Here’s How Much Money I’ll Save on Groceries by Switching to Trader Joe’s

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Here’s How Much Money I’ll Save on Groceries by Switching to Trader Joe’s

The TPH team loves Trader Joe’s. Whether they’re talking about their favorite must-have items or its stellar policies, my colleagues rave about TJ’s.

So I’m the black sheep here in the office, because I’ve always sworn by Winn-Dixie. I love its fuel rewards program and easy-to-use app.

Plus, on top of working full time, I also go to school full time, which means I don’t have time to hit up multiple grocery stores. Winn-Dixie always has everything that I need, so that’s a big reason why it’s my preferred store.

Lately, though, I’ve been wondering: Should I switch to TJ’s? Everyone’s so obsessed with it -- maybe it could be my one-stop, more affordable shop!

I decided to try grocery shopping at Trader Joe’s -- and the results blew me away. Here’s what happened.

How I Spend My Grocery Budget at Winn-Dixie

I’m not a fan of couponing; with my busy schedule, it’s just not reasonable for me. I want to get in and get out while I’m at the store and not spend hours preparing for my trip.

I also have a strict diet, and I don’t want my fridge to end up empty. I’ve had to figure out how to manage these factors in limited time without breaking the bank or failing my diet.

The best solution I’ve come up with so far is shopping at Winn-Dixie. It has everything I need: I get discounts with my Winn-Dixie card and I get 5 cents off every gallon of gas for every $50 I spend there.

Here’s how much I spent on my last trip to Winn-Dixie:

  • Veggie chips: $3.99
  • New England Coffee: $6.00 (with WD card discount, originally $7.69)
  • Package of five chicken breasts: $8.99
  • Ready-to-cook beef: $17.30
  • Cauliflower head: $2.99
  • White mushrooms: $3.59
  • Spaghetti squash: $4.39 (93 cents off with WD card)
  • Jumbo red onion: $1.43
  • Organic bananas: $2.09
  • Three-pack romaine hearts: $2.99 (30-cent discount with WD card)
  • Sabra hummus: $3.99
  • Cabot light cheese: $5.00
  • International Delight sugar-free coffee creamer: $3.59
  • Fage nonfat greek yogurt: $7.50
  • Almond milk: $3.39
  • Weight Watchers cheese sticks: $4.29
  • 2% milk: $3.59
  • WD frozen mixed fruit: $3 (with 69-cent discount)
  • Frozen broccoli: $2.59
  • Frozen brussel sprouts: $2.59

Total (before tax): 93.29

Since I shop for myself and one other person, that works out to about $46.65 per person. This amount of food usually lasts us a week and a half.

Even better, this grocery trip helped me get 5 cents off each gallon of gas with Winn-Dixie’s fuelperks! program. Winn-Dixie also has special deals on select items that can give you anywhere from 5 to 25 cents off a gallon per item (learn more about the Winn-Dixie fuelperks! program in this post.)

What Would My Groceries Cost at Trader Joe’s?

I’ve heard plenty about Trader Joe’s -- mostly about how it is so cheap and amazing -- but I wasn’t sure what to expect when I decided to do all of my grocery shopping there.

I tried to find products that matched what I bought at Winn-Dixie, which wasn’t always easy, since Trader Joe’s mostly sells its own brands.

Here’s how much similar products cost at TJ’s:

  • Veggie chips: $1.99
  • New England Coffee: no match, so I chose Joe medium roast for $4.99 for 14 ounces
  • Package of six chicken breasts: $5.49 per pound, $8.78 total
  • Ready-to-cook beef sirloin tri tip: $8.49 per pound, $14.52 total
  • Cauliflower head: $2.99
  • White mushrooms: $1.99
  • Spaghetti squash: $3.29
  • Jumbo red onion: $0.99
  • Organic bananas: $0.29 each
  • Three-pack romaine hearts: $2.49
  • Hummus: $1.99
  • Cabot extra-sharp cheddar Cheese: $6.99 per pound, $4.33 total
  • Coffee creamer (regular; no sugar-free option available): $3.49
  • TJ's nonfat greek yogurt: $4.99
  • TJ's almond beverage: $2.99
  • Light cheese sticks: $2.99
  • 2% milk: $2.49
  • Frozen mixed fruit: $3.49 for 12 ounces
  • Frozen broccoli, organic: $1.99
  • Frozen brussel sprouts: $0.99

Total (before tax): $73.22, or $36.61 per person

Where My Grocery Budget Goes Furthest

Before taxes, shopping at Trader Joe’s saved me $20.07. That would add up quickly to about $60 a month. Whoa.

But what about my beloved fuelperks!? Would they make up the difference?

For every $50 you spend at Winn-Dixie, you get 5 cents off each gallon of gas, up to 20 gallons. But if your purchase is more than $50, the extra amount rolls over to your next purchase. So when I spend $93.29 on a grocery trip, I earn 5 cents off each gallon, and the first $6.71 of my next purchase earns me an additional 5 cents off per gallon.

If I bought the same $93.29 worth of groceries three times a month and saved my fuelperks until the end of the month, I’d be able to get 25 cents off each gallon of gas.

My car has a 15-gallon tank and takes premium gas, which cost $2.949 at my last fill-up, so redeeming my fuelperks! means a tank of gas would cost me $40.49.

But I fill up my car three times a month, and the other two tanks of gas I’d need would cost me the full price of $44.24.

That means my fuelperks! would only save me about $3.75 a month, compared to just paying full price for gas.

Even if I was more strategic with my shopping, purchasing items with double or triple fuel rewards and stacking my fuelperks! to get a free tank of gas each month, shopping at Winn-Dixie still wouldn’t be cost-effective for me.

Switching to Trader Joe’s would save me $56.46 a month -- which could add up to $677.52 per year.

Those savings would come with a few reservations.

TJ’s didn’t have sugar-free coffee creamer, which was a little disappointing. I’ve cut down my spending on fancy lattes, so I make my own coffee at home -- and, because of my food restrictions, I pretty much depend on that sugar-free creamer. To get it, I’d have to hit up another grocery store -- something that I like to avoid.

Also, I’ve had TJ’s dairy products go bad more quickly than I expected. Maybe that’s my fault for not checking the date before I bought them, and it also might depend on the store. Whatever the reason, it still makes me a bit skeptical.

Overall? I should probably keep my eyes on the prize and pick up my sugar-free creamer elsewhere. Think of all of the things I could do with an extra $600 a year!

Your Turn: Will you make the switch to Trader Joe’s to save some money? Let us know in the comments below!

Kelly Smith is a junior writer and engagement specialist at The Penny Hoarder and a senior at The University of Tampa. She would like to thank her editor for being good at math.