Source: Julia Birkinbine for The Everymom
The weeks in which I want nothing more than to order takeout for every meal are the weeks my body needs anything but another Chipotle bowl. It’s when my calendar is jam-packed with meetings, deadlines, and events, and my meal plan looks a lot like 20 random minutes here and there. On my busiest of weeks, eating healthy is probably the hardest task on my plate, but it’s essential for feeling good and saving money. In those weeks, I always turn to Trader Joe’s products.
So, what does this shopping list entail? It’s foods that are easy, quick, and involve minimal mess, but it’s also foods that pack a punch and give me the extra energy I need to both get through busy work weeks and still have time for Bumble dates, yoga classes, bottomless mimosas, and endless hours of The Real Housewives of Potomac on Hulu.
1. Mandarin Orange Chicken Bowl
We all know and love the TJ’s Mandarin Orange Chicken, so when I saw they came out with this bowl, I figured it would never live up to the deliciousness of the original. I was wrong. It’s the perfect lunch when I only have a few minutes to make something for myself, and because it already comes in a bowl, there’s really no clean-up. I keep at least one of these in my freezer every single week.
2. Cold Brew Concentrate
During a busy week, who doesn’t need coffee? I have a French press that I love so much, but I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t time-consuming. When I know I’ll want a few cups of coffee without the hassle of brewing it myself, I pick up this cold brew concentrate. One bottle lasts me so long since it’s a concentrate and I only use a little bit mixed with water, and it tastes so good. My favorite way to drink it is with some ice, a drizzle of caramel around the cup, and classic French Vanilla creamer. It has a bold taste and surprisingly doesn’t make me feel sick like a lot of other coffees do.
3. Hi-Protein Veggie Burgers
I’m all about efficiency when I’m short on time. Protein is a big part of my diet because I love weightlifting, and I’m always looking for new ways to add it to my routine. These veggie burgers have become a staple in my freezer. I usually eat them as a protein with salad, but I make them as burgers quite often too. I’ll also eat them alone with some eggs in the morning or put them on top of rice—I find pretty much any way to add this to my day.
4. Chicken Chow Mein
After a long day, the last thing I want to do is spend a ton of time cooking a meal. However, I’m also usually craving comfort food when I’m busy. I avoid pulling up Uber Eats and opt for this Chow Mein instead. It’s absolutely delicious, feels like I’m eating something from a restaurant, and takes me just five minutes to prepare. I add a little bit of sriracha to make it spicy, and it’s my perfect mid-week dinner when all I really want to do is order out.
5. Smoothie Packs
I love making a smoothie with protein after a workout, but I usually come home from the gym and head straight to the shower and then my computer to get back to work, leaving little to no time to throw in a ton of ingredients in my blender. A few months ago, I started buying these packs, and they’ve saved my life. I pop this in the blender with oat milk and protein powder, and that’s it. If I have extra fruit on hand, like bananas, I’ll throw that in, but these work super well on their own too. They taste so good and are the perfect post-workout snack.
6. Collagen Powder
I’m saying it one last time: I love protein. It keeps me full, and I’ve noticed such a shift in my workout performance since adding it to my routine. (Oh, and it’s given me the healthy hair of my dreams). When I know my diet will mostly consist of snacks instead of full meals, I like to add in extra protein whenever and wherever I can. Collagen powder has been great because I can easily add it to coffee or tea, smoothies, or any beverage without it adding extra taste or texture.
7. Bagged Salad
When I don’t know what to eat for lunch, I go for a bagged salad. They have so many options, and it comes with everything you need to make it taste just like a $14 one you can pick up from Sweetgreen. I’ll add chicken or ground turkey to keep me fuller longer, and it’s the perfect midday meal that keeps my energy levels up. My favorite is the organic caesar (I have it in my fridge every week), but I also love the southwest salad and just tried the vegan taco salad and am obsessed. They all taste delicious and feel like a complete lunch.
8. Trail Mix
Any snack I can keep at my desk and munch on all day long is a good one in my book. Trader Joe’s has a plethora of trail mixes that I love. They are the perfect snack—mixing salty, sweet, and savory—and keep me full until my next meal.
As stated above, I love a caffeinated beverage when I know I’ll be at my desk, in meetings, all day long. However, my stomach isn’t always happy with coffee, so I usually opt for matcha in the afternoon. The TJ’s matcha is easy to keep on hand because it’s inexpensive and tastes good. (My favorite matcha of all time is from Golde, but I usually reserve that for special occasions!)
Coffee Lovers: I Tried All of Trader Joe’s Coffee So You Don’t Have To
Ready to take fewer walks to your nearest Starbucks? Here’s my ultimate guide to all of Trader Joe’s coffee.