The Best Buys at Trader Joe’s According to Employees

March 23, 2016 by Kyle

(Updated 2/06/17) Who knows a grocery store better than the employees who work there? Nobody. This is especially true when the store is Trader Joe’s and employees are munching on free samples along with taking home new items to try out. So when I stumbled upon an article over at Thrillist documenting the products that employees like best at TJ’s, I knew I had to share it with you. Here are some of the best buys at Trader Joe’s so you can make the most of your next trip.

Trader Joe's Best Buys

Italian Food

A Trader Joe’s manager summed it up nicely, “The pasta is imported from Italy and is 99 cents.” Prices at similar stores typically range from $3 to $4 per box. Also check out other Italian staples like olive oil and vinegar. In particular, the manager singled out the white Modena vinegar mixed with California Estate olive oil as a BIG winner, especially when used as a salad dressing.

TJ’s Private Label Beer

Their Mission St. Pale Ale came in 1st place in a taste test of 30 private label beers. The Trader Jose Premium Lager also did quite well as did the Mission Street Brown Ale and Josephsbrau Heller Bock. The price per 6-pack is quite competitive as well. Pick up a bottle or two and give it a try, you just might become a convert.


While the 2-buck Chuck still does well in taste tests, the one bottle that employees rave about is the Tribunal red blend for $9.99. The ten dollar price tag keeps it from being in most wine racks, but apparently it’s a real show stopper.

Frozen Meals

A few employee favorites include the Mac & Cheese Bites, Quattro Formaggio Pizza, and their Mandarin Orange chicken. Keep an eye out for free samples of all 3 so you can give them a try without having to buy.


According to an employee, “Our coffee is inexpensive compared to most other places. We have so many coffee options, there’s something for everyone in our tiny little coffee section. We’ve got the spicier coffees, the nuttier coffees, and there’s usually an affordable alternative to each one.”

Five Seed Almond Bars

Because the name makes it sound like something you’d feed your hamster, the Five Seed Almond Bar gets very little love. But according to employees it’s off the hook delicious. Best explained as a very fresh tasting and chewy Nature Valley bar, they’re universally loved by all those brave enough to make the plunge.


At $0.19 per banana, the price at Trader Joe’s hasn’t changed in over a decade. At the grocery store, you’re paying per pound for bananas which of course includes the peel. Unless you’re a goat, you ain’t eatin’ the peel, so why pay for it?

Cage-Free Eggs

Cage-free eggs are about $2.70/dozen at your typical grocery store….at Trader Joe’s you’ll only pay $1.99/dozen for cage-free eggs. Or you can just do what I do and raise you’re own laying hens.

Scandinavian Swimmers

If you love Swedish Fish candy, you’ll really love Trader Joe’s alternative named Scandinavian Swimmers. Apparently there a little less sweet than Swedish Fish and you can get a HUGE bag for only $2.99.

Check out the rest of the best buys at Trader Joe’s in the Thrillist article below:

Trader Joe’s Best Buys, According to Employees   |  Thrillist

By Kyle James

Photo by Liz West.

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Try the pickles yum