Disclaimer: Salads aren’t what I look forward to most when I go to Trader Joe’s. What I always want is a fresh (and surprisingly cheap) bouquet, a bunch of bananas that never go up in price, and, if it’s between September and he November, the famous fall treats. collection. But if lunch is in a pinch and you’re looking for something 1) full of veggies, 2) satisfying, and 3) even more delicious than the classic combination of ingredients, only the best Trader Joe’s salads can help.
When it comes to my daily diet, I am a creature of habit. Don’t get me wrong. I love following food trends and I pay attention to my tastes. Favorite recipe developer For a little creative flair. But from Monday to Friday, the basics of my eating pattern don’t change much. Things like smoothies for breakfast, salads for lunch, and seasonal bowls for dinner. (Though I recently made a nice roast chicken for Camille on a whim. Don’t run, don’t walk, make it now.)
Featured image by Michelle Nash.
Our Favorite Trader Joe’s Salads, Ranked
clearly, My routine may need some changes. There’s no better time to do it than while traveling. If you’ve read my stories before, you know I’m something of a digital nomad. (I don’t like the nickname, but it still describes my lifestyle perfectly.) So, during his two-week trip to Washington, D.C. recently, I stopped by Trader Joe’s for lunch. Inspired to eat a salad from and see if it stands up. To the millennial hype for this store.
In the spirit of staying consistent and keeping myself attuned to fresh green flavors, I chose one of the salads below for lunch every day over the course of the week. And I thought that constant eating of Trader Joe’s salads would put my taste buds to sleep (and cause my sugar cravings to be excessive), but I’m going to spoil it, but when I realized I was hooked. It was.
Of course, I’m not going to be a ready-made salad gal for the rest of my life. So, take a look at the salads below and try to make your favorite salad at home. Without further ado, let’s rank the nutritious, flavorful goodies from my least favorite to the ones that have completely changed my view of vegan food. (Spoilers: for the better!) If there’s a shop or product you’d like me to review next, please let me know in the comments.
#7: Caesar Salad
Caesar salad is always hit or miss. I have yet to find anything that borders the line between outstanding and sad enough for a desk lunch. Unfortunately, Trader Joe’s service falls into the latter category. However, I didn’t have many expectations when I participated, so maybe I had some preconceived notions. Many packaged salads can surprise with unexpected goodness, but Caesar salads are rarely anything like that.
You want a freshly made, anchovy-rich dressing that perfectly coats the crunchy romaine sauce. Croutons should be audible crisp, and if they don’t have plenty of grated Parmesan cheese, they’ll give up quickly. All the components were present, which in theory was a good option. I have permission to skip.
#6: Mexicali Salad
My eyes lit up with excitement when I read the ingredients for this salad. It clearly had a variety of textures and flavors, with crunchy cabbage, nutty pumpkin seeds, and summer favorite corn contrasting with a creamy jalapeño-flavored dressing. But while there was hype, this one sadly failed in delivery.
The chicken simply tasted like chicken and didn’t have the promised spicy chilli flavor at all. And while the variety of colors in the ingredients is visually pleasing, the taste doesn’t quite match. If I had seasoned my own protein and used Caesar dressing as inspiration for my own creation, the other ingredients might have been well mixed. But again, this doesn’t really count as a ready-made salad if you go that route. , will it be?
#5: Classic Greek Salad
I have strong Greeks in my family who have provided many of our reunions with incredibly salty, fresh food that has quickly become one of my favorite dishes. I know, of course, that not all Greek salads are created equal, but what captures my heart is the composition of the salad. This view of Trader Joe’s very close do it perfectly. Loved the saltiness of the olives (kalamata is a must), the cucumber was crispy and crunchy, and the red onion provided just the right amount of spiciness.
So what exactly is there to complain about? It might sound silly to be overly picky, but when it comes to Greek salad, I prefer large blocks of feta cheese to crushed ones. The latter form distributes them evenly throughout the salad. But there’s nothing quite like diving into a fork of feta set on juicy tomatoes. Cubes of feta cheese are a more important part of the salad. If you’re a fan like me, you know that’s very important.
#4: Chopped Salad with Grilled White Chicken
Israeli couscous is definitely one of my favorite grains. Do not mix with rice!Israeli couscous is not actual Couscous (hard to tell). It is actually a small ball of pasta toasted. It has a nutty flavor and a slightly chewy texture. A hearty mix-in perfect for veggie-centric dishes. And in this salad it shines. Often it is used as an afterthought, meant only to bulk up the additions. But I felt that this salad was basically soft and chewy.
The only downside to this salad was the sweet basil dressing. I was expecting something with a little more basil up front and a peppery, anise-like flavor. I didn’t know it, but this salad was still a lunch staple. And I was able to tackle the afternoon work with a sense of satisfaction.
#3: Kale Salad with Broccoli Slaw and Chicken Whites
This was the heartiest and most satisfying salad of the many. That fact didn’t get us the number one spot, but it helped us a lot in the top three. And the texture trio of kale, sunflower seeds, and dried cranberries sold me easily.
Unfortunately, the chicken caused this salad to miss out on the Best Overall Award. Perhaps this is a frustrating consistency, but the fact that the chicken was unseasoned (and admittedly a bit dry) set this salad back. The sweet and spicy dressing, despite its name (thankfully) wasn’t expecting it to be so packed with heat, but it just failed to give the chicken what it needed. Unfortunately, I plan to take this combination into an upcoming cooking challenge and add some roast chicken strips myself.
#2: Southwest Salad
As a principal, I’m usually skeptical of anything labeled “Southwest.” There is no shade in that part of the country. I am always in awe of the open, saturated skies and how Georgia O’Keeffe has captured the subtle glow of the landscape. However, it is often used as an umbrella designation that washes out the individual flavors found within. Good example: Cotilla is used in this salad. It’s similar to my trepidation with feta cheese in Greek salads. I wanted a more salty, milky flavor, but it was masked by the bold Chipotle Ranch flavor. As a result, this salad tasted like a Chipotle Ranch ride. Not the worst thing in the world, but given the potential this salad had, I was more than a little disappointed.
But you must be wondering: So why did this come in second place? Clearly, I paid too much attention to the less desirable parts of this salad. I loved the crunchy and creamy interplay of black beans, red onions and cabbage. And after all, the zesty flavors match perfectly. At the end of the day, this salad made me smile. (How many salads can you say?) But what I really wanted to shine was the feeling of wanting more.
#1: Vegan Super Spinach Salad
Here are the best salads from Trader Joe’s. It may not seem like the most interesting or eye-catching salad, but what this pick lacks in initial glitz, it definitely makes up for in the first bite. Quinoa, carrots, cranberries, chickpeas, edamame beans, pumpkin seeds (and spinach, of course) are an amazing blend of healthy and must-eat ingredients. I love nutritious food crossed with incredible flavor, and this salad represented the combination beautifully.
So much for dressing. The carrots add color, the miso brings saltiness and umami depth, and the ginger gives a warm spice hit with every bite. This salad redefines the definition of spinach for me. Do not pass by!
This post was originally published on September 30, 2022 and has since been updated.