17 shopping secrets to save time and money at Trader Joe's

Trader Joe’s cheap prices make it a popular place to shop for groceries. 

But its popularity can also make Trader Joe’s an extremely stressful place to shop.

Anyone who frequents the grocery chain knows that lines to check out can often snake around half the store.

Trader Joe’s keeps its prices cheaper than many of its competitors by primarily selling its in-house brand.

We have compiled some tips to navigate the often crowded store while taking advantage of its best deals.

Stock up on frozen meals.

Keeping frozen meals on hand makes it easy prepare a quick dinner.

And Trader Joe's has some of the best deals in the frozen section. According to Kiplinger, even non-Trader Joe's brands, like Amy's, are up to $US2 cheaper at Trader Joe's compared to competitors.

Of course, it's important to know which items taste the best. The blog 'What's Good at Trader Joe's?' offers extensive reviews of Trader Joe's products. Of course, taste is subjective, but the review for Turkey 'Meatloaf Muffins' is so scathing, you'll want to stay away regardless.

Get the frozen macaroni and cheese over the boxed kind.

Joe's Diner's frozen mac 'n cheese is a good choice. It made Foodbeast's list of the most popular food items at the store. 'What's Good At Trader Joe's?' rated it an 8 out of 10.

On the other hand, the boxed mac and cheese -- similar to Kraft's signature dish -- is less popular. Several commenters on The Kitchn mentioned how bad they though it was. ('The only product I've had that I absolutely hate,' as one put it.)

Go to Trader Joe's primarily for packaged non-perishables.

Trader Joe's is best known for its signature in-house food products, like its Speculoos cookie butter. Having a stocked pantry is critical to saving money when grocery shopping.

'If you have that well stocked pantry...you don't have to be adding very much every additional week,' Dang told Business Insider.

Quinoa is a particularly good non-perishable to stock up on at Trader Joe's, as Kiplinger points out that it was $US2 less per pound than Whole Foods' quinoa, and 50 cents less than Walmart's.

You don't always have to buy organic.

Cook Smarts provides a list of 'The Dirty Dozen' and 'The Clean Fifteen.' 'The Dirty Dozen' are items that are wise to buy organic, and the clean fifteen don't need to be purchased organic. Cook Smarts also offers a handy list showing the shelf life for various produce items.

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