Why Trader Joe’s is America’s favorite grocery store

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Are you wowed by Wegmans or do you stay true to Trader Joe’s?

For its April issue, Consumer Reports polled over 75,000 shoppers in the U.S. about where they buy their groceries and the results revealed that buyers really like to stick to what they know best.

The magazine’s subscribers rated 96 national and regional supermarkets, super centers and warehouse clubs — and regional chains took up the top four slots for overall customer satisfaction.

The first national chain to appear in the top spot was Trader Joe’s.

Broccoli Kale Pizza Crust

This pizza crust is gluten-free and vegan — unlike other vegetable-based crusts on the market, it doesn’t use cheese or eggs to bind the ingredients together. Trader Joe’s recommends adding classic tomato and mozzarella as a topping, or playing on broccoli cheddar soup flavors by topping the crust with TJ’s Mushroom Alfredo Sauce, cheddar cheese and chopped broccoli florets. 

Creamy Chicken and Poblano Ravioli

This meals turns traditional ravioli on its head! The pasta is filled with white meat chicken, poblanos, and four kids of cheese — ricotta, mozzarella, Parmesan and Romano — heavy cream and breadcrumbs.

Gochujang Chop Salad Kit

This triple-washed ready-to-go salad kit combines napa cabbage, lettuce, carrots, celery and Korean-style mix-ins like black sesame seeds, puffed brown rice and a sweet and spicy gochujang vinaigrette.

Candy Coated Chocolate Peanuts

Think Peanut MM’s, but without the unnatural dyes and chemicals. 

Organic Buffalo Style Hummus

This is a dairy-free alternative to buffalo chicken dip that’s smooth and creamy, and perfect for dipping veggies into on game day. 

Organic Bolivia Yanaloma Small Lot Coffee

This coffee boasts a mild acidity with notes of apple, pear and apricot. Like all of TJ’s small lot coffees, it’s also a limited-edition. So, if you see it, grab it!

Outside-In Stuffed Gnocchi

Traditional gnocchi is served with tomato sauce and cheese, but this version packs it all into one flavorful Italian dumpling. 

Vegetable and Soba Noodle Stir Fry Kit

This plant-based stir fry is ready in 10 minutes and makes crunchy veggies and soft and chewy noodles doused in a soy ginger sauce. 

Avocado Tzatziki Dip

This dip combines traditional Greek tzatziki with avocado and a dash of jalapeños. 

Freeze Dried Red Seedless Grapes

Create the flavors of a classic PBJ by pairing them with Trader Joe’s Bamba Peanut Snacks

Gluten Free Cocoa Crunch Cereal

This cocoa cereal will turn your milk into chocolate milk, and what’s better than that?

Organic Thick and Chunky Salsa

Dip your chips into this salsa or use it as a topping for fish, chicken, salad and more. 

Amba Mango Sauce

This sauce is a common ingredient in Middle Eastern and Indian dishes. 

According to a Trader Joe’s announcement, “Ripe mangoes and green mangoes are fermented then simmered with garlic, salt, turmeric, paprika, and a host of Indian spices. The finished product has a deep-yellow color with a thick, very smooth texture; the flavor is savory and complex, with some considerable heat.”

Try it on kebabs or over vegetables. 

Crunchy Red Drago Fruit Chips 

Enjoy these fruit chips as a healthy snack on their own or throw them over Greek yogurt, an açai bowl or even ice cream. 

Onion + Chive Cream Cheese Spread

Spread this flavorful cream cheese on your favorite bagel or use it as a base for a delicious sandwich. 

French Fromage Slices

This cheese is super creamy and mild (similar to French Brie) and is great on sandwiches, baked into bread (as shown) or used as a burger topping. 

Organic Green Vegetable Foursome

Find this vegetable medley in the frozen aisle! It comes with broccoli florets, shelled peas, trimmed French green beans and zucchini quarters.

Sprouted Wheat Sourdough Bread

A slice of this hearty bread boasts 7 grams of protein and only 90 calories.

Organic Toasted Sesame Dressing

This dressing is slightly-sweet and thick, making it the perfect pairing for not only salads but sandwiches, wraps, slaws, pasta salads and more. 

Ruby Cacao Wafers

Pink chocolate is indeed not just dyed that way — it’s a new type of chocolate entirely! It’s made from the ruby cocoa beans, which give it its natural color and a subtle tangy flavor. 

