Where We Shop For Groceries To Save Money.

All the talk about coupons and sales surrounding grocery store shopping brought me to write this post. While I can appreciate cutting coupons to save money at the store, we have found the alternative to coupon shopping; Trader Joe’s. We used to shop at the big chain grocery stores, but the minute we discovered Trader Joe’s a few years ago, we rarely step foot inside a “normal” grocery store. The prices at TJ’s are much much lower than those at the big stores; so much so that our average weekly grocery bill at TJ’s is about $40 less than it would be at a bigger store. Add that up over the course of a year and it is a huge amount of savings.

TJ’s carries almost everything that we need; the only thing we need from another store is fruits and vegetables. This is not to say that TJ’s doesn’t sell these things, its just that sometimes I dont need 4 apples or 5 onions or a bag of green peppers. Sometimes I just need 1 of each or whatever. So for those items we go to Whole Foods or Wild Oats to get fresh, local, organic food that we can feel good about eating.

A lot of people have the misconception that Trader Joe’s is full of a bunch of hippies and they only sell weird food like Tofu and the like, but this could not be further from the truth. They have everything. It took me a long time to convince my mom that it was OK for her to shop there; in fact I had to take her to one in person in order for her to say “Wow, this place is cool.”. And coming from my mom, that is not a normal sentence. She really enjoys finding new things there every time she goes. Plus, she can get her staple products like milk, juice, cereal, etc at much lower prices than the big store.

I went grocery shopping yesterday there and this is what I paid for a few products, and if you compare what you pay for them at a “regular” store, you will see that they are much cheaper:

Organic Yogurt – $.89 each
Orange Juice – $1.99
Bag of chips – $.99
Milk- $2.99 half gallon
Corn Flakes – $1.99 (actually taste better than name brand version)
Cheerios – $1.99
Organic Free Range Chicken, 2 breasts – $6.99
Frozen Pizza – $2.99
Organic Bagels – $1.99
Minestrone Soup – $.99

Etc etc…

So, if you do have a Trader Joe’s near you, do not fear it…it could save you a lot of money on your grocery bill every week, even if you do want to buy smaller amounts of fruits and veggies at another store so you can get what you want instead of how they have packaged it. Happy Shopping!

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Comments (8)

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  1. Kellie says:

    $2.99 for a half gallon of milk! That’s crazy! I don’t know if you have a Kwik Trip gas station where you live, but if you do you’ll want to buy your milk there. It’s 99 cents for a half gallon. The inconvenient part is it comes in bags, but you get a free container to put it in if it’s your first time buying their milk. Small inconvenience for the money you save. The reason it’s so cheap is because they own their own milk company…and maybe because of the use of bags instead of plastic/paper jugs.

  2. david says:

    Hi Kellie

    We dont have Kwik Trip gas stations here in Los Angeles, at least not that I have ever seen. Also, the milk is organic for that price, and it is about a dollar cheaper than the grocery store charges for it. Unfortunately here in LA we dont have a lot of companies that have their own milk company!

  3. Ellen says:

    Oh, envy! That’s the only thing I miss about the city I used to live in–the Trader Joe’s (and the international grocery store that was just across the street). TJ’s had the best edamame ever.

    But like Kellie, I’m a bit shocked at the price of milk. We pay $2.89 for a whole gallon–also organic and hormone-free. Guess it’s a trade-off, eh?

    (PS Any luck hunting up the cheap invite site we talked about? I’ve found a good place: http://www.annswedding.com, and wanted to compare it with the place you liked enough to recommend.)

  4. Joe Nelson says:

    If you think those are good prices, I would have hated to see your old prices.

    Let me tell you some stats of stores around here (madison, wi).

    Yogurt (top 2):
    Cub foods on 1/14/2007
    Dannon Yogurt 32 oz. Quart 10 for $10.
    that means $0.50 / lb

    Cub foods on 5/21/2006
    Kemps Yo-J yogurt 64 oz. ctn. $2.49
    that means $0.62 / lb

    So I don’t know what your “each” is that cost .89 cents, but I bet it was some dinky little canister.

    Orange Juice
    Copps, 9/10/2006 Sunny Valley Orange Juice 0.5 Gallon 10/$10.00
    i.e. $0.0156 / floz

    Copps, 11/12/2006 Sunny Valley Orange Juice 1 Gallon 2/$6.00
    i.e. $0.0234 / floz

    Tortilla Chips
    Copps, 7/9/2006 Roundy’s tortilla chips 13-15 oz $1.00
    i.e. 1.067 / lb

    My girlfriend and I were upset because milk just went up to $0.99/gal. We used to get it for $0.89/gal at Woodman’s.

    Same story for the rest of your deals: they are really bad. Granted, you’re paying for organic food. That may be a good choice for your health, but it’s nothing to brag about on a financial blog.

    Anyway, I applaud your first steps toward logging prices. Keep it up and you’ll soon be getting serious deals.

  5. David says:

    Hi Joe

    Thanks for the comment. And yes, I know it is cheaper in Wisconsin, and probably the majority of the U.S.! My wife’s family lives in the Chicago suburbs and we are always amazed at the low prices when we go to the store there. Things cost more here in California, our regular unleaded gas is about $3.00 per gallon, which is much higher than the average right now. So for us, these are “low” prices. And as for bragging on a personal finance site, this does save us money, even though it seems high to you. Maybe people in other parts of the country could save even more by checking out their local Trader Joe’s if they have one. But I appreciate your comment and it is always interesting seeing prices in other parts of the country. Sometimes, its enough to make us want to move!

  6. David says:

    Hi Ellen

    I am so glad you left a comment, I had lost your email and could not find where you left a comment before!

    My wife is looking for the name of the catalog we ordered from; I guess we threw a lot of that stuff away after the wedding (oh what a relief that was) and she is hoping we have some reference to it now. I have saved your email address and will for sure send it along as soon as I/she finds something!

  7. Alison says:

    I have Trader Joe’s envy! I’ve never been to one but everyone and their brother raves about it. Too bad the closest is an hour and a half away. With TJ’s popularity though, it can’t be too long ’til they expand to Richmond.

    Since the comments have turned into a milk price comparison, I pay $1.79 reg/$1.50 on sale for 1/2 gal, non-organic. Gas is down to $1.95 a gallon 🙂

  8. David says:

    Yea, it does seem the comments are a milk price comparison now. Interesting though, isnt it, to see what people pay?

    And Alison, you only pay $1.95 a gallon for gas? Where do you live?