Apr 3, 2017

Best Trader Joe’s Products for Vegans on a Budget

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This post is in no way sponsored by Trader Joe’s. I’m just a huge huge huge fan! Also, keep in mind that these prices are accurate for my region in Texas. Prices can vary based on your location.

Hey, friends! Let me tell you a little something about my love for Trader Joe’s. Back when we lived in Burbank, our house was within walking distance of a great Trader Joe’s, and I used to go there a few times a week to stock up on stuff. I would say essentials, but I doubt we can call vegan ice cream sandwiches and spring rolls essentials. Point is, I was there so often that I became friendly with the woman who ran the samples station. So friendly that we would ask each other how our vacations, families, holidays, etc. had been. When we moved back to TX I think the thing I missed the most about our neighborhood was our Trader Joe’s.

I’ve been a long time TJ’s shopper, and when ATX finally got theirs two years after we moved here it was such a big deal for me and my husband. Before that, we had been driving to San Antonio to get our fix, and that was getting mighty cumbersome.

Now that we love close to a great Trader Joe’s again I’m there just as often as I was back in Burbank. I love perusing their aisles, seeing what’s new, and picking up something fun to try. And I’m not gonna lie, it isn’t uncommon for me to just head over there for a coffee sample and snack when I feel like I need to get out of the house.

Trader Joe’s is not only incredibly vegan-friendly, but its prices for some items are really hard to beat. If you’re vegan and on a budget like we are, then this post is for you. Today I’m sharing some of our favorite budget-friendly grocery items from Trader Joe’s that keep our vegan pantry stocked for cheap(er).

Pantry Staples
Fair Trade Honduran Whole Bean Coffee (14oz) – 7.99
The sign says 6.99, but in that small window of time between taking this picture and writing this post, the price went up. That’s ok though because Trader Joe’s is still the cheapest place to buy delicious fair trade coffee. I drink 1-2 cups of coffee a day, and one tin will last me 2-3 months. And it’s good! This Honduran coffee is smooth and deep, and it has become one of my favorite fair trade coffees to drink. Thank goodness it’s also one of the cheapest!

I could spend even less for a good can of coffee at Trader Joe’s if I didn’t buy fair trade, but when it comes to coffee, chocolate, and sugar I try to buy fair trade when I can. For more information on why, please visit Food Empowerment Project to learn about the often exploitive nature involved in these commodities. Not a vegan issue, but a human one for sure.

Organic Tahini (10oz) – 3.49
I use a lot of tahini for things like dressing and hummus, and Trader Joe’s Organic Tahini is so good. It’s creamy straight from the fridge, and it isn’t bitter or funky like some other tahinis can be. It’s just smooth and nutty and delicious. And for organic tahini, you gotta love the price.

Raw Cashew Pieces (16oz) 6.99
I don’t buy cashews often since discovering that sunflower seeds work similarly, but when I do need cashews I buy them from Trader Joe’s. Since they’re almost always going to turn into cheese, sauce, or queso, I just buy them in pieces for a cheaper price per ounce.

Sunflower Seeds (16oz) 1.99
Ah, sunflower seeds. They’re my new favorite in the realm of nuts and seeds. I recently discovered that almost anything I do with cashews can be done with sunflower seeds at a fraction of the cost. While the end results aren’t as creamy, they’re totally adequate and delicious – especially for $2 a pound!

Organic Black Bean Rotini and Organic Red Lentil Sedanini – (12oz) 2.99
Have you tried their high protein legume pasta? Not everyone loves them, but my husband and I are fans. They do taste like the legumes that they’re made of, but we don’t see that as a bad thing. They’re both really tasty slathered in tomato sauce, and they’re the least expensive protein pastas I can find.

Refrigerated and Frozen Staples
Organic Tofu – (14oz) 1.49
Unless you have a Costco membership, the cheapest place in town for organic tofu is Trader Joe’s. My husband and I regularly share half of a block for breakfast which comes out to about .40 per each high protein and totally delicious meal. It’s hard to beat that when you’re not into oatmeal.

