Author Topic: Am I the only one who does not understand the hype of Trader Joes?  (Read 55623 times)

footenote

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Re: Am I the only one who does not understand the hype of Trader Joes?
« Reply #50 on: June 13, 2013, 06:51:46 AM »
Quote
And what non-packaged food they do carry is not competitive with traditional grocery stores (much less compared to Costco).

That is certainly not true here (SF Bay Area).  For what I buy (milk, yogurt, cheese, lunch meat, occasional snacks and beer), their prices are as good or better than Safeway, and the quality is better.  I can certainly believe that it would be a different story in other parts of the country.
[/quote]

I find dairy and snacks cheaper at Costco in our area, but you're right, that varies regionally. And their beer and wine prices beat Costco hands-down.

binkley

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Re: Am I the only one who does not understand the hype of Trader Joes?
« Reply #51 on: June 13, 2013, 08:03:35 AM »
I find dairy and snacks cheaper at Costco in our area, but you're right, that varies regionally.

Most everything is cheaper at Costco for us, but Costco is much farther away, and we can't always deal with Costco quantities - if I bought snacks at Costco, pretty soon I'd be too fat to walk to TJ's!

Gyosho

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Re: Am I the only one who does not understand the hype of Trader Joes?
« Reply #52 on: June 13, 2013, 08:47:45 AM »
Cooking from scratch at Trader Joe's? EASY!

- roast chicken with potatoes and salad
- chicken fajitas with onions and bell peppers
- baked salmon with zucchini
- scrambled eggs and turkey bacon

etc.

I do it all the time? What CAN'T you cook from scratch with Trader Joe's ingredients?

binkley

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Re: Am I the only one who does not understand the hype of Trader Joes?
« Reply #53 on: June 13, 2013, 11:23:13 AM »
I do it all the time? What CAN'T you cook from scratch with Trader Joe's ingredients?

The point is not so much that I can't, but that there are sources I prefer for certain ingredients (especially produce).

For the examples you gave, I would typically only get the chicken and eggs at TJs.  I'd get produce at a farmer's market, salmon at a fish market, and wouldn't touch turkey bacon (or any of TJ's fake/uncured bacon) with a ten-foot pole.


footenote

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Re: Am I the only one who does not understand the hype of Trader Joes?
« Reply #54 on: June 13, 2013, 01:31:56 PM »
Cooking from scratch at Trader Joe's? EASY!

- roast chicken with potatoes and salad
- chicken fajitas with onions and bell peppers
- baked salmon with zucchini
- scrambled eggs and turkey bacon

etc.

I do it all the time? What CAN'T you cook from scratch with Trader Joe's ingredients?

I could not cook the majority of my go-to recipes if I only shopped at TJs. They simply don't stock enough basics. There is nothing wrong with 3 - 4 ingredient recipes. (Although TJ's prices for basics are generally much higher than Costco's in my region. YMMV.) But if you cook more complex recipes, you can't get even close to the basic ingredients you need there.

dragoncar

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Re: Am I the only one who does not understand the hype of Trader Joes?
« Reply #55 on: June 13, 2013, 02:03:45 PM »
Yeah I can hit tj on my walk home from work and cook a simple meal for one from scratch.  Costco I'd have to drive, and would be dating the exact same meal for weeks.  Aldi i would have to fly.

mpbaker22

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Re: Am I the only one who does not understand the hype of Trader Joes?
« Reply #56 on: June 13, 2013, 02:14:01 PM »
On the other hand, their cheap produce can't be beat (OMG $.60 avacados). 

Local farmer's market has them as cheap as 10/$1 when they're on the verge of going bad, but still very usable.  The problem is grocery stores want to maintain an image, so they throw usable stuff away.

anastrophe

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Re: Am I the only one who does not understand the hype of Trader Joes?
« Reply #57 on: June 14, 2013, 11:40:32 AM »
On the other hand, their cheap produce can't be beat (OMG $.60 avacados). 

Local farmer's market has them as cheap as 10/$1 when they're on the verge of going bad, but still very usable.  The problem is grocery stores want to maintain an image, so they throw usable stuff away.

How I wish I lived somewhere that avocados were sold at the farmer's market. But substitute "squash" and the same applies here--I would never buy anything at TJ's that is grown locally, the prices are abysmal and it's shrinkwrapped too.

