Ask and you shall receive! When I asked on Instagram which store you’d like me to provide a healthy food list for, I was shocked to find that over 50% of you suggested Trader Joe’s! I love Trader Joe’s because they make healthy food a bit more affordable, have a fun and friendly environment, and source some really great options. Of course, at any grocery store (I’m looking at you, too, Whole Foods and Sprouts!), we can be subject to the “halo effect,” where we think everything in the store is healthy just because it’s a healthily-branded store. There are several unhealthy options available at Trader Joe’s (and every other store!), so always use caution (if you need more help reading labels, I’ll suggest my label reading webinar!. But the majority of items are really great – healthy, tasty, and convenient.
I hope you enjoy reading my picks for the top 20 healthiest foods to buy at Trader Joe’s!
- Fresh produce. Of course, I can’t make a healthiest food list without including fresh produce! Trader Joe’s has a ton of organic produce that’s generally far less expensive than equivalent produce at other grocery stores. Their apple, tomato, and zucchini selection are always amongst my favorites!
- Pre-cut produce. While I am conscious that pre-cut produce often involves a lot more plastic, if I am going to buy pre-cut produce at all, Trader Joe’s is one of my favorites. They have tons of my favorites, pre-cut and ready to cook (or eat!), which can be super helpful in eliminating cooking time. Among my favorites are the pre-cut jicama sticks (I ate the entire package on the car ride home!), butternut squash (who has time to cube butternut squash, anyway?), shaved Brussels sprouts (great to pop on a foil-lined and sprayed pan, cover with another spray of avocado oil and seasoning, and roast for 17 minutes at 400!), and cruciferous crunch mix (super tasty way to get in all those healthy cruciferous veggies like kale and Brussels sprouts!).
- Steamed lentils and cooked beets for salads. These two are found in the produce section, and make great salad toppings! They’re ready to dump out onto a salad, and add a nice nutrient boost to your standard lettuce and veggies!
- Some of the pre-made salads. I’ll be the first to caution you that many of the dressings in the Trader Joe’s premade salads are full of sugar, unnatural ingredients, and lower-quality oils. So, if I were to grab a pre-made salad, I’d be sure to skip the dressing and drizzle on some olive oil or other dressing at home. But I do love the Cauliflower Tabbouleh, which has great flavor, and the Broccoli Slaw & Kale Salad with Chicken, which has a nice mix of greens and some healthy fat from the sunflower seeds.
- Healthier dips. Trader Joe’s has a number of healthier dips that are bursting with flavor yet not loaded with unhealthy ingredients. Of course, I always suggest dipping veggies! Here are a few of my favorites:
- Reduced Guilt Chunky Guacamole (I don’t like the “reduced guilt” label, as I feel food and guilt should never be associated, but the dip itself is tasty!). If you tolerate dairy, this guac is cut with Greek yogurt, so it maintains its creaminess but has an extra hit of protein!
- Avocado Tzatziki Dip: again, you must tolerate dairy to enjoy this, as it’s made with Greek yogurt, but it’s tasty and refreshing as a summer dip.
- Organic Spicy Avocado Hummus: just like the Hope brand, but cheaper, I love the spice and flavor of this avocado-laced hummus!
- Eggplant Hummus: I never would have paired eggplant and hummus together, but I love the flavor of this low-calorie dip as a spread or veggie dip!
- Olive tapenade: found in the olive section (not refrigerated, like the other dips), this dip is bursting with flavor and tastes SO good on celery and cucumbers.
- Healthy jerky. I’m not sure what TJs’ strategy is here, as they usually don’t carry other name brands when they have their own branded items of the same type, but in this case, they carry my two favorite healthy jerkies – Chomps turkey sticks and Epic Chicken Sriracha bars. Both have no added sugar, no hormones or antibiotics, no junky ingredients, and lots of protein!
