A busy gal’s shopping list for healthy items from Trader Joe’s to save time

This post is a reader request. I’m going to share my favorite healthy items from Trader Joe’s, which are quick, easy and help me to eat clean with a very busy schedule, as well as help me not to spend too much time in the kitchen.

Hope you’re doing well, friends! How about that Super Bowl game? Today, I’m going to let you in on a little secret, you don’t have to be an official chef, to create and cook real and healthy food in your own kitchen. There are so many shortcuts out there that can give you an extra edge to create beautiful meals in minimal time. And I mean minimal time.

I wouldn’t call myself a cook, but I get into the kitchen every single day and prepare things (not from a box), that are delicious and healthy and that fill up my Instagram feed. I use the oven, the stove, the microwave and the toaster, and yet I don’t need a cookbook or anything too fancy to do it. Truth be told, Dave does a lot of the meat that we eat on the grill — so I leave that up to him, while I do the rest.

Assembling my meals looks like this: prepare some veggies, prepare a protein, prepare a healthy fat — put them on a plate or bowl, and eat them. It’s that easy. No need for in-depth recipes, casseroles, equipment or other, unless you’re into that kind of thing. Healthy eating can be easy, if you need it to be.

A busy gal's shopping list for healthy items from Trader Joe's by A Lady Goes West

Here are some of my favorite items from Trader Joe’s that support a healthy meal plan. And by plan, I mean routine, because I don’t necessarily meal “plan” as much as get all the things I like to mix together for the week and eat many of the same things on repeat. (Although not as repetitive as when I used to eat a peanut butter and jelly sandwich every single day for lunch, but that’s neither here nor there!)

Please note: This post is in no way affiliated with Trader Joe’s. They don’t know who I am, and I’m just sharing all about this particular store, because it makes healthy eating so easy for a reasonable price. Also, please note: I don’t get all of my groceries from Trader Joe’s. I often stop into Whole Foods every other week or so for some items, and I go to Safeway weekly for things like my favorite full-fat Fage Greek yogurt, Dave’s favorite bread and chocolate milk, and our beloved coconut-covered dates. Is it convenient to go to multiple grocery stores? No. But we do what we have to to procure delicious and healthy food to feed our bodies. It’s that important. Let’s get to the faves …

Condiments, cooking spray and spices

The coconut oil spray and coconut oil at Trader Joe’s is all I use for cooking veggies. I cover a foil-lined baking pan or frying pan with the spray, and I coat all my veggies in the oil. When it comes to almond butter, I often use the raw one from Trader Joe’s to top bananas for a pre-workout meal. And when the jar is empty, you know I make overnight oats in there.

Condiment and spice favorites from Trader Joe's by A Lady Goes West

And of course, I couldn’t get by without Dave and my FAVORITE green salsa (salsa verde), which we put on chicken, burgers, veggies and more. We basically dip our food into it on a weekly basis. It’s super clean and delish. Also, turmeric and Himalayan sea salt are my spices of choice for veggies and all other food. Turmeric is anti-inflammatory and tastes good, so it never hurts to add it to your meals.

Pre-cut veggies and pre-bagged veggies

When it comes to veggies, I almost always buy them pre-cut, because it saves SO MUCH TIME. While I will get organic if I can, if it’s not available, I still get the veggies (you just have to do the best you can, and sometimes organic isn’t happening). I always buy the pre-bagged batches of avocados, apples and sweet potatoes too, because it’s so much faster to grab the bag than pick out your own, you know?

Pre-packaged veggie favorites from Trader Joe's by A Lady Goes West

My absolute musts each week are broccoli, butternut squash and sweet potatoes. With most of them, I cover them in coconut oil and turmeric and roast them for about 25 to 30 minutes at anywhere from 400 to 450 degrees in the oven. It’s a formula that I repeat over and over.

Favorite veggies from Trader Joe's by A Lady Goes West

Also the container of sauerkraut shown above comes in super handy, because you don’t have to do ANYTHING to it. Just open it up and eat it. Sauerkraut has become one of my favorite super simple sides for lunch and dinner, and it’s really good for your tummy health because it’s fermented.

Frozen veggies

I’ve been told that the frozen mashed sweet potatoes are seasonal, which makes me sad. When I find them in the frozen section, I buy about five bags at a time, and they’ve been available for several months, so I hope they don’t go away. The cauliflower rice is not seasonal, but it goes quickly, so I always buy multiple bags of it too.