TrulyStashin

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Re: Am I the only one who does not understand the hype of Trader Joes?
« Reply #58 on: June 14, 2013, 02:31:23 PM »
The main attractions are 1) huge range of cheeses at amazing prices, 2) good deals on staples like oil, 3) frozen unprocessed foods like seafood, 4) and of course the wine.  You generally will not find the same variety, quality and price elsewhere.

+1

minimalist

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Re: Am I the only one who does not understand the hype of Trader Joes?
« Reply #59 on: June 14, 2013, 02:48:02 PM »
I do it all the time? What CAN'T you cook from scratch with Trader Joe's ingredients?

The point is not so much that I can't, but that there are sources I prefer for certain ingredients (especially produce).

For the examples you gave, I would typically only get the chicken and eggs at TJs.  I'd get produce at a farmer's market, salmon at a fish market, and wouldn't touch turkey bacon (or any of TJ's fake/uncured bacon) with a ten-foot pole.

What's wrong with uncured bacon? Sodium nitrate is a carcinogen.

MakingSenseofCents

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Re: Am I the only one who does not understand the hype of Trader Joes?
« Reply #60 on: June 14, 2013, 02:55:51 PM »
I don't get it either. The prices for many things are much higher for the same brands.

dragoncar

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Re: Am I the only one who does not understand the hype of Trader Joes?
« Reply #61 on: June 14, 2013, 06:18:33 PM »
I do it all the time? What CAN'T you cook from scratch with Trader Joe's ingredients?

The point is not so much that I can't, but that there are sources I prefer for certain ingredients (especially produce).

For the examples you gave, I would typically only get the chicken and eggs at TJs.  I'd get produce at a farmer's market, salmon at a fish market, and wouldn't touch turkey bacon (or any of TJ's fake/uncured bacon) with a ten-foot pole.

What's wrong with uncured bacon? Sodium nitrate is a carcinogen.

I love this bacon, and the "bits and pieces" are a particularly good deal ($2/pound). 

But what I think op was getting at is the "uncured" bacon isn't truly uncured.  Instead of being cured with chemical nitrites, "celery juice" is used which contains natural nitrites.  This may not be better for you, because "cured" bacon is now required to include vitamin c to deter nitrosamine formation, whereas it's unclear whether "uncured" bacon is similarly regulated.  So the bacon at TJs is "fake uncured" just like all other mass produced uncured bacon (vs. local butcher who may truly leave the meat uncured).
« Last Edit: June 14, 2013, 06:23:12 PM by dragoncar »

minimalist

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Re: Am I the only one who does not understand the hype of Trader Joes?
« Reply #62 on: June 14, 2013, 09:20:09 PM »
The following things are cheaper at TJ's than most other stores in the DC area:
-olive oil
-coconut oil
-canned coconut milk
-organic yogurt
-organic milk
-eggs
-frozen vegetables
-bags of apples
-bags of oranges
-bananas
-dry lentils
-canned beans
-nuts
-coffee
-chocolate
-alcohol

TJ's prepared meals are good and cheaper than eating out, which is another reason people like TJ's, but I prefer making my meals from scratch.

jenscaffidi

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Re: Am I the only one who does not understand the hype of Trader Joes?
« Reply #63 on: June 15, 2013, 03:14:53 AM »
Our house also acquires most of our produce, dairy, and select staples from TJ's. In our area, those fresher items aren't available at the same quality and price elsewhere.

I'm also fond of the fancier items for date nights -- we are people who will make you a fancy sandwich or treat you to all the chocolate bars on your birthday instead of going out or buying you extravagant gifts. And the snack aisles are fun for road trips (better than gas station snacks and cheaper than fast food). Most of the time, we stick to the outside aisles of the store.

We don't get a lot of hype for our local TJ's, though. It's just the only place to buy good cheap fresh ingredients (and the only place to buy snacks that isn't Walmart).

Joel

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Re: Am I the only one who does not understand the hype of Trader Joes?
« Reply #64 on: June 15, 2013, 09:40:28 AM »
When I am working out of town living in a hotel, collecting per diem for meals, I will shop at trader joes for my food for the week, this allowing me to pocket a good chunk of money. Otherwise I stay away from anything frozen or prepackaged like that.

