As nice as it is to catch the farmers’ market every week, sometimes it just doesn’t happen. And for those weeks, Trader Joe’s is a popular source of wallet-friendly produce, interesting staples, and healthy convenience foods such as ready-to-eat steamed lentils and beets, pre-cooked frozen grains, and riced fresh cauliflower. In the spirit of discovery, we asked the Forks Over Knives Facebook community to share their favorite whole-food, plant-based grocery finds at the co-op–inspired chain. Their suggestions were full of tasty surprises. “Honestly, I can’t believe how many items Trader Joe’s has for someone who eats WFPB,” wrote FOK follower Michael Crosby on Facebook.
This list doesn’t include every WFPB item sold at Trader Joe’s, and there are many other stores that sell healthy vegan items. But we’re confident this list will point you in the right direction the next time you visit Trader Joe’s. Bonus tip: Most vegan foods are clearly labeled with the word “vegan,” or have a black square with a ‘V’ on the label, making them easy to spot, points out FOK follower Julie Brydon.
1. Canned Jackfruit *
A cousin of figs and breadfruit, green jackfruit takes on the appearance and texture of pulled meat when it’s cooked. Keep a can on hand to use in BBQ dishes calling for braised or pulled meat. FOK follower Erin Morril says she loves how inexpensive and easy it is to cook jackfruit into BBQ tacos, and it’s also great on a toasted whole-grain bun with caramelized onions, lettuce, and tomato slices. Or try swapping out half the chickpeas in our “No-Tuna” Salad Sandwich recipe for half a can of pan-sautéed jackfruit for a surprisingly tuna-like texture.
2. Ezekiel 4.9 Sprouted Whole Grain Bread
Loaded with sprouted whole grains and free of oil and added sugars, Food for Life Ezekiel 4.9 Sprouted Whole Grain bread is minimally processed, tender, and delicious. On Facebook, FOK follower Wendy Dodge describes it as “a staple I always have on hand.”
3. Organic Salsa-Style Refried Pinto Beans *
A flavorful upgrade from basic refried beans, these oil-free, salsa-spiked pintos make yummy tacos in minutes—just add chopped lettuce, tomatoes, red onion, and diced avocado. For a workday lunch, combine them in a bowl with spinach, brown rice, and a touch of avocado, and you’re ready to go.
4. 10-Minute Farro & 10-Minute Barley
Partially cooked farro and barley make it easy to mix up your grain routine, and they’re ready in half the time of traditional brown rice. Use either grain for a hearty salad with kale and roasted veggies, or try them in a breakfast bowl with leftover veggies or your favorite fruit.
5. Steamed French Lentils *
These perfectly steamed French lentils are ready to eat cold, room-temperature, or quickly warmed in the microwave. Throw them into salads, heat them up for a tasty addition to a bowl, or serve atop toast with fresh herbs and sautéed mushrooms. “They are the best!” notes FOK follower Mēgan Healy Sinsley.
6. Whole Grain Crispbread *
These thick and versatile crackers tend to sell out fast, so keep your eyes peeled. Serve ’em up as a healthy appetizer with hummus, sliced tomatoes, and cucumbers—or do like FOK Editor in Chief Elizabeth Turner, who crumbles them over salads and soups for an instant, oil-free alternative to croutons.
7. Shelf-Stable, Unsweetened Soy Beverage
Shelf-stable soy milk in the 32-ounce carton is the perfect size for people who can’t get through a half-gallon carton in the 7 to 10 days allotted for freshness. For this reason, it’s FOK follower Deborah Mungo Huddleston’s favorite Trader Joe’s product. Most supermarkets sell shelf-stable soy milk for $3 or more. This classic option is under $2, and organic to boot.
8. Oil-Free Spaghetti Sauce with Mushrooms *
Start reading the ingredient lists of store-bought pasta sauces and you’ll realize how rare it is to find one that doesn’t contain oil. That’s why we recommend this tasty, convenient option from Trader Joe’s. “It’s the only store-bought spaghetti sauce I have found that’s oil-free,” notes FOK follower Amy Ayers-Hale on Facebook.
9. Red Lentil Pasta
This bright twist on classic penne pasta gets its rich color and satisfying, slightly nutty flavor from organic red lentil flour—and nothing else. FOK Project Coordinator Manon Yona uses it in pasta salads with peas, basil, corn, bell peppers, and arugula. She describes the dish as “simple but delicious, and it makes for great leftovers.”
