Why T.J. Maxx Is a Must-Stop if You’re Eating Bougie on a Budget

Woman standing outside TJMaxx
Chris Zuppa/The Penny Hoarder

You never really know what you’ll find at stores like T.J. Maxx, HomeGoods, Ross and Marshalls.

There’s something exciting about aimlessly wandering through the aisles.

The colors, the mystery, the Easter-egg-hunt-like thrill.

Some of the best kept secrets hide on the shelves, off the beaten shopping path. That’s where an affordable world of specialty and organic food sits quietly tucked away.

But many never consider hunting for food deals in the same place they buy underwear.

Have you ever ventured to look?

What Kind of T.J. Maxx and HomeGoods Food Can You Find?

T.J. Maxx and HomeGoods have the largest foodie paradises, with concoctions like orange hatch vodka jamalade, tamarind chutney and white truffle oil.

Shuffle through the disorganized items and you might find Himalayan sea salt, spices, coconut oil, protein powder, pasta, coffee, and a wide assortment of chips, tea and imported chocolates.

Both T.J. Maxx and HomeGoods offered all the ingredients for a gourmet Italian dinner for less than $10. I’m talking fancy options like cavatappi spirals, four-color pennoni and tomato sauce — all imported from Italy.

There’s also a surprising amount of organic, gluten-free, kosher and keto options. The kind of stuff you probably order online or pay more for at a high-end store. Not necessary any more.

The Best Food Deals at Discount Retailers

Bag of pasta on counter
Chris Zuppa/The Penny Hoarder

Digging into the hodge-podge assortment with a head full of determination can earn you a “Maxxinista Foodie” title in no time.

I braved the Maxx mecca and brought home dozens of deals and an even longer list of recipes and gift basket ideas.

Here are some top bargain finds:

  • Black capelin caviar, 3.5 ounces for $4.99
  • Himalayan pink sea salt, 56 ounces for $5.99
  • Starbucks Caramel K-Cups, 10 count for $4
  • Kahlua coffee, 12 ounces for $5.99
  • Gluten-free bites, 4 ounces for $3.79
  • White truffle oil, 8.5 ounces for $5.99
  • Ginger beer, 25.4 ounces for $4.79
  • Organic spirulina powder, 4 ounces for $7.99
  • Basil and garlic fusion cooking oil, 12.7 fluid ounces for $2.99

And HomeGoods has all your keto coffee needs covered:

  • Ketogenic instant coffee, 7.9 ounces for $9.99
  • Ketogenic creamer, 8.5 ounces for $9.99
  • Keto creamer with MCT oil, 6 ounces for $5.99
  • MCT oil, 16 fluid ounces for $12.99

The Top 10 Weird Foods I Found at Discount Stores

Assorted food items
Chris Zuppa/The Penny Hoarder

While discount retailers aren’t a one-stop shop, you can definitely find specialty gems.

See something you really want to try?

It might not be there when you come back, and that’s part of T.J. Maxx’s gimmick. They bank on your FOMO, or fear of missing out, hoping you buy up an unusual product because you might not see it again.

And don’t go looking for it online, these are primarily in-store finds — and prices.

Here are the most unexpected items I stumbled upon at T.J. Maxx and HomeGoods:

  • 100% bee pollen, 4.4 ounces for $5.99
  • Sunflower and avocado oil, 16.9 fluid ounces for $3.99
  • Bacon aioli, 9 ounces for $3.99
  • Wasabi aioli, 9 ounces for $3.99
  • Orange hatch vodka jamalade, 8 ounces for $2.99
  • Clover honey spoons, 6 spoons for $3.99
  • Tamarind chutney, 8 ounces for $3.99
  • Beet juice, 1 liter for $2
  • Fig jam made in Portugal, 17.6 ounces for $4.99
  • Juicy mango fruit pulp vinegar, 8.5 ounces for $4.99

While you won’t find your whole grocery list, you can stock up for a party, indulge in an exotic treat or find a deep discount on sought-after specialty items.

Prices and stock will vary by location, but the adventure will be the same.

What are you waiting for? The nooks and crannies beckon you to explore.

Stephanie Bolling is a staff writer at The Penny Hoarder. She recommends the pickled Brussels sprouts if you’re into that sort of thing.