Taryl

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Re: Am I the only one who does not understand the hype of Trader Joes?
« Reply #65 on: June 16, 2013, 01:17:56 PM »
I don't buy anything in a package.   Eat out of our front yard garden or whole foods for a bigger selection of fresh food than any other grocery store has.   Buy organic meat in bulk from the farms. If your grandmother wouldn't  recognize it, pass on the purchase.  Eating fesh and seasonally can be somewhat limiting and time consuming.  Fortunately herbs grow year around in Southern California.  Lucky me.

oldtoyota

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Re: Am I the only one who does not understand the hype of Trader Joes?
« Reply #66 on: June 16, 2013, 02:08:30 PM »
ALDI has 50 years experience in painting an image of high quality offerings for a really low price. Kind of a Robin Hood image even though the two owners are the richest persons in Germany and are not known for donating anything to charity (TBH, they might just not talk about it).

The ALDI near me is a total dump although they do have good prices for toothpaste. I would never buy produce there.

2527

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Re: Am I the only one who does not understand the hype of Trader Joes?
« Reply #67 on: June 16, 2013, 04:20:38 PM »
I think TJ is really good at the core of its business:  somewhat upscale prepared and semi-prepared foods.  Other things are not so good.

oldtoyota

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Re: Am I the only one who does not understand the hype of Trader Joes?
« Reply #68 on: June 16, 2013, 06:55:14 PM »
This thread made me curious. I went on a recon mission to find the prices at the local HFS and compare them to TJ's. TJ's showed less expensive prices for 99% of the items I checked.

These are a handful of the items less expensive at Trader Joe's. So, I will rejoin the cult. ;-)

--honey
--peanut butter
--organic yogurt (I can't even make it at home for less than I pay for it at TJ's)
--lentils
--sunflower seeds

And, as someone mentioned earlier, TJ's doesn't sell dairy with BST in it.




bogart

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Re: Am I the only one who does not understand the hype of Trader Joes?
« Reply #69 on: June 16, 2013, 07:25:20 PM »
smoked trout or pickled herring.  They're good on a decent chocolate bar
For some reason those two phrases ran together in my mind and it was NOT a good image.

haha, just back and saw this, and you're right.  Enough to throw a person off fish and chocolate for life!  Well, maybe not off chocolate ...

MrsPete

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Re: Am I the only one who does not understand the hype of Trader Joes?
« Reply #70 on: June 16, 2013, 09:25:39 PM »
About the "this is cheaper at this or that store" conversation. 

If you really want to lower your grocery bill, I strongly recommend you try the price book method in Amy Daczyn's (spelling?) book The Tightwad Gazette.  It's worth reading her whole description, but -- in a nutshell -- she spent months and months recording prices on her go-to items at the stores in her area (which likely bear no resemblance to the stores available in your area or my area).  It's not a fast process, but it gives you powerful information: 

- Which store offers the cheapest price on _____? 
- Is today's sale really great or just okay?
- How often does ____ go on sale? 
- What items are on super sale at what time of year?

Things I've learned by using this method -- and they aren't likely to be true for your area:

- Peanut butter, dried beans and canned foods are cheapest at Walmart
- Bread, milk and eggs and sometimes chicken are cheapest at Aldi's
- Paper products tend to be cheapest at Target
- No point in stocking up on chicken, our go-to meat; it goes on sale about every third week
- Canned goods are dirt cheap in the fall; it's worth buying loads

Anyway, try her method.  It'll take you a year to really complete a price book . . . but you'll be glad in the end. 

grantmeaname

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Re: Am I the only one who does not understand the hype of Trader Joes?
« Reply #71 on: June 16, 2013, 09:52:59 PM »
And, as someone mentioned earlier, TJ's doesn't sell dairy with BST in it
Where would you find bst milk if you wanted it? Kroger, Costco, and Wal-Mart don't sell it...

dragoncar

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Re: Am I the only one who does not understand the hype of Trader Joes?
« Reply #72 on: June 17, 2013, 01:29:03 AM »
And, as someone mentioned earlier, TJ's doesn't sell dairy with BST in it
Where would you find bst milk if you wanted it? Kroger, Costco, and Wal-Mart don't sell it...

