Archives for March 2018

7 Trader Joe’s Vegetarian Recipes for Cooking on a Budget

If you’re looking for a way to cut food costs and still eat well, going vegetarian could be the solution — especially if you know what to cook.

Fortunately, we’ve come up with some tasty budget-friendly meatless recipes that you can find by shopping at Trader Joe’s.

It’s not as if being a vegetarian is a new concept — or a fringe idea. Nearly one in four Americans reported eating less meat in the previous year, according to a 2019 Gallup Poll.

And with food prices rising 3.9% over the past 12 months, cutting food costs could offer a major way to save. (Also check out this article on additional ways to save on food costs.)

Beyond cutting costs by buying less meat, plant-based diets offer potential health benefits, including a reduced risk of heart attack, certain types of cancer and type 2 diabetes.

By incorporating simple ingredients you can find at Trader Joe’s, these vegetarian recipes can help prevent you from getting bored with your food — or from breaking the bank.

7 Trader Joe’s Vegetarian Recipes for The Budget Foodie

We’ve found some delicious ways to make simple meatless dishes, whether you’re a committed vegetarian or are simply trying to eat less meat than you usually do.

Budgeting for meals doesn’t have to mean going all-in organic (though you can check out these seven ways to save on organic food) or spending a bundle on fancy meat substitutes.

To make meals healthy but still delicious, simply include a protein-rich food and look for ways to incorporate vegetables or fruit in every meal.

Here are seven of our favorite meals to make after a shopping trip to Trader Joe’s.

Note: The approximate cost per serving assumes you already own some kitchen items, like butter, oil, spices and basic condiments. Also, we give the total cost and the number of servings you can get out of the ingredients listed, but plenty of the items come in larger quantities — use the leftovers in other dishes.

1. Cauliflower Fried “Rice”

Trader Joe’s does the hard part for you — it sells cauliflower that is already “riced” in the frozen vegetable section. Cook the riced cauliflower with minced garlic, ginger, turmeric and salt and pepper.

From there, add your favorite vegetables — or whatever you have in my fridge (think: carrot, celery and onion). You can toss in a scrambled egg for extra protein.

Cauliflower fried rice is surprisingly filling, especially when served with tofu for a protein boost. You’ll get several servings of vegetables with this meal and lots of vitamin C from the cauliflower.

  • Trader Joe’s Organic Riced Cauliflower: $1.99
  • Organic eggs: $4.29
  • Organic celery hearts: $2.49
  • Organic carrots: $1.49
  • Yellow onion: 79 cents
  • Trader Joe’s Sriracha Baked Tofu: $3.69

Total Cost: $14.74 for 3 servings

A bowl of a kale and chickpea salad.

2. Kale and Chickpea Salad

Even if you’re a vegetarian, salads can get a bit boring — and some veggies get a bad rap, like kale. The key is in how you prepare it. Before dressing the salad, go through the leaves to remove hard stems. After rinsing, add a small spoonful of olive oil and gently massage the kale to break it down and remove bitterness. Start with more kale than you want to end up with, because after you’re done massaging it, it shrinks to nearly half its size.

Now, the best part. Pour Trader Joe’s Goddess Dressing, a creamy Greek dressing, over the greens (not too much!). Stir to combine. Then top with chickpeas and shredded parmesan cheese. Add salt and pepper to taste. Now, enjoy the best salad you’ve ever had.

  • Organic kale: $2.49
  • Trader Joe’s Goddess Dressing: $2.29
  • Organic chickpeas: 99 cents
  • Shredded parmesan: $5.49

Total Cost: $11.26 for 4 servings

Granola is placed on Greek yogurt.

3. Greek Yogurt Parfait

Greek yogurt has an unbelievable amount of protein. The 2% fat version has 20 grams in one serving — that goes a long way toward your daily intake. Buy the unflavored Greek yogurt to avoid too much added sugar, then add honey to sweeten to taste. From there, add your favorite toppings; we recommended blueberries and granola.

This Greek yogurt parfait is perfect for breakfast, lunch, snacks — whenever. It resembles a dessert but is seriously protein-packed, and it even has a serving of fruit.

