Unless you love to cook and have a ton of free time, eating healthy on a budget is not always easy—but Trader Joe's makes it easier. In fact, the affordable supermarket chain is setting trends in the healthy food space. Everyone's obsession with cauliflower rice (and cauliflower gnocchi and cauliflower pizza crust) is largely thanks to Trader Joe's. And don't even get us started on cult favorites like Everything but the Bagel Seasoning products and Mandarin Orange Chicken. But don't be fooled, not everything you see at TJ's is healthy.
While we all know about obvious healthy choices—leafy greens, fruits, and pre-washed veggies—we asked some of the country's leading health experts to share their favorite healthy Trader Joe's snacks and foods. Here are 19 products that are not only nutritious, but also affordable and easy to incorporate into a well-balanced meal.
Broccoli & Kale Slaw Salad
"Try shopping the perimeter of any Trader Joe's store," says nutritionist and holistic health coach, Jen Silverman. "This lets you stick with fresher items, such as fruit, vegetables, yogurt, meat, and fish, since packaged, preservative-rich, shelf-stable items are always located in the center aisles."
One veggie-packed item that Silverman loves? TJ's rotating roster of fresh salad mixes. "This salad mix is healthy, nutritious, and takes minutes to put together. Plus it's one-third the cost of a salad at a restaurant," she says. "You can eat it as-is or add your favorite protein. Pro tip: Skip the dressing it comes with to cut out extra sugar."
Tomato & Roasted Red Pepper Soup
"This soup is not only healthy, but it's delicious," Silverman says. "The ingredients are clean (no fillers or additives). You can enjoy it warmed in a bowl or pour it on top of your favorite vegetables instead of a standard tomato sauce."
Spinach & Kale Greek Yogurt Dip
"Two tablespoons of this dip is just 30 calories and 1 gram net carbs, which is low for such a flavorful, hearty dip," says F-Factor founder and registered dietitian Tanya Zuckerbrot. "It's a great appetizer for guests instead of traditional higher-fat dips, like [a] sour cream-based dip."
Riced Cauliflower Stir Fry
"This Riced Cauliflower Stir Fry is super simple to make in under 10 minutes," Silverman says. "It's healthy (50 calories and 2 grams of fat per cup), very tasty, and can be eaten as a main or a side." Plus, it's inexpensive at $2.99 per bag. Zuckerbrot adds that unlike other frozen riced cauliflowers, this one does not have added ingredients like canola, olive, or sunflower oil, butter, or cornstarch. "It's just two simple ingredients: cauliflower and salt. Cauliflower is also a great source of fiber; it adds bulk and volume to any dish, and is a great replacement for more carbohydrate-heavy dishes like fried rice," Zuckerbrot says.
Roasted Seaweed Snack
"A little sweet, salty, and crunchy, these hit the spot with only 30 calories a pack," say The Nutrition Twins, Lyssie Lakatos, RDN, CDN, CFT and Tammy Lakatos Shames, RDN, CDN, CFT. "It's a great way to get a little iodine, which many people surprisingly are deficient in. Seaweed also contains sulfated polysaccharides, which can help with your microbiome by increasing the growth of "good" bacteria in your gut. Plus, at just $3.99, they're far less expensive than other brands that typically range from $5.50 to $5.99."
Organic Walnut Halves
Almonds seem to get all the glory, but according to The Nutrition Twins, walnuts are just as good for you. "They're a good source of antioxidants and one of the few foods that contain the plant form of omega-3 fat, which may help reduce heart disease risk," they say. "Trader Joe's Organic Walnut Halves come in full pieces and the packaging seems to protect the halves from breaking, unlike other brands which often have many crushed into little pieces."
Creamy Spinach & Artichoke Dip
"This is a great, filling meal with some baby carrots or whole-grain crackers," says Rachel Paul, Ph.D., RD. "I often advise leaving one in the office freezer for a last-minute meal."
Avocado's Number Guacamole to Go
"We all love avocados and guacamole, but it goes brown so quickly," Paul says. "These single-serving guacamole packets are great for breakfast or snacks with hard-boiled eggs or carrots." Plus, they offer portion control since; while avocado is a great source of healthy fat, it's not particularly low in calories.
