The Easy Dinner Shortcut from Trader Joe’s This Nutritionist Swears By

updated Feb 14, 2021
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Credit: Lauren Masur

I don’t know about you, but salad for dinner has never been my thing. I’m more of a big bowl of pasta, hearty turkey chili with cornbread, or spicy lentil dal over rice kind of gal. Whenever I make a homemade salad, despite the addition of all the essential mix-ins like extra veggies, cheese, and nuts, I’m always left feeling unsatisfied. At least that was the case before I tried Trader Joe’s salad kits — and learned the all-important skill of doctoring them up.

Credit: Joe Lingeman

Each kit contains one to two servings (I usually eat the whole bag) and come with a variety of lettuces like kale, spring mix, and cabbage, plus loads of toppings corresponding to their theme. Each bag also contains a packet of delicious dressing to tie everything together. Best of all, these handy salad kits make it easy and affordable to eat more veggies on a daily basis, which is the dream for a registered dietitian like me! (They range in price from $3.29 to $3.99.)

Read more: Our 5 Favorite Salad Kits from Trader Joe’s

Credit: Rebecca Jaspan

While the kits are already packed with nutrition and flavor, I find that they do need a few more additions from the pantry or fridge to transform them from a side dish to a complete and filling dinner. My clients know my not-so-secret formula to a balanced and satisfying meal: carbohydrate + a protein + a fat. 

Some of my favorite carbs to add are things like quinoa, rice, or couscous; leftover roasted potato or sweet potato; or a slice or two of crusty bread on the side. Next is the protein, a critical component to the staying power of any meal. I love adding a can of tuna or salmon, leftover grilled chicken or steak, hard-boiled eggs, tofu cubes, or canned chickpeas or black beans. Fat is also important for making salads filling and to absorb all of the vitamins in the vegetables. Some of my favorite fat sources are avocado, almonds or walnuts, and cheese. Salad dressing is an excellent source of fat as well!  

Credit: Rebecca Jaspan

A few of my favorite TJ’s salad kits include Sesame Crunch Chopped Salad, Veggies and Greens Salad, and Southwestern Chopped Salad. The other day I added a can of tuna, an avocado, and some leftover Israeli couscous to the Veggies and Greens Salad and finished it with the pistachios, dried pear crumbles, and honey ginger dressing in the bag. This was seriously satisfying and kept me full for hours. Another favorite of mine is the Sesame Crunch Chopped Salad. I got a little fancy last week and added some seared tuna, avocado, and sesame noodles. It was so fast to make, and much less expensive (and equally as tasty!) as a restaurant salad. 

Credit: Rebecca Jaspan

If you stick with Trader Joe’s salad kits, you’ll never eat a sad salad again!

Do you buy these kits? Which ones are your favorites?