Dear Trader Joe's...

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I went about 28 years without Trader Joe's in my life. Somehow. But now I love it. I love the prices. I love that there's always something new to try. I love that they brought chocolate-covered frozen bananas into my life. I don't so much love the excessive packaging on some of their produce, or the tiny carts they allow kids to run through the aisles with. But I'll run that gauntlet in order to stock-up on some of my favorite things. Here's what has been finding a regular spot in my cart lately. They're things that are either, delicious or they make my life easier, meal prep faster, or, ideally, a combination of all of those things. 

Cooked Lentils. I know dried beans are cheaper than cooked. I totally get it. But...if the difference between dried and cooked is not eating super-healthy lentils and eating super-healthy lentils, I'm going to shell out the extra money for the cooked version. The cooked ones are convenient and a time-saver, so... I use these for lentil calzones; toss them into a bowl with roasted veggies, grains and some kind of sauce for a quick weeknight dinner; and mash them as the protein-base of my homemade veggie burgers.

Vanilla Pea Protein Powder. I referenced this in my breakfast smoothie post, but it's worth repeating. If any of you have looked for protein powder at the regular grocery store, you know they can run $40 for a tub of the stuff. This one is $13.99 at my TJ's.

Haricort Verts. I toss these in a little olive oil, some salt and garlic powder and roast them for 10-15 minutes at 425-degrees. 

Soy & Flaxseed Tortilla Chips and Pineapple Salsa. This is my afternoon snack of choice lately. A little salty and a little sweet.

Ezekiel Sprouted Grain Bread, Cinnamon Raisin. Oh, how I love this stuff toasted with some peanut butter. In addition to being delicious, it makes my kitchen smell amazing. Loaves of it are $5 or more at the regular grocery store. TJ's sells it for $2.99. I often eat it after a workout, toasted with pb and a sliced banana or some raspberries.

Island Soyaki. Okay, I won't argue whether or not this is healthy. I know it's got salt and sugar in it. But...eating veggies is a struggle for me. I just don't like that many of them, but I know I need to be eating them. Stir-fry's are one of the ways I get a lot of veggies all at once and this sauce is how I make them taste good. I also toss roasted Brussels sprouts in a bit of this stuff and let it caramelize. I figure the benefits of getting those vegetables into my system offsets any harm from the added salt and sugar.

Everything But The Bagel Seasoning Blend. I put this stuff on avocado toast and it's delicious.

Just Coconut Chunks. Find them in the frozen section. I drop them into smoothies, but I'm sure there are other things you could do with them and they'd be really good. Anyone used these before? How do you like them best?

Flavored Sparkling Waters. I love plain water, but I get sick of it by the end of the day. So, these flavored ones do the trick. My favorite is the Clementine-Cranberry, but all the ones I've tried have been really good. And I want to say they're something like 99-cents for a big bottle, so not a bad price at all.

Coconut-Sesame Seed Clusters. I love coconut, can you tell? These do have some sugar added, so they're more of a treat rather than a regular indulgence. But the ingredients are all recognizable as food, so that counts for something, right? Please say it does!

What are your go-to foods lately? Anything that's making food prep easier or better? Anything you particularly love? Doesn't have to be Trader Joe's :-) Share away below!