Go ahead. Call me a yuppie or a hippie. Roll your eyes at the cult-like following. I’m unwavering – Trader Joe’s will forever be my grocery store of choice.
The enormous and affordable cheese selection along with some Two Buck Chuck wine certainly drew me to the store pre-motherhood – and although my two-year-old can put away gouda or brie like it’s going out of style, it’s the rest of the store that’s made TJ’s my grocery store mecca in Kansas City.
Shopping at these smaller stores, often with cramped parking lots, is a cultural experience in itself. You enter the store to a beautiful display of fresh flowers with a selection that is unmatched by any other store (except perhaps by a florist). Employees are dressed in Hawaiian apparel and cashier assistance is requested via the rings of a bell. The sample station always has a shot of coffee for the tired moms (and other people, too, I suppose) and kids can choose from a big bin of stickers and suckers at the register which is enough to entice even the most rebellious kid to let mommy finish her list. There has not been a single visit where the cashier hasn’t asked my son’s name and talked to him about the food in the cart.
But what really tugs at my heart strings is Trader Joe’s commitment to the careful selection of the products it places on its shelves along with the store’s environmentally friendly attitude. The Trader Joe’s label includes no genetically modified ingredients. It has frequently updated its seafood policies to support sustainable harvesting practices and occasionally pays a little more for its inventory to support fair labor standards. Reusable bags are cute and available for purchase for just $1. Plus, I get entered in a drawing for free groceries when I remember to bring them in!
Crew members are eligible for health benefits and are offered higher than average salaries – even more practices I am proud to support and probably one of the biggest reasons they just always seem so happy.
I actually spend less at Trader Joe’s than I do at bigger grocery stores – not only because I am less tempted by aisle after aisle of unnecessary pantry-fillers, but also because the deals are fantastic. TJ’s buys direct from suppliers and doesn’t charge supplier fees so the savings are then passed on to the customer. I wouldn’t get my bagged spinach, extra virgin olive oil, almonds or Joe’s O’s anywhere else for a better price.
Among my favorite products:
- Tomato Basil Marinara sauce
- Shaved brussel sprouts
- Whole wheat couscous
- Frozen mango chunks (smoothies!)
- Tomato & Roasted Red Pepper Soup (add in some tasty cheese)
- Frozen fire roasted corn (amazing in any Mexican dish)
- Peanut Butter Filled Pretzels
- Pita Crackers
- Sea Salt pita chips (with TJ’s hummus!)
- Ready to Eat Edamame
- Trader Joe’s Prenatal Vitamins
- Cheese! Have I mentioned the cheese yet?
I still visit Hy-Vee or Price Chopper for my Shatto Milk or to get a broader meat selection, but my first stop is always Trader Joe’s. It’s tasty, and I feel confident my money is being used responsibly. Double win!