When I first had to switch from Hy-Vee to Trader Joe’s, I dreaded it. I wasn’t familiar with Trader Joe’s outside the handful of staples I would pick up every few weeks, and change is hard, isn’t it? But I’d committed to following through on this challenge and so we shopped week 1, week 2, week 3 and week 4.
What do I like about Trader Joe’s?
1. Price. I was pleasantly surprised that the cost of items, and consequently my entire bill, was reasonable. I never spent more than $100 at Trader Joe’s. Win.
2. There is a decent variety of organics. Although it’s not always fantastic (see #1 below), for being a small store, I’ve been impressed.
3. There is less “food clutter.” I think this probably helped keep my bill low, too. There aren’t 12 options for 1 item which also helped me make the best use of my time. The store simply isn’t big enough for 9 varieties of black olives. As I try to minimize all the clutter in my life, I really appreciate this.
4. In addition to there not being so much clutter, this cuts down on toddlers reaching for unhealthy items. Sugary cereals aren’t at eye-level, and certainly not boxes with cartoon characters. Most of the sweets/treats are located on the counters above the frozen items for my eyes only. Again, this is appreciated.
5. According to Trader Joe’s, their TJ label is GMO-free. When I was going back and forth between 2 items, the TJ brand usually won as I knew the label sourced non-GMO ingredients. This is a huge selling point for me.
6. TJ’s color codes price labels based on organic or conventional. This helps with frozen and fresh price comparisons. It’s easy to understand and effective for the shopper.
7. Even though Finn and I are dairy-free, I really like the TJ cheese selection. Sometimes I just stand there and drool. There are a variety of raw and organic options.
What do I like least about Trader Joe’s?
1. Sometimes the selection is disappointing. One week there will be organic grapes, the next week there are no organic grapes. The eggs aren’t our favorite and they are pricey. They don’t have fresh beets. They’ve been out of scallops for a few weeks. Some weeks I feel the selection is hit and miss.
2. Some of the allergy-friendly brands I use often aren’t carried by Trader Joe’s, ex: Enjoy Life.
3. The carts are small. While I understand the store is not built for large carts, having an 8-month-old, a toddler and food to haul is tough with a tiny cart. I end up having to “wear” Evie in the Baby Bjorn and put Finn in the front of the cart (ummmm… super heavy to lift a 35 lb child while wearing another). Just not real convenient for me with the kids. And if my items take up more than 4 bags, fitting them in the carts with the kids in tow gets complicated.
Do I like Trader Joe’s?
Do I love Trader Joe’s?
We’re still dating. DTR = Defining The Relationship, if we must label it. It wasn’t love at first sight, but there is certainly potential.
Will I continue to shop at Trader Joe’s?
Yes. This will most likely be my new weekly shopping joint.
Summary for next week?
** After I blog a summary of each grocery chain, I’ll spend a little time sharing price comparisons, as I know some of you are interested in that. But before looking at prices, I wanted to give an overview of each monthly experience. Go back and check out Hy-Vee. **