My New Favorite Trader Joe’s Lunch Requires Zero Prep Work and Costs Less than $4

published Sep 8, 2021
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Trader Joe's groceries on countertop.
Credit: Sarah Crowley

I’m always on the hunt for easy, good-for-me meals. Bonus points when the taste is out of this world! So I considered it a gift from the universe when I discovered Trader Joe’s balela at one of their sample stations. It’s the gift that keeps on giving, too, because I’ve been buying it on repeat ever since.

What’s balela? Allow me to back up for a second. Balela is a Middle Eastern bean salad that usually features chickpeas, black beans, tomatoes, and other chopped veggies. Trader Joe’s sells a ready-to-eat version in the refrigerated to-go section, and it comes in a very transportable plastic container (which, let’s be honest, usually ends up doubling as a bowl for me).

Credit: Nilina Mason-Campbell

I’ve been known to eat this stuff during a cross-town commute, while working over my laptop, out in nature during weekend adventures, and whenever it’s been too hot to even think about cooking. It’s a great source of protein on its own, which means I don’t have to prep anything else to go with the meal (although Trader Joe’s does suggest adding an avocado for a little extra oomph) and it’ll keep me full until dinnertime. It’s incredibly flavorful (a little spicy, even!) and each bite is different from the last, so I don’t get tired of it. I typically buy three containers at a time and eat them, half at a time, throughout the week; they’re always incredibly fresh-tasting and have a shelf life of about a week.

Find it in stores: Chickpea Balela, $3.29 for 8 ounces

Credit: Nilina Mason-Campbell

I’m really not sure what I love about this balela the most: the flavor, the protein, the convenience, or the price. But I do know that I love being able to quickly grab a container from the fridge and treat myself to a quick, virtuous meal. And all I have to clean up afterwards is a dirty fork.

What’s your favorite lunch find from Trader Joe’s? Tell us in the comments below!