As a dietitian and bride-to-be, I like to shop on a budget without sacrificing great food.
Trader Joe's has affordable chardonnay and salsa that keep my weekly grocery bill under $50.
I like to pick up versatile ingredients like shaved steak, Greek yogurt, and frozen vegetables.
Steamed lentils are a versatile protein option to be enjoyed hot or cold.
Lentils are an excellent protein source that can be enjoyed by both vegetarians and meat eaters.
I love the Trader Joe's lentils because they're precooked and ready to eat with minimal seasoning.
If you're in the mood for tacos, you can warm up the lentils with some seasoning to use as your "meat." I also add cold lentils to a salad to keep myself full and satisfied throughout the day.
I bought a 1-pound bag for $3.29.
Cheese tortellini is the perfect choice for a pasta dish or soup.
Trader Joe's cheese tortellini is ideal for a quick meal that's sure to satisfy.
I prefer boiling the tortellini until they're al dente before combining them with sautéed vegetables (like zucchini, mushrooms, and onions), adding marinara sauce, and grating some fresh Parmesan on top.
If you're making soup, the tortellini is a great substitute for dry pasta — just note that they won't take as long to cook.
You can get a 10-ounce package of cheese tortellini for $2.49.
Skip delivery and make pizza at home with Trader Joe's garlic-herb dough.
My fiancé cooks one of my favorites, pizza, with Trader Joe's garlic-herb dough.
With all of the extra toppings I add, homemade pizza is definitely cheaper than ordering at a restaurant.
Though Trader Joe's has plain pizza dough at the same price, I love the flavor of the garlic-herb dough. It's ready to bake, so all you need to do is roll it out and add your sauce and toppings.
At $1.69 for a 1-pound dough ball, it also makes excellent breadsticks, calzones, or stromboli.
The organic tomato and roasted red pepper soup tastes homemade.
My fiancé and I love a comfort meal like grilled cheese and tomato soup, which comes in handy when we don't feel like cooking.
For me, the combination of tomato and red pepper feels like a step up, and all you need to do is heat it and serve.
You can grab a 32-ounce container for $2.99.
Chardonnay is excellent to drink and cook with.
I enjoy a nice cold glass of chardonnay on occasion, but I don't just buy this wine to drink. Dry wines are great to add to recipes that call for braising or cooking meat in liquids or sauces.
I like chardonnay because its bright lemony flavor pairs well with chicken and seafood, especially shrimp scampi (a household favorite). Just be sure to add the wine earlier in the cooking process so the alcohol taste burns off.
Wine can be expensive, so Trader Joe's $5.99 bottle seems like a steal.
Bone-in chicken thighs are a tasty and inexpensive protein option.
Chicken thighs are a relatively more affordable cut of meat and have a little more fat than other parts of the bird, which makes them tender.
We love to grill them on sunny days, but if the weather isn't in your favor, a slow cooker or oven will do.
I suggest seasoning and pan-frying to serve alongside grains and some vegetables or shredding them up to make burrito bowls or tacos.
A 2-pound package of chicken thighs costs $4.10 ($1.99 per pound).
Make sandwiches or fajitas with shaved steak.
Not every grocery store carries shaved steak, so I always pick it up when I'm at Trader Joe's.
Though it's more expensive than many other proteins, there are so many things you can do with it. You can make meals like Philly cheesesteak sandwiches, fajitas, or an Asian-inspired beef-and-broccoli dish.
The steak costs $9.99 per pound, and my package totaled $10.49.
Get noodles, sauce, and veggies all in one with Trader Joe's stir-fry kit.
If I can get all the ingredients I need to make a meal in one package, I'm going for it.
Trader Joe's stir-fry includes broccoli, bok choy, and cabbage already chopped and ready to cook. The soba noodles need to soften in warm water, but after that, all you need to do is add them to a pan with the vegetables and sauce.
For additional protein, I like to add chicken, shaved steak, or tofu to the mix. I also love that this meal leaves very few dishes to wash.
A 20-ounce package (with seven servings) costs $5.49.
Use Trader Joe's salsa authentica for more than just dip.
I like to make chicken thighs in a slow cooker with Trader Joe's salsa for a tender and flavorful protein that can easily be shredded for a Mexican-inspired meal.
One 12-ounce jar of salsa costs $1.99.
Start your day off right with peanut-butter-protein granola.
According to the National Library of Medicine, eating enough protein each morning can keep your appetite under control throughout the day and may prevent body-fat gain.
When I'm not in the mood for eggs, I reach for Trader Joe's peanut-butter granola, which has 11 grams of protein per serving.
I tend to eat this by itself (which is great when you're on the go), but it also pairs well with yogurt, cottage cheese, or even ice cream.
One 12-ounce bag costs $3.99.
Pair your granola with creamy Greek yogurt.
If you're looking for something to go with that granola, bump your protein intake by 13 grams with Trader Joe's single-serve nonfat Greek yogurt.
There are a variety of flavors to choose from. But I usually go with vanilla bean because it's smooth and creamy and has a natural flavor that makes me feel like I'm eating dessert.
Each yogurt cup is only $0.99.
The foursome vegetable medley makes a simple yet delicious pot pie.
Would I even be a dietitian if I didn't leave Trader Joe's with a bag of mixed vegetables?
The foursome bag contains corn, peas, carrots, and green beans — the perfect variety for homemade pot pie, fried rice, soup, or a side.
At $1.99 for a pound of veggies, I always have a bag readily available in my freezer.
Roasted potatoes with peppers are a game changer for breakfast or dinner.
Potatoes are the best and these specific frozen ones from Trader Joe's are top-tier.
I love how the potato mix contains onions, different colors of bell peppers, and the perfect seasoning.
I fry the potatoes with eggs and splash some hot sauce on top for a filling breakfast, or use them for a hash with dinner. Once they've cooked about halfway in the pan, I add slices of sausage or veggie dogs.
A 24-ounce bag of Trader Joe's potato mix costs $2.99.
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