I just buy my BST in bulk and add it as needed to my non-BST milk.  It's cheaper that way.

mushroom

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Re: Am I the only one who does not understand the hype of Trader Joes?
« Reply #73 on: June 17, 2013, 12:16:39 PM »
Today, for instance, I also thought the pricing was too tricky (funny that I see your post today of all days). If you want to buy almonds, the packages vary from 8 oz to 12 oz to 16 oz. The prices vary. So, I had to sit there doing math in my head to see which kind and package size of almonds would cost the least. I am thinking I could do better at the local health food store where almonds are sold by the pound.

Hm, I just bought almonds yesterday at TJ's and all of their packages had the price per ounce clearly labeled, so I just scanned them quickly and picked up the cheapest (one pound of the raw almonds). I'd be really surprised if they didn't list the price per ounce where you were?

oldtoyota

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Re: Am I the only one who does not understand the hype of Trader Joes?
« Reply #74 on: June 17, 2013, 01:46:20 PM »
About the "this is cheaper at this or that store" conversation. 

If you really want to lower your grocery bill, I strongly recommend you try the price book method in Amy Daczyn's (spelling?) book The Tightwad Gazette.  It's worth reading her whole description, but -- in a nutshell -- she spent months and months recording prices on her go-to items at the stores in her area (which likely bear no resemblance to the stores available in your area or my area).  It's not a fast process, but it gives you powerful information: 

- Which store offers the cheapest price on _____? 
- Is today's sale really great or just okay?
- How often does ____ go on sale? 
- What items are on super sale at what time of year?

Things I've learned by using this method -- and they aren't likely to be true for your area:

- Peanut butter, dried beans and canned foods are cheapest at Walmart
- Bread, milk and eggs and sometimes chicken are cheapest at Aldi's
- Paper products tend to be cheapest at Target
- No point in stocking up on chicken, our go-to meat; it goes on sale about every third week
- Canned goods are dirt cheap in the fall; it's worth buying loads

Anyway, try her method.  It'll take you a year to really complete a price book . . . but you'll be glad in the end.

Thank you. I've been wanting to get her book from the library, and I'll be sure to look up that section first.

rtrnow

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Re: Am I the only one who does not understand the hype of Trader Joes?
« Reply #75 on: June 17, 2013, 02:42:42 PM »
I do it all the time? What CAN'T you cook from scratch with Trader Joe's ingredients?

The point is not so much that I can't, but that there are sources I prefer for certain ingredients (especially produce).

For the examples you gave, I would typically only get the chicken and eggs at TJs.  I'd get produce at a farmer's market, salmon at a fish market, and wouldn't touch turkey bacon (or any of TJ's fake/uncured bacon) with a ten-foot pole.

What's wrong with uncured bacon? Sodium nitrate is a carcinogen.

I love this bacon, and the "bits and pieces" are a particularly good deal ($2/pound). 

But what I think op was getting at is the "uncured" bacon isn't truly uncured.  Instead of being cured with chemical nitrites, "celery juice" is used which contains natural nitrites.  This may not be better for you, because "cured" bacon is now required to include vitamin c to deter nitrosamine formation, whereas it's unclear whether "uncured" bacon is similarly regulated.  So the bacon at TJs is "fake uncured" just like all other mass produced uncured bacon (vs. local butcher who may truly leave the meat uncured).

I don't want to start a food debate, but I think the fear of nitrites is overblown. There is a very tiny amount in most cured meat products. Eat in moderation and know your supplier. There is certainly a lot of other crap in many commercial products. I cure my own meats and use both chemical and celery based products. A bit longer life without cured pork is not a life I want to live. :)

infogoon

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Re: Am I the only one who does not understand the hype of Trader Joes?
« Reply #76 on: June 17, 2013, 02:54:24 PM »
About the "this is cheaper at this or that store" conversation. 

If you really want to lower your grocery bill, I strongly recommend you try the price book method in Amy Daczyn's (spelling?) book The Tightwad Gazette.  It's worth reading her whole description, but -- in a nutshell -- she spent months and months recording prices on her go-to items at the stores in her area (which likely bear no resemblance to the stores available in your area or my area).  It's not a fast process, but it gives you powerful information: 

- Which store offers the cheapest price on _____? 
- Is today's sale really great or just okay?
- How often does ____ go on sale? 
- What items are on super sale at what time of year?

