How To Pretend You Fit In At Trader Joe’s

Last week I read an article circulating around called Surviving Whole Foods.  It was pretty hilarious, although I’ll admit I could really only imagine most of the scenarios mentioned because I’ve probably only been in a Whole Foods all of three times. It’s just too rich for my blood. I’ll know I’ve made it when I can casually shop at that store… for real groceries and not simply to get all of the free samples.

So yesterday while I was at my lovely Trader Joe’s picking up the necessities for the week I started thinking about my own behavior while grocery shopping. And I realized that for whatever reason, I usually seem to be on my best behavior when shopping at Trader’s. The lines to check out don’t seem to bother me so much, when I can’t find something (which is always at TJs) I simply meander on and replace it with something else I’ve never heard of, and I just seem to have an overall good attitude about my grocery shopping experience.

It’s as if I don’t want to piss off the hippys, or better yet, while I’m there I kinda like to pretend I’m a hippy myself- rather than just a grocery store poser. I like to pretend it’s normal for me to eat organic and it’s normal for nothing to bother me, because I’m just a chill kinda gal…Because let’s face it, shopping at Trader Joes and shopping at Wal-Mart are two completely different experiences. Wal-Mart encourages you to buy Tyson chicken nuggets and XL bags of Doritos, while Trader Joe’s wants you to buy organic almonds and free range (made from quinoa only) chicken nuggets. And so I follow in suit. I guess I just want to fit in when I grocery shop. Don’t we all?

Thus I present to you, how to pretend you fit in at Trader Joe’s.

For starters, I suggest you ride a bike to your local store. I ride my bike. And it makes me feel awesome. Is it practical to ride your bike to get groceries one might ask? Not. At. All. I risk my life every time I come home trying to balance a heavy book-bag full of food on my back, as well as two heavy brown (recyclable!) grocery bags on each arm. It is dumb, dumb, dumb. But it makes me feel super hipster-like, so when in Rome.

And once I’ve locked my bike next to all of the other super trendy retro Schwin bikes, I make sure and say hello to the GreenPeace people who are always standing outside of Trader Joe’s. If you don’t know what a GreenPeace solicitor is consider yourself lucky. They are like telemarketers in real life. And nine times out of ten I walk on by. But when I’m going into Trader Joe’s, that’s a different story. I have to stop and say hello and let them ask me to give them money, because that would be very asshole-ish of me not to. And no one wants to go into Trader Joe’s feeling like an asshole. It’s a happy place.
*sidenote to GreenPeace people, why not try soliciting outside of Whole Foods? That’s where Trader Joe’s customers go once they get rich.

Once inside pause for a second to enjoy all of the lovely $5 bouquet of flowers! Aren’t they beautiful? But don’t buy any, if you have extra cash I suggest giving it back to the GreenPeace, people. Trader Joe’s would agree with me, I bet.

Then make your way over to the vegetables and fruits. And just buy the normal things you would always buy: eggplant, kale, brussel sprouts, squash, tofu, herbs- you know, just your everyday veggies. If you want stupid stuff like carrots and cucumbers you might as well just go to a Jewel or something equally as generic. But if you’d like tofu cucumbers you can find that next to the cheese.

Look at this sign and then tell me cheese isn’t the star of this show.

Speaking of cheese…. yes please! So many different kinds, what do they all mean? No one has any idea. And who cares as long as they’re all gluten free, right?! Just look for the one in the biggest package, because good luck actually cutting these odd shaped cheeses for anything practical.

Is there a meat aisle in this store some people may ask. There is, but I don’t suggest going to it. Nobody at Trader Joe’s buys meat, it’s just barbaric. Gross, what are you from Nebraska? I would suggest trying the veggie burgers. Or what about the tofurkey? Or better yet, what about the tofu veggie burgers? You can usually sample all three in the back corner of the store along with a free cup of chilled chai relaxation sugar free green tea!

But if you get too relaxed while here, which who doesn’t find grocery shopping relaxing, right? Just walk down the aisle of protein bars and trail mix. Who knew there were over 7,000 different ways to combine almonds and raisins? All for under $2.29!

And if you want to really pretend you fit in at Trader Joe’s like I do, don’t walk up and down the frozen aisle for ten minutes trying to figure out what all this frozen food really is. Just buy it all. The mac’n’cheese bites, the stuffed mushrooms, the three cheese pizza, the Asian stir fry, if it’s in the frozen aisle, you know it’s never going to be as good as it looks on the package okay.

