Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Trader Joe's Salad Hack

One of the nice perks of my office location is that I am a two block walk away from Trader Joe's and can pick up some last minute items for dinner. Alternatively, one of the not-so-great perks of working so close to a Trader Joe's is that I also pick up things that I really shouldn't be buying - like my favorite sea salt and turbinado sugar covered dark chocolate almonds or a prepared salad for lunch while I am at the store under the guise of "getting something for dinner." More often than not, I will find any excuse to go in there on my lunch hour (more on my lunch hour grocery shopping trips here).

When my husband and I play Rock, Paper, Scissors to see who wins the previous night's leftovers for lunch that day and he wins, then I just go to Trader Joe's for lunch. (Note to self: Watch linked video on how to win Roshambo every single time.) I try to find a healthy salad that isn't a total calorie bomb but will keep me filled for the afternoon. So while I am technically eating a salad almost every day for lunch, I am also paying about $4-$5 for these packaged salads which any person in their right mind would know is a royal waste of money. As I ate my favorite Vegetable & Grain Country Salad at my desk the other day, I took a quick look at the ingredients and realized that I was paying $4 for a whole lot of packaging and not a whole lot of salad. I resolved right then and there to make my own Country Salad (what, pray tell, makes it a 'Country Salad' Trader Joe's?).

This salad has simple ingredients and could not be any easier to make. The packaged version came with cooked bulgur wheat, garbanzo beans, two or three sad cherry tomatoes, some diced roasted red bell pepper and cucumber mixed together and placed on top of shredded cabbage.

Mine was the same but I threw in some basil and some edamame because I had it in the fridge. 

Vegetable & Grain Country Salad Hack
(Note: I cooked 1 cup of dry bulgur wheat in 2 cups water which yielded 4 salad servings for me)

Bulgur Salad:
1/2 cup bulgur wheat, cooked = .49 cents
1 Persian cucumber, peeled and diced = .17 cents (Six for a $1 at the farmer's market)
1/2 red bell pepper, diced (I didn't roast it) = .25 cents (2 for $1 at the farmer's market)
1/3 cup garbanzo beans = .33 cents
6 cherry tomatoes = Free from my garden
1 cup shredded cabbage = .15 cents ($1 per cabbage at the farmer's market)

(no measurements, just did it to taste)
Exrta virgin olive oil
Balsamic vinegar
Squirt of lemon
Salt and Pepper                                                                                 

Total Cost:  $1.39

Crazy, right? All I did was cook 1 cup of bulgur wheat in 2 cups simmering water for about 15 minutes and  added extra virgin olive oil and salt and pepper as it cooked. I added a little more oil after it was done cooking, threw in the diced vegetables, mixed it together and put the mixture (about 1 cup total) on a bed of shredded cabbage. I made about four salads with 1 cup of cooked bulgur and then used the remaining ingredients for other things in our dinners that week.

This was a successful Trader Joe's salad hack in my book. I love that I can easily make this and can add in whatever vegetables I have in the fridge at the moment. I've added shredded carrot, minced shallots, green onions, edamame, etc. It's very adaptable and quite tasty. Hope you like it!


  1. Yum! I can't believe you have enough cherry tomatoes in your garden--awesome. I made your rainbow salad the other day, by the way. Amazing what a name can do to encourage kids to eat something.

    1. Yes, the rainbow effect even works on salads. I feel lucky that my kids eat that salad so happily.

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  3. I love Trader Joe's salads as well, but they kill me with how much they cost! I do the same thing, I will just write down the ingredients and make the salad at home. I hadn't attempted this one yet, good job!