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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