The 5 Budget-Friendly Finds I Always Pick Up from Trader Joe's

These are weekly staples for me—and they cost a LOT less at TJ’s.

A building under the sky that says "Trader Joe's"

The Spruce Eats / Getty Images

For years, I shopped at Trader Joe’s for one reason and one reason only: They had good snacks. Actually, they had great snacks. TJ’s also inspires serious fandom over some of its most popular novelty items (helloooo pumpkin season). But recently, I’ve been making trips to my Trader Joe’s for another reason: They’re the best place to score grocery staples for less.

Once I stepped back from the wall of specialty chips, I realized there were a lot of budget finds and deals on items I typically bought at other grocery stores, for a lot more money. After a couple months of buying these items almost exclusively at TJ’s, I can confirm: They’re every bit as good as their costlier counterparts. Whether you redistribute that wiggle room in your budget to Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups is at your discretion.

  • 01 of 05

    Fresh Berries

    How to freeze berries

    The Spruce / Cara Cormack

    When summer is in full swing, I do try to pick up a few pints of locally-grown strawberries and black raspberries. But I live in a household of smoothie drinkers and breakfast bowl enthusiasts: In other words, we go through a lot of berries. Year-round. Trader Joe’s has the best prices on fresh berries I’ve ever seen—including the organic varieties. And *unlike* the berry selection at my local fancy food shop, these are always plump, perky, and ultra fresh.

  • 02 of 05

    Specialty Dairy Products

    Homemade ricotta cheese recipe

    ​The Spruce Eats / Nita West

    Along with milk, butter, and yogurt, I always put specialty dairy products on my weekly grocery list. I get ricotta cheese for throw-it-together pastas and baking. I pick up crème fraîche to add a dollop to sauces and salad dressings on the regular. And cottage cheese is my ultimate mid-morning snack. Typically, these are big-ticket items that quickly raise your grocery tally. But at Trader Joe’s, their price tags are low enough that I don’t have to choose between my favorite indulgent dairy items. See also: ice cream!

  • 03 of 05

    Almond Butter

    Almond Butter

     Elaine Lemm

    If you’re an almond butter fan, you know it’s expensive. But Trader Joe’s Almond Butter costs less than $7 a jar, and truly, I think the consistency is superior to all the more expensive versions I’ve tried. It’s just the right amount of spreadable without being oily, and the Creamy Salted Almond Butter is ah-mazing in cookies. Bonus: It requires very little stirring.

  • 04 of 05

    Nuts and Seeds

    Basic Roasted Pumpkin Seeds With Variations

    The Spruce / Cara Cormack

    I know plenty of folks who go nuts (ha) for Trader Joe’s seasoned nuts and trail mixes. Those are tasty, but since we’re talking grocery staples, rather than snacks, I have to give a shoutout to their plain, raw nuts and seeds. I use these every single day, at almost every meal. For example: Pumpkin seeds are great in oatmeal, hazelnuts add excellent crunch to grain bowls, and pecans are perfection in simple green salads. I’ve even upgraded some of my regular purchases since buying at TJ’s: Fancy pistachios and macadamia nuts are so attractively priced, I can afford to add a little flair to my usual stash of sunflower seeds.

    Continue to 5 of 5 below.
  • 05 of 05

    Kombucha

    Secondary Fermentation of Home-Brewed Kombucha

    The Spruce Eats / S&C Design Studios

    I know, I know… it’s cheaper to make kombucha at home. But y’all. I’m never going to do that. If you’re a ‘booch fan who refuses to home brew, you’ll want to stock up at Trader Joe’s. They even stock one of my favorite brands, Health-Ade, for $2.99 — I’ve seen it for up to two dollars more elsewhere. Although the flavor selection isn’t as robust at Trader Joe’s, I think it’s a solid trade for such good prices.