The Best Time To Stop By Trader Joe's When You're In It For The Free Samples

Do you like free samples? Of course you do. Biologically and psychologically, you can't not. In his book "How We Eat: The Brave New World of Food and Drink," behavioral research expert Paco Underhill explains that tasting food while you grocery shop makes you more inclined to make impulse purchases and hang around the store longer (via CBS). It's an ingenious marketing tactic, but it's also wicked enjoyable for shoppers cruising through grocery store aisles on a busy weeknight.

Maybe your go-to free sample grocery spot is Costco, where, per Reader's Digest, the free samples are officially unlimited. You can feel free to come back for seconds or thirds (or fifths). Sam's Club even offers "Taste & Tips," a free sample/product review combination program that allows shoppers to try their hand at amateur food criticism every time they check off their grocery lists. The bulk chain has been handing out freebies for an impressive 35+ years. But, when you're looking for an easy, pre-cut salad or a bottle of wine for less than $10, there's probably a good chance you're headed to Trader Joe's — and, after a long pandemic-induced hiatus, their free samples have officially returned (per Today). Here's when you should be stopping by TJ's if you're in it for the free samples.

Come late (and come hungry)

Luckily for hungry shoppers, Trader Joe's offers at least one free sample pretty much every day, says Taste of Home. But, if you're looking to score some major freebies, swing by your local TJ's close to closing time. According to one anonymous Trader Joe's employee via Thrillist, when operating hours start dwindling down, the TJ's staff tries to get rid of those remaining samples before packing up for the night. They'll be trying to peddle them off by the troves onto any remaining customers in the store. (i.e., you).

Per The Kitchn, TJ's has handed out samples of everything from hot brewed coffee to fried rice and glasses of wine — and fans can't get enough. There's even an Instagram account called @traderjoesampleking in which the self-appointed Sample King of Trader Joe's tries various freebies and reports back on them. While it doesn't look like TJ's will be bringing back hot coffee samples anytime soon, reports CBS, fans should keep their eyes peeled for new products at the free sample stations. Trader Joe's PR Manager Nakia Rohde told Today that the grocery chain would be focusing on offering the new products in its ever-changing rotation as free samples as a sort of taste test for customers. Last Fall, for example, TJ's offered free samples of its seasonal Halloween cookies. (This is your cue to get hungry — and to shop late.)