Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Trader Joe's vs. The Grocery Store

I went to Trader Joe's the other day for a quick trip, and once again was amazed at how cheap it is.  You would think, since I go to Trader Joe's quite regularly, I would actually remember that, but since it's a bit out of my way, I go there infrequently on stock up trips. That results in me spending a lot of money (usually on five months worth of coffee), and thinking that it's a really expensive place to shop.

Not so.

Today, I'm going to do an item by item comparison between things purchased on my recent trip to the regular grocery store--Stop & Shop, and my even more recent trip to Trader Joe's.

Exhibit A:  Hummus

I bought hummus on both of my trips to the grocery store, and do you want to know why?  Because I love hummus, that's why.  Despite frugal attempts to make my own, I've stopped wasting my time and just get store bought.  I don't know how they do it, but my homemade version just sucks, and even the generic brand at the store is delicious.

This most recent trip, I bought Sabra Hummus, which is my hummus of choice, but I only bought it because it was on sale--naturally my favorite is the most expensive, sigh.  I got 17 oz for $5.99.  Trader Joe's, I got 16oz of hummus for $3.99

Current Standings: Grocery store trip $5.99, Trader Joe's $3.99

Exhibit B: Pita Bread

The pita bread is to enjoy with my hummus, of course.  Grocery Store pita bread retails for $2.79, Trader Joe's $1.29.

That brings our standings to Grocery Store:  $8.78, Trader Joe's $5.28

Exhibit C: Tempeh

The Trader Joe's tempeh is both delicious and dirt cheap.  Whole Foods also has a store brand of tempeh, which is really affordable, but I think it's icky.  The Trader Joe's stuff compares to the high end stuff, but is about half the price.

Grocery Store Lightlife Three Grain Organic Tempeh: $3.29, Trader Joe's Organic Three Grain Tempeh: $1.69.

Current Standings:  Grocery Store: $12.07,  Trader Joe's $6.97

Exhibit D: Snacky Popcorn

The Grocery Store retails Smart Food Popcorn for $3.99 for a 9 oz bag, Trader Joe's retails their popcorn for $1.59 for a 7oz bag, but the Trader Joe's stuff is low sodium and low fat and it is incredibly bland.  I'll tack on an extra $1 penalty since I'll have to add my own flavor agents, so that brings the Trader Joe's total to $2.59 for 7 oz.

Final Standings: Grocery Store: $16.06, Trader Joe's $9.56  

Overall, I got the same food, albeit slightly fewer ounces, for significant savings at Trader Joe's, which makes it totally worth driving a little further.  If there's one that's a lot further from where you live--get a carpool together!  Make a day of it!  It was just so nice to leave the grocery with two full bags of groceries and not feel like I'd been robbed in an alleyway.  I've started to loathe grocery shopping, but this perked me right up.    Also, I got four of these:
Best. Candy Bar. Ever.
For the low/low price of $1.99 apiece.  Then I hid the in the back of the cupboard.


  1. We use Trader Joe's often for olive oil, cheese (don't go to the cheese counter...then you won't be tempted), frozen nan, jarred Indian sauces and nuts/seeds ect to make trail mix with. And coffee. And Bran Flakes. Don't get their greek yogurt though. Not so great.

  2. No TJ's here, but I've heard they're pretty good. That's quite a price difference, looks like there's the potential to save quite a bit of $$!

  3. Theres No TJ here in the Eau Claire,WI area. But we do have Aldis ( i here there owned by the same people), I once went to are 3 big grocery stores, Target, Walmart and Aldis. The Grocery stores were all 2x more. Target & Walmart were w/ in pennys. Target had better Natural Foods at a good price, Aldis beat them all on the Meats, Vegies and Pantry Items, for the price

  4. @Brandi the olive oil is a steal! I liked their greek yogurt when I had it, but I can usually get a better deal on Cabot or another brand.

    @Carla I keep meaning to try Aldi, but the cash/debit only thing is a huge drawback for me. I just never carry any and I bank out of state, so it's a pain to use the ATM. I should just get some cash and go, but I never do.