We all love Trader Joe’s: the happy employees, the prices, the desserts and the pumpkin products. And don’t even get me started on their classic cookie butter, cookie butter ice cream and new cookie butter flavor. What’s not to love? Although Trader Joe’s is known for its everyday low prices, not everything there is inexpensive. Listen to the following advice, and you can spend that money you saved on something else.


Trader Joe's

Photo by Jocelyn Hsu

The basic cheeses, like mozzarella and provolone, are less expensive at Whole Foods or Walmart, so stay away from these. All cheese is not a rip-off, though. If you are seeking specialty cheese, Trader Joe’s is your place. Brie at Trader Joe’s only costs three dollars while it can be much more expensive elsewhere.

Almond Butter

The healthier version of peanut butter, almond butter is quite delicious. With the shortage of almonds, almond butter is expensive. TJ’s almond  butter tends to be $7.99 for a 16-oz jar, but Costco’s is $9.99 for a 26-oz jar. That’s a savings of $0.12 per ounce.


Trader Joe's

Photo by Maggie Gorman

TJ’s produce is not only pricey; since it is mostly pre-packaged, you may end up buying more than you need. Instead, buy your avocados, grapes and strawberries at Walmart. They may not taste as good, but they will be much cheaper. If you’re going organic, though, stick to TJ’s.

Fish and Meat

TJ’s has limited choices, and what they have is expensive. Both of these will be cheaper when you buy them as featured items at Wegmans or Tops. Wegmans chicken breast is usually $1.99/pound. Trader Joe’s chicken breast can be about $3.00/pound. Plus, the one-size-fits-all packaging at TJ’s makes it hard to buy just how much you need.

Frozen Fruit

Trader Joe's

Photo by Jocelyn Hsu

TJ’s is not the place to buy frozen fruit. It not only comes in very small bags, but it can cost a lot more. A 16-oz bag of frozen strawberries at Walmart costs $3.48, and a 12-oz bag of frozen blueberries cost $3.99 at TJ’s.

Greek Yogurt

Although TJ’s Greek yogurt sure is tasty, it’s pricier than at other stores. A 32-oz container is $4.99 at Trader Joe’s. Wegmans offers its Greek yogurt for $3.99, and it’s even organic, which is normally more expensive.