What Customers Should Know Before Stepping Foot In Trader Joe'sFeb 27, 2020
Chances are, if you've been to Trader Joe's, you're already a fan. The tricks for shopping at a place that doesn't even have a frequent shopper card may seem unusual, but there are some tips and tricks that will help you save time and money. Check this out before you shop at Trader Joe's again. One of the most un
known advantages of Trader Joe's is its sampling policy. You may have stock items that you get every time you visit the store, but Trader Joe's introduces new products all the time. If you're dairy-free and wondering if the turmeric-ginger-coconut drink will suit your taste buds, or if you're on the fence about Bloody Mary sauce, ask an employee for a sample.
You can try it before you buy it. PopSugar notes that there are some exceptions to this amazing policy. They won't let you get sick from trying raw foods, and you won't be able to tell if a frozen food is worth it without heating it. You won't be able to try any of the alcoholic products either, so ask for samples of ready-to-eat foods, such as boxed snacks, jars of jam or cheese. PopSugar interviewed a former Trader Joe's employee who confirmed that you can return anything, even if it's already opened. Seems like the kind of thing that could be taken advantage of, right? "This was shipped like this, so we'll need a new one." "You obviously broke this yourself." But in general, politics works in everyone's favor.
Employees don't waste time arguing with
whatcan and can't be returned, and Trader Joe's gains valuable insight into products
customersdon't like. Everyone wins. Trader Joe's definitely has a cult following, and with mass appeal comes massive crowds. Nothing ruins the shopping environment faster than crowded parking lots, long lines, and narrow aisles. Instead of wasting your time, take advantage of people who have done the research and are willing to share the best time to visit Trader Joe's. The Daily Meal suggests avoiding Trader Joe's any weekday during lunchtime. Unfortunately, that doesn't just mean midday; the lines don't disappear until around 3 p.m. m., so stay away until long after conventional lunches end. "Once in a while I'll have a long lunch." "A nap!" You don't want to linger too long, though, because things pick up again after 5 p.m. for the post-work rush.
When it comes to weekends, both Saturday afternoon and Sunday night are also popular times for shopping. According to a Redditor who claims to be a manager at Trader Joe's, the best time to avoid the crowds is as soon as they open on a Tuesday or Wednesday. You'll have the store to yourself and access all the products that sell out quickly every day. If you find yourself in a long line, entertain your brain by purchasing a copy of Fearless Flyer. Trader Joe's describes the brochure by asking, "Is it a newsletter? A catalog? A comic? Yes, yes, and maybe even yes!" Basically, it is a bi-monthly illustrated publication that is supposed to announce new products and offers.
Informative, yes, but we read it mainly because it's hilarious. The pages are filled with old cartoons with clever captions, and the product descriptions have more cringeworthy puns than I thought possible in a 16-page publication. Is your corn salsa a "corn" condiment? That's so bad it's good. Add in some weird comics and offbeat humor, and you'll find yourself longing for a line just to take the time to read it from start to finish. Trader Joe's carries some big name brands, but why would you buy a $5 box of cereal when you can get a Joe's brand for $2 less?
Opting for private label products is one of the easiest ways to save money at the grocery store, and you don't have to sacrifice quality when shopping at TJ's - big brand suppliers can make some of these private label products. In 2010, Fortune suggested that Trader Joe's pita chips were made by Stacy's and that Stonyfield Farm supplied much of the yogurt on the East Coast. Eater went a step further and used the Freedom of Information Act to request recall information that mentioned Trader Joe's by name. That allowed them to identify some potential suppliers, like Snack Factory's Wonderful Pistachios and Pretzel Crisps.
Of course, big brands wouldn't want you to
knowthat you can buy your food for less at Trader Joe's, so it's unlikely that any of these comparisons will hold up. Even former vice president of marketing Mark Gardiner told Eater that he didn't know who made the brand's most popular products. It is a secret agreement and no one can talk about the suppliers of the products. Trader Joe's doesn't market itself as a Whole Foods-type store or gourmet market, but it kind of is. "This is real gourmet shit!" This no-frills grocery store has been selling wine since the 1960s, and their successful low-cost formula has allowed them to offer affordable versions of gourmet cheeses, specialty nuts, and exotic frozen foods.
Many of these products would have been considered gourmet at the time they arrived, and Trader Joe's continues to stay ahead of food trends by offering new and innovative products each year. According to Trader Joe's website, their private brands also contain high-quality ingredients. They do not use artificial flavors or preservatives, MSG, GMO ingredients or partially hydrogenated oils. Their labels may not say the product is non-GMO, but Trader Joe's assures customers that its brands do not contain any GMO ingredients. They also claim to sell tons of organic products and their organic options can be less expensive than conventional options.