Orange Juice w/ Calcium (no vitamin D) – (64oz) 2.99
We love this OJ not only because it’s delicious, but because it’s fortified with calcium with no added vitamin D. Many fortified orange juices contain non-vegan D3 which can be such a bummer when you’re looking for an easy and vegan way to boost your calcium intake. I’m so grateful to Trader Joe’s for providing this option.

Organic Soy Milk – (64oz) 2.99
Most organic non-dairy milks will cost you more than 3.00 for 64 ounces. Not only is Trader Joe’s organic soymilk inexpensive, its nutrition facts are pretty great. Each 8oz serving will give you 7g protein, 30% DV calcium, 30% DV vitamin D, 10% DV iron, and 50% DV B12. Not bad!

Hashbrowns – (10 Hashbrowns) 1.99
Ok, so these aren’t “staples”, but they’re so yummy and you should know about them. This may be gross, but when I was a kid my favorite fast food item ever was McDonald’s hashbrowns. Not just at McDonald’s but anywhere. These hashbrowns remind me so much of those old favorites, but without, you know, the sadness. We don’t buy them a lot, but we do get them occasionally.

Organic Edamame – (16oz) 1.99
This is the cheapest organic edamame I’ve found for the size. They also have non-organic for even cheaper, and both are delicious. We like to add edamame to salads and stir fries, but we’ve also been known to just snack on it. Not like in the pods like a normal person but outside of the pods. As in we’re shoveling beans into our mouths as a snack like a couple of vegans because seriously, who else would snack on plain salted beans?

Snacks and Treats
Organic Apples – (2lbs) 2.69 – 2.99
I love buying bags of Trader Joe’s apples because they’re almost always flawless and delicious, and when stored properly they last a really long time. Also, finding organic apples for under 1.50/lb isn’t easy, let me tell you. Unless another store is having a sale, Trader Joe’s is always the cheapest spot for organic apples in ATX. Note that the prices can fluctuate.

Avocado’s Number Guacamole To Go – (6 2oz packets) 3.79
Trader Joe’s sells this box of individual guacamole packets which on a glance can seem a bit wasteful, but hear me out. Avocado is so good for you and while we love to eat it regularly, we always have issues with our avocados going bad, or not being able to finish our guac before it goes rank. I almost always end up throwing away some avocado in one way or another. Enter Trader Joe’s Guacamole To Go.

These little packets are the perfect serving size for us, and because we only use what we need, we don’t have to worry about exposing a whole avocado or batch of guacamole to air. Therefore the whole box lasts for as long as we need. Well, there is an expiration date, but you know what I mean. No more wasted avocado!

Organic Tomatillo Roasted Yellow Chili Salsa – (12oz) 2.49
Jarred organic salsa is almost always over 3.00 for 12-16 ounces. This organic salsa is under 2.50 and is really really delicious. It tastes homemade and fresh and is one of the best jarred salsas on the market in my opinion (and I’m a salsa snoot). Their other non-organic salsas are good too, but not as good. I don’t think it’s because it’s organic, I think it’s the recipe. It’s a damn good recipe.

Organic Tortilla Chips – 2.69 1lb bag
This bag of chips is humongous, and it costs as much as the non-organic tortilla chips do at regular grocery stores. Might as well pick up this bag at TJs!

Vegan Wine – (Price and Sizes Vary)
Trader Joe’s labels their vegan wines, y’all. Seriously, what other grocery store does that? No more combing through Barnivore to see if a particular wine is vegan. For a cheap but tasty wine, I like their Panilonco Cabernet Sauvignon for 4.49. I know paying less than 5.00 a bottle for wine can seem iffy, but it’s really decent for the price. A totally acceptable dinner wine.

Obviously, I can’t speak for your neck of the woods, but in ATX Trader Joe’s is essential for cheap but quality grocery store hauls. Their vegan options are plentiful and delicious while being affordable yet trustworthy. You never know with inexpensive food so I love that we can trust Trader Joe’s to provide really good products. 

Do you rely on TJ’s as much as I do? What are your favorite staples to pick up there?

Note: Although they are in the haul pic, our Trader Joe’s has not had their Chickenless Crispy Tenders in stock for weeks. I’m not sure if they’re coming back or not so I am keeping them off of this list for now.

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