Some people’s happy places are getting their nails done, shoe shopping, or brunching with friends – mine is walking through the aisles of Trader Joe’s. The tiki-style grocery store found all across the U.S. is the ultimate dream for any kind of vegan (and of course, any type of foodie). And what’s not to love!? Free food samples, fun and unique labels, and friendly “crew members” wearing Hawaiian shirts that are eager to let you try any product before you buy.
Navigating the store is an event within itself, as there are always new products celebrating the season or holiday, which is why I am sharing my handy guide for any type of plant-based eater. Just remember to bring your own reusable bags to enter the daily $20 weekly raffle, and ask for the vegan and gluten-free product list to stock up on all the plant-based treats that TJ’s is so loved for!
Brought to you by contributing writer, Caroline Dweck.
Organic Watermelon Wonder Kombucha, tempeh, tahini, frozen veggies, bags of Tuscan kale, clean eating at TJ’s is so rewarding. The food is affordable and the truly transparent labeling of ingredients makes it so easy. While their fresh fruits and veggies are all great, it’s the supermarket’s frozen foods that are the real winners.
Easy recipe: for a simple and refreshing smoothie, combine Frozen Mango Chunks, an Unsweetened Organic Açai Puree Packet also from the frozen aisle), Chocolate Hemp Protein Powder, and a splash of Coconut Milk for a healthy plant-based powered breakfast that will supercharge your day.
For someone transitioning into the plant-based side, TJ’s imitation treats are the ultimate savior for any newbie. So if you have to sustain on creamy coconut ice cream, faux chicken nuggets, gooey marshmallows, banana bread, so be it. TJ’s uses organic cane sugar in all their products, and doesn’t use chemical preservatives. Just call it your “break-up from animals diet.”
Easy recipe: You can never go wrong with a pizza night, so for an easy indulgent recipe try topping TJ’s Ready To Bake Pizza Dough (found in the fridge section). Top it with their Vegan Kale, Cashew & Basil Pesto, or Tomato Basil Marinara, plus melty Mozzarella Style Shreds for a meal that will have you wondering why you don’t eat pizza every day!
The 3 PM slump is no joke, and TJ’s snacks are ready for some emotional support (and to support your taste buds too.) You can keep the snacking classic by sticking to the 10+ versions of tortilla chips and salsa, but do yourself a favor and pick up the Lentil & Potato Crunch Curls and Cashew Fiesta Dip. Joe-Joe’s, Oreo knock-offs, come in too many flavors to count (even gluten free!) and definitely deserve the Parent Trap treatment of getting dipped in peanut butter. Also, keep your eyes peeled out for the newest product to hit the shelves, Watermelon Jerky.
Easy recipe: Snack at caution – there are lots of try! Share with friends, or you know, just stock up for your very own self.
I call myself an in-betweener, an occasional home cook, with the help of some great-premade TJ’s add-ins. Some basics that make their way into my cart every time are the red lentil pasta, Cauliflower Gnocchi, and falafel balls (both in the frozen aisle). Of course, I love the faux sausages (and other yummy fake meat treats) for instant flavor that is harm-free, tasty and easy enough to prepare. Extra points if you make enough for a lunch, (or second dinner, no ones judging!)
Easy recipe: For an easy burgers night in, try toasting up homemade whole wheat buns (just one of the delicious breads found in the bakery section), hi-protein veggie burgers (freezer!) and top with pickles, corn salsa, sriracha ketchup, plus any of the other delicious condiments that you can dream up!