Photos: Lauren Wicks
This story originally appeared on CookingLight.com by Lauren Wicks.
Being vegan is getting easier as it becomes more socially accepted, and Trader Joe’s sure knows how to cater to my plant-based needs. From well-priced staples to fun specialty items, it’s pretty easy to get everything on your vegan grocery list at TJ’s. Here are some of our favorite vegan items that are both pretty healthy and delicious:
Trader Joe’s offers two amazing organic tofu varieties: Super-Firm High-Protein and Extra-Firm Sprouted. The super-firm variety is perfect for making tofu ricotta and adds a 14g protein boost per serving to any dish, but the sprouted tofu has my heart. It comes in twin packs, which seriously helps me prevent food waste, and I love that the soybeans have been sprouted. The high-protein option costs $2.49 for 16 ounces, while the sprouted tofu is $1.99 for 15.5 ounces.
No one talks about Trader Joe’s kombucha, and I really think it deserves the spotlight! The green kombucha is my favorite, mostly because it makes me feel healthy. However, the thing I love most about TJ’s kombucha is the sugar content—there are only 9g in the whole bottle, while many other brands contain double that amount. Plus, it’s only $2.69, which is a steal.
Eggplant Garlic Spread
Our staff is pretty obsessed with this tasty jarred spread from TJ’s. For $2.69, you get the perfect creamy, tomato-y spread of your dreams for your next cheese board or dinner party. We slathered this spread on Trader Joe’s sourdough boule, and it was a match made in heaven.
Vegan Banana Bread With Walnuts
This banana bread is a bit drier than I’d like, but it becomes perfectly fluffy and moist once you heat up a slice in the microwave for 15-20 seconds. This is a great option to have on hand for company, as a quick breakfast with a spoonful of nut butter, or for a healthy-ish evening treat. You can find it in the bakery section for $3.99.
I just love Trader Joe’s hummus—the consistency and flavor of every variety I’ve tried is on point. While I’m the biggest fan of the Organic Roasted Garlic variety, I accidentally bought the Kalamata Olive flavor once, and it made me realized I actually liked olives after all.
TJ’s hummus doesn’t taste as oily as some of the bigger hummus brands out there, which is a plus for me. It’s also much cheaper than other brands, at just $1.99 per eight-ounce container.
Organic 3-Grain Tempeh
Trader Joe’s tempeh is not only the best price in town—$1.99 for eight ounces—it also tastes great. Made from soybeans, rice, barley, and millet, this vegan protein powerhouse also brings probiotics, 15 percent of your daily iron needs, and 9g fiber per serving. Try it in one of our amazing tempeh recipes!
If you’re a fan of Special K Red Berries cereal, you’re going to love these babies. TJ’s has a wide selection of freeze-dried fruits—from mangoes to grapes—and they make the perfect addition to a sad bowl of cereal or as a convenient crunchy snack for $3.49 a bag. The serving size is a whole bag, which is just ideal, and it provides 20 percent of your daily fiber needs and 260 percent of your daily Vitamin C recommendation. Score!
Cinnamon Schoolbook Cookies
Our staff was raving about these cute, kid-friendly cookies for their perfect balance of sugar and spice. For 130 calories, you get 15 alphabet cookies that will only set you back 8g sugar. These are the perfect vegan dessert option, and they only cost $2.99 for a huge container.
I love these 10-minute grains from Trader Joe’s for two reasons—I’m terrible at cooking grains, and they’ve helped me diversify my whole grain consumption. Both the barley and farro are as low-maintenance as they seem—they really do cook in 10 minutes!
All my vegans out there know how difficult it can be to find nutritional yeast at the average grocery store. Back in college, I could only find it at a specialty foods store for a pretty penny. But thanks to Trader Joe’s, I can make delicious vegan cheese sauces all the time because it’s always in stock and only sets me back $1.99.