Things I've learned by using this method -- and they aren't likely to be true for your area:

- Peanut butter, dried beans and canned foods are cheapest at Walmart
- Bread, milk and eggs and sometimes chicken are cheapest at Aldi's
- Paper products tend to be cheapest at Target
- No point in stocking up on chicken, our go-to meat; it goes on sale about every third week
- Canned goods are dirt cheap in the fall; it's worth buying loads

Anyway, try her method.  It'll take you a year to really complete a price book . . . but you'll be glad in the end.

Also, a lot of this information is available on the Internet these days for free. There are web sites that will list the sales circular for the week, along with all the applicable coupons and how to get the best prices on things.

oldtoyota

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Re: Am I the only one who does not understand the hype of Trader Joes?
« Reply #77 on: June 18, 2013, 10:06:21 AM »
And, as someone mentioned earlier, TJ's doesn't sell dairy with BST in it
Where would you find bst milk if you wanted it? Kroger, Costco, and Wal-Mart don't sell it...

Later, I realized the OP probably meant rBGH. TJ's sells dairy without rBGH. I quoted the mistaken name.

As for Walmart, I won't shop there anymore no matter how cheap it is. That's one lousy store, and it smells inside.


grantmeaname

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meadow lark

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Re: Am I the only one who does not understand the hype of Trader Joes?
« Reply #79 on: June 18, 2013, 11:51:59 AM »
I like TJ's.  Big, bushy basil plants for $2.99.  Cans of coconut milk for $.99.  Dried fruit and nuts reasonably priced.  Seaweed snacks $.99. 
  I don't get the love of Costco.  Walmart is cheaper where I live.  Got a card to Costco 2 months ago and I have already returned a bag of oranges and a box of Asian Pears because they had no taste.  The only thing I do like is the dog food.  The dogs are crazy about the salmon and  sweet potato flavor.  Considering canceling my membership.

reverend

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Re: Am I the only one who does not understand the hype of Trader Joes?
« Reply #80 on: June 18, 2013, 11:40:57 PM »
I had two TJ's right near my house in Redondo Beach, but since I am currently stuck in Texas, there's only one and it's not particularly close.

What people usually don't get is regional variances and cost of shipping.  In my mind, being able to get non-GMO foods, my kefir (closest to filbunke/filmjölk as I can get in the US) and that they actually treat their employees very well matters to me.  They are non-union, because they never had the need to unionize.

Some of the TJ stores are pretty small with a lacking selection, and of course they carry processed foods.


The prices are typically, despite shipping costs here in Texas, far better than Whole Foods next door, and the grocery stores.

mushroom

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Re: Am I the only one who does not understand the hype of Trader Joes?
« Reply #81 on: June 23, 2013, 10:29:09 AM »
I like TJ's.  Big, bushy basil plants for $2.99.  Cans of coconut milk for $.99.  Dried fruit and nuts reasonably priced.  Seaweed snacks $.99. 
  I don't get the love of Costco.  Walmart is cheaper where I live.  Got a card to Costco 2 months ago and I have already returned a bag of oranges and a box of Asian Pears because they had no taste.  The only thing I do like is the dog food.  The dogs are crazy about the salmon and  sweet potato flavor.  Considering canceling my membership.

Yeah, I don't get it either. We just moved and live right by Costco so was debating getting a membership since MMM seems to love it so. But I went into a Costco with my in-laws who have a membership and the prices were the were about the same or worse than my usual stores (combo of TJ, ethnic markets, and Aldi) except with a commitment to buy much larger quantities.

OldAndInTheWay

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Re: Am I the only one who does not understand the hype of Trader Joes?
« Reply #82 on: June 26, 2013, 11:42:56 AM »
I don't get the TJ hype either. But we do spend 90% of our grocery budget at Aldi. Ours is clean and has great deals. The rest of the money we spend at Wegmans/Giant/Safeway etc...$1500 total per month. Maryland suburbs of DC

BTW-My wife and i have 13 kids. 1 married and moved out. 12 at home. So that $1500 is for 14 people total. 9 of them boys/men that eat like they are going to the chair. Come to think of it the girls can pack the food away too.