  • Trader Joe’s 2% Fat Greek Yogurt: $2.99
  • 3/4 cup Trader Joe’s Ancient Grains and Nut Granola: $3.49
  • 1/2 cup fresh blueberries: $3.69

Total Cost: $10.17 for 2 servings

4. Vegetable Masala Burgers With Fries

Although the Trader Joe’s Vegetable Masala Burgers don’t pretend to taste like meat, they’re a pretty good substitute when you’re having a burger craving.

The patties are filled with potatoes, carrots, green beans, corn, peppers and Indian spices. Serve on a whole wheat bun for a boost of fiber, and skip the fries in favor of veggies (or veggie fries!) to make the meal healthier.

You can load up the burger with a tomato, sauteed onion, mayonnaise and cheese — or whatever toppings you’re craving.

This burger is low in protein (it only has 2 grams on its own; the bun has 5 grams), but it takes care of a vegetable serving or two. It’s naturally high in vitamin A — you’ll get 50% of your daily value from one patty!

  • Trader Joe’s Vegetable Masala Burgers: $2.69
  • Whole wheat buns: $1.99
  • Organic tomatoes on the vine: $3.29
  • Yellow onion: 79 cents
  • Cheddar cheese slices: $3.99
  • Fries: $2.49

Total Cost: $15.24 for 4 servings

Sriracha baked tofu and gyoza only cost $3.17 to make per serving.

5. Tofu and Gyoza

This is an easy meal to make, but it still packs protein and vegetable servings. It’s the ultimate lazy dinner meal — you can make it in the microwave in under four minutes.

If you’re wondering, “What’s gyoza?” It’s like a thin ravioli stuffed with shredded vegetables. This one has cabbage, carrots, radish and onions.

Combine it with Trader Joe’s Sriracha Baked Tofu for protein and to make it a full meal. Once cooked, you can top the gyoza with a little minced garlic.

Beware of the gyoza’s high sodium content — especially if you’re adding soy sauce. But because it has carrots inside, it’s a good source of vitamin A. This meal will give you 15 grams of protein per serving.

  • Trader Joe’s Sriracha Baked Tofu: $3.69
  • Trader Joe’s Thai Vegetable Gyoza: $3.99

Total Cost: $7.68 for 2 servings

FROM THE SAVE MONEY FORUM

6. Brussels Sprouts With Sweet Potato

For this recipe, pour maple syrup and soy sauce over the brussels sprouts and then oven-bake until they’re crispy (about 25 minutes at 400 degrees).

Once they’re done, add a sprinkling of goat cheese. The creaminess of the cheese complements the crunchy, sweet flavor of the glazed brussel sprouts perfectly.

This meal is surprisingly filling, so just add a baked sweet potato to enhance the sweet flavor and add some diversity — and a huge dose of vitamins — to your plate. If sweet potatoes aren’t your thing, cook these brussel sprouts as a side and add to your other favorite meals.

  • Brussels sprouts: $3.99
  • Goat cheese: $3.29
  • Sweet potato: 79 cents

Total Cost: $8.07 for 4 servings

Paneer Tikka Masala is a budget friendly dish.

7. Honorable Mention: Paneer Tikka Masala and Naan Bread

OK, this isn’t the healthiest lunch in the world, but it is quite delicious. Whenever it’s cooking, someone is bound to note how good it smells.

Watch your sodium on days you make these — like most frozen foods, Trader Joe’s Paneer Tikka Masala contains an unhealthy amount. But it’s a nice treat packed with health-benefiting spices, spinach and 10 grams of protein from the paneer.

It heats up quickly in the microwave and is good to have on hand for emergency lunch situations. If the paneer tikka masala alone isn’t usually enough to keep you full through dinner, crisp up garlic naan bread in the oven (another 7 grams of protein, and a good source of fiber!). This meal is fast and comes in under $5.

  • Trader Joe’s Paneer Tikka Masala: $2.99
  • Trader Joe’s Garlic Naan Bread: $1.99 for a package (you get four, so divide that for about 50 cents per serving)

Total Cost: $3.49 per single serving

Joline Buscemi is a contributor to The Penny Hoarder. Staff writer/editor Tiffany Wendeln Connors updated prices for 2020.

