The Trader Joe's Trade-Off - Live Like a Mensch
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The Trader Joe's Trade-Off

Photo courtesy of David Shankbone, whose name totally sounds like a Mafia nickname.

It all started when LO wouldn't take a nap.  Normally, I wouldn't particularly care that my child won't nap.  The more wakefulness, the merrier!  But my child being the stinker that he is, he was refusing to take a nap when he really really needed one.  So I was stuck with a pink-eyed, whining screecher who bore some resemblance to my son.

The solution, of course, was to drive to Indianapolis.

LO does fall asleep to the soothing rhythm of a 14 year old car driving at highway speeds for about an hour.  Since I didn't want to get all the way to Indy and then turn around and drive back, I decided to make the nap a side-effect of our trip to Trader Joe's.  There is no TJ in Lafayette, and I sorely miss the Hawaiian shirts, the inexpensive and (relatively) healthy groceries, and the free samples.  So back on a Sunday in December, LO and I took a trip to Trader Joe's to stock up on 3 Buck Chuck, brie, fancy crackers, guacamole, and of course, something chocolatey and delicious.  LO got a two hour nap with all the backing and forthing.

The following week, LO was again cranky and again folding his arms and exclaiming that sleep was for suckers, so I strapped him back into the car and headed off for Indy.  I didn't really need to go back to Trader Joe's again, but the child really needed a nap.

When he pulled the same trick on the last Sunday in January, J and I decided to make LO's nap a family trip to Trader Joe's.

Since we were just finishing the financial fast for the month, we went a little overboard.  Before we got to the checkout, J estimated that we spent at least $200.  I countered that it couldn't possibly be more than $160, and we shook hands on a gentlemensch's wager.  (Hint: don't bet against the one who does all the family's grocery shopping).  Our total came to about $140 or so.  In addition to being impressed by my knowledge of grocery prices, J was also really taken by the reasonable prices.  "We should do this more often," he said.

There's a slight problem with that plan however.  We have to drive two hours round trip to get the cheap groceries, thereby negating their cheapness.

And this is where it helps to have friends.  We asked our neighbors if they'd like to do a Trader Joe's exhange.  We'd each do the shopping for the other when we go about once every four to six weeks.  By splitting the cost of gas that way, we're still getting tasty eats for less (I think!).  They took the first shift this past Saturday, and were pleased to note that their baby also took a nap on the way there.  We were all happy to eat like kings over the weekend.

The only problem with this plan is if LO continues to forgo his nap.  I don't think driving to Trader Joe's once a day will be helpful to anyone's finances. 

Well, except for Joe's.



Lori Blatzheim said:

Thank you for mentioning Trader Joe's.

In Southern California, this store is an institution. We spent so much time shopping there when the children were little that they never miss an opportunity to visit.

Our favorite foods were brie on white soda crackers, Cactus Cooler (a soda type drink in a can) and the trail mix that couldn't be matched.

Trader's is the sort of place that can't be understood unless you visit.

February 13, 2012 9:52 PM

Emily Guy Birken said:

Lori, I know what you mean.  I'm looking forward to when LO is old enough to push the child-sized carts around the store.  It's more fun shopping there than at our neighborhood supermarket.  I just wish they were closer!

Oh, and I'll have to try that Cactus Cooler.  It sounds awesome.

February 14, 2012 9:32 AM

Lori Blatzheim said:

Hello Emily,

You might not be able to buy Cactus Cooler outside California. Wikipedia has a write-up about the soft drink.

Here is part of the write-up:

"Cactus Cooler, distinguished by its orange, yellow, and green label, is an orange-pineapple soft drink sold in the United States, mainly in the Southern California area and surrounding Southwestern United States."

So, I hope you are able to find it.

Lori Blatzheim

February 14, 2012 6:42 PM

Live Like a Mensch said:

Pictured: What heaven looks like. Brie is one of my favorite foods that I always forget I like. I generally

May 1, 2012 1:04 PM

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