I'm a Dietitian, This Is the One Trader Joe's Item I Never Leave the Store Without
I know Trader Joe's isn't for everyone, but I love shopping there. They have great deals on lots of different, brand exclusives and there's always something fun and new to try (here are their employees' new favorites). But while I love many TJ's items—dried mangoes, dark chocolate peanut butter cups, frozen blueberries, cheese, crackers (seriously, this list could go on)—there's one item I never leave the store without, and that's their salad kits. (These are all of our editors favorite Trader Joe's finds.)
Before you write me off as another salad-loving dietitian, hear me out. I need a handful of easy dinner or lunch ideas when there just isn't enough time to cook, and these bags of salad help me round out my meals with some extra nutrition. Salad kits aren't always thought of as healthy (or good enough for food snobs) and while I appreciate a homemade salad, here's a few reasons why these salads in a bag are good enough for me.
They help you eat your veggies
Most of us don't eat enough vegetables (in fact, 90% of Americans miss the mark, according to the CDC.) Taking advantage of more convenient veggies, including prepped, canned and frozen vegetables helps me eat more. Sometimes these types of produce get a bad reputation for being not as healthy, and that's just not true. In the case of canned and frozen, they can be just as nutritious, if not more so (just check the sodium).
For salad kits, you do want to keep an eye on added sugar and sodium but that shouldn't keep you from having this easy option available. For me, the benefits outweigh the cons. Without the easiness of these kits, my dinners some nights would be without veggies. I'm all for anything that makes it easier to eat more vegetables.
They're fun and filling
While simple salads can be delicious, especially when produce is at peak freshness, I find salads the most satisfying when they have a variety of toppings and flavors. I love adding fruit, nuts, avocado...basically, all the toppings. Trader Joe's includes all the yumminess without any of the leg work. They have many different flavors of salads to go with a variety of foods (and their prices are reasonable). I love the Mediterrnean-Style Salad or their Buffalo Ranch Chopped Salad with pizza, or pairing their Tahini, Pepita & Apricot Slaw Kit with tacos for dinner to get a veggie boost. These check the boxes for both easy and delicious.
They're huge timesavers
Yes, I love salads. But I don't always have time to make one. They don't take a lot of time, but the really good ones—with all the toppings and homemade dressing—take at least five minutes to put together if not longer (plus, the planning that goes into getting the ingredients). Sometimes, that's more time than I have to throw together dinner. Opening a bagged salad kit takes two minutes, and comes with everything you need. You can't beat the ease and convenience to get a serving of veggies in. (If you have a little more time, try these 20-minute salad recipes.)
I don't go all the way to TJ's just for salad—although sometimes that is my driving force. If you find yourself headed there for a veggie restock consider taking a look around. There is lots of chocolate, candy, cookies and snacks—but plenty of good-for-you options too. They have other pre-prepped veggies in their produce section, as well as frozen and shelf-stable options, plus a variety of fruits, whole grains, nuts, seeds, legumes and more.
Welcome to The Beet. A weekly column where nutrition editor and registered dietitian Lisa Valente tackles buzzy nutrition topics and tells you what you need to know, with science and a little bit of sass.