How to Save Money at Trader Joe’s

You’re already aware that Trader Joe’s is a mecca of cheap and interesting products, but did you know you could be stretching your buck even further at this already affordable grocery store? Here are a few easy tips, tricks, and hacks to save even more dough at the iconic, reasonably-priced store. Happy shopping!

Don’t Buy Produce or Bread

Trader Joe’s is for boba-filled non-dairy frozen dessert, tiny chicken wontons, and stuffed gnocchi. It is not for fresh products. If you have no other choice, it’s fine, but be ready to eat it quickly. I’ve been to TJ’s all over the country and, in my opinion, they all have the same problem: fresh produce, bread, and soft cheese tend to spoil more quickly than the same products from other stores. Throwing out rotten food you can’t eat is a huge waste of money.

Use the Return Policy

If you do wind up with prematurely spoiled food, utilize the store’s unreal return policy. While I don’t think you should abuse this, I do think you should use it! More than once, I have purchased something at Trader Joe’s that was spoiled just a day after I purchased it. I returned to Trader Joe’s when I was able to make it back to the store, which ended up being a week later. I walked up to the customer service desk and said, “Hi! I bought this last week. It was already spoiled when I opened it, and I would love to replace it with a new one. I do not have a receipt.” They happily took it back from me and welcomed me to go grab a new salad kit. It’s a great policy and helps keep you from ever wasting money on less-than-fresh items that ended up on the shelves.

Ask for a Sample

Did you know that you can ask for a sample of anything at Trader Joe’s and they will pop it open on the spot and let you try it? If there’s something you’re really on the fence about and don’t want to buy it and bring it all the way home just to find out you don’t like it, try it there! Never end up getting stuck with an entire open container of Spinach & Kale Greek Yogurt dip that you hate.

Look at the Ingredients

Take a look at the ingredients list when you’re purchasing items at Trader Joe’s. You might be buying less for more without realizing it. For instance, the first ingredient listed on the bottle of Trader Joe’s Umami Powder is kosher salt. Mushrooms (aka the thing that gives this its umami flavor) are listed fourth. Takii Umami Powder’s first ingredient is mushrooms. Sure, you save a little bit per ounce with the TJ’s version, but you’re mostly paying for salt. Spending a little extra to get more mushroom will give you more flavor with less seasoning and, therefore, you’ll use less!

About the Author

Jordan Myrick

Jordan is an L.A.-based writer and comedian who believes all food should come with extra sauce. When they're not writing for Sporked, Jordan is at the movies or sharing an order of french fries with their elderly chihuahua.

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  • Good article, but not sure I agree when it comes to bread. They are actually our preferred place to get bread when possible because of both price and quality. And if you eat bread at the rate our 3-person family does there’s no chance of it going bad.