I Have a New Love: Trader Joe's

by Marcy on June 18, 2008 · 0 comments

The great thing about living near a city is all of the options when it comes to shopping. I suppose this can be a bad thing too, depending on how disciplined you are when it comes to budgeting/spending. I guess that I have been on both sides of this…when I first moved to the city I shopped like a mad woman (and spent too much money). Now I use the vast amounts of stores to choose from to my advantage when comparison pricing and shopping around for good deals.

Now to the point of my post… I have been wanting to check Trader Joe’s out for quite awhile. My friend Jennifer has always had great things to say about them, and she is my “expert” friend when it comes to eating healthy food on a budget. I have no idea why I took so long to finally listen to her (and a few of my other friends) and to check it out.

Last night I was out alone (which is very rare) and decided it would be a good time to make the trip. In particular, I wanted to check out their snack foods, breads, and breakfast items. I receive a mailer from them every few months or so, and had checked out their website, so I knew a little of what they are all about. But what I really wanted to check out was the “value” that they stress on their website here. Because I am trying to be both budget and health conscious, on paper Trader Joe’s sounded like the perfect place for me. But they don’t accept coupons. Could I handle it?! Me, the crazy coupon lady?

And so I went, and I must say that I was very impressed.

Here are the things that I liked most (and no, I am not being compensated for saying all of this):
* I found 100% Whole Wheat Bread with *no* High Fructose Corn Syrup in it! You would think that this wouldn’t be a big deal, but if you look around at the grocery, most bread has HFCS in it. Which kind of defeats the purpose of “healthy” bread in my opinion. I paid $2.49 for a loaf, which is more expensive than store brand 100% Whole Wheat bread at Kroger and Giant Eagle, but about the same price as Wonder and other comparable brands.

* Trader Joe’s brand cereal and granola bars taste awesome, have little to no “junk” in them, and are comparable in price also! I wanted to compare Trader Joe’s brand fruit cereal bars with the Kroger brand Fruit & Grain bars that I typically purchase. The Trader Joe’s box has 6 bars and cost me $1.69 ($0.28/ea). The Kroger Fruit & Grain box has 8 bars and costs me $1.99 ($0.25/ea). For me, the extra $0.03/bar is worth not having HFCS in my cereal bars. Trader Joe’s chocolate chip, peanut butter, and chocolate/nut granola bars were also priced well at $1.99/box for 6.

* I found lots of new and healthy snack options for my daughter, and so far she has liked what I have given her! For example, I bought whole wheat pretzel sticks ($1.69), and Organic Mini Peanut Butter Cracker Sandwiches ($2.99), and both were a hit. Again, they have no “junk” in them, are priced fairly well, and taste great.

* I didn’t have to spend a ton of time searching for healthy options and reading every single label, because on the whole, the store is filled with pretty nutritious stuff.

* VARIETY! Nothing will bust you out of a food rut like new options, and Trader Joe’s had plenty of cool stuff for me to look at.

* $4.99 Riesling? What’s not to love??

In total, I spent $43.74 for the following:

* 4 Mini Frozen “snack” Pizzas – $3.69

* Multigrain Frozen Waffles – $1.89

* Organic Frozen Vegetables – $1.69

* Organic Peanut Butter Cracker Sandwiches – $2.99

* Strawberry Cereal Bars – $1.69

* Chocolate Chip Granola Bars – $1.99

* Peanut Butter Granola Bars – $1.99

* Nutty Chocolate Granola Bars – $1.99

* Whole Wheat Pretzel Sticks – $1.69

* Annie’s Organic Mac & Cheese (Microwaveable 5 – pack) – $2.69

* Bag of 1/2 Salt Almonds – $4.49

* Honey Smoked Sliced Turkey – $4.95

* Creamy Salted (natural) Peanut Butter – $1.69

* Whole Wheat Flour Tortillas – $2.49

* Whole Wheat Bread – $2.49

* Bottle of Riesling – $4.99

All in all, I was very happy with my trip. I haven’t had a chance to try everything yet, but what I have tried has been tasty. Right now I am thinking about adding one monthly trip to Trader Joe’s into my grocery shopping mix. We’ll see how things go. Also on my to do list? To check out Aldi one of these days.

What about you? Are you a Trader Joe’s shopper? If so, what are your favorite products?

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