Organic Tomato Basil Marinara
While I wish I could say I make my own homemade tomato sauce every week, I’m way too busy for that. This low-sugar tomato sauce from TJ’s is a great option—it’s flavorful enough on its own and makes a great topper for plant-based pizzas and pastas. Plus, it’s only $2.49 per jar, and while it’s no Rao’s, it definitely does the trick (and at a third of the price!)
Bulk Nuts and Seeds (and Butters!)
Nuts and seeds are some of the most expensive vegan staples, especially if you like to cook from scratch. However, Trader Joe’s offers an excellent assortment of well-priced nuts and seeds, from flax to chia to hemp. Buying these in bulk at TJ’s saves me loads of money, with a one-pound bag of organic flaxseed meal for only $2.99!
Trader Joe’s is also a gold mine for nut and seed butters—like tahini, cashew, peanut and almond—and their raw almond butter is only $5.99 per jar. Hello, homemade Chocolate-Almond Butter Cups!
Miyoko’s European-Style Vegan Cultured Butter
While this isn’t a private label product, it’s an important item to add to your vegan grocery list if you’re looking to treat yo’self. Miyoko’s butter blows the other plant-based butter brands out of the water in terms of flavor, and it’s significantly less processed. At $5.29 per eight-ounce package, it’s a bit pricey, but worth it.
Just make sure you treat Miyoko’s like regular butter, as it has the same saturated fat content. I use it for special occasions, like in Thanksgiving sides or for friends’ birthday cakes.
While I’ve chilled out on my cauliflower gnocchi consumption since it first took over the world, I do love this popular frozen food for weeknight dinners in a flash. If you haven’t tried it yet, Trader Joe’s Cauliflower Gnocchi is the lower-carb, high-fiber version of the traditional potato dumplings—but every bit as delicious! And it only sets you back $2.69.
Organic Unsweetened Acai Smoothie Packets
It’s time to ditch that $15 acai bowl habit and make one of your own for just a few bucks. You can purchase a bag of four organic acai packets for only $4.49—just blend one with a banana, almond milk or coconut water, and top with whatever you have on hand.
Buying these packets have saved me so much money and sugar, too. These packets are unsweetened, which is awesome since many other brands can be loaded with added sugars. If you like things a little sweeter, you can always pop a date or two in your blender.
Tofu Spring Rolls
While these aren’t the most appetizing rolls—all you really see inside is a giant block of plain tofu—they are a customer favorite for a reason. Healthy, light, convenient, and accompanied by a tasty peanut sauce, these spring rolls are the perfect lunch for a busy day on the go.
This vegan pesto got some mixed reviews, but overall our staff enjoyed it. The only major complaint was that it needed more of a cheesy flavor—we think adding some nutritional yeast would go a long way! This pesto is ideal for bringing a delicious dinner together in minutes and is a great go-to for when fresh basil isn’t in season.
Organic Frozen Riced Cauliflower
This product is such a time-saver, as the cauliflower is already prepped and ready to cook. I’m not a big fan of replacing whole grains with cauliflower, but I do love using it to give a nutritious boost to soups, smoothies, sauces, and more. TJ’s also sells frozen quinoa, which is also a game changer.
While one needs to be wary of sodium when shopping in the bakery section, Trader Joe’s has a stellar selection of vegan-friendly breads. Their sprouted whole-grain and organic sourdough varieties are a staple in my house, and I never leave the store without a loaf! Plus, they sell Ezekiel Bread, which is basically a vegan cult classic.
This giant bag of popcorn is the perfect balance of flavor and nutrition. It tastes like a bucket from the movie theater, but one giant serving is only 130 calories and has 3.5g fat. Add a sprinkle of nutritional yeast, and you’ve got one tasty bowl of vegan “cheesy” popcorn!
Cashew Apricot Date Nut Bites
These individually wrapped fruit and nut bites taste like a mini Larabar, but better. There is a pleasant hint of citrus in these bites, and they make a great snack for keeping at my desk. They are my new favorite remedy to cure the 2 p.m. blues, and taste great crumbled in a smoothie bowl or oatmeal.
This article originally appeared on CookingLight.com