Today, Kim from Things I Thought I’d Never is taking on the 64 Dollar Grocery Budget Challenge and trying the grocery budget at Trader Joe’s! Our family loves Trader Joe’s, but I’ve had trouble trying to utilize our $64 budget there. I knew there were special tricks, and Kim breaks them down so well in this post. Let’s see what she has to say about saving money at Trader Joe’s.
Let me begin with this confession, I’m a foodie….wanna-be. I have the heart, stomach and palate of a foodie. I love exploring various cultures through their food. I enjoy experimenting with various spices, produce and meats- although I do typically stick with chicken (because how can you really mess up chicken???) But, I’m a wanna-be- I wanna have the energy, I wanna have the patience and, I wanna have the budget of a real foodie.So, whenever I would hear my friends who are “real” foodies rave about Trader Joe’s, I would be a bit intimidated, convinced that I would be overwhelmed by the store’s offerings and find that it was way out of my budget. About 3 years ago, I took the plunge. I am hooked.
When Amiyrah presented this opportunity to take the $64 challenge and requested one for Trader Joe’s – I was thrilled because I KNEW it could be done, and be done well.
I love Trader Joe’s for several reasons. I try to feed my family whole foods with limited GMOs, organic produce (as I make my way through the “dirty dozen” list), and real ingredients I can identify (and pronounce) on packaging. Trader Joe’s makes this easier. I can find fresh, organic produce for less than the major grocery store chains in our area. And, as much as it is in their control, they are committed to selling non-GMO products.
I also appreciate the ease of shopping at Trader Joe’s:
- There are no special sales dates to remember, reward cards or coupons (although they do accept coupons for some of the national brands that they sell). What you see is what you get. So, I do not have to worry about clipping, organizing, forgetting or losing. I have 3 children under 5 – you know the saying – “ain’t nobody got time for that.” And, because the prices typically remain the same for my staples, I have most prices memorized and can predict how much I will spend prior to arriving.
- The company is known for treating their workers well. Initially, you may not think this affects you, but when the workers are treated well, the customers are treated well. Always friendly, always available, always helpful (rumor has it that they will even open a package for you if you want to sample something before you buy it). If a line is too long, a cashier rings a bell, someone opens another register without asking. If you forget an item, bell rings, someone will get it for you. If you forget that although you can shop with just the stroller basket and kiddie cart, you still need a way to get 5 bags of groceries and 3 kids to the car, bell rings, and someone comes to assist you (not like that happened to me or anything).
- The stores are kid-friendly. Because 80% of their items are Trader Joe’s brand, there is no brand comparing. Which requires time. And space. Neither of which is your friend when shopping with children (or, some adults). Trader Joe’s is just small enough, and organized in such a way that I can typically shop with the littles in 30-40 minutes. So, imagine if you are alone. It is a bonus that some of them have preschool sized carts for “customers in training”.
Here are a few tips to use for your Trader Joe’s shopping trip
Use the Fearless Flyer, Trader Joe’s monthly circular. It highlights any special items available for the month or season, as well as features certain staples. My experience is that special items are strategically placed throughout the store. When I first started shopping here, I would blow the budget, spending money on specialty items. By using the Fearless Flyer, I select things prior to shopping, determining if they fit the budget/menu and then I usually allow for one preselected treat or specialty item per shopping trip.
Buy seasonings/spices here. And, if you like to experiment with spices, but do not want to spend a fortune on them, Trader Joe’s is a great place to purchase them. Many spices are $1.99. One of my favorites is their 21 Seasoning Salute. Here are 21 ways to use 21 Seasoning Salute.
Start here for organics/all-natural products. Many items are definitely cheaper. If you want organic, free-range, all natural, nitrate-free etc. meat, I have found that Trader Joe’s prices are often a bit cheaper than, or at least comparable to other major stores (ex. nitrate free lunchmeat is around $3 for a package, organic chicken legs are $1.99/lb) However, comparison shop. If your local store has a deal, then you may be better off with them. The good thing is, since Trader Joe’s prices stay about the same, once you know it, it’s easier to recognize deals elsewhere.
And the moment you have been waiting for….
Here is what I purchased at Trader Joe’s for $64.04:
I went 4 cents over because once in line, I realized that I had $4.44 remaining. I decided it would be worth it to have an extra loaf of bread in the freezer and extra box of cereal in the pantry. I am ALREADY happy I made that decision because last night the hubs decided he needed a snack and made a big bowl of cereal.
The meals I planned for the week are:
Black beans, chicken sausage and quinoa bowls (2 nights)
Lebanese-style lentil soup with sauteed spinach or spinach salad (2 nights)
Turkey burgers, baked sweet potato fries and broccoli
Penne pasta with chicken and broccoli
Breakfast burritos (using leftover beans and chicken sausage)
The cereal is for breakfast, and everything else is for lunch or snacks.
That is about it! It was such a pleasure to take this $64 challenge, and work a small grocery budget at Trader Joe’s. Thank you Amiyrah for the opportunity!!
Didn’t Kim rock that challenge? I love seeing all of the organic items that she picked up for her family of 5. It makes me think it’s possible to do this for our family too! If you’d like to learn more about Kim and her cute family, visit her at Things I Thought I’d Never. Did you learn anything new from Kim’s post? Let us know in the comments below!