This was originally published on The Penny Hoarder, which helps millions of readers worldwide earn and save money by sharing unique job opportunities, personal stories, freebies and more. The Inc. 5000 ranked The Penny Hoarder as the fastest-growing private media company in the U.S. in 2017.

7 Trader Joe’s Vegetarian Recipes for Cooking on a Budget

If you’re looking for a way to cut food costs and still eat well, going vegetarian could be the solution — especially if you know what to cook.

Fortunately, we’ve come up with some tasty budget-friendly meatless recipes that you can find by shopping at Trader Joe’s.

It’s not as if being a vegetarian is a new concept — or a fringe idea. Nearly one in four Americans reported eating less meat in the previous year, according to a 2019 Gallup Poll.

And with food prices rising 3.9% over the past 12 months, cutting food costs could offer a major way to save. (Also check out this article on additional ways to save on food costs.)

Beyond cutting costs by buying less meat, plant-based diets offer potential health benefits, including a reduced risk of heart attack, certain types of cancer and type 2 diabetes.

By incorporating simple ingredients you can find at Trader Joe’s, these vegetarian recipes can help prevent you from getting bored with your food — or from breaking the bank.

7 Trader Joe’s Vegetarian Recipes for The Budget Foodie

We’ve found some delicious ways to make simple meatless dishes, whether you’re a committed vegetarian or are simply trying to eat less meat than you usually do.

Budgeting for meals doesn’t have to mean going all-in organic (though you can check out these seven ways to save on organic food) or spending a bundle on fancy meat substitutes.

To make meals healthy but still delicious, simply include a protein-rich food and look for ways to incorporate vegetables or fruit in every meal.

Here are seven of our favorite meals to make after a shopping trip to Trader Joe’s.

Note: The approximate cost per serving assumes you already own some kitchen items, like butter, oil, spices and basic condiments. Also, we give the total cost and the number of servings you can get out of the ingredients listed, but plenty of the items come in larger quantities — use the leftovers in other dishes.

1. Cauliflower Fried “Rice”

Trader Joe’s does the hard part for you — it sells cauliflower that is already “riced” in the frozen vegetable section. Cook the riced cauliflower with minced garlic, ginger, turmeric and salt and pepper.

From there, add your favorite vegetables — or whatever you have in my fridge (think: carrot, celery and onion). You can toss in a scrambled egg for extra protein.

Cauliflower fried rice is surprisingly filling, especially when served with tofu for a protein boost. You’ll get several servings of vegetables with this meal and lots of vitamin C from the cauliflower.

  • Trader Joe’s Organic Riced Cauliflower: $1.99
  • Organic eggs: $4.29
  • Organic celery hearts: $2.49
  • Organic carrots: $1.49
  • Yellow onion: 79 cents
  • Trader Joe’s Sriracha Baked Tofu: $3.69

Total Cost: $14.74 for 3 servings

A bowl of a kale and chickpea salad.

2. Kale and Chickpea Salad

Even if you’re a vegetarian, salads can get a bit boring — and some veggies get a bad rap, like kale. The key is in how you prepare it. Before dressing the salad, go through the leaves to remove hard stems. After rinsing, add a small spoonful of olive oil and gently massage the kale to break it down and remove bitterness. Start with more kale than you want to end up with, because after you’re done massaging it, it shrinks to nearly half its size.

Now, the best part. Pour Trader Joe’s Goddess Dressing, a creamy Greek dressing, over the greens (not too much!). Stir to combine. Then top with chickpeas and shredded parmesan cheese. Add salt and pepper to taste. Now, enjoy the best salad you’ve ever had.

  • Organic kale: $2.49
  • Trader Joe’s Goddess Dressing: $2.29
  • Organic chickpeas: 99 cents
  • Shredded parmesan: $5.49

Total Cost: $11.26 for 4 servings

Granola is placed on Greek yogurt.

3. Greek Yogurt Parfait

Greek yogurt has an unbelievable amount of protein. The 2% fat version has 20 grams in one serving — that goes a long way toward your daily intake. Buy the unflavored Greek yogurt to avoid too much added sugar, then add honey to sweeten to taste. From there, add your favorite toppings; we recommended blueberries and granola.

