Do you find yourself going to two grocery stores every week? There are certain things on my shopping list that only Trader Joe’s has and others only Whole Foods carries. I refuse to add any more grocery store chains and instead, I order things like cleaning supplies and paper goods to be delivered from Target.
Grocery shopping is a delicate balancing act. You want to get quality and lower costs without spending all your time doing it.
What do you prefer to get at Trader Joe’s and why? Which things do you get at Whole Foods and why? My personal preference is to buy organic products, but you pay dearly for that in 2022. In general, Trader Joe’s prices are the best, but there is much less selection that in typical supermarket chains. Whole foods stores have the selection, but the price.
What I Buy At Trader Joe’s
Trader Joe’s inventory is constantly changing with new specialty items all the time. They are always looking for the latest popular trends that they can knock off and private-label like cauliflower thins (Outer Isle) or gluten-free crackers or cashew yogurt, etc.
Most of the regular store brands are not available at Trader Joe’s. If you shop regularly at Trader Joe’s you have to experiment with the new things, because some are amazing. I love how quickly I can get in and out. You can finish in 30 minutes or less.
These are my repeat food items at Trader Joe’s (I tried to include a price comparison if the same items are available both places):
- Peanut butter – I like creamy salted peanut butter without sugar. I like it so much I can’t buy two jars or I’ll eat one. All of the different TJ peanut butters are delicious.
- Organic Asparagus – Not all TJ veggies are great, but I like the asparagus. I recommend opening the bag in the fridge to make it last longer.
- Organic Broccoli – I get the precut broccoli and trim the ends before cooking.
- Beef Jerky – I struggle to find snacks from my teenager that aren’t 100% carbs. The beef jerky has brown sugar, but it’s a lot of protein too.
- Whole Chicken Heritage Breed – $3.99 per pound. It’s hard to find heritage-breed chicken that is pasture raised. The only other place I’ve seen it is through Cooks Venture (which is where I get most of my chicken). Trader Joe’s stores are the only other place I’ve seen this kind of chicken. The taste is worth the difference.
- Bag of organic russet potatoes – I love that you can get small potatoes, not just giant ones. Has anyone else noticed that baked potatoes are HUGE everyplace else.
- Pasture-raised eggs – $4.29 for a dozen vs $6.39
- Olive Oil Popcorn – This popcorn has really clean ingredients, it’s just popcorn, olive oil and salt. It’s delicious!
- Organic Raspberries ($3.99 vs $4.99 at Whole Foods) and Organic Blackberries ($3.49 vs $4.99 at Whole Foods)
- Spindrift – A six-pack was $5.99 (vs $6.79 at Whole Foods) My family loves the raspberry/lime flavor. The price is better than Whole Foods and there are no “natural flavors” which is the new word for artificial flavors.
- Green olive packs – These are a great thing to travel with or keep in your purse if you are starving. It’s just one serving.
- Organic Pasta
If I had to choose only one store, Trader Joe’s wins. In general, Trader Joe’s has lower prices.
One thing I don’t like about Trader Joe’s is that most of their veggies are in bags. When fresh produce is bagged it has a shorter shelf life.
What I Buy At Whole Foods
This is what I buy from Whole Foods Market every week.
- Rao’s Marinara – I have tried all of Trader Joe’s marinara and Raos is better. There are no bad oils and it’s delicious.
- Organic lettuce – I really hate bagged lettuce because it gets slimy so fast. I like the organic red leaf lettuce the best for salads.
- Mid-Day squares – This is a new item for Whole Foods that I used to have to get at Sprouts. I love these bars because I can eat chocolate and peanut butter without the guilt.
- HEB Organic Greek yogurt ($5.39). I like the kind that HAS fat, not the 0% fat. I used to get the Stoney Field grass-fed greek yogurt, which is heavenly, but the price has gone up to almost $10 per tub and even I can’t stomach that. The HEB organic version is almost as good. I’m not sure if this item is available everywhere, but in Texas we have HEBs.
- Mary’s Gone Crackers – This is the best gluten-free cracker that doesn’t have a lot of bad oils.
- Wild Brine Kimchi – This kimchi has the flavor that we like best. Costco has the best price for Wild Brine, but you have to buy a lot.
- Grass Fed/Grass Finished New York Strip – This is expensive. My husband likes to have one steak a week. This is where we splurge and why Whole Foods is called whole paycheck. I make up for it by only buying one.
- Zenb pasta is made from 100% yellow peas. If you have a gluten tolerance problem and you don’t want almond flour pasta, it’s a really similarly good option.
Prime members can not get groceries delivered for free. I really like Whole Foods’ delivery service if I run out of time. The cost of delivery is between $5 and $10 depending on the size of your order.
I don’t buy most of my meat at either store. I get that from Cooks Venture. There are also some things I prefer to get from a traditional grocery store, like paper goods and cleaning supplies.I like the fresh fruits at Trader Joe’s better, but there is a much smaller selection.
Farmers markets are a great place to get produce in bulk at better prices, but I can’t always make that fit into my schedule.
I think women tend to feel like they “should” do so many things, like go to 3 grocery stores a week. But our time is worth something and I always have to remind myself about that. In the long run, we might not actually be saving money with high gas prices by driving around to get the lowest price. I’ve made a choice to focus on higher quality because I feel like it will be worth it in the long run.