A lot of people prefer using Trader Joe’s over wholesale stores like Costco, traditional supermarkets, or other specialty stores like Whole Foods. For anyone who isn’t familiar with Trader Joe’s, this video does a good job of giving a humorous description of what it’s like pretty accurately:
Everyone is always looking for ways to save money on food. Trader Joe’s can be a great place to buy your groceries and is known for their great deals on groceries, but there are always more opportunities to save money. Here are a few different ways to save money the next time you’re shopping at Trader Joe’s:
Trader Joe’s might be most famous for its Charles Shaw wine which is often referred to as “two buck Chuck.” It may sound like it might not be the best wine in the world, but give it a try before you turn you nose up to it. It’s actually pretty good and one of the best values on wine you’ll find anywhere. If you drink wine often and you like the $2 Chuck, you can save yourself a small fortune during the year over regularly priced wine.
Trader Joe’s is known for their amazing return policy. Apparently they let you return anything, even if it’s already open. Everyone has a tendency to buy a new product they want to try, and half of the time they end up hating it or it sits at the back of the fridge collecting mold. No matter how long it’s been in the back of a cabinet or fridge, Trader Joe’s allows you to return the item for a refund.
Take Advantage of Deals
Trader Joe’s often has buy one, get one free deals going on. You might be surprised by how many people don’t take advantage of these deals because they don’t need two items. However, it’s much cheaper to take advantage of a buy one, get one free deals and just freeze or store the remaining item until you need it at a later date.
While Trader Joe’s does not offer any sales or coupons of their own, they will honor any manufacturer’s coupons that you have. So, don’t throw out the coupons your find online or in the Sunday paper.
Avoid Prepared Foods
Like many supermarkets, Trader Joe’s has a prepared foods section. This ranges from pre-packaged, store bran frozen meals to the traditional prepared food containers and dishes. While some of these items may look delicious or tempting, they’re far more expensive than they’re worth. That pasta dish going for $6.00 could easily be made for half the price.
Trader Joe’s also has a lot of giveaways for their customers, where prizes can range from gift cards to bags of food. Sometimes you can enter giveaways for simple things such as bringing your own bag to carry your groceries home and sometimes your entry fee is spending a specific amount, such as $25. While there’s not always a chance that you’ll win one of Trader Joe’s sweepstakes, it’s a good idea to keep your eyes peeled for any opportunities. After all, who wouldn’t like tow in a gift card that will pay for their next grocery trip?
Consider Produce and Meat Carefully
Trader Joe’s may have some very low prices on produce and meat, but that doesn’t mean that the produce and meat available are something you should automatically buy. While many of the canned, frozen, or boxed items at Trader Joe’s are a great deal, the produce and meat sometimes isn’t the freshest (this can vary widely from store to store). The cheapest option isn’t always the best, especially if the meat or produce you buy ends up going bad within a few days.
Don’t Feel The Need to Fill Your Cart
A lot of people subconsciously feel like they have to fill their entire cart full of food before they check out. While Trader Joe’s cheap prices might help convince you to fill your cart to the brink, you should rethink this strategy. It’s best to go into your grocery trip with a set list and stick to that list instead of filling up your cart with whatever looks good.
Try Before Your Buy
Trader Joe’s has the unique policy of letting you try a lot of items before you buy them. Any employee can open up a container to allow you to test something before you buy it. This is a great way to see if you like something before actually buying it. No one wants to buy something on a whim that they end up hating.
Keep a Price Book
If you regularly go to a couple different supermarkets, thinking about keeping a price book so you can write down all the prices for certain popular items and compare them across multiple stores. Sometimes, it’s easy to forget which store has a better deal on certain items, so keeping it all written down somewhere accessible is a great idea. This will help you make sure you’re buying the cheapest option and saving the most money during your grocery trips.
You might not think of parking validation as a way to save money at a grocery store, but it’s definitely something to keep in mind. Many Trader Joe’s stores are in city areas where parking is limited. If you visit one of these stores while shopping, there’s a good chance that they will validate your parking, which can save you anywhere between $5 to $30 depending on where you live and how long you’re in the store. This is a nice, extra bonus to shopping at Trader Joe’s and something to take advantage of that other grocery stores in the area may not offer.
(Photo courtesy of fauxto_digit)