Trader Joe’s price comparison

by Kim on March 14, 2013

I live in what you might call a “hippy” town. Very free-spirited, foodie-minded, farmer friendly, environmentally conscious.

Things that fit nicely into the stereotype of the average Trader Joe’s shopper.

TJs

AND YET: we only have one TJ’s in our whole, giant, hippy area! AS IF!

Plus, to get to our single measly store, I have to drive ALL THE WAY DOWNTOWN from the burb-esque fringe town I live in. Which isn’t THAT far…it’s just bad by comparison. (We have a grocery store a half mile to the left of our house, and a Super Target a half mile to the right, so I’ve been pretty spoiled in the proximity-to-groceries world, outside of TJ’s.)

I know, I know…some people in our world are still living with ZERO access to a TJ’s. I have no reason to complain.

TJ anywhere (source)

But, what can I say, we want more.

My little brother Ryan, however, is in college downtown. He’s also a pretty health-conscious dude, so I thought he might be into the whole TJ’s cult shopping experience. But when I asked him if he shops there, he kinda laughed, as if to say, “Yeah, right, like I can afford that.”

Au contraire.

I know a lot of you already know this, but for the people who don’t: Trader Joe’s is cheap. Cheaper than Target. Cheaper than our grocery store. (Not to mention incredible good and, often, good for you.)

But just to make sure, I went on a little price comparison adventure. After our last TJ’s trip, I picked out a handful of the things on my receipt that can be found anywhere (tragically, that doesn’t include these or this). I ended up with this list:

–Grape tomatoes

–A bag of baby spinach

–A dozen eggs

–Goat cheese crumbles

–Coconut/almond milk (I’ve been switching back and forth lately, but they’re the same price)

–Frozen broccoli

–Sweet potato fries (clearly, a staple)

–Tofu

–Chicken breast

–Extra virgin olive oil

Then, I headed to our grocery store (which happens to be a Copps) and to Super Target, jotting down the prices of the cheapest versions of these items I could find at each place (usually, the generic grocery store brand at Copps and the Market Pantry brand at Target).

I’ll tell you the results in a sec, but first, for you TJ’s fanatics out there: let’s test your TJ’s Price IQ. For each of the following items, I’m going to list all three prices, plus one or two fake prices. (Hint: TJ’s wasn’t ALWAYS the cheapest.)

Can you pick out the TJ’s price?

1. Grape tomatoes (16 oz)

tomatoes A) $1.99

B) $2.49

C) $3.29

D) $4.62

2. A bag of baby spinach (6 oz.)

A) $1.89

B) $1.99

C) $2.99

D) $3.29

3. A dozen eggs

IMG_2961

A) $1.89

B) $1.99

B) $2.99

C) $3.99

4. Goat cheese crumbles (4 oz)

IMG_2968

A) $1.99

B) $2.49

C) $3.99

D) $4.99

5. Coconut/almond milk (1/2 gal)

IMG_2967

A) $2.59

B) $2.99

C) $3.29

D) $3.99

6. Frozen broccoli (16 oz)

IMG_2962

A) $1.29

B) $1.49

C) $2.65

D) $3.09

7. Sweet potato fries (15 oz)

IMG_2963

A) $1.99

B) $2.29

C) $2.55

D) $2.58

8. Tofu

tofu

A) $1.89

B) $1.99

C) $2.59

D) $2.99

9. Chicken breast (per pound price)

IMG_2949 (Is it at all funny that the only image I had to censor out the price on was the picture of breasts? No? Ok sorry.)

A) $3.69

B) $6.99

C) $4.21

D) $5.16

10. EVOO (32 oz)

IMG_2964

A) $6.54

B) $7.99

C) $10.23

D) $17.87

A few quick notes…

–When necessary, I adjusted the prices to match the amount in ounces that TJ’s offered.

–I ignored any sale prices.

–I’m sorry if the prices in your town are different.

Answers!

This is either your dream come true or your worst nightmare from the old SAT days, but the correct answer to every single one was B!

Haha. Sorry if you figured out the pattern and it ruined the game for you. (Or if it got into your head and made you overthink the whole thing.)

Here’s the full breakdown of the prices I recorded:

Price comparison chart

P.S. Some have questioned TJ’s sources for certain things (especially eggs) because of the insanely low prices. I’m not going to get into that here, but you can easily Google your way to articles about it if you’re interested.

Have you ever gone on a price comparison spree?

If not, I highly recommend it! It was a real eye-opener for me, even though I was already sorta-kinda paying attention to the prices of these things from place to place.

For example, I had no idea the eggs from my grocery store were so pricey! (Or that they were so cheap at Target—did I read that price tag wrong??) And the EVOO from Target—yikes!!

I’m assuming the chicken was more expensive at TJ’s because it’s organic and free range, which is cool. Not something I look for personally, but I get it.

Do you hit up multiple stores to meet all your grocery shopping needs?

I can’t see myself going to all three of these places every week, just to get the best prices across the board. Lately, it’s been a combo of TJ’s and either the grocery store or Target (largely depending on whether I need diapers—ha).

Do any of these prices surprise you?

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{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Presley @ Run Pretty March 14, 2013 at 7:24 pm

OMG! Perfect timing. This weekend I’ll be down the street from a TJs and I wondered if it would be worth stopping in and doing my grocery shopping (part of it) away from home. I might have to bite the bullet and do it.
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Kim March 14, 2013 at 7:32 pm

Yes! Do it! You might be surprised. I used to think of TJ’s trips as “special” until I realized how affordable everything is. And it’s all SO GOOD! It kinda messes with my head that the food I consider the best could also be the cheapest (??) but I can’t argue! Now I START there, and then pick up any extras I need from the regular grocery store later.

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Megan@ Run Like a Grl March 14, 2013 at 2:47 pm

I pretty much shop exclusively at TJs these days not only because its SO much cheaper than any other NYC grocery store/deli but because I love their food! Their PB is my favorite ever and I just love their snacks. Its without a doubt my fav store and my wallet is always happier too :)
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Kim March 14, 2013 at 2:49 pm

Fav store = agreed!

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PickyRunner March 14, 2013 at 7:55 am

I haven’t done an official price comparison but I know for most things, TJ’s is cheaper. The issue I have with it is that it doesn’t have a lot of the things I would buy so I go there for very specific goods (like the chocolate caramel wedges and sesame sticks. Holy yum). Some things are definitely a good buy there and I feel like I’m getting a healthier selection even though they’re the same as a more mainstream brand.
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Kim March 14, 2013 at 2:52 pm

True, they do have a limited selection compared to your standard grocery store. In my case, it’s most of the things I want anyway, but I can see how that doesn’t work for everyone. Like I said, I always end up pairing my TJ’s trip with a grocery store or Target trip to round things out.

What’s all this about chocolate caramel wedges?? I better look for those next time. :)

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