16 time- and money-saving hacks you should know before your next trip to Trader Joe's

Jessica Tyler/Business Insider
  • Trader Joe’s can be a stressful place to shop because of its extreme crowds and long lines.
  • Even though it sells expensive organic products, it also sells a lot of affordable produce and private-label non-perishables.
  • We compiled a list of some of the best tricks to save your time and money when you go to Trader Joe’s.

Trader Joe’s is an incredibly popular place to shop for groceries, in large part due to its affordability and great selection. A big part of the reason it can keep prices so low is that it primarily sells private-label products. However, anyone who shops there knows how stressful it can be – it’s not uncommon for check-out lines to snake halfway around the stores.

Before you make your next big shopping trip to Trader Joe’s, these are some time- and money-saving tricks you should know:

Know when to go.

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Going to Trader Joe’s at the right time can make all the difference. Anyone who shops there regularly knows how much of a headache it is when the line wraps around the entire store, so it’s best to figure out when your local Trader Joe’s is busy and avoid those times.

Check the Fearless Flyer before you go.

The Fearless Flyer can help you plan your trip so that you know what you need before you get to the store. It lists recipes and featured products to look for when you go to shop.

Find recipes on the Trader Joe’s website.

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There are tons of recipes listed for every meal, and planning in advance can help you save time and money when you go to the store.

Learn important nutritional information online.

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Trader Joe’s is very up-front about what goes into its products, listing a lot of helpful information about GMOs, organic food, and allergens on its website. You can also find lists of vegan,kosher, and gluten-free options to take away the hassle of reading lengthy ingredient lists.

Bring your own bag.

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If you bring your own bag and spend $US25 or more on groceries, you’ll be entered into a raffle to win a $US25 Trader Joe’s gift card. Other stores offer discounts with reusable bags, but policies vary by location. If you forget a bag, you can buy one by the register.

Enter contests to save money.

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Trader Joe’s website often lists contests like the Customer Choice Award, Strut Your Stuffed Recipe Contest, and October Recipe Contest. Enter to win prizes like Trader Joe’s gift cards, and you can save money.

Look for manufacturers’ coupons.

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Trader Joe’s doesn’t offer sales, promotions, or coupons, but it does accept manufacturers’ coupons for non-private-label products, which can sometimes be found online.

You don’t always have to buy organic.

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Even though a lot of Trader Joe’s produce is organic, you don’t have to buy the organic option. Cook Smarts has a helpful list of which fruits and vegetables you should buy organic, and which you can save some money on.

Don’t make it your go-to for all produce.

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Produce can get expensive at Trader Joe’s. $US6.99 for raspberries is steep compared to other stores, where they’re almost $US2 less for the same product. But, some items, like bananas, are cheaper at Trader Joe’s.

Stock up on frozen foods.

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Trader Joe’s has a huge selection of frozen foods, and the prices are reasonable because most of the frozen items are private-label. The stores have just about everything you can imagine, including appetizers, main courses, desserts, and everything in between.

If you’re buying cheese, opt for the specialty cheeses.

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Most conventional cheeses are more expensive at Trader Joe’s, but its artisan cheeses are cheaper than competitors’.

Make one big trip to get snacks and non-perishables.

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Trader Joe’s has a huge variety of snacks for affordable prices, but products are often discontinued. To avoid missing out on things, buy your snacks and non-perishables in one trip. This also saves time because you won’t have to make multiple trips.

Buy products from the private-label Trader Joe’s brand.

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The Trader Joe’s private-label brand is less expensive than everything else in the store, and many of the products are actually name-brand products repackaged for its private label.

Taste everything.

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In addition to the tasting station in the back of the store, you can ask crew members to taste anything in the store, within reason – even packaged foods. The only exception to this is alcoholic beverages – anything else is fair game.

Know the return policy.

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Trader Joe’s has a generous return policy. You can return anything, even if it’s opened, for a full refund – no questions asked.

Make use of its kid-friendly policies.

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A Trader Joe’s crew member confirmed on Reddit that every Trader Joe’s store has a stuffed animal hidden somewhere in the store to keep kids entertained while their parents focus on shopping.

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