First post here. Just discovered this place the other day. Loving it so far.

notquitefrugal

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Re: Am I the only one who does not understand the hype of Trader Joes?
« Reply #83 on: June 26, 2013, 02:25:17 PM »
Their prices on olive oil seem to be lower than Kroger's, and their cereals have really good flavor. The fruits and vegetables I buy there seem to be fairly priced, but I don't get many refrigerated/frozen goods there because I live over an hour away and don't always bring a cooler.

They also sell $9.99 3L box of wine (chardonnay or a red wine). I have only tried the chardonnay, and it's comparable in quality to Bota Box. It's much better than Franzia, even though it's priced like Franzia.

BZB

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Re: Am I the only one who does not understand the hype of Trader Joes?
« Reply #84 on: June 27, 2013, 08:52:25 AM »
Thanks for mentioning the price book, Mrs. Pete. That's why I am starting my price book - to get the raw data so I can make educated decisions. TJ's opened up in Houston recently and Mr. BZB and I went as a date night once, and bought some prepared foods to take home for a fancy dinner. It was fun to look at all the interesting stuff they had, but I wasn't impressed enough to return. I'm spoiled - I can go to Spec's warehouse for great prices on beer, wine and other fancy foods, and we have Whole Foods, Central Market, and a handful of HEB-spin-offs, multiple farmer's markets, Fiesta for international foods, and a whole slew of Asian and Indian markets. Also, Costco and Sam's Club, and several grocery store chains having ongoing price wars. I have so many choices that a price book will be very helpful.

Marmot

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Re: Am I the only one who does not understand the hype of Trader Joes?
« Reply #85 on: June 30, 2013, 01:15:40 PM »
I would say the hype is largely due to the novelty of a lot of their packaged items (ie chili lime cashews, chocolate covered espresso beans, etc.). I enjoy going there every 2 months or so...

kimmarg

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Re: Am I the only one who does not understand the hype of Trader Joes?
« Reply #86 on: June 30, 2013, 08:13:57 PM »
About the "this is cheaper at this or that store" conversation. 

If you really want to lower your grocery bill, I strongly recommend you try the price book method in Amy Daczyn's (spelling?) book The Tightwad Gazette.  It's worth reading her whole description, but -- in a nutshell -- she spent months and months recording prices on her go-to items at the stores in her area (which likely bear no resemblance to the stores available in your area or my area).  It's not a fast process, but it gives you powerful information: 

- Which store offers the cheapest price on _____? 
- Is today's sale really great or just okay?
- How often does ____ go on sale? 
- What items are on super sale at what time of year?

Things I've learned by using this method -- and they aren't likely to be true for your area:

- Peanut butter, dried beans and canned foods are cheapest at Walmart
- Bread, milk and eggs and sometimes chicken are cheapest at Aldi's
- Paper products tend to be cheapest at Target
- No point in stocking up on chicken, our go-to meat; it goes on sale about every third week
- Canned goods are dirt cheap in the fall; it's worth buying loads

Anyway, try her method.  It'll take you a year to really complete a price book . . . but you'll be glad in the end.


YES! Kroger runs the same loss leader sales every 8 weeks. Buy an 8 week supply every time and you're good.

TJs undercuts all on peanut butter (which we eat a ton of) as well as coffee (at least for the quality, cheaper coffee is possible, but not that I'm willing to drink) wine if corse too

clutchy

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Re: Am I the only one who does not understand the hype of Trader Joes?
« Reply #87 on: July 02, 2013, 01:13:47 PM »
Trader joes is great for certain items.  Alcohol, grass fed beef, frozen veggies, frozen berries, and fancier cheese in my case.  Other people live it for the tasty, reasonably priced prepackaged food and snacks (I don't get those).

The frozen broccoli is about the same price as Safeway, but higher quality.  They tend to have more specialty foods cheap.  Coconut oil and California olive oil for example. 

Are you guys in California?  I think we tend to get the best deals here.

This.  This is the ticket here.

Prices here are stellar.  Maybe they are pricing CA prices for other places in the country.  You really can't get stuff much cheaper than TJ where I live.  Maybe sometimes at Stater Bros.