- Frozen pre-cut vegetables. I always keep a bag of frozen mixed vegetables on hand – great to add to meals that might otherwise not have veggies (like ordering in takeout or getting home from out of town before getting to the grocery store). They also have some great frozen options to add to soups or other dishes, like sliced leeks, minced garlic, and minced ginger – all big time savers!
- Frozen organic wild blueberries. They have a lot of great frozen fruit, but the organic wild blueberries in particular often make it into my cart. Wild blueberries are more tart than the varieties we usually get, are higher in antioxidants, and are lower in sugar!
- Shakshuka starter. This Pinterest-y option is a tasty, quick-and-easy meal! All you need is two eggs – you pop them in, microwave, and you’re set! There’s a lot of flavor from the tomatoes, peppers, and spices, and the whole thing is just $1.99!
- Frozen stir frys. I love this shrimp stir fry for quick, no-chopping-required meals (I eat the whole bag, despite it saying 2.5 servings, and often add my own spices instead of the seasoning packet, which has a bit of added sugar). The cauliflower fried rice is also a great option for quick, tasty meals – just pair with a protein, and you’re set!
- Cauliflower gnocchi. This is almost too good to be true. I mean really, if they can make gnocchi out of cauliflower, what excuse do we have not to eat our veggies? While the first ingredient is cauliflower (yay!), there is also some cassava flour (a healthy, vegetable-based flour) and potato starch, so this is a starchier, carb-ier side. I love eating a serving the night before a long workout! I highly recommend ignoring the package cooking directions – I heat for 2 minutes in the microwave, then toss in a skillet coated with a bit of oil, and heat on medium-high for 3 minutes on each side, or until just browned. So good!
- Broccoli & Kale pizza crust. TJ’s is certainly not the only one to do veggie-based pizza crusts, but I like this option because it is not laden with cheese (it says “may contain traces of milk,” but I’d feel comfortable recommending it unless you have a severe milk allergy). Again, there is some corn flour and potato starch, so it’s still a carb-ier option, but I love that the first ingredient is broccoli, and feel good about getting in my veggies while enjoying a pizza!
- Just Sauce Turkey Bolognese. With fairly clean ingredients, lots of spices and flavor, and the simplest preparation, this is a great option if you’re craving healthy comfort food! Grab a package of their frozen zucchini noodles, one of their frozen carrot spirals, and top with this sauce … a meal for two in a flash!
- Frozen turkey or mahi mahi burgers. I get most of my meat from ButcherBox and feel great about their quality, but I also love having quick-heat frozen options on hand. The TJ’s turkey burgers have only turkey, salt, and rosemary, and while the mahi mahi burgers have a few extra ingredients, they’re fairly innocuous. I make up a big pan of roasted vegetables at the beginning of the week, and toss in one of these for a quick dinner option!
- Hemp seeds. Hemp seeds are an excellent source of vegan protein, and add a bit of taste and texture to things like salads, soups, and stir fries. The TJ’s hemp seeds are no different than any other hemp seeds, but they’re far cheaper than most options!
- Avocado oil. I love avocado oil for high-heat cooking (see this blog post for all about different cooking oils!), and just like hemp seeds, TJ’s carries it a lot cheaper than most places!
- Multi-seed crackers and Just Beets. Sometimes we all need a little crunch, and these are two of my favorite options. Both gluten-free and very crunchy, I feel OK about snacking on either one! The Just Beets have … just beets (shocking!), and the multi-seed crackers have a few more ingredients, but get a pass overall!
- Omega Trek mix, roasted in-shell pumpkin seeds, and other nuts. I keep a bag of in-shell, salted pumpkin seeds in my car for those moments of transition when I’m starving but don’t have a veggie pack or other option on hand. They have plenty of fiber, healthy fat, and protein to stave me over until my next meal! For those who love trail mix, I appreciate that the Omega Trek mix packets are portion-controlled, and while they do have some added sugar, there’s a lot less than most other options (including many other options at TJs, so beware!).