And let’s just forget the canned food aisle completely, there’s a reason it’s just one aisle at Trader Joe’s (as opposed to at least four aisles at every other grocery store) and why no one is ever in it. Because canned food is so 90s. I  heard a rumor once there isn’t anything even in the cans, it’s just for show. Instead browse the fifteen different types of quinoa being displayed on the end of the aisle. And then turn around and pick out your favorite kind of Greek yogurt. I prefer the dairy free, sugar free, gluten free, flavor free kind. It goes great with honey and quinoa.

Just like my trips to Trader Joe’s, this is getting a little long. But enjoyable, right?! I’ll wrap it up by saying no trip to this store is complete without making your own six pack of various independently brewed beers, all at room temp of course.  Just look at the selection, I’m getting a buzz already.

And when you check out, please remember to bring your own mesh recyclable bags from home. I forget more times than I’d like to admit, and I know that every time I have to ask for one of their bags a little hippy dies somewhere. And I hate myself for it.

I guess I’d just like to say thank you, Trader Joe’s, for doing what you do! Thank you for allowing poor individuals like myself to feel as if I can eat like the rest of the wealthy, environmentally and health conscious do. Now keep on ringing those bells! See you next Tuesday!

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  1. September 25, 2013 / 12:34 pm

    Now only if they would sell cookie butter in gallon sized jugs.

  2. September 25, 2013 / 12:42 pm

    LOVE THIS SO MUCH. Shared it on my Facebook page. LOVE.

  3. September 25, 2013 / 12:43 pm

    This is so incredibly spot-on! And I never realized it, but I am totally on my best grocery behavior at T-Joe's! But Safeway? No no, forget that–I am a bitch at Safeway! hahah this made my morning

  4. September 25, 2013 / 12:45 pm

    Hahahaha! I've only been to a TJ's once, a loooooooooong time ago before it was as big a deal as it is now. I might have to check it out again πŸ™‚ My brother works at the Trader Joe's by UCLA, he'd probably get a kick out of this post!!

  5. September 25, 2013 / 12:45 pm

    but for reals. i feel like i get judged if i try and buy lunch meat at TJs. how dare i.

  6. September 25, 2013 / 12:49 pm

    hahahah I have never been to Trader Joe's, but have only heard about other's experiences there. Like my sister that bought stupid stuff like strawberries and they were molding 2 days later.

    Another good, hilarious post!! I like that we can all picture you riding home with all your groceries strapped to you. hahah

  7. September 25, 2013 / 12:51 pm

    This is hilarious. I live at Diversey and Lake Shore, and Work on Diversey and LIncoln, so I walked by TJs on the way to work for a good 6 months before I summoned the courage to go. I walked too quickly down each isle because i didn't want people seeing the dumb look on my face trying to figure out what the hell everything was, so i promptly got two buck chuck wine and left. I got the mac and cheese bites once. they were good, but i generally stick to the market place. less judgement, except when the coconut water whores are there forcing it down your throat.

    anyways, drinking beer and watching hipsters at michael diverseys is way more fun anyways!

  8. September 25, 2013 / 12:52 pm

    I am always acting like Miss Shiny Happy Manners Pants at Trader Joe's instead of singing along too loudly to the in-store PA easy listening station and getting surly with people blocking the aisles with their carts like I do at my normal grocery store.

  9. September 25, 2013 / 12:56 pm

    Hahaha that was so awesome! I've only been to trader joes once and I felt like I was an outsider! lol. I had no idea what I was doing. I'm glad I've read this so I now understand. πŸ˜€ πŸ˜€ πŸ˜€

    So if you're like me… when in doubt, grab the cookie butter and run!

  10. September 25, 2013 / 1:08 pm

    I sure miss Trader Joe's we don't have one here in beach world but there is a Whole Foods so when I hit the lottery I know where to go.

  11. September 25, 2013 / 1:44 pm

    Haha fun post. I actually like going to TJs because people are so much happier. I think its the lighting and having less choices. Too many choices makes me grumpy. Especially when there are people standing directly in front of me blocking all of the choices! (Such as at other grocery stores!)

    We're lucky here that we have Hannaford which is sort of a hybrid in many ways to TJs and a regular grocery store.

  12. September 25, 2013 / 2:17 pm

    Ha! This is so true, I love it! I really miss Trader Joe's when I lived in Atlanta. Would you believe there is not a one in my state?! It is just horrible, like living in a third world country! We do have a Whole Foods for the rich people though…

  13. September 25, 2013 / 2:31 pm

    SO TRUE. I love my Trader's, and I want so badly for it to love me back! I just feel so bad about myself when my cashier starts talking to me about hemp and I don't know enough about it to have an actual conversation.

  14. September 25, 2013 / 2:39 pm

    This post is great! I've never been to Trader Joe's and now I want too!! Thanks for the great laugh! I recently starting reading your blog and really love it!