This Greek yogurt parfait is perfect for breakfast, lunch, snacks — whenever. It resembles a dessert but is seriously protein-packed, and it even has a serving of fruit.

  • Trader Joe’s 2% Fat Greek Yogurt: $2.99
  • 3/4 cup Trader Joe’s Ancient Grains and Nut Granola: $3.49
  • 1/2 cup fresh blueberries: $3.69

Total Cost: $10.17 for 2 servings

4. Vegetable Masala Burgers With Fries

Although the Trader Joe’s Vegetable Masala Burgers don’t pretend to taste like meat, they’re a pretty good substitute when you’re having a burger craving.

The patties are filled with potatoes, carrots, green beans, corn, peppers and Indian spices. Serve on a whole wheat bun for a boost of fiber, and skip the fries in favor of veggies (or veggie fries!) to make the meal healthier.

You can load up the burger with a tomato, sauteed onion, mayonnaise and cheese — or whatever toppings you’re craving.

This burger is low in protein (it only has 2 grams on its own; the bun has 5 grams), but it takes care of a vegetable serving or two. It’s naturally high in vitamin A — you’ll get 50% of your daily value from one patty!

  • Trader Joe’s Vegetable Masala Burgers: $2.69
  • Whole wheat buns: $1.99
  • Organic tomatoes on the vine: $3.29
  • Yellow onion: 79 cents
  • Cheddar cheese slices: $3.99
  • Fries: $2.49

Total Cost: $15.24 for 4 servings

Sriracha baked tofu and gyoza only cost $3.17 to make per serving.

5. Tofu and Gyoza

This is an easy meal to make, but it still packs protein and vegetable servings. It’s the ultimate lazy dinner meal — you can make it in the microwave in under four minutes.

If you’re wondering, “What’s gyoza?” It’s like a thin ravioli stuffed with shredded vegetables. This one has cabbage, carrots, radish and onions.

Combine it with Trader Joe’s Sriracha Baked Tofu for protein and to make it a full meal. Once cooked, you can top the gyoza with a little minced garlic.

Beware of the gyoza’s high sodium content — especially if you’re adding soy sauce. But because it has carrots inside, it’s a good source of vitamin A. This meal will give you 15 grams of protein per serving.

  • Trader Joe’s Sriracha Baked Tofu: $3.69
  • Trader Joe’s Thai Vegetable Gyoza: $3.99

Total Cost: $7.68 for 2 servings

FROM THE SAVE MONEY FORUM

6. Brussels Sprouts With Sweet Potato

For this recipe, pour maple syrup and soy sauce over the brussels sprouts and then oven-bake until they’re crispy (about 25 minutes at 400 degrees).

Once they’re done, add a sprinkling of goat cheese. The creaminess of the cheese complements the crunchy, sweet flavor of the glazed brussel sprouts perfectly.

This meal is surprisingly filling, so just add a baked sweet potato to enhance the sweet flavor and add some diversity — and a huge dose of vitamins — to your plate. If sweet potatoes aren’t your thing, cook these brussel sprouts as a side and add to your other favorite meals.

  • Brussels sprouts: $3.99
  • Goat cheese: $3.29
  • Sweet potato: 79 cents

Total Cost: $8.07 for 4 servings

Paneer Tikka Masala is a budget friendly dish.

7. Honorable Mention: Paneer Tikka Masala and Naan Bread

OK, this isn’t the healthiest lunch in the world, but it is quite delicious. Whenever it’s cooking, someone is bound to note how good it smells.

Watch your sodium on days you make these — like most frozen foods, Trader Joe’s Paneer Tikka Masala contains an unhealthy amount. But it’s a nice treat packed with health-benefiting spices, spinach and 10 grams of protein from the paneer.

It heats up quickly in the microwave and is good to have on hand for emergency lunch situations. If the paneer tikka masala alone isn’t usually enough to keep you full through dinner, crisp up garlic naan bread in the oven (another 7 grams of protein, and a good source of fiber!). This meal is fast and comes in under $5.

