10 Best Ways To Spend $20 at Trader Joe's — From Scandinavian Swimmers to Peanut Butter Cups

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$20 Shopping Spree

If you had just $20 to spend at Trader Joe’s (chump change these days, we know), what would you get? It’s a fun thought experiment, if only because it reveals what type of Trader Joe’s shopper you are. Wine snobs might blow their entire budget on a single bottle of wine, while penny pinchers may go for $20-worth of canned beans. Superfans recently gave the question a stab on Reddit, sharing what they’d buy with just 20 bones.


1. 'Survival Mode'

The haul: the cheapest fruit, the cheapest vegetable, a bunch of bananas, $5 to $6 of raw meat, and $1.99 bag of potato chips (provided it's within budget)

Practical, budget-minded consumers will appreciate this Redditor's haul, which privileges affordable staples over frivolous treats. It's their "go-to" shopping list, they write, noting that they're "in survival mode" when they go to the grocery store.

Bananas - Trader Joe's
Bananas - Trader Joe's by Aranami (CC BY)

2. Bananas

The haul: 105.263158 bananas

Trader Joe's best-kept secret: its inflation-proof, 19 cent bananas. With $20, you can buy a little over 100 of them, as one Redditor points out.  And even if they get all brown and mushy — we recommend freezing them if you have space — you can salvage them with a little culinary ingenuity and these six overripe banana recipes.

Trader Joe's Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups

3. Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups

The haul: four containers of dark chocolate peanut butter cups

If you want a major test of your will power, go to Trader Joe's on an empty stomach and try not to buy the chocolate peanut butter cups. The employees always place these sinfully sweet morsels at checkout to tantalize passersby — and it works. If it's any indication of how addictive these are, one Redditor says they'd blow their entire $20 budget on these.


4. Child’s Choice

The haul: whatever your kid wants

Need to distract your kids while you shop? Give them $20, a short list, and the freedom to pick a few products of their choosing. "You've never seen such focus and concentration," says one Redditor, who lets their 11-year-old child shop with them. Just don't be surprised if they come back with five boxes of Joe-Joe's. 

Trader Joe's Butter Chicken
Wilder Shaw / Cheapism

5. Do-It-Yourself Asian Pizzas (and More!)

The haul: Taiwanese green onion pancakes, Indian butter chicken, pork gyoza, pasta, pasta sauce, and 1,000-day gouda cheese

You can squeeze four to seven meals out of these pre-prepared favorites, one superfan shares. The key is to make DIY pizzas using the Taiwanese green onion pancakes as your crust. "Tastes a whole lot better then the frozen pizzas," they write.

Trader Joe's Sour Scandinavian Swimmers
Lacey Muszynski / Cheapism

6. Super Sour Scandinavian Swimmers

The haul: five bags of Super Sour Scandinavian Swimmers

We aren't exaggerating when we say that these chewy, fish-shaped candies will make your mouth water. Heck, even writing about these citric-acid-coated swimmers kicks my salivary glands into action. It's no wonder why Trader Joe's fans are willing to drop $20 on a few bags of these Swedish Fish knockoffs.

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Antipasto on garden terrace

7. A French Feast

The haul: French baguette, mini bouquet of flowers, fresh figs, bottle of Giardino Pinot Grigio Rosé, camembert cheese

If you want to pretend like you're enjoying a little Parisian snack and a bottle of wine ​‎à côté de la Seine, go for this picturesque constellation of treats. The Redditor even budgets for a small bouquet of flowers, perfect for a romantic snack à deux.

Related: Trader Joe's Frozen Croissants, Ranked

Dark Chocolate Bamba Snacks from Trader Joe's
Trader Joe's

8. Bamba Peanut Snacks

The haul: 11 bags of Bamba peanut snacks

OK, we'll cut the crap and be honest. No matter how much money we've got — $20, $50, $100, it doesn't matter — we're going to stock up on Bamba peanut snacks. These peanut puffs are a favorite in Israel, where they're made with corn, peanut butter, and a dash of salt.

Related: Trader Joe's New Chocolatey Coated Peanut Butter Crispy Rice Bites Are Just 100 Calories, But Are They Any Good?


Trader Joe's Unexpected Cheddar Cheese
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