The Single Best Shopping Tip We Learned About Trader Joe’s in 2022

published Dec 25, 2022
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Credit: Lauren Masur

Grocery shopping at Trader Joe’s is an adventure. Wandering through the store’s aisles, you never know when you might stumble onto a new favorite sauce, an Ina-approved tart, or a luxurious (yet budget-friendly) stocking stuffer — or nine. (Fun fact: There are 473 holiday items hitting shelves this season alone!).

If you’re anything like us, you can easily spend over an hour in front of the freezer cases. Which brings us to former TJ’s employee and current Kitchn contributor Mackenzie Filson. Mackenzie worked at a local Trader Joe’s for two years (where she ordered the store’s wine and cheese!), and during her tenure she learned loads of useful tips about how to navigate the store like a pro. Back in September, she shared several of those very smart tips with us and one has completely changed the way we shop at TJ’s this year and beyond.

So what is the single best Trader Joe’s shopping tip we learned in 2022? Make the frozen section your last stop. (And not just for the reason you think!)

Credit: Lauren Masur

Why you should make the frozen section your last stop.

Logistically it makes sense, but it also makes cents (more on that below). If we hit the frozen aisle last, we’re literally getting the coldest product possible, meaning there’s less time for things to melt on the ride home. We’ll also avoid that produce-to-frozen bottleneck of customers that seems to plague most Trader Joe’s locations. 

What surprised Mackenzie most about the frosted cases, though, is just how quickly a grocery bill can go up from these items alone. We may love apple blossoms (à la mode) as much as the next person, but by hitting this section last it can help cut down on our impulse spending. (Have you noticed that often cookies are also near the frozen items?) It did for Mackenzie and us, and we have a good feeling it’ll do the same for you.

Do you have a smart tip for shopping at Trader Joe’s? Tell us about it in the comments.