  • Trader Joe’s Paneer Tikka Masala: $2.99
  • Trader Joe’s Garlic Naan Bread: $1.99 for a package (you get four, so divide that for about 50 cents per serving)

Total Cost: $3.49 per single serving

Joline Buscemi is a contributor to The Penny Hoarder. Staff writer/editor Tiffany Wendeln Connors updated prices for 2020.

This was originally published on The Penny Hoarder, which helps millions of readers worldwide earn and save money by sharing unique job opportunities, personal stories, freebies and more. The Inc. 5000 ranked The Penny Hoarder as the fastest-growing private media company in the U.S. in 2017.

How to Build a Capsule Wardrobe That’ll Save You Time and Money

A few years ago, I decided my closet, budget and morning routine all needed a little TLC.

As a ridiculously busy college student (weren’t we all?), I realized I was spending too many mornings exhausted and frustrated — and too much of each paycheck buying clothes I would hardly ever wear.

I know it might sound silly, but my shopping (and wearing) habits had me at a breaking point.

Enter the capsule wardrobe and its magical minimalism that helped me spend less, worry less and generally feel a bit more free.

Wait, wait — hold on a second. A weird internet trend did all this? 

I mean, yeah, believe it or not.

You see, a capsule wardrobe is all about living with less.

Having a limited number of items in your closet means you can’t constantly be buying clothing to add to the collection. And with fewer options to choose from, your outfit selection process goes from 30 minutes down to three.

Plus, if you’re not spending money on tops, pants and dresses you’ll wear once or twice before tossing into the donate pile, you can funnel the cash straight into a savings account.

The capsule wardrobe concept isn’t new, but its popularity has made a resurgence in the last several years. Bloggers and fashionistas across the internet are all talking about their own experiences trying this minimalistic method.

But while everyone seems to have their own rules regarding capsule wardrobes (and you can, too!), there are some tips, tricks and guidelines for starting (and sticking with) the concept.

What Is a Capsule Wardrobe?

A capsule wardrobe is a limited, curated collection of clothing, shoes and accessories that can help you live simply while reducing decision fatigue.

It generally consists of 30 to 50 items that are used exclusively and as your entire wardrobe for a specified period of time. (See? The rules are vague, and you can really make it work for you.)

According to internet fashion folklore, the term “capsule wardrobe” was coined by a London boutique owner named Susie Faux.

Back in the ’70s, she made it her mission to help women find their personal style by honing and focusing their wardrobes. In doing this, she found a magic formula that just seemed to work.

She would instruct her clients to start with classic, neutral basics to mix, match and reuse, throw in a few statement pieces to inject some personality and leave a little wiggle room to bring in seasonal or on-trend items once in a while.

And just like that, the capsule wardrobe was born.

How Do I Start a Capsule Wardrobe?

A rack of clothing stands in a person's room.

Faux never offered an official set of rules. Rather, she made suggestions for a few staple pieces and encouraged her clients to find the version of each of those they liked best, supplementing them with pieces showcasing each person’s personality.

People have thrown out plenty of guidelines and suggestions over the years as the concept has evolved, but there are no hard and fast rules you have to stick to when creating your capsule wardrobe.

After you live with a capsule wardrobe for a time, you’ll start to understand what you need to make yours work for you — and what elements you don’t.

The Basics for Starting Your Capsule Wardrobe

Here are the most basic capsule wardrobe rules you can use as a jumping off point.

First things first: Your capsule wardrobe should consist of only clothing you like and that you like on your body, and should generally coordinate enough in color and style that you can mix and match frequently.

Your capsule wardrobe should have between 25 and 50 pieces, which includes clothing, shoes and accessories. (Some people swear by 33, and some will say 50 is too many. It all depends on the size of your current closet and how much you want to challenge yourself.)

Each “capsule” should last for three months. Focus on putting together seasonal capsules until you get the hang of it.

Outerwear and swimwear count as part of your capsule.

Underwear, loungewear and workout wear do not. The exception is these pieces must serve only their proper function. If you start to incorporate your lounge leggings into your everyday looks, they become a part of your capsule and therefore must be counted in your total number.