Mushroom Company Multipurpose Umami Seasoning Blend

This Japanese-inspired seasoning blend mimics the fifth taste (in addition to salty, sweet, sour and bitter) and is Whole 30 and Paleo diet compliant.

Chili Lime Flavored Rolled Corn Tortilla Chips

These chips are similar to Takis and come with a little eat, but they aren’t so hot that you’ll need to put the bag down. 

Joe-Joe’s Slims

They’re like regular Joe-Joe’s, but with a thinner cookie and less cream. They’re, well, slim!

Chocolate Chip Pain Au Lait

These brioche-like French rolls are sprinkled with dark chocolate chips and make for a great breakfast, snack or dessert. 

Organic Balsamic and Fig Dressing

This new salad dressing is like your regular balsamic dressing, except Trader Joe’s mixed in real, organic fig paste for a subtle sweet taste.

Cinnamon Croissant Loaf

This is what you’d get if you mixed a croissant with Trader Joe’s Cinnamon Swirl Bread. It’s light, airy and a new breakfast staple. 

Chocolate Covered Wafer Cookie

Inspired by Polish mazurka wafers, this cookie is light, airy and covered in chocolate.

Dark Chocolate Sunflower Seed Butter Cups

Those allergic to peanuts, rejoice! Trader Joe’s new alternative to peanut butter cups is all the salty and sweet you’ve been craving. 

Corn, Pea, Bean Quinoa Crisps

These are like tortilla chips, sprinkled with pink sea salt and black pepper. 

Organic French Rolls

Pair these light and airy rolls with soup or a hearty stew.

Beer Bread Mix

All you need is beer, butter and this mix to make a hearty loaf of bread. You can top it with cheese and jalapeños or give it your own unique twist! 

This is a limited-edition, seasonal product so if you see it, get it ASAP.

Organic Earl Grey Tea

This bold black tea is combined with oil from Italian Bergamot oranges to give it a slightly sweeter, spicy taste. 

Organic Rosé Vinaigrette

This new dressing is tangy, light and slightly floral. It’s made with rosé wine vinegar.

Malabari Paratha

This Indian bread is similar to naan, but is made with cow’s and buffalo’s milk instead of yogurt and yeast. It’s dough is rolled into long ropes that are then rolled into spirals (like a cinnamon bun!) and pressed flat. 

Organic Spinach and Riced Cauliflower Salad

This salad kit comes with spinach, riced cauliflower, roasted golden beets, almonds and balsamic vinaigrette dressing. 

Jackfruit Cakes

Jackfruit has a tender, meaty texture, but you can serve these like crab cakes with eggs, salad or just a little bit of lemon and remoulade. 

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The Texas-based chain Central Market, Wegmans (which is an East Coast favorite), the Ohio and Chicago-centered Heinen’s and the Southern California-based Gelson’s Markets all earned the highest scores from shoppers. Bigger name stores, like Whole Foods and Walmart, paled in comparison to many of the smaller chains with deep roots in local markets.

The full ratings from Consumer Reports were based on 13 key factors about overall shoppers’ experiences including cleanliness, product prices, food quality, variety, checkout speed, staff helpfulness and fresh/healthy item availability.

Each of the top scoring regional stores and Trader Joe’s received the highest rating — green — for cleanliness.

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Publix, which landed in spot No. 11, received the highest marks for cleanliness, too, while Costco, which sits at No. 10 on the list, received a slightly above average rating — light green. No single store received the top grade in all 13 categories.

Beyond the top scorers, the lowest ranking stores on the list may surprise some shoppers.

Whole Foods landed at the 54th spot out of 96 stores. Although the Amazon-owned grocer claimed it would be lowering its prices since the web company’s acquisition in 2017, prices rose again in February. Whole Foods received the lowest mark — red — when ranked by competitiveness of food prices.

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But attractive pricing wasn’t the only deciding factor for survey respondents. In February, using publicly available financial data and information collected from 7,000 different household surveys, Dunnhumby ranked the top 13 least expensive grocery stores.

Aldi earned the top spot in Dunhumby’s ratings, but it landed in spot No. 23 among Consumer Reports’ survey respondents. That chain struggled with its availability of “fresh prepared foods” and “locally produced products,” according to the magazine.

Food

At the very bottom of the list, Acme Markets, Walmart Supercenter and Tops earned unsatisfactory ratings from consumers who shopped at these stores multiple times.

