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  • Chances are that if you've been to Trader Joe's, you're already a fan.

  • Shopping hacks at a place that doesn't even have a frequent shopper card may seem unusual,

  • but there are some tips and tricks to save you time and money.

  • Watch this before shopping at Trader Joe's again.

  • One of the best unknown perks of Trader Joe's is its samples policy.

  • You might have your standby products that you get every time you visit the store, but

  • Trader Joe's comes out with new products all the time.

  • If you're dairy-free and wondering if the Turmeric Ginger Coconut Beverage will suit

  • your taste buds, or you're feeling on the fence about Bloody Mary Salsa, ask an employee

  • for a sample.

  • You can try it before you buy it.

  • PopSugar points out that there are some exceptions to this amazing policy.

  • They're not going to let you get sick by sampling raw food, and you wouldn't be able to tell

  • if a frozen food is worth it without heating it up.

  • You won't get to try any of the alcoholic products either, so stick to asking for samples

  • of ready-to-eat foods like boxed snacks, jars of jam, or cheese.

  • PopSugar interviewed a former Trader Joe's employee who confirmed that you can return

  • anything, even if it's already opened.

  • Seems like the type of thing that might get taken advantage of, right?

  • "This was shipped like this so we are gonna need a new one."

  • "You obviously broke this yourself."

  • But, overall, the policy works in everyone's favor.

  • Employees don't waste time arguing with customers about what can and cannot be returned, and

  • Trader Joe's gains valuable insight about products that customers don't care for.

  • Win-win for everyone.

  • Trader Joe's definitely has a cult following, and with mass appeal comes massive crowds.

  • There's nothing that ruins the shopping vibe faster than overcrowded parking lots, long

  • lines, and cramped aisles.

  • Instead of wasting your time, take advantage of people who have done their research and

  • are willing to share the best time to hit Trader Joe's.

  • The Daily Meal suggests avoiding Trader Joe's on any weekday during lunchtime.

  • Unfortunately, that doesn't just mean the noon hour; the lines don't die down until

  • around 3 p.m., so stay away until well after conventional lunches are over.

  • "Once in a while I'll take a long lunch."

  • "A Siesta!"

  • You won't want to dilly dally too long, though, because things pick up again after 5 p.m.

  • for the post-work rush.

  • When it comes to weekends, both Saturday afternoon and Sunday evening are popular shopping times,

  • too.

  • According to a Redditor who claims to be a Trader Joe's manager, the best time to avoid

  • the crowds is as soon as they open on a Tuesday or Wednesday.

  • You'll have the store to yourself and access to all the products that sell out quickly

  • each day.

  • If you do happen to find yourself on a long line, entertain your brain by picking up a

  • copy of the Fearless Flyer.

  • Trader Joe's describes the flyer by asking, "Is it a newsletter?

  • A catalog?

  • A comic-book?

  • Yes, yes, and perhaps even yes!"

  • Basically, it's an illustrated bi-monthly publication that's supposed to announce new

  • products and deals.

  • Informative, yes, but we mostly read it because it's hilarious.

  • The pages are filled with old-timey cartoons with witty captions, and the product descriptions

  • have more cringe-worthy puns than you thought possible in a 16-page publication.

  • Their corn salsa is an "a-maizing" condiment?

  • That's so bad it's good.

  • Add in some weird comics and off-the-wall humor, and you'll find yourself craving a

  • line just to take the time to read the thing cover to cover.

  • Trader Joe's does sell some big-name brands, but why would you pick up a $5 box of cereal

  • when you can get a Joe's brand for $2 less?

  • Opting for private-label products is one of the easiest ways to save money at the grocery

  • store, and you don't have to sacrifice quality when you shop at TJ's: Big brand suppliers

  • may make some of these private-label products.

  • In 2010, Fortune suggested that Trader Joe's pita chips were made by Stacy's, and that

  • Stonyfield Farm supplied much of the yogurt on the east coast.

  • Eater took things one step further and used the Freedom of Information Act to request

  • recall information that mentioned Trader Joe's by name.

  • That allowed them to identify a few potential suppliers, like Wonderful Pistachios and Snack

  • Factory's Pretzel Crisps.

  • Of course, big brands wouldn't want you to know that you can pick up their food for less

  • at Trader Joe's, so it's unlikely any of these comparisons will ever be confirmed.

  • Even the former VP of marketing, Mark Gardiner, told Eater that he was in the dark about who

  • made the brand's most popular products.

  • It's a secret agreement, and no one is allowed to talk about the products' suppliers.

  • Trader Joe's doesn't market themselves as a Whole Foods-type store or a gourmet market,

  • but it kind of is.

  • "This is some serious gourmet s---!"

  • The low-key grocery store has been selling wine since the 1960's, and their successful

  • low-cost formula has allowed them to offer affordable versions of gourmet cheeses, specialty

  • nuts, and exotic frozen meals.

