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14 Things You Should Never Buy at Trader Joe’s

Here's what to leave out of your cart.

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Shopping for groceries

Grocery shopping has changed over the years, especially now due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, and there are many grocery stores to shop from. Shoppers are able to compare prices for similar products. It turns out that when shopping at Trader Joe’s, some items should be left on the shelves and not in the cart. In case you’re wondering, here’s the difference between grocery stores and supermarkets.

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Meat and seafood

Trader Joe’s has great prices on a variety of foods, however, Trader Joe’s BBQ Cut Fresh Atlantic Salmon Fillets are a bit pricy at $9.99 per pound. You can find the same or similar cuts at stores like Kroger or Fresh Thyme, where the prices can be three dollars cheaper at $6.99 per pound. Here are just a few steps to avoid germs when grocery shopping.

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Vitamins

Taking vitamins is a good way to make sure you’re getting your nutrients. However, in general, the vitamins offered at Trader Joe’s tends to be pricier when looking at how many vitamins are in each container and how nutritional the vitamin actually is. Find out how much a Trader Joe’s employee really makes.

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Paper products

While Trader Joe’s uses recycled paper to make their paper towels, toilet paper, and facial tissues, dollar for dollar you might lose a bit as opposed to competing products. The materials also aren’t as soft as other brands. Maybe it’s time to ditch toilet paper altogether and use a bidet instead.

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Packaged sushi

It might surprise you to find out that unlike other grocery stores, Trader Joe’s does not make their sushi in-house. In 2019, due to possible listeria contamination, Trader Joe’s recalled a few items like poke bowls and some ready-to-eat sushi meals from their shelves. Here’s why you shouldn’t touch the sushi at all-you-can-eat buffets.

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Lemonade

There’s only a 30-cent price difference between TJ’s organic and original lemonades, making the organic version a steal. But costing at least $2.69, both options pale in comparison to the $1.76 you could pay elsewhere for your favorite summer sipper. Check out these other 11 things Trader Joe’s employees wish you knew.

Healthy lunch snack. Tortilla wraps with grilled chicken fillet andFoxys_forest_manufacture/Getty Images

Burritos

At first glance, the nutrition facts on a Trader Joe’s burrito don’t look too terrible: 300 calories, nine grams of fat, and 790 milligrams of sodium in one pollo asado wrap. But take a closer look and you’ll notice that’s only for half a burrito. Unless you have incredible self-control, you’re better off loading up corn tortillas with some homemade fillings to keep the stats down. On the flip side, here are the 7 reasons why Trader Joe’s is usually so cheap.

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Coconut oil

For its 16-fluid ounce size, the coconut oil at Trader Joe’s has about the lowest price you can find. If you’re a coconut oil addict, though, you’ll get a better deal buying in bulk elsewhere. TJ’s little jar of coconut oil costs about 31 cents per fluid ounce, while a bigger container will be about half that. But when buying in bulk, beware of these things you should never buy at Costco.

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Sliced fruit

A little grunt work will stretch your dollar. A small 16-ounce container of pre-sliced pineapple or watermelon will set you back $3.49, while you could get an entire pineapple for $2.99 or melon for just $3.99. This is the most-searched Trader Joe’s item in the United States and it’s not sliced fruit.

close up of tortilla chipsKim Reinick/Shutterstock

Tortilla chips

While the two-pound value bag of white corn tortilla chips will save money over brand-name packages, its $3.49 price tag is slightly higher than the $2.98 you’d pay for generic brands at Walmart. Learn the story of the actual Trader Joe (he was a real person!).

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Sunscreen

While $5.99 for a can of spray-on sunscreen is a great deal, there are even cheaper options. Other stores offer a two-pack for just a couple dollars more than Trader Joe’s single can, meaning you get more bang for your buck. When shopping at Aldi, be sure to avoid these products.

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Zoodles

Even if you don’t have a spiralizer, you can quickly slice zucchini into thin “zoodles” with the help of a julienne peeler. Buying them ready-to-cook might save you a few extra minutes, but pound for pound, the zoodles also cost almost twice as much as a whole squash. Don’t miss these other 20 shopping tips for all your favorite grocery stores.

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Nuts & Fruit & Honey

Nuts & Fruit & Honey might sound like nutrition in a jar, but don’t be fooled. With the ingredients “bathing” in honey, the calories add up—all the way up to a whopping 300 calories per quarter-cup serving! With 26 grams of sugar and almost no vitamins to speak of, this should go on your “skip” list, unless you can limit yourself to a small serving stirred into yogurt. Don’t miss the number 1 Trader Joe’s product, according to customers.

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Lactose-free milk

While a gallon of regular milk is a good deal at Trader Joe’s, the lactose-free version costs 83 cents more than at Walmart. Stick with Trader Joe’s almond milk instead, which costs about $1.10 less than the leading brand. Check out these other 40 smart ways to save at the supermarket.

Broccoli baked with cheese and egg, lined in a white dish on a wooden tableLarisa Bakina/Shutterstock

Broccoli & Cheddar Cheese Quiche

Unless you have the self-control to resist eating the whole quiche in one sitting, you’ll be gobbling down nearly half your daily-recommended sodium (910 milligrams) in just one meal. Stack on 15 grams of saturated fat, and you’re better off whipping up an omelet yourself, throwing in an extra-big handful of broccoli. On the other hand, these are cheap things you should only buy at Trader Joe’s.

Marissa Laliberte
Marissa Laliberte-Simonian is a London-based associate editor with the global promotions team at WebMD’s Medscape.com and was previously a staff writer for Reader's Digest. Her work has also appeared in Business Insider, Parents magazine, CreakyJoints, and the Baltimore Sun. You can find her on Instagram @marissasimonian.