They also have an excellent selection of cheese and the grass fed beef is worth the $7 a lb.

clutchy

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Re: Am I the only one who does not understand the hype of Trader Joes?
« Reply #88 on: July 26, 2013, 10:58:16 AM »
that's an extreme example. 

Grass fed organic beef is almost impossible to find where I live.

I'll gladly pay a premium for quality that isn't hopped up on steroids and corn.

dragoncar

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Re: Am I the only one who does not understand the hype of Trader Joes?
« Reply #89 on: July 26, 2013, 01:00:43 PM »
that's an extreme example. 

Grass fed organic beef is almost impossible to find where I live.

I'll gladly pay a premium for quality that isn't hopped up on steroids and corn.

I found it quite interesting that cjottowa could instantly write off an entire chain just by hearin one price point for one product at a particular store in another city.

Tony_SS

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Re: Am I the only one who does not understand the hype of Trader Joes?
« Reply #90 on: July 26, 2013, 02:47:33 PM »
We don't have a TJ here, but do have an ALDI. Ours is great.. their food isn't bad at all and they're produce is way less than any other store in town. They've been a savior for us.

rob in cal

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Re: Am I the only one who does not understand the hype of Trader Joes?
« Reply #91 on: July 27, 2013, 09:23:24 AM »
TJ's is my main shopping place.  For organic stuff, which is most of what I buy, they are either as cheap or cheaper than WF's or a local health food store.  Their produce isn't perfect by any means, but they often have an adequate selection.  Also, it might be that in California we have better produce selection than in other states. 

clutchy

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Re: Am I the only one who does not understand the hype of Trader Joes?
« Reply #92 on: July 30, 2013, 05:16:26 PM »
We don't have a TJ here, but do have an ALDI. Ours is great.. their food isn't bad at all and they're produce is way less than any other store in town. They've been a savior for us.

It's the same company :)

zee germans...

clutchy

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Re: Am I the only one who does not understand the hype of Trader Joes?
« Reply #93 on: July 30, 2013, 05:17:12 PM »
that's an extreme example. 

Grass fed organic beef is almost impossible to find where I live.

I'll gladly pay a premium for quality that isn't hopped up on steroids and corn.

I found it quite interesting that cjottowa could instantly write off an entire chain just by hearin one price point for one product at a particular store in another city.

the correct descriptor is curmudgeon. 

golden1

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Re: Am I the only one who does not understand the hype of Trader Joes?
« Reply #94 on: July 31, 2013, 05:10:50 AM »
I like TJs a lot!  I see them more as a supplement to my grocery shopping though.  Once in a rare while I will do all my shopping there for the week, but usually I go every few weeks for stuff I can't get elsewhere, and then do the rest of my shopping at the lowest price grocery store in the area (DeMoulas Market Basket).

Tenderfoot

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Re: Am I the only one who does not understand the hype of Trader Joes?
« Reply #95 on: August 22, 2013, 01:18:44 PM »
I have to say, Trader Joe's is my favorite grocery store, by far. But I understand those of you who find it hard to get into. I would never have gotten the Trader bug if I hadn't lived right near one.

At first going into a TJ's is like shopping in a different county. They have different brands and a different way of doing things. But in general, nobody can touch their prices...and I live in the land of plenty (California, plenty of freaks too I'll admit.)

MMM himself even tips his hat to wine prices at TJ's and he's right. I buy a ton of wine there in the mostly 7.99 and under price category. Most bottles I buy are $5 or less, and at that price point no national chain can touch the quality (I abhor 2 buck chuck BTW....it's alwful.) Total Wine is close, but in that price range TJ's is best. Can't have Harlan every night.

Other areas of huge savings with TJ's:
-nuts (any kind...nuts or sun seeds at a Safeway will put you in the poor house.)
-oils (olive oil, grapeseed, coconut, canola...all very cheap. The only place cheaper is Costco but you have to buy a large amount.)
-raisins
-organic anything (basmati rice, bell peppers...they're small because they are not engineered by monsatan....tomatoes, raisins, etc. etc.)
-chocolate candy (variety)
-cereal/oats
-tomato sauce/pasta sauce
-dog treats
-spices
-flowers
-ketchup (TJ's was the only ketchup a few years ago that did NOT have high fructose corn syrup in it.)
-bread (check out the sliced sourdough rounds!)
-coffee (again, only costco is cheaper and not by much.)

