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It is a well-known fact among many health experts that a whole foods, plant-based diet, or a diet that excludes oil, sugars, and highly-refined foods like white bread and pasta, packaged foods, and more, is one of the healthiest ways to eat. However, one of the biggest challenges faced by those trying to eat more whole foods, is affordability. When it comes down to it, we often find ourselves reaching for processed, familiar foods that fit into our budget. Luckily, healthy eating doesn’t have to be expensive.
Trader Joe’s has nearly 500 locations across the United States and no shortage of affordable vegan options — even whole foods, plant-based options! Here are some of the best options you can find:
Breads and Wraps
Ezekiel 4:9 Sprouted Grain Bread
Unless you plan on making it yourself, finding a whole foods plant-based bread that works for sandwiches can be tough. Many commercially available breads are made with enriched flour, contain oil or eggs, and they might even have a whole list of preservatives that you would prefer to avoid. Luckily, Ezekial 4:9 bread, which is made with minimally processed, sprouted whole grains, can be found at most TJ’s locations — and at a cheaper price than what you would find it at most grocery stores.
Corn Tortillas With Minimal Ingredients
If you’re planning taco night, keep an eye out for these corn tortillas among the flatbreads and wraps at your local Trader Joe’s. Unlike many other commercially available tortillas, these are made the authentic way, with white corn, water, and lime juice. Before using these, just be sure to heat them for about 10 seconds in the microwave or, if you have more time, heat them in a skillet until you see a little bit of browning.
Organic Unsweetened Soy Beverage
Unless you’re willing to pay the price for local or artisanal brands, finding a plant-based milk that’s free from fillers and gums and is also organic is a challenge. But if you pass by the shelf stable milks at Trader Joe’s, pick up a carton of their Organic Unsweetened Soy Beverage. The only ingredients are water and whole organic soybeans. This is different from the soy milk that you’ll find in their refrigerated section, which contains stabilizers.
Organic Spaghetti Sauce With Mushrooms
While we, for the most part, advocate making your own sauces, we all have those weeks where we haven’t planned ahead with our batch cooking. That’s why every once in a while it’s nice to be able to cook some whole grain or legume-based pasta, heat up some sauce, sauté some veggies, and call it a day. Unfortunately, most jarred pasta sauces you’ll find contain oil — but not Trader Joe’s Organic Spaghetti Sauce! It’s made from all organic tomato purée, diced tomatoes, mushrooms, and seasoning, making it easy to throw together a whole foods, plant-based dinner on the fly.
Fire-Roasted Tomato Salsa
You won’t find oil in most premade salsas, but what you will typically find is salt — and a lot of it. Trader Joe’s Fire-Roasted Tomato Salsa is made with no salt (though it still contains sodium), but you won’t miss it at all, because it’s full of flavor thanks to fire-roasted tomatoes, roasted bell peppers, jalapeños, chipotle peppers, and more.
Trader Joe’s Tahini sauce is made from just tahini, lemon juice, citric acid, water, garlic, and salt. It’s a great option for those looking for a readymade whole food, plant-based alternative to salad dressing. It’s also a great topping for steamed/roasted vegetables and baked potatoes!
Pasta and Grains
Brown Rice and Quinoa Fusilli
This gluten-free pasta is made from 20 percent quinoa flour and 80 percent brown rice flour, giving it a texture that’s pretty close to classic pasta made from wheat flour! FYI, they also made brown rice and quinoa spaghetti!
Black Bean Pasta
For a grain-free pasta option, Trader Joe’s offers this Black Bean Rotini. It’s made from 100 percent black beans and offers 14 grams of protein and 15 grams of fiber per serving. It is delicious and you can get really creative with the color schemes in your dish with this one.
Red Lentil Sedanini
After the successful launch of their Black Bean Roniti, Trader Joe’s stepped up their grain-free pasta game with this Red Lentil Sedanini. Made from just red lentils ground into a fine flour, this pasta offers 13 grams of protein per serving.
Quick-Cooking Farro and Barley
Traditional barley and farro can take up to 50 minutes to cook, but Trader Joe’s offers these two options that cook in just 10 minutes, making last-minute meals a cinch! Plus, it’s still loaded with fiber and the nutty flavor you know and love.
Organic Brown Rice
It’s tough trying to find a microwave meal that doesn’t contain oil or processed ingredients, but this Organic Brown Rice comes close to filling the gap. Simply heat and pair it with your favorite vegetables for a quick meal.
Or, if brown rice isn’t your style, keep an eye out for this Fully Cooked Organic Quinoa. Bonus, you don’t have to go through the frustration of rinsing your quinoa.
Fire-Roasted Bell Peppers and Onions
Trader Joe’s Fire-Roasted Bell Peppers and Onions are roasted without fire and make meal prep easy. Toss these with pasta and vegan sausages or throw them in a skillet with a tofu scramble or potatoes for a killer breakfast hash.
Shredded Hash Browns
Don’t have the time to shred potatoes? Trader Joe’s frozen Shredded Hash Browns contain no oil, just potatoes! Perfect for an easy breakfast or an addition to a veggie bowl.
If you don’t have a spiralizer, look for these Zucchini Spirals in the frozen vegetable section of the nearest Trader Joe’s. Try pairing it with your favorite pasta sauces — check out our spiralized vegetable recipes for some inspiration.
Other Great Finds
Tempeh is one of the most minimally processed plant-based “meat” options available, making it suitable for those trying to eat more whole foods. This Organic 3-Grain Tempeh from a blend of organic soybeans, organic brown rice, organic barley, and organic millet. Just one serving contains 20 grams of protein!
While it can run on the pricer side at most grocery stores, Trader Joe’s Nutritional Yeast is less expensive and just as cheesy. Check out our vegan nutritional yeast link recipes to see all the different ways you can use this ingredient.
Organic Split Pea Soup
There’s no oil in this readymade Organic Split Pea Soup, making it a great whole food, plant-based option to bring along on travels or as a lunch for work or school. Pour it over grains, a baked potato, and add a dollop of vegan sour cream to the top for added creaminess!
Fat-Free Refried Beans
Don’t have time to make your own oil-free refried beans? No problem, because Trader Joe’s offers three different options for all your vegan taco and loaded nacho-making needs (which means you have time to make an awesome dessert).
Whole foods diets might exclude refined sugars, but by no means does that mean that all sugars are off the table! Trader Joe’s Medjool Dates are great for making raw vegan desserts, energy bites, or your own date sugar for whole foods, plant-based baked goods!
Larabars are a great on-the-go snack to stash in your bag to get you through mid-afternoon snack cravings in a healthy way. Or, keep them at home for an after dinner treat! Most bars are made from just dates and nuts!
Other Whole Food Plant-Based Options
Aside from packaged goods, Trader Joe’s is a great place to find all kinds of whole foods, plant-based options for a cheaper price like nut butters, dried fruit, oats, grains, beans, and fresh fruits and vegetables. Is one of your favorite finds missing from this list? Let us know!
Check out our other guides for vegan options at Trader Joe’s, Check Out These 15 Vegan Products You Can Find at Trader Joe’s This Year! and Trader Joe’s is Celebrating Pumpkintopia: Check Out Their Seasonal Vegan Goods!
We also highly recommend downloading ourFood Monster App, which is available for both Android and iPhone, and can also be found onInstagram and Facebook. The app has more than 8,000 plant-based, allergy-friendly recipes, and subscribers gain access to ten new recipes per day. Check it out!
Lead image source: Jonathan Weiss/Shutterstock