Trader Joe's

What I Buy From Trader Joe’s on a $50 Weekly Budget

written by KAILEY HANSEN
trader joe's shopping list under 50"
trader joe's shopping list under 50
Graphics by: Caitlin Schneider
Graphics by: Caitlin Schneider

Sunday mornings have become my favorite part of the week. Like clockwork, I enjoy a slow morning with coffee before throwing on my comfiest clothes to make haste for Trader Joe’s. As a creature of habit with the cooking skills of Carrie Bradshaw—the character who famously uses her oven as sweater storage—my grocery hauls are nothing to write home about. I don’t mind sticking to the same lunches during the workweek, and my dinners typically rotate between a variety of easy meals that don’t take much energy. Even so, Trader Joe’s has become a staple, offering creative, tasty, and simple meal options that fit my allotted $50 per week grocery budget.

While I purchase coffee and produce elsewhere, I snag the rest of my goodies from the sacred aisles of TJ’s. My usual haul often varies depending on what’s still in my kitchen, leaving room for familiar favorites and trying new items. Here’s what my $50 Trader Joe’s shopping list looked like this week:

1. Grilled Chimichurri Chicken Thigh Skewers ($7.49)

I follow an Instagram account called @traderjoes5itemsorless that shares fun recipes that require only a handful of TJ’s items. This week, I decided to try this meal, which includes Trader Joe’s Grilled Chimichurri Chicken Thigh Skewers topped with chimichurri sauce and served over cilantro lime rice. It was my first time trying these chicken skewers, and they did not miss. They have got great flavor, can be cooked in the oven or air fryer, and made the perfect amount for two people as I decided to become a chef and make dinner for my boyfriend. It was a thumbs-up from us both!

2. Organic Jasmine Rice ($4.49)

trader joe's under $50 shopping list

Instant rice can be hit or miss, but don’t sleep on TJ’s frozen jasmine rice. This stuff can be popped in the microwave and comes out almost as fluffy as if you were using a rice cooker. One box comes with three packets of rice (two servings each), and I love making one as an easy side for dinner. When pairing this with the yummy chimichurri chicken skewers, I added fresh cilantro and lime to elevate the rice’s flavor.

3. Chimichurri Sauce ($3.99)

trader joe's under $50 shopping list

I am all in on this versatile chimichurri sauce. Made from a mix of fresh herbs, garlic, red wine vinegar, and olive oil, it was a key component of the aforementioned dinner recipe, and I’m so glad that I tried it. In addition to using it on the chicken skewers, I plan to meal-prep shrimp tacos next week and utilize this sauce for an extra boost of flavor.

4. BBQ Cut Fresh Atlantic Salmon ($8.57)

trader joe's under $50 shopping list

Salmon is a favorite for me, so I always make sure to stock up on a boneless filet while I’m at Trader Joe’s. Since I’m usually only cooking for one, I opt for the cheapest and smallest cut I can find. This week, I snagged one for $8.57. I’ll air-fry this guy, pair it with some jasmine rice, and round out the dinner with some broccoli from my freezer.

5. Organic Oats and Flax Instant Oatmeal ($3.99)

trader joe's under $50 shopping list

Rarely do I stray from a breakfast of instant oatmeal. This plain Jane meal takes all of 30 seconds to prepare, and I like to spice things up by topping it with fresh berries (blueberries, raspberries, and blackberries are a personal favorite) or mixing it with Greek yogurt. I love TJ’s oats and flax blend for a healthy and hearty start to my day.

6. Greek Nonfat Yogurt ($0.99 each)

trader joe's under $50 shopping list

On days when my oatmeal needs a little pizzazz, I mix it with TJ’s Greek nonfat yogurt. As someone who is picky about yogurts, I’ve fallen in love with this specific blend. I like the consistency, flavoring, and high protein content, which keeps me full. This time around, I got one blueberry and one black raspberry for $1 each.

7. Blueberry Waffles ($2.79)

trader joe's under $50 shopping list

Remember how I said I rarely stray from an oatmeal breakfast? This is one of those moments… I was lured in by these delicious-looking blueberry waffles that I’ve been eyeing for ages! They were only $2.79, so they fell into my cart, and I am very excited to try them.

8. Pizza Parlanno ($5.49)

trader joe's under $50 shopping list

What is a Friday night in without a frozen pizza? This has been my ritual for years, and Trader Joe’s Pizza Parlanno is a tried and true favorite. The stone-baked crust is perfectly crispy, and it packs a delicious array of toppings: sausage, pepperoni, peppers, and onions. Yum! I find this to be on the higher end of the frozen pizza spectrum, but it still costs a fraction of the price of many popular brands.

9. Caesar Style Salad Kit ($3.99)

trader joe's under $50 shopping list

My favorite workday lunch is a Caesar salad with chicken, so I grabbed this family-size kit for $3.99. Complete with croutons, shredded parmesan cheese, and Caesar dressing, one bag provides enough for three salads when I add chicken, which I already had in my freezer. (The lettuce started turning a little bit red shortly after buying this bag, but rest assured, it was just fine to eat and not expired.)

10. Organic Ancient Grain & Seed Bread ($3.99)

trader joe's under $50 shopping list

Since I’ve been living on Caesar salads for what feels like a lifetime, I decided to channel my inner child and integrate sandwiches into my workweek lunch rotation. This tasty bread is packed with tons of different seeds, and I’m planning to pair it with some turkey and provolone slices in my fridge. I also meant to grab spinach to add to my sandwiches but forgot!

11. Cranberry Clementine Sparkling Water ($3.49)

trader joe's under $50 shopping list

If you’re a beverage goblin like me, your desk needs to feature a variety of drinks at all times. In addition to coffee and water, I like to have a cute little sparking bevvie when I’m at the office. My favorite flavor from the TJ’s sparkling water lineup is cranberry clementine, which has a refreshing and slightly tart flavor. The eight-pack is an affordable $3.49.

12. Norwegian Sourdough Rye Chips ($3.29)

trader joe's under $50 shopping list

Newer to the TJ’s universe, these sourdough rye chips were on display and calling my name. I love a good snack, and these were a fun switch-up from regular old chips or crackers. As evidenced in my photo, I opened them the moment I got home and snacked while putting away groceries. These have the stamp of approval from me!

13. Bonus Buy: Hydrating Biocellulose Face Mask ($2.99)

trader joe's under $50 shopping list

This $2.99 single-sheet face mask honestly got me with its pretty packaging, so I treated myself and plan to use it this weekend! Very much looking forward to giving my skin a little extra TLC.

Total Spend: $56.54

This week, my Trader Joe’s haul totaled $56.54 (including the face mask), which is just slightly over my $50 weekly budget. I have no regrets because I was still able to shop a fairly large haul and get plenty of food for breakfasts, lunches, and dinners. With a quick trip to TJ’s, I’m all set for the week!