Little-Known Trader Joe’s Shopping Tips (Shop Smart and Save)

Updated April 30, 2024 by Kyle James

Trader Joe’s is a mainstay in my families monthly shopping adventures. My wife and I find that if you shop smart, TJ’s can provide a great value on many items. Plus, my kids love to frantically search the aisles for the stuffed beaver in order to score a free lollipop at the register. Anyways, I wanted to take this opportunity to break down a bunch of my favorite savings hacks and tips for Trader Joe’s. Here they are in no particular order.

Little-Known Trader Joe's Shopping Tips (Shop Smart and Save)

1. Frozen Fruit is Expensive

A bag of frozen fruit at Trader Joe’s is very expensive compared to Walmart and Costco.

As a matter of fact, a small bag at TJ’s is more expensive than the large 64 oz bag at Walmart.

We are talking frozen fruit here, probably for smoothies or desserts, so why pay more than you have to.

2. Trader Joe’s Accepts Coupons

While Trader Joe’s does not have in-house coupons, they do except manufacturer coupons on items they stock.

A couple great coupon resources include Hip2Save and All Natural Savings.

While most of their items are their in-house brand, they have many national brands as well which often have coupons available.

These include Columbus sliced meats, Pellegrino, various beers, and some of the snack foods.

3. Frozen Meals are a Steal

Frozen meals at Trader Joe’s are typically a great deal and are usually at least $2 cheaper than traditional grocery stores.

Not sure which ones taste good?

Head over to the website What’s Good at Trader Joe’s and read a bunch of in-depth reviews on their frozen meals so you have a good idea which ones to try out and which ones to pass on.


If you try a frozen meal and decide you don’t like it, they’ll take it back as part of their VERY generous return policy. Literally all you have to tell them is you “Didn’t like it” and they’ll take it back, no questions asked.

4. Buy the Frozen Mac ‘N Cheese

This one falls into the “Who Knew?” category.

Turns out the frozen mac ‘n cheese is da bomb and way better than their boxed version.

While I’ve never tried their boxed mac ‘n cheese, the reviews, shall we say, are not glowing.

5. Tote Your Own Bag

Some Trader Joe’s locations will reward you nicely if you tote your own bags.

You’ll be entered in a $25 gift card raffle when you spend at least $25 and use your own bags.

Be sure to fill out the raffle ticket when checking out or ask the cashier if you don’t see one.

It’s a win-win for you and the environment.

6. Specialty Cheeses are a HUGE Deal

Our fridge is almost always stocked with specialty cheeses from Trader Joe’s.

I’m talking about smoked cheddar, brie, and blue cheese to name a few.

Why? Because they’re absolutely delicious and at least 35% cheaper than any other grocery store in town.


Don’t buy the pre-sliced cheeses as you’ll pay a premium, up to 30%, compared to buying the blocks and slicing it yourself at home.

See Also: Does Trader Joe’s Offer Delivery? Yes, and Here’s How

7. Buy Bunches of Bananas

At just $.19 cents each, bananas have always been a great deal at Trader Joe’s.

Amazingly, the price of bananas at TJ’s hasn’t changed in over 20 years and has almost reached Costco hot dog meal for $1.50 prowess among bargain shoppers.

It’s also a cute story as to why Trader Joe’s has stuck with the 19 cents per banana policy and has to do with the classic “I’m too old to buy green bananas” joke.

8. Shop For Packaged Non-Perishables

“Packaged non-perishables.” A great alternative rock band name, and also the single best reason to shop at Trader Joe’s.

Not only are most packaged non-perishables inexpensive, but they’re very high-quality and typically organic.

Quinoa is a great example and is sold for $2 less per pound when compared to Whole Foods.

Bonus Tip #1: Shop Early, Midweek

This one may seem obvious as Trader Joe’s can get very crowded on weekends.

But an employee told me recently that Mondays can be just as crowded as Sundays.

She went on to say that Tuesday or Wednesday, 30 minutes after they open, is the SINGLE BEST time to shop at TJ’s and avoid the crowd.

Bonus Tip #2: Shop the Corners and End Caps

I was chatting it up with a friendly crew member the other day and asked him where in the store do you find the best deals?

He said without blinking, “in the corners and the end caps”.

I was like, “the corners?” He then explained that the back two corners of the store almost always have either a food sample station or deals on new-to-the-store products.

He then also explained that endcaps have the hot seasonal items that tend to sell out really quickly and shoppers should always check them out FIRST.

Stuff like Candy Cane Joe-Joes, Spiced Cider, and anything Pumpkin Spice.

Bonus Tip #3: Consider a Part-Time Job at TJ’s

I recently sat down over a couple beers with a friend who’s been a crew member at Trader Joe’s for a couple years and got the inside scoop on their employee discount and other cool job perks.

Back in 2020, they raised their employee discount to a whopping 20% off EVERYTHING, up from 10%.

The discount is good for part-time and full-time employees and you can get it at ANY location across the country.

So if you’re feeding a large family and looking for part-time work, dropping off an application at Trader Joe’s should be at the top of your to-do list.

Ask the Reader: What money savings tips or tricks for Trader Joe’s did I leave out? Let me know in the comments, thanks.

By Kyle James

Photo by Mike Mozart.


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Elden Gatley

I agree that frozen meals are inexpensive. My wife and I don’t do much cooking, so we often rely on the healthiest TV dinners we can find. It’s a better alternative than what eating out does to your pocketbook.

Paris Yadav

Yummy, My all family members loves Frozen Meals, mostly my Children’s. They will not alive without frozen meals. We will try different different dishes one of them my children are like as Mexican Casserole Bowl it will be really very tasty & Good for Health.