by Leah Vanderveldt
Healthy food can feel like it has to be super-pricey. And, we’ll be upfront with you: It does tend to be pricier than more conventional alternatives. But that doesn’t mean you can’t eat healthier on a budget. Need proof? May we present: cheap-eats haven Trader Joe’s. Not everything at Trader Joe’s is healthy, but you will find plenty of better-for-you options, like cauliflower pizza crusts, riced broccoli, and grass-fed butter, all with a gentle price tag.
Here are the cheap and healthy Trader Joe’s finds wellness pros always put in their carts. (P.S. They’re all less than $5.)
1. Trader Joe’s Unsweetened Organic Acai Puree Packets, $4
“The reason these packs are great is that they are just the acai, which is awesome,” says Jessica Murnane, author of One Part Plant and the soon-to-be-released Know Your Endo. “So many of the acai packs on the market have added sugar or other ingredients.”
Jessica blends the packets with a greens powder or spinach, and says you can’t even taste the greens.
Get a recipe: Acai Bowl from Self-Proclaimed Foodie
2. Trader Joe’s Organic Red Lentil Sedanini Pasta, $3
“The red lentil sedanini is a very good gluten-free, vegan alternative to regular pasta,” says holistic health coach Kelly Ohnona. “If you need to increase your protein intake because you’re a vegetarian, you’re working out, or you’re iron deficient, lentils are great for you, and this product puts them in pasta form.”
“It’s very versatile and cooks in 10 minutes,” she adds. “I like it with olive oil, pine nuts and sometimes I’ll make a 2-minute sauce with tomatoes and spinach sautéed in a pan.”
3. Trader Joe’s Organic Tahini, $3
Another Trader Joe’s staple for Ohnona? Tahini. “I use it in my dressings all the time to make them creamy, mixing it with maple syrup, cumin, lemon, sesame oil, and mustard. I also use lots of tahini when I make my own hummus.”
Get a recipe: Creamy Tahini Dressing from Cookie + Kate
4. Trader Joe’s Quinoa and Black Bean Infused Tortilla Chips, $3
“I’m in love with Trader Joe’s because it’s the only place on the planet where I can reliably find delicious baked tortilla chips for a Saturday guac and Netflix night,” says Talia Pollack, a
plant-based chef and health coach. “It’s so nice having chips that are crispy but aren’t deep fried so they don’t have that added fat and, more importantly, don’t upset my stomach.”
5. Trader Joe’s Organic Riced Cauliflower, $2
Another staple for Talia? Cauliflower rice. “Having cauliflower rice that is already ‘riced’ for me is a godsend,” she adds. “It’s really convenient and makes it worlds easier to eat cauliflower rice on the reg.”
6. Trader Joe’s Spices, around $2-3 each
“Nothing beats TJ’s spices,” Pollack says. “They’re affordable and they have every kind. I rely heavily on spices to give my healthy food some flava-flava.”
7. Trader Joe’s Steamed and Peeled Baby Beets, $2
For Kayleen St. John, registered dietitian and executive director of nutrition and strategic development at Euphebe, it’s all about Trader Joe’s steamed and peeled baby beets. “Beets are a great source of dietary nitrates (and no, not the kind added to preserve deli meats),” St. John says. Naturally occurring dietary nitrates help to vasodilate our blood vessels and make it easier for our bodies to transport oxygen to our muscles.”
So what should you do with these beets? St. John likes to add them to root vegetable sautés or use them as a shortcut for marinated beet salads. “Or toss a few beets into plain hummus for a beet-y, pink update,” she adds.