  15. September 25, 2013 / 2:41 pm

    Very funny! My local TJ's is nothing like this actually (I've only been there once, I'd rather go to Sprouts a few buildings down). It is is a very nice part of town, and instead of hippy's, it is full of stuffy old rich people who stare at me like I'm a 16 year old with a baby (I'm 22 with a 10 month old, but it's all the same to them). Still uncomfortable though!

  16. September 25, 2013 / 4:39 pm

    This strikes a chord with me. I too, feel utterly happy and content at TJ's. Why?! What kind of brilliant marketing people are behind these subconscious feelings?? I don't know, but I accept it. I only shop elsewhere if Trader Joe's does not have something I need. Have you tried their cookie butter? If you do, I didn't tell you about it…………

  17. September 25, 2013 / 5:00 pm

    Man.. I've never been in Trader Joe's but know that my Parents will bring home a HUGE box of different wines each year after traveling, then brag about getting them for $3 a piece, and my dad likes to hide them in his grandfather clock (busted). The closest TJ's is 176 miles away in Tallahassee and now I feel like I must visit after this post. We don't have a Whole Foods here either but it's like my mother's personal Heaven, she speaks of it like it's a 5 carat diamond or something (she's into quinoa and stuff too- but I can't lie, there's some in my pantry)

  18. September 25, 2013 / 5:27 pm

    I have a confession: I have never been to trader joes. i think the reason why is all the reasons mentioned above.

  19. September 25, 2013 / 6:10 pm

    I've only been to a Trader Joe's one time (shows how cool I am) and that was with my Grandma. She was only after two things: wine and cheese. Lady knew her business!

  20. September 25, 2013 / 6:42 pm

    Hahaha I always feel so silly in Trader Joe's because I feel like a wannabe. I wish I was cool enough not to care and not to walk up and down each aisle 67 times, but I do that in my regular grocery store too… The next time I hit up Trader Joe's, I will try to follow this rules πŸ˜‰

  21. September 25, 2013 / 7:08 pm

    I like where your heads at. Somehow I still find myself buying the worst food in TJs every time I go… Hello Greek pizza and pot stickers. I'm also a big fan of the $3 buck chuck!

  22. September 25, 2013 / 9:39 pm

    eff. amazing.

  23. September 25, 2013 / 11:49 pm

    Ha! I love trader joes, I always end up buying all of those "every day veggies" and then end up throwing them away once they go bad, they only sound good to me while in TJs watching everyone else buy them. I know hippies everywhere hate how wasteful I am.

  24. September 26, 2013 / 12:08 am

    I have always wanted to visit a Trader Joe's. We don't have one within a 3 hour drive of us!

  25. September 26, 2013 / 9:04 am

    You had me at Tyson chicken nuggets.

  26. September 26, 2013 / 9:38 am

    I actually snorted when reading your side note to the greenpeace people, it's true!! They need to find better places to gather support. Also, when is cheese NOT the star of any show?

    Dannielle | Chic-a-DeeDee

  27. September 26, 2013 / 10:37 am

    LMAO this is great! I am definitely on my best behavior when I go to Trader glad I am not the only one!

  28. September 26, 2013 / 1:53 pm

    I haven't been to a Trader Joe's since 2006, we just got one in Dallas (I think, I am not sure). However…I avoid Wal-Mart at all cost. Literally at all cost. I shop at probably the most expensive store around me now, but then again, my shopping list is: tofu, stevia, cheese dip, salsa, guac, chips, and oatmeal.

    No wonder I'm tired. πŸ™‚

    gayle | grace for gayle
    I'm a #Previvor!

  29. September 26, 2013 / 2:49 pm

    LOVE this! One of my most favorites posts is my Trader Joe's menu plan for two people under $50 – and I think people love it because I don't get sidetracked by all those highfaluting things!

    Haha! Nicely put!


  30. September 26, 2013 / 6:55 pm

    Yes. This is spot on. Except our Trader Joe's apparently aren't as cool because PA has dumb laws about having to buy adult beverages from all kinds of different stores.

  31. September 30, 2013 / 12:36 pm

    This is perfectly perfect. Yes, I said it. There isn't a TJ near me so when we venture to the big city (St. Louis) I always make it a point to stock up. My trip is coming up and I'm so ready now with your guide πŸ™‚

  32. October 4, 2013 / 12:36 pm

    I.Die!! πŸ™‚

  33. November 26, 2013 / 5:51 pm

    I just randomly came across this and was literally dying laughing at my desk. And then you said the Trader Joe's on Diversey and I was like OMG she's from CHICAGO! Ha! Made me love it that much more! Great read.

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