10. Nutritional Yeast
FOK followers Anita Fabian and Kathi Kriesel Schmeling both named this Trader Joe’s item a vegan pantry essential. Packed with cheesy-umami flavor and a great alternative to Parmesan on popcorn and pasta dishes, nutritional yeast is also a good source of vitamin B12.
11. Kohlrabi Salad Blend
We want to thank FOK follower Michele Walsh for alerting us to this rainbow-hued blend of shredded kohlrabi, red cabbage, kale, and golden beets. The hearty greens are perfect for pack-and-go salads because they stay nice and crisp till lunchtime. You can also quickly steam or sautée them for a colorful addition to your favorite grain bowl.
12. Frozen Fire-Roasted Corn
Trader Joe’s frozen Fire-Roasted Roasted Corn gets a little extra flavor oomph from the roasting process and looks beautiful in soups, stews, salsas, and more. For readers and many on the FOK team, this is a much-loved freezer staple.
13. Dried Dark Sweet Cherries
This sweet-tart treat contains no added sugar and makes a great topper for salads or morning porridge. FOK follower Elizabeth Harris described these dark cherries on a green salad as “pure heaven.”
14. Eggplant Hummus *
If you like hummus and baba ganoush, you’ll love this flavorful spread that contains no added oil—just a bit of tahini for richness. Enjoy it with pita triangles and fresh veggies, use it as a whole-grain toast topper, or spread it on sandwiches.
15. Riced Cauliflower
Sure, you can “rice” your own raw cauliflower in a food processor, but Trader Joe’s was one of the first grocery stores to offer riced cauliflower in the salad aisle. Sprinkle raw on salad for instant crunch, or sauté in vegetable broth to make delicious cauliflower “rice.” For a kid-friendly meal, FOK follower Blanchette Seymour recommends one of her son’s favorite homemade lunch combos: cauliflower rice tossed with hummus and sweet potatoes.
16. Oil-Free Whole Wheat Pita Bread *
Pita bread is traditionally made with oil, but this whole wheat option is completely oil-free, making it one of FOK follower Heather Morgan’s favorite Trader Joe’s finds. Fill it up with your favorite veggies, or use it as a base for Simple Vegan Pita Pizzas.
17. Organic Lentil Vegetable Soup *
Ideal for an emergency lunch stash at the office, this filling, shelf-stable soup stays fresh until you’re ready to open it. Try it on cold winter days when you need an easy, healthy meal, or for sick days when simplicity is key.
18. Ancient Grain & Super Seed Oatmeal
This tasty take on a classic breakfast food is great for on-the-go days when you need an easy meal that will keep you fueled. FOK follower Yvonne Johnson adds a little allspice, a dash of raw sugar, and some dried berries. “It’s amazing!” she writes on Facebook. You can also try it with a little peanut butter and a sliced banana for a satisfying morning meal.
19. Organic Broccoli Slaw
This shopping list barely scratches the surface of all the clever options Trader Joe’s offers in the way of pre-chopped produce. Next time you’re in the store, definitely do some exploring on your own, but in the meantime, we recommend this Organic Broccoli Slaw, which is great in salads and cooked entrées alike.
20. Tahini Sauce *
Multiple FOK followers called out how much they loved this lemony, garlicky tahini sauce. You can eat it with rice crackers, chopped veggies, or cook it into your favorite Mediterranean dish. You can even use it in place of pure tahini to make our savory Hearty Nachos.
21. Sriracha Sauce *
When you’re in the mood for spicy-sweet heat, this classic Thai chili sauce hits the spot. Used in recipes or as a condiment, a few drops of sriracha sauce will spice up soups, stews, bean dishes, grain bowls, and more.
* Editor’s Note: Products marked with an asterisk are relatively high in sodium. In general, we recommend limiting sodium intake so that it averages out to 1 mg of sodium per calorie consumed. For example, a food that contains 100 calories per serving ideally would not contain more than 100 mg of sodium.
However, because we tend to combine ingredients in a single meal, other low- or no-sodium foods may balance out a food that goes over the limit, especially in the case of condiments and sauces. Use your judgment, and aim for 1 mg sodium per calorie consumed over a day or even a week. For foods like canned beans or jackfruit, rinsing with water can help reduce sodium content.
The post Shop Smart: 21 Tasty Vegan (and Oil-Free!) Finds at Trader Joe’s appeared first on Forks Over Knives.