If you’re ever in the Amherst area, you have to try shopping at Trader Joe’s! The growing grocery chain opening their Niagara Falls Boulevard location in 2013, with their next closest store located in Rochester. Personally, I always find it to be a treat when I have a chance to stop in at Trader Joe's. They offer many unique and fun products that you can’t find other places. On top of that, their employees always seem helpful and pleasant.
When talking to people about Trader Joe’s, the general perception is that it’s a healthy grocery store. They definitely take a lot of pride in the food they sell. They state all their foods are made from non-GMO ingredients and they carry a lot of organic foods. The seafood is from sustainable sources and they have many antibiotic-free meat and poultry options. However, just to clarify, they sell a lot of sweets and treats just like any other grocer. Cookie butter is delicious, and okay in moderation, but by no means is it a health food!
Regarding special diets and dietary restrictions, Trader Joe's does offer a wide variety of gluten-free, kosher and vegan options. On their website you can find information on products available for all three of these diets. In addition, they also seem to offer many non-dairy options.
For being a relatively small grocery store, they pack a lot of food in there! While the produce section appears small, you will find a wide array of interesting options. In this section in particular, I noticed a shift towards convenience food items, such as pre-sliced fruits and diced vegetables. As with other stores offering such convenience items, you should weigh the higher cost of these items with the time saved in food preparation.
When it comes to the frozen food section, of course there is your typical frozen fruits and vegetables, but they also offer a ton of interesting dinner and side dish ideas. If you eat a lot of prepared and frozen foods, you will definitely need to check out this aisle. Busy people need healthier options that include nutritious and fun ingredients- and Trader Joe’s delivers! I just picked up the Spelt Risotto with Vegetables and Chickpeas and plan on pairing it with some of their chicken sausage on a busy night this week. Of course this meal will be higher in sodium that a home cooked meal, but it will pale in comparison with some other typical frozen meals like chicken fingers and French fries.
The meat and poultry section is a pretty decent size. There’s no butcher or deli counter so everything is vacuum packed. Similar to their offerings in other sections, you can find some different and intriguing items here. On my most recent visit, the coffee rubbed chicken piqued my interest.
I must admit that the snack aisle is my favorite! Their nuts, seeds and trail mix selection is unbelievable! There are so much options to choose from and a lot of things I haven’t seen anywhere else. My favorite pickings from this section include Sesame Honey Almonds, Orange Flavored Cranberries, Simply Nutty Bars and the Peanut Butter Filled Pretzels (the ones with no salt).
Trader Joe’s in definitely in the know when it comes to what’s hip and trendy in the food world. You’ll find kombucha, cold pressed juices, alcoholic seltzer water, matcha green tea and everything else that foodies may be into. They carry a lot of seasonal products, so in the fall you can find just about anything pumpkin flavored. They are constantly bringing in new products so there’s always something new to try.
Trader Joe’s doesn’t have sales or take coupons and there’s no shopper's club key tag to bring with you. I definitely appreciate the simplicity of this philosophy and am sure others do as well. In a way, a lot of their money saving methods are similar to Aldi, where the store can control costs by mostly offering their own store brand. All in all, I would say the prices at Trader Joe’s are pretty close to prices at other grocers in the area.
As much as I love this store, I do find I can't typically check off my entire weekly grocery list at Trader Joe’s. It’s one of my auxiliary options that I go to when I feel like I need to mix things up a bit. You’re going to have to go to another store if you’re looking for specific non-food items typically purchased during a grocery shopping trip. You can buy some personal hygiene products as well as toilet paper and paper towels, but selection is very limited.