If you prefer organic, natural or gluten-free food but don’t have room in your budget to get your healthy food fix at Whole Foods Market, there’s a cheaper alternative: Trader Joe’s.
The Trader Joe’s business model of selling hard-to-find items without charging suppliers a shelf fee is part of what makes its selections so affordable. The company buys directly from suppliers, and in volume, which also helps lower expenditures. So if you’re pining for some granola or organic pasta, but Whole Foods seems beyond your budget, swing by your local Trader Joe’s to see what you can afford.
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You won’t find as many organic fruits and vegetables at Trader Joe’s as you would at Whole Foods, but you will find better savings.
For example, at Trader Joe’s, it would cost $14.08 to buy:
- 1 pound of organic baby carrots
- 1 pint of organic grape tomatoes
- 1 pound of bananas
- 3 pounds of apples
- 5 ounces of spring mix
To buy the same items in the same quantities at Whole Foods, the cost would be $21.13. But bananas are the one organic produce item that costs less at Whole Foods — 69 cents per pound versus 25 cents per individual banana at Trader Joe’s.
Generally, non-organic produce at Trader Joe’s is significantly cheaper than at Whole Foods. You can get 1 pint of blueberries or 5.3 ounces of pomegranate seeds for $4.49 at Trader Joe’s. At Whole Foods, you’ll actually pay less for blueberries at $3.99, but $6.99 for a box of pomegranate seeds.
Beef isn’t a bargain meat, especially the organic variety. But you can get a deal on it at Trader Joe’s. The store’s brand organic, grass-fed ground beef is just $5.99 per pound. You’d pay $6 more at Whole Foods for a pound of organic, grass-fed ground beef.
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Organic Milk and Non-Dairy Milk
Organic milk is one of the best deals you can get at Whole Foods, but its price still doesn’t beat that of Trader Joe’s. At Trader Joe’s, 1 percent low-fat milk costs $2.69 a gallon. Meanwhile, Whole Foods’ organic low-fat milk is $5.99. Perhaps your Trader Joe’s savings can go toward some cookies.
Organic Grains and Pasta (and Sauce)
Once a little-known grain-like seed, quinoa now is touted as a superfood and has become almost commonplace. If you’re a fan of it, stock up at Trader Joe’s, where it sells for $1 less than at Whole Foods: A 16-ounce package of Trader Joe’s organic white quinoa is $3.99; the same amount of the seed costs $4.99 at Whole Foods.
Organic pasta costs a bit less at Trader Joe’s than at Whole Foods — $1.29 will get you 16 ounces of spaghetti versus $1.49 at Whole Foods. If you prefer your pasta with sauce, you’ll still pay 30 cents less for a 25-ounce jar of organic marinara at Trader Joe’s versus Whole Foods. Trader Giotto’s — the Trader Joe’s store brand — marinara sauce sells for $2.49 whereas the Whole Foods 365 brand equivalent sells for $2.79.
Organic Cereal and Oats
Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Savings are also important, and you’ll know you’ve started your day by saving money if you eat Trader Joe’s organic breakfast items. A box of organic, cinnamon spice instant oatmeal costs $3.49 for the Trader Joe’s brand versus $3.69 for the 365 brand at Whole Foods.
If you prefer cereal, you can get a 12-ounce box of organic toasted coconut granola at Trader Joe’s for $3.99. At Whole Foods, you’ll pay $4.99 for a 16-ounce box of coconut granola.
Organic Fair-Trade Coffee
If you prefer organic, fair trade coffee, you’ll pay $7.99 for a 14-ounce canister of Trader Joe’s organic, fair trade breakfast blend. At Whole Foods, you’ll find you can buy 24-ounces of 365 organic Vienna roast for $11.99, which might make that the better deal if you go through several cups of coffee every day. Both are cheaper deals, at any rate, than what you could buy at Starbucks.
Cooking oils are a pantry staple — and you’ll save by buying them at Trader Joe’s. A 16.9-ounce bottle of Trader Giotto’s organic, extra virgin olive oil is $5.99. The same-size bottle of 365 brand organic, extra virgin olive oil sells for $7.99.
Coconut oil, which can be used for skin and hair care in addition to cooking, also sells for less at Trader Joe’s than at Whole Foods while giving you a bit more — $4.99 for a 16-ounce jar versus $5.99 for a 14-ounce jar of the organic variety.
Trader Joe’s also undercuts Whole Foods on the price of sugar. For 32 ounces of organic cane sugar, the price is $3.49 at Trader Joe’s versus $3.79 at Whole Foods for the same amount.
However, Whole Foods has bulk options on other sweeteners. You can get 23.5 ounces of raw agave nectar for $5.99, whereas you’ll be paying $3.29 at Trader Joe’s for 11.75 ounces of the same amount. Trader Joe’s carries 16 ounces of honey for $5.99, but Whole Foods sells its 365 brand for $8.99 for 24 ounces.
Trader Joe’s gluten-free savory thin crackers cost $1.69 for a 3.4-ounce package. Similar crackers cost $2.19 for a package at Whole Foods. A 16-ounce package of gluten-free brown rice pasta fusilli is $1.99 at Trader Joe’s, but a 10-ounce package of brown rice lasagna at Whole Foods will cost more than twice that at $4.29.
When it comes to pancake mix, Trader Joe’s is the winner by default: An 18-ounce package of gluten-free buttermilk pancake and waffle mix is $3.99 there. Whole Foods does not have a gluten-free equivalent, but if gluten is not an issue for you, a 32-ounce package of 365 organic pancake mix can be had for the same price.
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All prices are accurate as of August 2018 and are subject to change.