"These steamed lentils help lower blood sugar, they're low in calories, and a great source of folate and magnesium, contributing to heart health," says Jessica Mantell, MS, LDN, CNS and a Miami-based nutritionist. "Also, they have a good amount of insoluble fiber to help support digestive health."
Cruciferous Crunch Collection
"This mix of cruciferous vegetables is fiber-rich, so it keeps you full for longer," says Mantell. "It's also extremely beneficial in reducing inflammation and reducing the risk of cancer by protecting the cells from DNA damage."
Nutritional yeast isn't just a cheese alternative for vegans. "Nutritional yeast is a great source of B vitamins, a complete protein, contains fiber, and is low in fat," Mantell says. You can sprinkle it on anything from a sandwich to protein, and even on pizza for a cheesy flavor without the calories and fat.
"Every kitchen needs affordable, reliable oils that are great for quick and casual use," says Serena Poon, a chef, nutritionist, and reiki master. "Trader Joe's offers organic and premium oils at affordable prices," she adds. They have everything from olive oil (which is great for dressings) to coconut and avocado oils, which are great for high-heat cooking (since they have a high smoke point). Many of their oils are also available in spray cans, which is great for portion control.
Organic Sprouted Tricolor Quinoa
"One of my favorite items at Trader Joe's is their Organic Sprouted Tricolor Quinoa," says Poon. "I love that the quinoa is already sprouted and sold for only $2.99 for an 8-ounce bag." Sprouting means that the quinoa is not only more nutrient-dense, it is also easier to digest.
Minced, Peeled, or Frozen Garlic
"Garlic is a known anti-inflammatory food due to its high content of allicin. It's also heart-healthy and useful for reducing blood pressure and cholesterol," Tanya Freirich, MS, RD, CDN, CDCES, says. "These prepped garlics can make cooking meals easier and faster. Sauté the garlic with onions for a quick, easy, and flavorful addition to any protein, vegetable, or grain dish."
Everything but the Bagel Sesame Seasoning Blend
"This seasoning can be added to anything," Silverman says. "Top your favorite veggies, sprinkle it on your eggs, or mix it into a tuna salad for an extra pop of flavor. One of my favorite snacks is fresh summer tomatoes, half of an avocado, and a dash of Everything but the Bagel Seasoning."
Frozen Veggie Spirals
"In general, I highly recommend buying veggies pre-zoodled instead of doing it yourself," Paul says. "The ones from Trader Joe's taste much better than any fresh types I've tried, they last in the freezer for months, and they're versatile." Look for spaghetti squash, zucchini, and carrot spirals in the frozen section.
21 Seasoning Salute
"I often recommend this seasoning to patients," says Ilana Lichter, MSRD, CDN. "It's a delicious blend of seasoning without the added salt, and it's well-priced. You can sprinkle it on just about anything, from fish to poultry or vegetables."
Organic Three Grain Tempeh
"Whether you're eating it straight up or adding it to your favorite vegetables and spicing it, this is a great protein option for everyone," says Lichter. "It tastes great and is well-priced."
"Jicama is hard to find at other grocery stores and even harder to peel and chop," Freirich says. "Eat these crunchy, refreshing sticks with guacamole or top with lime and a bit of chili powder for a spicy snack." According to Freirich, they're low in calories while being a good source of vitamin C and fiber (12 grams), which keeps you feeling full longer.
Trader Joe's also sells Jicama Wraps (thinly sliced pieces of jicama), which are tasty and healthy tortilla alternatives.
- 01 of 19. Broccoli & Kale Slaw Salad. ...
- 02 of 19. Tomato & Roasted Red Pepper Soup. ...
- 03 of 19. Spinach & Kale Greek Yogurt Dip. ...
- 04 of 19. Riced Cauliflower Stir Fry. ...
- 05 of 19. Roasted Seaweed Snack. ...
- 06 of 19. Organic Walnut Halves. ...
- 07 of 19. Creamy Spinach & Artichoke Dip. ...
- 08 of 19.