Frozen favorites from Trader Joe's by A Lady Goes West

Both of these bags of veggies are easily prepared in the microwave and can be a perfect side to any meal. My preference for preparing the cauliflower rice is actually in a frying pan with a little coconut oil though. Both of these items are on the top of my favorites list! And a secret about the cauliflower rice? Top it with the salsa verde from above, and you’ll feel like you’re at a Mexican restaurant.

Protein and eggs

While Dave and I often get our organic chicken and other organic meats elsewhere, I usually get our eggs and hard-boiled eggs at Trader Joe’s. I bring the bag of hard-boiled eggs, a tub of sauerkraut and an avocado for lunch at work, and can mix it all together on the spot without any major prep, and that’s clutch!

Egg and protein favorites from Trader Joe's by A Lady Goes West

For uncooked eggs, I always choose organic, but for the hard-boiled at TJ’s — I go with the regular, and they’re good and so versatile. They’re pretty small, so I usually have two to three at a time for my protein allotment, along with veggies and a fat (like an avocado).

Breakfast and snacks

We’ve always purchased the big bag of gluten-free oats from Trader Joe’s, because it’s cheap, and the oats work well in smoothies, overnight oats and even protein pancakes. Also, I use cans of organic coconut milk in my tea daily. (I used to use flavored almond milk, but switched to coconut milk to reduce my sugar intake.) It’s not super convenient to open the cans and pour the milk into another storage container, but I’ve become so addicted to the thick coconut-y consistency, I continue to do it. Please note: Real coconut milk does become a solid when cold, so sometimes you have to warm it up before using it. Just pop it in the microwave for about 30 seconds, and you’re good to go.

Breakfast favorites from Trader Joe's by A Lady Goes West

And of course, you know I love my raw pumpkin seeds. I use at least a handful every single day, either on top of yogurt, on top of a sweet potato or mixed in trail mix. Pumpkin seeds have valuable nutrients, like magnesium, which most of us need more of, and they taste good. We also sometimes pick up the single-serve packets of roasted almonds or trail mix, because I like those. And I occasionally buy my organic green tea bags from TJ’s too. (Not pictured.) 

That about does it for my Trader Joe’s faves. While there are so many other items that I love, this collection shows you my staples!

But you know what my favorite thing about Trader Joe’s is outside of the cost-effective healthy products? The customer service. They are the nicest! And here’s a look at one of my “assembled” meals featuring items exclusively from above. Roasted butternut squash, two hard-boiled eggs and sauerkraut, topped with turmeric!

Delicious lunch from Trader Joe's by A Lady Goes West

The top #healthy and easy food staples from @TraderJoesList according to blogger @apstyle ... Click To Tweet

Questions of the day

What’s your favorite Trader Joe’s grocery item?

And what’s your go-to quick healthy meal?

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39 Comments

  1. Trader Joes is great if you know what you are looking for! It can open up so many possibilities. I’m like you–I ain’t fancy, but I can create something delicious from humble ingredients!

    1. YES! I love that saying — create something delicious from humble ingredients. ahah! That’s my way of cooking too. Have a great day, Susie! πŸ™‚

  2. Love some Trader Joes! Our Safeway doesn’t have crunchy almond butter, so I love shopping for nut butters at Trader Joes also trail mix and chocolate. And for a quick meal, I usually cook eggs, there is just so much you can do with them I’ve made frittata’s, omelets, or just fried eggs with veggies. And I have yet to try those butternut squash zig zags, I will def pick some up next trip!

    1. Eggs are my number-one protein at lunch and dinner, for SURE. They are so easy and good for you. And you should get some zig-zags to dip in your eggs ahahh! Have a great day, Patricia! πŸ™‚

  3. We love TJ’S! We live down the street from one, so we always go there. Their produce isn’t that great, but it will make do. I LOVE those b-nut squash fries and cauliflower rice!! We also do broccoli slaw bowls every week!

    1. Yes, I used to walk to that TJ’s too when we lived on the Hill! I buy broccoli slaw every few weeks actually, it’s in the fridge now but it didn’t make the list hahah! Have a great day, friend!

  4. Ha – I had a post a little while back where I mentioned that that’s how we “create” meals, too. Simple pieces next to one another. No need to go over the top!

    I’m definitely going to have to try frozen riced cauliflower, though. I can’t believe I’m saying this, but I didn’t know that existed – I have always been making my own. That looks so much easier!