Acme and Tops both struggled most in the category “prices of organic options.” According to Consumer Reports, Walmart was “the only grocer out of 96” to get a red mark, the lowest grade, for customer service.

An alternative to peanut butter, almond butter is one of Trader Joe’s most popular items but isn’t one of the chain’s best deals. We found that Walmart was selling the Maranatha brand of almond butter for about $1.40 less than a jar of Trader Joe’s almond butter.

What to buy instead at Trader Joe’s: Organic peanut butter. If you stick with good ol’ peanut butter, the organic variety is a good buy at Trader Joe’s. The price on a 16-ounce jar at Trader Joe’s was the same or lower than the prices on organic peanut butter at the other stores we checked.

Milk is a regular item on most grocery lists, and the organic variety in particular can be a big expense for big families. Whole Foods beat Trader Joe’s price on a gallon of organic milk by a whopping $2.30.

What to buy instead at Trader Joe’s: Almond and soy milks. If you want an alternative to cow’s milk, Trader Joe’s has low prices on its almond and soy milks. At $2.99 for a half-gallon carton, the price on both almond milk and soy milk was about the same or lower than at the other stores we checked.

With the exception of bananas, we found that Walmart beat Trader Joe’s prices on a variety of non-organic fruits and vegetables including avocados, grapes and strawberries.

What to buy instead at Trader Joe’s: Organic fruits and vegetables. If you shop at Trader Joe’s, there’s a good chance that you’re picky about what you consume. So if you prefer organic fruits and vegetables, know that you’re getting a lower price on them at Trader Joe’s than at most other stores.

Whole Foods has the lower price on a 16-ounce package of mozzarella — $3.99 versus $4.49 at Trader Joe’s. Other conventional cheeses also were more expensive at Trader Joe’s. For example, a 12-ounce package of sliced provolone cost 61 cents more at Trader Joe’s than at Walmart.

What to buy instead at Trader Joe’s: Specialty cheeses. If you like imported and artisan cheeses, you can find a good selection at low prices at Trader Joe’s. We compared two common varieties: French brie and goat cheese. We found that brie was between 50 cents and $4 cheaper per pound at Trader Joe’s that at competitors; a 4-ounce package of goat cheese was at least $2 less.

When it comes to organic chicken, both Kroger and Walmart beat Trader Joe’s price per pound on breasts. The savings was 50 cents per pound on organic chicken breasts at Kroger but a more substantial $2 per pound at Walmart.

What to buy instead at Trader Joe’s: Organic ground beef. At $5.99 per pound, Trader Joe’s organic ground beef is $1 less per pound than its organic chicken breasts and between 50 cents and $2 less per pound than organic ground beef at the other stores we checked.

The popularity of Greek yogurt has exploded in recent years, all the more reason to be thrifty when shopping for the protein-rich snack. A 32-ounce container of Greek Gods brand yogurt was almost 70 cents less at Whole Foods than the Trader Joe’s brand.

What to buy instead at Trader Joe’s: Organic plain yogurt. Trader Joe’s price on a 32-ounce container bests other retailers’ regular prices by at least 50 cents.

Trader Joe’s sells small packages of frozen fruit. So you’ll pay nearly three times as much per ounce at Trader Joe’s than if you buy a 64-ounce package of strawberries, blueberries or other frozen fruit at Walmart.

What to buy instead at Trader Joe’s: Frozen meals are a bargain for those who don’t have the time or talent to cook from scratch. For example, the price on its individual serving of pesto tortellini beat the prices other stores had on Amy’s brand pesto tortellini by 50 cents. And Trader Joe’s paneer palak — an Indian dish with spinach and cheese — was about $2 less than the Amy’s brand version sold at the other stores we checked.

If you prefer phosphate-free dishwasher and laundry detergents, you’ll find a better deal on them at Walmart. A 128-fluid-ounce container of Ecos laundry detergent was $8.97 at Walmart, versus $9.99 for Trader Joe’s natural detergent. And a 75-liquid-ounce container of Palmolive Eco+ dishwasher detergent was $2.97 at Walmart, which beat the price of Trader Joe’s 50-ounce container by $1.

What to buy instead at Trader Joe’s: Natural toothpaste. At $2.99, a 6-ounce tube of Trader Joe’s natural toothpaste was almost $2 less than the Tom’s brand natural toothpaste sold at other stores.

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