I keep lists saved in my phone to remind me to pick up certain food items when I go to certain stores like Mariano's, Costco and Trader Joe's. They are my "go-to" products, I suppose. They make my life, or at least meal prep, so much easier. It struck me that if I love these products, you might too! If you haven't already, you may want to check them out.
Salad Kits - You have probably seen and tried these already from your local produce department, but I love the way they have expanded the options. These salads in a bag are no longer just romaine lettuce and shredded carrots, they now have kale, shaved brussel sprouts, broccoli and more super-nutritious veggie options. They come with toppings like pepitas or sunflower seeds and dried cranberries. The dressing comes in the bag so you can dress it yourself (and you don't need nearly the amount of dressing that they give you). I tend to stick with the ones that have the ingredients described above, rather than bacon and cheese as the add-ons, but if helps you get in some veggies, try whatever flavor you like. You can buy these anywhere, but I've noticed they have gotten more expensive at the grocery stores. Since I eat from the bag daily if I have them, I like to buy the big bags at Costco.
Wholly Guacamole minis - I love guacamole! I eat some almost everyday, and it's so delicious that it easy to over do it. These mini packs are portion controlled for you and contain 120 calories and 3 grams of fiber (that's good!), while providing heart-healthy fats. Perfect for a quick snack to dips whole grain tortilla chips or veggies, and I throw them in my kids lunchboxes with homemade taquitos or chicken wraps. I buy the big boxes from Costco and freeze whatever we don't use by the expiration date, thaw as needed. Large grocery stores carry them also.
Aunt Millie's Whole Grain Cinnamon Bread - Have you ever noticed that you can buy bread and bagels in fun flavors OR in whole grain? Rarely do you find a special bread that is cinnamon, for example, AND whole grain. This is it, I found it! Mariano's has been the one store I have consistently bought it. It makes a great french toast, or occasional breakfast or snack, smeared with a little cream cheese.
Whole Wheat Pizza Dough - My family loves pizza, and we probably have it for dinner about once a week. I often try to make it myself, however, so it is a healthier verson. Trader Joe's sells a whole wheat pizza dough ball in their refrigerated section. It costs about $1.30, you set it on your counter for about 20 minutes then just roll it out, top with pizza sauce (I use our favorite garlic marinara sauce), part-skim mozzarella, and whatever other toppings you choose! Bake it for about 12 minutes. Quick and easy!
Whole Grain Stonefire Naan - Here is the other option for homemade pizza when rolling out the pizza crust sounds like too much work. You may have seen various flavors of Stonefire Naan at Jewel or Mariano's, for example. However, only at Jewel have a seen the Whole Grain version. I top them with marinara and cheese, as above, then broil it for about 3 minutes. Great idea for the kids lunch boxes!
Tortilla Fresca Uncooked Flour Tortillas - You have probablly noticed that I focus on WHOLE grains for my bread products. At least half of the grains you eat in a day should come from whole grain sources, for more fiber and better nutrition overall. These tortillas are one of the exceptions that I make. They are not whole grain, BUT, as far as a flour tortilla goes, they have VERY few ingredients and no preservatives because they are raw. Ingredients include wheat flour (not whole wheat flour), water, canola oil, salt and sugar. You toss them in a warm pan and they cook very quickly. They make a great quesadilla, taco "shell" or wrap. We eat them A LOT. I have only seen them at Costco so far.
El Milagro Corn Tortillas - When I do want a whole grain tortilla, these are the ones I use (corn is a whole grain). They are made with three simple ingredients: corn, water and lime. No preservatives are used, only 60 calories a piece, and they are delicious. Plus, they sell for about $.50 a pack.
Trader Joe's Steamed Lentils - These vacuum packed lentils have already been steamed and are ready to eat, warm or cold. I've tossed them on salads, and used them in recipes that call for lentils. They are delicious mixed with the jar of bruschetta sauce from Trader Joe's as well, used as dip with a Triscuit. You can find them in the refrigerator section with the vegetables. Lentils are a great way to get fat-free protein and tons of fiber!
Siggi's Skyr - Siggi's is a brand of Icelandic yogurt called Skyr (pronounced "skeer"). It is thicker than normal yogurt and made from skim milk. They add only a little sugar, and it comes in many flavors. It is a good source of protein and, of course, calcium for you non-milk drinkers. To sweeten, add some fresh berries.
Trader Joe's Mini Dark Chocolate Bars - I consider myself to be a chocoholic. I can't keep chocolate in my house without expecting to overindulge. However, these chocolate bars have been a savior! They are small, 100 calories each, and made with 70% dark chocolate, which means more antioxidants and health benefits, and less fat and sugar than milk chocolate. The best part, to me, is that I find one of them to be very satisfying, so it doesn't make me go back to the package for more like milk chocolate does. Find them next to the checkout counter, sold in boxes of five.
RX Bars - These are my go-to snack or breakfast if I need something when I'm running out the door. They use all real ingredients like dates, nuts and egg whites for added protein, and as the package says, "No BS." They come in various flavors, my two favorites are the Dark Chocolate Sea Salt and Blueberry. Target and Wal-Mart have the best price, followed by Trader Joe's. Other stores carry them, but they are more expensive.
Ziploc Steam Bags - If you've ever been in one of my classes or worked with me, no doubt I've told you about these bags. They are BPA-free Ziploc bags that you can use in the microwave to steam vegetables from frozen or fresh, but you can also use them to cook salmon, eggs, and more. The bags come with a guide on them to tell you how long to cook various items. You don't even have to dirty a dish! I mostly use these to cook frozen veggies from the giant bags that I buy at Costco, but I have had clients pack salmon, veggies and spices in them and take them to work to throw in the microwave for a homemade frozen dinner. I've most reliably found these at Target.