge for the cost of processing and packaging versus the quality or quantity of your produce. It also means you don’t always have the option of, say, only purchasing a single onion if they only offer bags that hold a dozen of them. If you’re looking to cut costs, don’t shell out for pre-cut or bagged produce.

Don’t eat the cost of something you’re unhappy with. Similar to its try-before-you-buy mentality, TJ’s has an extremely generous return policy. If you accidentally take home a mushy melon or hate the taste of the Omega Trex Mix, they’ll issue you a refund—no questions asked.