I’ve learned that the one of easiest ways to stick to a budget is managing how often I go out to eat. Say I bought five lunches during the work week, at an average of $10 a piece: by the end of the year I would have spent $2,500 on mediocre deli sandwiches. For the same price, I could have purchased items I would have truly appreciated, like 11 roundtrip flights to visit my family, 215 movie tickets or 2,131 king-size (!) Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups. Luckily, I discovered a solution…
Behold, the glory of Trader Joe’s zero-prep, no-hassle Southwestern Chopped Salad. The $2.99 kit contains cabbage, romaine, carrots, radishes, crumbled cotija cheese, pumpkin seeds, tortilla strips, green onion, a bit of cilantro and a zesty avocado dressing. When I add a scoop of black beans or some avocado, it’s enough for two meals — at less than $2 each. (There’s also a tangy Broccoli & Kale version that tastes delicious in flour tortillas or with leftover rotisserie chicken.)
Is the salad kit exciting and beautiful? Not exactly. Delicious and a conversation starter? I promise you. Walking through the store with this little guy in my basket sparks more conversations and compliments from fellow fans than I ever imagined. Once prepared (mixed in a bowl and sprinkled with flaky salt), even officemates lean over their $14 chicken sandwiches to say, “Wow, where’d you get that?” Anyway, I thought I’d give you a heads up!
What are your go-to easy meals? Any budget-friendly tips? Or other Trader Joe’s items I’m missing out on? ;)
(Top photo of Elvis in 1958. Bottom photos by Stella Blackmon.)