Shopping at Trader Joe’s for the very first time can be quite the daunting experience. The trendy supermarket is known for its wide variety of specialties, ranging from cookie butter to even bacon jam. Don't worry though; this guide can help you out.

Step 1: Make a List 

beer, pizza, coffee, wine
Maddie Lanier

Just like any other supermarket, Trader Joe’s has all your typical grocery essentials. Love peanut butter? Need yogurt? Want some tasty snacks for your next Netflix binge? Trader Joe’s has you covered. The key, however, is discovering which box of cereal is perfect for your next midnight snack, and which cheese to skip. So sit down, and compile a quick list of general foods you may be craving to help you get an idea of where to start.

Step 2: Make the Move

coffee, wine, beer
Kristine Auble

Once you have compiled your grocery list, it’s time to hit your local Trader Joe’s. Beware, some Trader Joe’s have tight parking lots, but be patient as there is usually always an open spot. Also, remember to bring your own bag, or else you will have to pay 10 cents per bag (and they will always double bag to avoid tears). Grab a cart, sanitize it if you must, and step inside the magical world of Trader Joe’s.

Step 3: Remember the basics 

berry, juice, vegetable, sweet
Anna Hirschorn

Once inside, it’s easy to start feeling overwhelmed. People will be pushing their carts around while chasing after their kids and employees will be bustling about stocking shelves. Take a deep breath, and remember to stick to the basics. Fruit and vegetables are typically located when you first walk in. Their bag of Jazz Apples is a good deal, providing six apples already bagged and ready to be eaten. Bananas run for 19 cents each, a pretty reasonable deal. And if you’re feeling slightly more adventurous, they have prepackaged containers of fruit ranging from Sliced Mango, Fresh Cut Pineapple Spears, and even Pomegranate Seeds.

As you continue walking, you will encounter an overwhelmingly large bread section. Remember to stick to what you like; wheat lovers may enjoy Milton’s Whole Grain Bread, sourdough lovers can enjoy the Sliced Sourdough Bread, and traditional white bread fanatics can also find plain white bread to indulge on. There are also gluten free bread options, for those sensitive to gluten. You will also encounter a large granola and cereal section. Trader Joe’s has basically the same cereal as other supermarkets, just labeled differently. Honey Nut O’s are essentially Honey Nut Cheerios, and the Crisp Rice Cereal is basically Rice Krispies. As for granola, the Vanilla Almond Cluster Cereal is a popular add-on to yogurt in the morning.

Step 4: Hit the Frozen Section

vegetable, pepper, cheese, tomato
Taylor Villanueva

Trader Joe’s can truly make your life a whole lot simpler with its wide variety of prepackaged, frozen meals. The Mac and Cheese is a classic lunch staple that can be microwaved and ready in a manner of minutes. They have options ranging from Ricotta and Spinach Tortelloni, Black Bean and Corn Enchiladas, and even frozen BBQ Chicken Pizza. If convenience is important to you, pick up any of their frozen meals, pop them in the microwave, and you can have a pretty tasty dinner whipped up in no time.

Step 5: Snacks, Snacks, Snacks

oil, condiment
Grace Goettman

Ah, last but far from least is their snack section. Whether you need snacks for a party or just something really quick before your next workout, Trader Joe’s is known for their snack galore. Their Peanut Butter Stuffed Pretzels are a delight for peanut butter lovers. The Organic Popcorn with Olive Oil is a must have for watching a movie on Netflix. Their tiny Crispy Crunchy Chocolate Chip Cookies can be quite addictive- just warning. Craving something healthier? Try their bag of reasonably priced Raw Almonds or Dried Orange Slices. Honestly you really cannot go wrong with any of the proffered snacks at Trader Joe’s, so don't be afraid to pick up something you have never seen before.

Step 6: Pay and Finish

apple, vegetable
Emma Brant

Once you have completed going through your list, you are officially ready to head to the cashier. The cashier will probably be overly friendly, but that is their style. They will bag everything for you, using their perfect bagging technique, and you will be all good to go. Take a second to congratulate yourself, because you just survived your very first time shopping at Trader Joe’s.