Unfortunately, Trader Joe's doesn't have everything you'd find at a regular grocery store. A typical Trader Joe's has an average of 4,000 products in each store, compared to the 38,900 you'll find at most grocery stores. That means if you're looking for necessities like toothpicks, diapers, cornstarch, or aluminum foil, you'll have to make a stop at another store while you're out. You also won't find all the brand variety options you may be used to. "I don't want this pomade, I want Dapper Dan." "I don't carry Dapper Dan, I carry Fop." "Well, I don't fucking want Fop, I'm a Dapper Dan Man!" That can be a good thing.
After all, who really wants to compare the ingredients and price of 12 different brands of ketchup? Trader Joe's only has one option: Trader Joe's Organic Ketchup. They do it on purpose, so you can be sure that they tried it, liked it, and trust that you don't need other options. In some ways, that level of confidence is comforting, but if you expect product variety, you may want to realign your expectations before you walk through the door. No trip to Trader Joe's is complete without a stop in the liquor aisle. When founder Joe Coulombe opened the first Trader Joe's in 1967, his vision was to create a neighborhood grocery store with a great wine selection.
Today, that selection has also expanded to beer and spirits, depending on state liquor laws. If you're lucky enough to live in a state where you can buy all three, you'll find a great selection of generally affordable options. They are most famous for their Two Buck Chuck, a highly priced Charles Shaw wine available in a variety of red and white varieties. Non-private label alcohol prices are just as affordable, and when it comes to beer, the Chicago Tribune reports that Trader Joe's beers are often brewed by award-winning breweries. However, be sure to ask questions before putting these items in the cart, because sometimes alcohol is not covered by their return policy.
When you look at the things you
shouldn't buy at Trader Joe's, the produce section is pretty polarizing. On the one hand, according to The Kitchn, their organic products are usually cheaper or comparable to those of other grocery stores. Unfortunately, it's not always packaged in a way that makes sense. As Kiplinger points out, many Trader Joe's products are pre-packaged, making it impossible for you to choose how much you want to buy. That's great if you want to buy a whole package of carrots, but
whatif you just wanted one apple? Sorry, you have to buy the whole bag. "Because?" "Those are just the rules." That said, there are great deals in the produce aisle, but stay away from prepared goods.
Things like cauliflower rice and spiralized carrots cost a lot more than making them yourself at home. The one item that always shines are the super cheap bananas; They are always priced at 19 cents, the same price they were in the '70s. Trader Joe's frozen section is absolutely legendary. There's more variety in this section than anywhere else in the store, and it's not just about variety of ingredients. You can stock up on hearty main dishes for breakfast, lunch or dinner, or purchase a few items to have on hand as an appetizer or snack. They also have dozens of dessert options.
Because most of the items in this section are private label products, the prices are very reasonable and it's safe to say you could eat from the freezer section for weeks without repeating a meal. Items at Trader Joe's can disappear pretty quickly and sometimes forever. One Redditor who claims to work at the largest Trader Joe's in the United States explained that this is because they often don't order many shares. If they have too little and run out, it's better than ordering too much and wasting food, which could drive up prices. This can happen with any product, especially best-selling items that generate a lot of buzz.
The Redditor went on to explain that this tends to happen more quickly with seasonal products. Some new products don't do well, meaning the store won't reorder them when they become available. That creates more space for the products everyone loves. Whether it's a regular or seasonal item, NBC News suggests loading up your cart if you find something you like. Things like frozen products don't spoil quickly, and you can check the expiration date on shelf-stable products to see how long you have to use them. You never know if the item will be out of stock for a day, a few weeks, or forever, but it's better not to know.
There's no need to buy pre-made frozen meals to make quick, healthy dinners at Trader Joe's. We love combining items from the freezer aisle, produce section, and pantry shelves for mix-and-match dinners that can be ready in as little as 15 minutes. Combine a pork tenderloin with barbecue sauce in the Instant Pot and place the pulled pork on top of Trader Joe's brioche buns for easy pulled pork sandwiches. Or, if you don't feel like cooking, opt for their refrigerated pulled pork; It's ready in the microwave after just three minutes. It's easy to combine precooked meats with rolls and tortillas to make sandwiches and tacos, but you can also combine items from the freezer aisle to make a complete, healthy meal.
Add sausage or chicken to frozen vegetarian meals, such as Penne Arrabbiata. Or cook empanadas and sautéed vegetables together, straight from the freezer. Add one of Trader Joe's signature sauces, like Gyoza Dipping Sauce or Thai Green Curry Slow Cooker Sauce, and these pre-made, packaged items will taste like a home-cooked meal. There always seems to be a contest at Trader Joe's. Many contests are for gift cards, but some result in a grocery bag full of goodies or bragging rights for liking top-rated products in their annual Customer Choice Awards. The easiest contest to win is also pretty good for the environment.
Most Trader Joe's locations will give you a five-cent discount for bringing a reusable bag. The Kitchn revealed that some locations also have a weekly raffle: win a $25 gift card if you spend $25 or more and bring your own bag. However, it is not well advertised, so ask your local store for more details. Check out one of our newest videos right here! Plus, more Mashed videos about your favorite stores will be coming soon. Subscribe to our YouTube channel and press the bell so you don't miss a single one.
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