Trader Joe's is a lot of people's favorite supermarket. Its specialty items — like cookie butter and cultured, salted French butter (the best thing that ever happened to toast) — are beloved. But Trader Joe's is more than just a place to buy quirky snacks. It's also a great place to stock up on inexpensive staples for everyday dinners and holidays alike.
To see how Trader Joe's stacks up to other stores, I went to one in Chicago on a Saturday afternoon and priced out all the ingredients necessary to make a complete Thanksgiving dinner.
Here's What Thanksgiving Costs at Trader Joe's
I went shopping for the ingredients to prepare a classic Thanksgiving dinner with turkey, stuffing, potatoes, green bean casserole, and cranberry sauce, using these five recipes. The menu does not include drinks, desserts, or rolls. This menu serves eight people, and you'll need an eight- to 10-pound turkey.
The Shopping List
- 1 10-pound all-natural antibiotic-free brined fresh young turkey, $19.90
- Trader Joe's cornbread mix, $2.69
- Trader Joe's raw pecan halves, $4.49 for 8 ounces
- 1 large onion, $0.79
- Celery ribs, $2.79 for two bunches
- 4 heads of garlic, $2.96
- Fresh rosemary, $1.69 for a 1-ounce bunch
- Fresh thyme, $1.79 for a 1-ounce bunch
- Organic whole white mushrooms, $1.99 for 8 ounces
- Organic crimini mushrooms, $2.99 for 8 ounces
- Charles Shaw Chardonnay, $2.99
- JosephsBrau Bohemian Lager, $6.49 for six
- Trader Joe's Grade AA large white eggs, $1.39 for 12
- Trader Joe's organic low-sodium chicken broth, $1.99 for 32 ounces
- Red potatoes, $3.58 for 3 pounds
- Trader Joe's whole milk, $1.69 for a half gallon
- Trader Joe's organic unsalted butter, $2.49 per pound
- Canola oil, $2.49 for 32 ounces
- Baker Josef's all-purpose flour, $2.99 for 5 pounds
- 2 small, sweet onions, $1.58
- 2 pounds green beans, $5.58
- 1 pound baby portobello mushrooms, $3.98
- Trader Joe's organic heavy whipping cream, $3.19 for 16 ounces
- Trader Joe's Wisconsin sharp white cheddar, $3.10
- 2 large Navel oranges, $1.39
- Baker Josef's pure cane sugar, $3.49 for two pounds
- 12 ounces fresh cranberries, $1.99
Total price = $92.47 + tax
- You'll need 8 cups of day-old, gluten-free cornbread cubes. This shopping list has enough leftover eggs, milk, etc. that you won't need to buy anything extra to prepare the cornbread mix. Prepare the mix in advance so it will be ready in day-old cornbread cube form on Thanksgiving.
- You can skip the beer entirely if you don't plan on drinking it. The beer is only used to make the breading on the onions that go on top of the green bean casserole, so you can substitute seltzer if you don't want to have leftover beer.
Ingredients I Could Not Find at Trader Joe's
Final Thoughts on My Trader Joe's Thanksgiving Price Check
As might have been expected, Trader Joe's lands between Aldi and Whole Foods on the price spectrum. It's more expensive than Aldi, but less expensive than Whole Foods. Trader Joe's didn't have Worcestershire sauce or ground mustard powder, but of every store I went to, only Whole Foods had mustard powder, and only Aldi had anything resembling Worcestershire sauce. (Aldi did not carry fresh herbs, though.)
Trader Joe's is fun to shop at, too. It's big and bright and full of beautiful produce and cute products. It really shines when it comes to add-ons that could make Thanksgiving really special. Trader Joe's has reasonably priced flowers for decoration, a great selection of inexpensive wines, and plenty of quirky snacks to sneak while you're cooking in the kitchen for hours. Definitely try the cookie butter.