    Thanks for the tip!
    XO, Jessica
    http://www.semisweettooth.com

    1. Hi Jessica! Yes, assembling meals is the WAY TO GO. And the cauli rice is totally versatile. If you find it, buy MANY bags! Let me know how you like it, gal! Have a great day!

    1. hahah well RIGHT BACK AT YA, friend! πŸ™‚ Hope you had a nice weekend and a good workout this morning! I’m guessing you like a lot of these same foods?

      1. I do like a lot of these same foods, but I also like the mentality/approach/method to your “meal planning.” I am the exact same way. I don’t use fancy containers or complicated recipes. Just lots of good wholesome foods that I never get sick of!

        And treats for me are a must which is why I will never be a Victoria’s Secret Angel, but oh well!

    1. Yup! No need to be a hero in the kitchen with fancy recipes! As long as you’re eating whole and healthy foods, make the prep as simple as you want! πŸ™‚

  5. I really need a store in Canada to carry the cauli rice because it’s so much effort to make at home!
    I love scrambling two eggs and putting them in a tortilla with toppings (like salsa and beans) for a super quick dinner.

    1. Hi Ange! That sounds like a totally delicious and simple dinner combo! I’m sorry you can’t find cauli rice … here’s hoping it appears soon!

  6. I can’t bring myself to buy packaged cauliflower rice because of the cost effectiveness of making it myself, but this did give me the great idea of making a whole lot of it at one time and portioning it into ziplock bags to go in the freezer!

    1. Hi Julie! Yes, sometimes it’s cheaper to make your own, but WAY faster to buy it pre-done. Props to you if you can make it and freeze it!! πŸ™‚

  7. As a vegan I used to love Traders but I quit shopping there a few years ago due to a tight budget . I started buying in bulk my weekly legumes and beans and veggies at farmers market year around. also ours are to far and to crowded to make shopping there enjoyable. Its a stressful ordeal so I just quit going. Those parking lots ! I definitely see some good healthy options here ! Love your style of cooking. For me I cook a huge pot of soup on Sundays, I love the feel of cooking on Sunday for the week and the house smells so great. Everyone that stops in has a bowl of fresh soup . it feeds me all week and add in salads , fresh vegetables, homemade bread dinner is done ! This week is white bean soup with tomatoes, cabbage, onions, roasted garlic 3 pounds of spinach , and fresh rosemary with thyme and pepper with lemon.

    1. Hi Laura! Yes, I know that Trader Joe’s can be very busy! I try to go on off times as much as possible. And buying produce at farmer’s markets is awesome, so keep that up. Making soup on Sunday sounds VERY comforting!! πŸ™‚ How convenient to have it all week! Good job, lady!

  8. This is helpful–thanks for putting this together! I love Trader Joes they have a lot of dairy free and gluten free options that are so good! Theyve got the best GF pancakes I’ve ever tried! My go to meals are baked oatmeal for breakfast and vegetable tofu stir fry for dinners!

    1. Hi Heather! Baked oatmeal? Yum! Do you have a particular recipe you follow? Stir fry for dinner is usually pretty quick and tasty too. Good job!

  9. Trader Joe’s has so many healthy, convenient options. My only issue with them is that very few items are gluten free. They do have one of the best instant GF oatmeals I’ve ever seen that’s sugar free and clean. Nutritionist approved!

  10. I love finding what other people find at TJs! I just recently switched to bagged veggies after a friend told me how much easier it was. I needed to let something of my food prep go and that was it. I know it’s more waste, but it’s been SO helpful to me. Love the simplicity of your lunches too – throwing things together is key in a pinch. Thanks for the inspiration!

    1. Hi India!! πŸ™‚ Yes, switching to pre-cut veggies is a game changer for saving time, especially when they are pre-washed too. You have to use your time wisely, and saving a little bit by buying pre-cut is a good deal. Thanks so much for reading, my friend! πŸ™‚

    1. Yes, Trader Joe’s is usually pretty busy, so I try to go at off hours if possible. The convenience of some of their items is KEY! But yes, in big cities, TJ’s is always PACKED!

  11. oh i have my staples for TJs also! I LOVE getting japanese sweet potatoes and purple sweet potatoes from there, as well as their spices.
    side note, though: when eating turmeric, add black pepper. the piperin in (only) black pepper increases the bioavailability of curcumin in turmeric by like, 2000%!

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