I could go on, but I hope you get the idea.

True, you cannot buy everything there. I have always supplemented my shopping there. For example I buy meat only from Whole Paycheck (they are the only store that sells grass FINISHED beef. All beef is grass fed, it's the final three months of their lives that they are fed grain.)


Anyway....TJ's is awesome if you're cool with the limitations. That's my $0.02.

Basenji

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Re: Am I the only one who does not understand the hype of Trader Joes?
« Reply #96 on: August 23, 2013, 05:57:41 AM »

Thank you. I've been wanting to get her book from the library, and I'll be sure to look up that section first.

OMG Amy Dacyczyn is the Original Gangsta of Mustachianism. I read her books over and over.

Worsted Skeins

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Re: Am I the only one who does not understand the hype of Trader Joes?
« Reply #97 on: September 18, 2013, 05:45:09 PM »
Well I stepped into Trader Joe's this week.  I do most of my shopping at a co-op (staples), local farms (produce and eggs), the butcher (poultry) or fishmongers.  As noted earlier, I occasionally go to TJs for nuts. I also like their dried apricots.

The promotional item that greeted me near the front door was a flat of nectarines. Boxes of 14 very pretty pieces of fruit for $5.99, a seemingly good deal.  I should have known better.  They are pretty.  They smell nice.  But the fruit is mealy in the center.  I halved a couple of them and added them to the pan of barbecue chicken that was roasting in the oven.  Texture was no longer a problem.  So I guess I'll put the rest in a pie or cobbler.

The problem is probably not Trader Joe's but grocery store produce in general.  Because I get most of my fruit and veg (exceptions are citrus and bananas) from the local farms, I am regularly disappointed with produce from the grocer.  I will admit that I was sucked into the hype of the good deal.  I guess I deserve a face punch although my husband won't complain about a fruit pie.

FrugalEsq.

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Re: Am I the only one who does not understand the hype of Trader Joes?
« Reply #98 on: September 20, 2013, 10:01:27 PM »
For small families, TJ's works well for an occasional prepackaged dinner because the portions are the right size.  Also, it has a decent selection of vegetarian options. 
We don't really shop at TJ's for anything else.  Costco has cheaper produce, paper goods, and snacks.

MsGuided

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Re: Am I the only one who does not understand the hype of Trader Joes?
« Reply #99 on: September 20, 2013, 11:55:43 PM »
About the "this is cheaper at this or that store" conversation. 

If you really want to lower your grocery bill, I strongly recommend you try the price book method in Amy Daczyn's (spelling?) book The Tightwad Gazette.  It's worth reading her whole description, but -- in a nutshell -- she spent months and months recording prices on her go-to items at the stores in her area (which likely bear no resemblance to the stores available in your area or my area).  It's not a fast process, but it gives you powerful information: 

- Which store offers the cheapest price on _____? 
- Is today's sale really great or just okay?
- How often does ____ go on sale? 
- What items are on super sale at what time of year?

Things I've learned by using this method -- and they aren't likely to be true for your area:

- Peanut butter, dried beans and canned foods are cheapest at Walmart
- Bread, milk and eggs and sometimes chicken are cheapest at Aldi's
- Paper products tend to be cheapest at Target
- No point in stocking up on chicken, our go-to meat; it goes on sale about every third week
- Canned goods are dirt cheap in the fall; it's worth buying loads

Anyway, try her method.  It'll take you a year to really complete a price book . . . but you'll be glad in the end.

Thanks, Mrs. Pete!  I love The Tightwad Gazette & Amy D.  Years ago I started a price book but never really followed up or got into it.  I will now.   Do you do yours old school, with paper & pen?  I'd love to hear more about yours.

BTW, I live in Colorado and we are about to get a few Trader Joe's.  I've never been to one, but am looking forward to seeing what all the excitement (or derision in some cases) is all about.  I'd love to have ALDI here in CO.  I shopped there as a stupid but impoverished student in Illinois years ago.  It was CHEAP