Because Trader Joe's offers a wide selection of healthy items it's easy to assume that it's a health food store. It's not. They do a great job of offering a wide variety of food, from healthy, minimally processed choices to super-processed junk food.
The eclectic and retail-fan-favorite Trader Joe's is well-known to its loyalists for low prices on unique food items, ranging from cookie butter to salsas, cheeses and ready-to-eat packaged meals. The grocery store chain is also known for its quirky culture.
The move comes after customers voiced concerns about products from China. — -- Trader Joe's grocery stores are dropping foods from China to satisfy customers concerned about the quality of that country's products after last year's spate of problems.
Another artificial ingredient that TJ's avoids, artificial preservatives are used to prevent food spoilage and maintain nutritional value, appearance and/or flavor for a prolonged period. This is especially the case for frozen foods and meals, which Trader Joe's is famous for.
Variety. Both groceries offer a vast range of products, with everything from bacon to exotic superfoods, but Whole Foods has much more brand variety than Trader Joe's. Joe's certainly sells other brands, but much of the store is populated with its own brand. That is not to say that this brand isn't delicious, however.
Trader Joe's Products are sourced from Non-GMO ingredients. Our efforts began in 2001, when we determined that, given a choice, our customers would prefer to eat foods and beverages made without the use of genetically engineered ingredients.
Leaders at Trader Joe's tend to answer the “Why are your workers so nice?” question by saying that Trader Joe's hires nice people and then makes the company a great place to work, with above-average wages and fair treatment. This ultimately makes employees happier and thus friendlier.
So, what's the secret? "It has a very streamlined distribution center, which takes out a lot of the costs, but also, they buy directly from producers whenever possible, which takes out a lot of costs," she told NPR's Renee Montagne. There are no middlemen involved.
One of the weaknesses of Trader Joe's is its lack of marketing. They have very limited ads and can't be found on any social media platform. This is an internal function that Trader Joe's actively opts out of. Another weakness is the limited products they offer.
Trader Joe's is an American chain of grocery stores headquartered in Monrovia, California. The chain has over 530 stores across the United States. Monrovia, California, U.S. The first Trader Joe's store was opened in 1967 by founder Joe Coulombe in Pasadena, California.
Trader Joe's is taking some of its Chinese food off the menu. The Monrovia-based grocery store chain, known for its selection of budget gourmet and ethnic offerings, said Monday that it would phase out the sale of single-ingredient items -- such as garlic and spinach -- that are imported from China.
Trader Joe's Spaghetti is authentic, imported Italian pasta. Our supplier, who has been in the noodle game for more than a century now, begins with 100% durum semolina wheat that they mill into flour onsite.
These Trader Joe's sweet potato fries are a really good healthy alternative to regular fries. They have a really unique fried smell when you bake them in the oven that I love. They are more difficult to get crispy than regular potato fries, but they have a nice sweet taste that is really unique.
Each day, items that are set to expire the next day are pulled from the shelves, scanned, properly stored, and make their way to a local food pantry or food recovery program. That means 100% of food that is "not fit for sale but safe for consumption” is donated.
Trader Joe's Cookie Butter isn't particularly healthy. A serving of Trader Joe's Cookie Butter does not provide any daily recommended vitamins or minerals. It does contain 5g of fat and 8g of carbs. It also contains palm oil, which has a type of fat that can increase cholesterol levels.
Approximately 99.5% of all Trader Joe's products were sold in our stores, donated to our food recovery partners, or composted. We continue to strive for improvement, every day, in our work to eliminate food waste from our stores.
TJ has a low score on the Climate-Friendly Supermarket Scorecard, which is an indicator based on actions taken by supermarkets to reduce emissions of hydrofluorocarbons, or HFCs, from refrigerants, a major contributor to climate change and ozone depletion.
Aldi Süd expanded into the U.S. in 1976, just three years before Aldi Nord bought Trader Joe's, making the U.S. the only country besides Germany where both brands operate.
Whole Foods has built its reputation around being the healthy grocery store. After all, all products sold in Whole Foods stores must pass the company's rigorous quality standards, you won't find ingredients like hydrogenated oils, high-fructose corn syrup, or artificial colors and flavors within their walls.