Our grocery shopping is done mostly at Cub Foods, with trips to the local co-op almost weekly for certain items, sometimes picking up a few things at Target if convenient. In the summer most produce comes from the farmers’ market.
And, the occasional fun trip to Trader Joe’s. There isn’t one close to us or either of our offices, so we usually go there when we’re out in the ‘burbs visiting my parents or something. I always considered it a fun stop for specialty foods, which is sort of how they market themselves, but I’ve realized after more visits that they really have excellent deals on quality staples. (Trader Joe’s is fairly new to the twin cities, maybe the last 5 years or so? I didn’t grow up with it.)
-O.J. with Calcium added: $2. Regularly $3.50 for generic Cub brand.
-Frozen fruit. Varies with type, but I’ve never seen cheaper frozen blueberries. At least a couple dollars less than regular stores. I always stock on up those, mango, and pineapple for smoothies.
-Healthy bread! It’s hard to find a loaf in the entire bread aisle at Cub with no high fructose corn syrup. They do sell Ezekiel brand in their “health” section, but it’s $5 – $6, and just as expensive at the co-op. TJ’s not only sells the Ezekiel brand for a couple bucks less, but they make their own brand of sprouted and other healthy breads for about $3.
-Tofutti Cuties (soy ice cream sandwiches): $2.69. They run at least $2 more than that at Cub.
-Frozen dinners. I don’t eat packaged food often, but it’s nice to have on hand. TJ’s makes an all natural, vegan pad thai with tofu for $2.29. One dinner is 600 calories with 840g sodium and 18g protein, so if I mix it all with some frozen veggies and eat half it’s a great meal in a pinch. An “all natural” frozen dinner like that would be at least $2 more at other stores.
I could go on…. cereal, almond butter, chips and salsa, olive oil, dark chocolate bars, even all natural soap are great deals at Trader Joe’s!
Based on the incomplete list above I’d estimate savings of $40 per month if I went and stocked up on some of the basics we buy regularly at Cub, etc.
And let’s not even get started on how much I’d save if I was still a wino and bought their “three buck chuck”, instead of the equally shitty wine available for $7 at regular liquor stores!
Just by writing this I’ve convinced myself to go there at least once a month to stock up on staples. Also, it’s just a great place to shop. The service has always been friendly, it’s a smaller space with way fewer crappy, unhealthy products than a big box store, many products are clearly labeled “vegan” or “gluten free”, you can put together great gift baskets there, they always have free coffee and samples… AND there is a liquor store attached!
Two drawbacks are the small produce section with lots of packaged products, and the lack of a bulk foods section. But hey, TJ’s can’t be everything, I still have the local co-op for those things.