5 Insider Secrets to Saving Money on Groceries at Trader Joe’s

updated Dec 17, 2019
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(Image credit: Photo: Joe Lingeman; Design: The Kitchn)

Trader Joe’s prides itself on offering fair prices, especially on frozen foods, snacks, and wine. They don’t have sales, they don’t have coupons, and they don’t do discounts. They say so, loud and clear, on their website.

“Sale” is a four-letter word to us. We have low prices, every day. NO coupons. NO membership cards. NO discounts. NO glitzy promotions or couponing wars at our stores. We offer the best everyday values, every day.

Still, tenacious shoppers have found a way to make the cult grocery-store chain even more affordable. Here are five ways to save money.

1. Use coupons on non-Trader Joe’s products.

While Trader Joe’s doesn’t offer coupons on its private-label brands, you can use manufacturer coupons for non-Trader Joe’s products. These products are few and far between, but they do exist. Sneaky, right?

(Image credit: Diana Liang)

2. BYO bag (and spend $25).

Did you know that customers who bring their own bag and spend $25 get entered into a raffle to win a $25 Trader Joe’s gift card? Now you do. (Note: Not all store locations do this and it’s not advertised super well. Just ask your cashier or someone at the customer service desk!)

3. Take advantage of TJ’s generous return policy.

Have you ever bought an avocado, taken it home, and realized it was rotten? Well, you can take it back to Trader Joe’s and they’ll refund you. Don’t like the taste of their Peanut Butter Protein Granola? You can return that, too. Don’t just eat the cost of something you’re not happy with! Bring it back and TJ’s will make it right.

4. Try before you buy.

If you don’t want to go to trouble of buying something, bringing it home, and then making a return trip because you weren’t that into it, you can try most things before you buy them — even if it’s something that’s not being sampled. Ask a Trader Joe’s employee (nicely) and they’ll open it up for you on the spot.

(Image credit: Geraldine Campbell)

5. Buy a single banana (but skip the rest of the produce).

Okay, if you’re a frequent shopper, maybe you know this one already, but Trader Joe’s sells its bananas by the banana (at a price of 19 cents each). Now, if you are feeding a family of four, maybe this is not the best purchase, but if you are a single person and you really just want one banana, then it is very smart. What else can you get for 19 cents? Don’t get over-eager in the produce section, however; as a general rule, Trader Joe’s doesn’t offer the best pricing on fruits and veggies (or the best selection).

Got any other tips for saving money at Trader Joe’s? Leave your suggestions in the comments below!