A rule I stick to (not everybody does) is no buying. Of course, if your only pair of jeans gets torn to shreds by the dog, go ahead and replace them — but don’t go shopping just to shop or round out your capsule with the pieces you think are “missing.”

Now that we understand the rules, let’s focus on the how.

How to Build a Capsule Wardrobe

Building your capsule wardrobe is a two-step process.

Tear Your Closet Apart

A woman sorts through her closet.

Before you can put your capsule wardrobe together, you have to level your current closet.

Start by pulling literally everything you own out of your closet and piling it on the bed. I’m talking your clothes, your shoes, your accessories — everything.

Then, separate everything into four piles: Like, love, donate (or sell!) and trash (or recycle!).

Sort everything into these piles, taking time to try things on and noticing how they make you feel. Be honest with yourself about if you’ll ever really wear it again.

Pro Tip

If you haven’t worn it in more than six months, or you wouldn’t be willing to wear it out in public tomorrow because of a size or style issue, it’s probably time to let it go.

Once you’ve got everything sorted into these four piles, bag up the donate and trash piles and move them to the trunk of your car — out of sight, out of mind.

Whew! Doesn’t that feel better already?

Build Your Capsule Wardrobe

Now that you’re left with your “like” and “love” piles, it’s time to create your first capsule.

Pick your top one or two favorites from each of these categories (depending on what you prefer to wear):

  • Pants
  • Jeans
  • Skirts
  • Dresses
  • Tees
  • Nice tops
  • Sweaters
  • Blazers
  • Swim/Outerwear (depending on the season)
  • Shoes
  • Jewelry
  • Accessories (sunglasses, bags, etc.)

Once you have a couple of good basics in each category, start filling in the gaps until you reach your set number.

Opt for pieces that can do double duty, like a sweater that works equally well on a slouchy Sunday and in a meeting on Monday, or a pair of flats you can dress up for a night out or down for running errands on a busy afternoon.

Keep in mind that you’ll want to be able to mix and match across categories often, so there should be a bit of coordination in color palette and style throughout.

After finalizing your decisions, put the rest of your “likes” and “loves” into bins and store them away for the next season. When the time is right, bring them back out and start the decision process over to create a new seasonal capsule.

Make Your Capsule Wardrobe Work For You

In this side by side photo, a woman holds a sweater on a hanger, an item she decided to keep in her capsule wardrobe. The second photo is one of her looks in her capsule wardrobe: earrings, a red jacket, white blouse, blue jean shorts and checkered pattern sneakers.

The capsule wardrobe is a learning process.

Treat the first couple of capsules as practice. You’re not going to make perfect picks every time, and you may end up swapping out a piece or two here and there. Give yourself some flexibility (but not too much!) as you learn what you like best.

During your first season, you’ll notice what’s working — and what definitely is not. Think about those notes while you’re building your next capsule, and try to adjust to make it work better for you.

Once you have the concept down pat, try adjusting your rules and attempting different challenges.

Some people live by the 10×10 rule — mixing and matching a total of 10 items for 10 days before creating a new ten-piece capsule.

Some people create a 50-piece capsule meant to last a whole year (with the addition/subtraction of a few seasonal pieces).

Some people try to live with smaller and smaller numbers for longer and longer times. Adjust your capsule number downward each time and see how little you truly need.

Eventually, you might find you don’t need the extra options stored away in bins, and you might be ready to sell those items off for a little extra cash.

If you live with your capsule for a few months and realize you have a need that your current wardrobe just can’t fill (like if you don’t own a white button-down or a classic pair of jeans), it’s OK to invest in a high-quality piece that will last.

A capsule wardrobe is a good opportunity to hone your style and figure out how to express yourself — as long as you’re not using it as an excuse to go on a major shopping spree every few months.

The bottom line: As long as you’re focusing on eliminating decision fatigue and curbing your spending, there’s really no wrong way to do a capsule wardrobe.

Grace Schweizer is an email content writer at The Penny Hoarder.

This was originally published on The Penny Hoarder, which helps millions of readers worldwide earn and save money by sharing unique job opportunities, personal stories, freebies and more. The Inc. 5000 ranked The Penny Hoarder as the fastest-growing private media company in the U.S. in 2017.

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