Price Comparison: Trader Joe’s vs Everyone
I love Trader Joe’s and it is full of grocery deals for broke-asses. There are five different locations scattered throughout San Francisco and a sixth about to open downtown. TJ’s is known for having its own private label products but a number of them are actually brand name products that are priced a lot less than you would find at other stores. Usually these kind of private label deals require both companies to keep quiet on the sourcing so there is no way to confirm for sure, but a number of products taste identical and have the same ingredient list, so it’s pretty likely these are the brands TJ’s is private labelling.
1.TJ’s Organic Shells and White Cheddar Mac and Cheese vs Annie’s Home Grown
TJ’s $1.49 vs Safeway $2.99
I will say without hesitation this is Annie’s Homegrown. When I was a kid my mom used to try and trick me with generic mac and cheese instead of Kraft and it never once worked. I would take one bite, know for sure it wasn’t Kraft and refuse to eat it. At some point I graduated to Annie’s and have a similar radar for imposters. This is the real deal.
2. TJ’s Organic Creamy Tomato Soup vs Pacific
TJ’s $2.69 vs Whole Foods $4.39
I pretty much always have this around. The resealable box makes it easy to have a mug as an afternoon snack when Karl starts rolling in. Every once in a while I run out and snag a box of the Pacific at Safeway or Whole Foods out of convenience and I can’t tell the difference.
3. TJ’s Mini Seeded Loaf vs Judy’s Breaksticks Lovestick
TJ’s $2.69 vs Whole Foods $3.99
Judy’s are a local San Francisco brand so this may be limited to Bay Area Trader Joe’s. They are a favorite of mine and everyone else’s in SF so I got pretty excited when they started appearing at TJ’s earlier this year labelled as Mini Seeded Loaf. (I don’t have a photo because I eat them too quickly) One time I went to a Dolores Park picnic with 3 people and we each brought one. That was a good day. They are small vegan loafs of whole grain bread rolled in either sunflower or sesame seeds. So far I have only seen the sunflower seed ones at TJ’s.
4. TJ’s Sparkling Mineral Water vs. Crystal Geyser
4 pack – TJ’s $1.29 vs Safeway $3.79 (Costco 28 pack $10.99)
About 10 years ago I traded in a Diet Coke addiction for a sparkling mineral water addiction. I used to buy the single serving bottles of Crystal Geyser in flats at Costco. Then similar sized bottles started appearing at TJ’s and I bought it on a whim to see how it compared. I still had a couple of bottles of the Crystal Geyser and if you take the labels off, the bottles themselves are identical down to the grooves and raised bubbles in the plastic. Then I did a per bottle price comparison and figured out it was cheaper at TJ’s than at Costco, saving me the horrors of going to Costco.
5. TJ’s Pita Chips vs Stacy’s Pita Chips
TJ’s $1.99 vs Whole Foods $3.49
There is almost universal consensus that the Pita Chips are identical to Stacy’s. I find they go particularly well with the Mediterranean Hummus, which is by far the best packaged hummus I have found. I’ve even served it to Israelis and they don’t complain, and complaining about the quality of hummus in America is pretty much their favorite activity. Plus it is about a $1 cheaper than Sabra.
6. TJ’s Organic Vegetarian Chili and Frozen Garden Lasagna vs Amy’s Organics
Chili: TJ’s $2.29 vs Whole Food $3.99, Lasagna: TJ’s $2.69 vs Whole Food $4.99
Trader Joe’s has several products that are likely from everybody’s favorite vegetarian organic brand, Amy’s Organics. The most popular are the Frozen Garden Lasagna and the canned Vegetarian Chili. There are also couple of other canned soups like the Lentil Vegetable, but I have never tried them myself, so I leave it to the commenters to decide.