- Everything But the Bagel Seasoning and 21 Seasoning Salute. If you haven’t heard of Everything But the Bagel Seasoning, I guarantee you’ll notice it more on Instagram now that you’ve heard it here. Everyone seems to go crazy about it, and for good reason – it adds great flavor to eggs, salads, stir fries, and most other dishes. I use the 21 Seasoning Salute for roasted vegetables, and love the kick of flavor!
- Gone Bananas and Gone Berry Crazy. Likely the least healthy of my 20, but I had to include some chocolate! For those who find it hard to portion control sweets (like me!), these frozen, chocolate-covered banana slices or strawberry halves do the trick. I grab one or two of them after a meal and savor every last bit of flavor. I wish they didn’t have soy lecithin or palm oil, but I’m willing to overlook it because they’re so good!
Now it’s your turn … What are your favorite healthy foods to buy at Trader Joe’s? If you don’t shop at Trader Joe’s, where do you shop?
Just opened this back up again to help me make some good choices on my next trip to TJ. Thanks Megan!
So glad it was helpful, Sarah! Hope you enjoyed your haul!
Hey Megan! I love TJ’s (literally the best place ever!) Was wondering if/why the Cauliflower pizza crust didnt make the list? I buy that alot so wondering if you think it is a healthy choice?
I like the cauliflower crust! Same as the broccoli / kale – still a bit carb-heavy for me to choose it as an “every day” occurrence (I think of it as a healthier pizza crust, rather than a serving of vegetables). But I buy it and eat it, and I’m glad you enjoy it!
The cauliflower gnocchi is amazing. I heard about it on the Inside Trader Joe’s podcast which is so interesting and entertaining. The sweet potato gnocchi is even better but is not gluten-free. Thanks for all your tips, Megan. I’ll try some of these on my next visit.
So glad it was helpful, Lian! Enjoy!
OMG I LOVE this! As I mentioned on IG we don’t have a TJ’s close to us in western NY which is really sad since we loved it back in Mass. and tend to seek them out on vacation! We’ve had a few of the items on the list, or similar ones from Wegman’s and Whole Foods (on vacation).
Couple of thoughts:
– “Omega Trek mix” – holy moly the plastic, I almost fainted! 😀
– Cauliflower gnocchi – I simply MUST find this!
– “Turkey Burger patties” – on the plus side there are only three ingredients and the overall nutritional profile is good, however the sodium level is higher than just using fresh ground turkey. I know there is a convenience factor here, and we always have frozen healthy stuff for that quick add, and these turkey burgers are about the best I have seen!
– and YES to the frozen wild blueberries! I have three 3lb bags in my freezer now!
Finally – thanks for this excellent post! Even without having a TJ nearby (boo), the categories you presented are a helpful reminder of the many ways we can make healthier choices without sacrificing flavor, food groups, or convenience!
Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Michael! I wish you had TJ’s, too, but lists from other stores are coming soon, so I hope you can enjoy some of those! Yes, I agree on the Omega Trek mix. Always trying to portion control my snacks into Stasher bags, but sometimes I just accept that I can’t do everything and give myself some grace! Also agree on the turkey burger sodium – as someone with very very low blood pressure and a history of adrenal fatigue (who therefore needs and consumes a LOT of salt), I don’t worry about it at all. Plus, the 280mg pales in comparison to many frozen options. But I understand that that is a concern for many, so great point!! Love that we’re on the same page with berries and overall strategy!! Happy 4th!
Thanks Megan – hope you have a wonderful holiday and take time to relax! 🙂
And of course you are correct (and we agree) on both counts – buying little plastic baggies and manually subdividing saves nothing, and having to use a small container filled daily is enough of a time hassle that it will fall through the cracks … and we know portion control (especially for something like trail mix) is very important.
Also correct on the turkey – given it is a frozen product, 280mg is incredibly low!
Thank you – I will!!