Disclaimer: Salads are not the best I look for when I head to Trader Joe’s. I usually go for a fresh (and surprisingly inexpensive) bunch of bananas whose price inflation will never touch, and if it’s between September and November, this popular bunch A group of falling sweets. But if I’m in a bind for lunch and looking for something that is 1) full of vegetables 2) satisfying and 3) better than the classic ingredient combo, only the best Trader Joe’s salads will do.
When it comes to my daily meals, I am a creature of habit. Don’t get me wrong: I love keeping up Food trends And look at me Favorite recipe developers For a little creativity. But from Monday to Friday, the basics of eating patterns don’t change much. a smoothie For breakfast, a salad for lunch, and some kind of seasonal dish for dinner. (Though lately I’ve been getting fancy and made up Amazing Camel Grilled Chicken– Run, don’t walk, and make it now).
Featured image by Michelle Nash.
Our favorite Trader Joe’s salads, ranked
clearly, routine You may need some shaking. And what better time to do this than while traveling? If you’ve ever read my stories, you’ll likely know that I have a thing for being a digital nomad. (While I don’t really like that moniker, it’s nonetheless a perfect description of my lifestyle.) So, on a recent two-week trip to Washington, D.C., I was inspired to give Trader Joe’s salad a shot at lunchtime to see if they lived up to the millennial hype. to the store.
In the spirit of consistency and keeping me in tune with the fresh green flavor, I picked up one of the salads below for lunch every day of the week. And while I thought a steady stream of Trader Joe’s salads would send my taste buds to sleep (and… Sugar cravings In overdrive), I’ll give you a wing: I found myself hooked.
Of course, I don’t plan to be a sitter for life. So, with the following salads as inspiration, I’m going to make my favorites at home. So without further ado, let’s get to the nutrient-packed, flavor-packed goodness, ranked from my least favorites to the ones that completely changed my perspective on eating vegan. (Spoiler: for the better!) And if there’s a store or product you’d like us to review next, we’re all ears — be heard in the comments!
#7: Caesar salad
Caesar salads are always hit or miss. I have yet to find one that straddles the line between stellar and sad brunch. Unfortunately, Trader Joe’s offerings fall into the latter category. But I probably have some preconceived notions because I didn’t go into this with high hopes. While many packaged salads can surprise me with their unexpected goodness, Caesar salad is rarely one.
I need a fresh marinade, heavy on the anchovies, that encapsulates the crunchy bits of romaine perfectly. The toast should give an audible crunch, and if there isn’t a heavy serving of shaved Parmesan, I’m quick to whip it up. While all the ingredients were there, this was a good option in theory. You have my permission to skip.
No. 6: Mexicali salad
As I read through the ingredients of this salad, my eyes were burning with excitement. There’s clearly a variety of texture and flavor at play, with crunchy cabbage, nutty pumpkin seeds, and summer’s favorite—corn! But while the hype was there, this unfortunately fell flat on delivery.
The chicken simply tasted like chicken, and I couldn’t detect any of the promised chili. And while the colors of the various ingredients provided a visual treat, I wouldn’t say the flavor matched it. If you season your protein and use Caesar dressing as the inspiration for your creation, the other ingredients may well be mixed in. But then again, if you go this route, this wouldn’t really count as a premade salad, would it?
No. 5: Classic Greek Salad
With a strong Greek squad in my family providing many of our reunions with incredible, savory and fresh dishes, it has quickly become one of my favorite cuisines. And sure, I know that not all Greek salads are the same, but it’s the composition of the salad that runs my heart. This was Trader Joe’s opinion Too close To do this perfectly. I loved the salty bite of the olives (the kalamatas are a must-try), the cucumbers were quick and crunchy, and the red onions brought just the right amount of heat.
So what can I complain about? You may write me off for being too particular, but when it comes to Greek salads, I prefer feta cheese in big clumps rather than crumbling. When they take the last form, they are evenly distributed throughout the salad. But there’s nothing quite like diving into a fork of feta cheese set against a juicy tomato. Cubes of feta make for an even more important part of a salad, and if you’re a fan like me, you know this is crucial.
#4: Chopped salad with grilled white chicken
Israeli couscous is one of my favorite grains. Do not mix with rice! Israeli couscous is not In reality Couscous (confusing I know). It’s actually pasta fried in little balls. The flavor is nutty and the texture is slightly chewy. It’s the perfect combination for any vegetarian dish. And in this salad, he shines. Oftentimes, it is used as an afterthought and is only meant to group together whatever is added to it. But I felt this salad based on it had a tender and flavorful bite to it.
The only drawback to this salad is the sweet basil dressing. I was hoping for something with a bit more basil, with a flavor of pepper and anise. And even though I didn’t get it, this salad was still a solid lunch choice, and I started my afternoon errands feeling satisfied.
#3: Broccoli Slaw and Kale with White Meat Chicken
This was by far the most satisfying and satisfying salad of the group. And while that fact didn’t win her the number one spot, it went a long way to making it into the top three. And with a triple texture of kale, sunflower seeds, and dried cranberries, I was easily sold.
Unfortunately, the chicken kept this salad from winning the best overall. Perhaps that’s an underwhelming consistency, but the fact that the chicken was unusual (and admittedly a little dry), set this salad back. Even the sweet and spicy marinade, which, despite its name, I didn’t expect to be full of heat (thankfully), couldn’t give the chicken what it needed. Sadly, I will be taking this combo on my future culinary travels and adding strips of my own roast chicken.
#2: Southwest Salad
As a manager I am usually very suspicious of anything with a “Southwest” label. No shadow is cast over that part of the country! I am always in awe of its open, saturated skies and Georgia O’Keeffe captures the unassuming brilliance of her landscapes. But it is often used as a catch-all label that washes away the individual flavors within. Case in point: using the power of cotija. It’s similar to my take on feta cheese in a Greek salad. I wanted more of a salty, milky flavor, but it was obscured by the bold chipotle ranch. As a result, this salad ended up tasting like… a chipotle ranch car. Not the worst thing in the world, but with the potential this power poses, I was very upset.
But you must be wondering: Why the heck is this land in second place? I obviously paid a lot of attention to the unwanted parts of this salad. I loved the crunchy interplay of black beans, red onions, and cabbage. And when it comes down to it, the delicious flavors make an excellent match. At the end of the day, this salad made me smile. (How many salads can you say that about?) But where I really wanted it to shine, it left me wanting more.
#1: Vegan Super Spinach Salad
And now on to the best Trader Joe’s salads. While it may not sound like the most impressive and impressive salad, what this selection lacks in the initial pizza, it certainly makes up for with the first bite. Quinoa, carrots, cranberries, chickpeas, edamame, pumpkin seeds (and, of course, spinach) make for an amazing combination of healthy, yet totally cringe-worthy ingredients. I’m always a fan when nutrient-rich foods cross paths with incredible flavors, and this salad does double justice.
I’ll end with this note: the sauce. Carrots bring color, salty miso brings umami depth, and ginger gives a warm burst of spice behind every bite. This salad redefined spinach for me. Don’t pass!
This post was originally published on September 30, 2022, and has since been updated.