  • Many of these products would have been considered gourmet at the time they arrived, and Trader

  • Joe's continues to stay a step ahead of food trends by offering innovative new products

  • each year.

  • According to the Trader Joe's website, its private label brands contain high-quality

  • ingredients, too.

  • They don't use artificial flavors or preservatives, MSG, GMO ingredients, or partially hydrogenated

  • oils.

  • Their labels may not say GMO-free on the product, but Trader Joe's assures customers that their

  • brands don't contain any GMO ingredients.

  • They also claim to sell tons of organic products, and their organic options can be less expensive

  • than conventional options.

  • Unfortunately, Trader Joe's doesn't have everything you'll find in a normal grocery store.

  • A typical Trader Joe's has an average of 4,000 products in each store, compared to the 38,900

  • you'll find at most grocery stores.

  • That means if you're looking for necessities like toothpicks, diapers, corn starch, or

  • aluminum foil, you'll have to make a stop at another store while you're out.

  • You also won't find all the choices of brand variety that you may be accustomed to.

  • "I don't want this pomade I want Dapper Dan."

  • "I don't carry Dapper Dan I carry Fop."

  • "Well I don't want Fop, G------it, I'm a Dapper Dan Man!"

  • That can be a good thing.

  • After all, who really wants to compare the ingredients and price on 12 different brands

  • of ketchup?

  • Trader Joe's only has one option: Trader Joe's Organic Ketchup.

  • They do this on purpose, so you can rest assured that they tried it, they liked it, and they

  • trust that you don't need any other options.

  • In some ways, that level of confidence is comforting, but if you're expecting to have

  • product variety, you might want to realign your expectations before you walk in the door.

  • No trip to Trader Joe's is complete without a stop by the alcohol aisle.

  • When founder Joe Coulombe opened the first Trader Joe's in 1967, his vision was to create

  • a neighborhood grocery store with a great wine selection.

  • Today, that selection has expanded to beer and spirits, too, depending on the state's

  • liquor laws.

  • If you're lucky enough to live in a state where you can shop all three, you'll find

  • an excellent selection of usually inexpensive options.

  • They're most famous for their Two Buck Chuck, a super-value priced Charles Shaw wine available

  • in a variety of red and white varietals.

  • Their prices on non-private-labeled alcohol is similarly inexpensive, and when it comes

  • to beer, the Chicago Tribune reports that Trader Joe's beers are often brewed by award-winning

  • breweries.

  • Make sure to ask questions before you put these items in the cart, though, because sometimes

  • the alcohol isn't covered in their return policy.

  • When you're looking at things you should and shouldn't buy at Trader Joe's, the produce

  • section is pretty polarizing.

  • On the one hand, their organic produce is usually less expensive or comparable with

  • other grocery stores, according to The Kitchn.

  • Unfortunately, it's not always packaged in a way that makes sense.

  • As Kiplinger points out, a lot of Trader Joe's produce is prepackaged, making it impossible

  • for you to choose how much you want to buy.

  • That's great if you want to buy a whole package of carrots, but what if you just wanted one

  • apple?

  • Sorry, you have to buy the entire bag.

  • "Why?"

  • "Those are just the rules."

  • That said , there are some great deals to be had in the produce aisle, but steer clear

  • of the prepared produce.

  • Things like riced cauliflower and spiralized carrots cost way more than doing it yourself

  • at home.

  • The one item that does always shine is the super-cheap bananas; they're always priced

  • at 19 cents, the same price they were in the 70s.

  • Trader Joe's frozen section is absolutely legendary.

  • There is more variety in this section than anywhere else in the store, and it's not just

  • ingredient variety.

  • You can stock up on filling main dishes for breakfast, lunch, or dinner, or pick up a

  • few items to have on-hand for an appetizer or snack.

  • They also have dozens of dessert options.

  • Because most of the items in this section are private label products, the prices are

  • super reasonable, and it's safe to say you could eat out of the frozen section for weeks

  • without repeating a meal.

  • Items at Trader Joe's can disappear pretty quickly, and sometimes forever.

  • A Redditor who claims to work at the largest Trader Joe's in America explained that's because

  • they often don't order a lot of stock.

  • If they have too little and run out, that's better than ordering too much and running

  • into food waste, which could drive the prices up.

  • This can happen with any product, especially the best-selling items that generate a lot

  • of buzz.

  • The Redditor went on to explain that this tends to happen more quickly with seasonal

  • products.

  • Some new products don't do well, which means the store won't reorder it when it's out.

  • That makes more space for the products that everyone loves.

  • Whether it's a regular product or a season item, NBC News suggests loading up your cart

  • if you find something you love.

  • Things like frozen items won't go bad quickly, and you can check the shelf-stable products

  • for the sell-by date to see how long you have to use them.

  • You never know if the item will be out of stock for a day or a few weeks or forever,

  • but better not to find out.

  • You don't have to buy pre-made freezer meals to make