6 Low-Calorie Foods to Buy at Trader Joe's

Loaded with nutrients, these prepackaged foods won’t blow your diet.

Outside of a Trader Joe's grocery store.

Updated on November 21, 2022.

When you’re rolling through grocery aisles crammed with tempting packaged foods, making healthy choices can be a challenge. But it doesn’t have to be. Some of the products available at Trader Joe’s can be low in calories and loaded with nutrients, too. Here are some of our favorite low-calorie options that come fully cooked and require minimal effort to prepare.

Note that the products available on the shelves at your local store can vary. If you can’t find these particular items, similar ones may be available. You can ask the staff for alternatives and scan labels for comparable values.

Also to keep in mind: If you have allergies or specific dietary restrictions like maintaining a low-sodium diet, it’s important to read nutrition information before buying prepared or prepackaged foods.

Low Sodium Gluten Free Organic Tomato & Roasted Red Pepper Soup

Made with organic ingredients like tomatoes, red peppers, and garlic, this soup has a subtle peppery flavor and makes a simple, low-calorie dinner when you’re crunched for time. Just heat for a few minutes on your stovetop or microwave and you’re good to go. The soup contains 110 calories and 105 milligrams (mg) of sodium per one-cup serving.

For a full meal, pair a cup of soup with a slice of 69-calorie whole grain toast and an apple or banana.

Organic Chicken Nuggets

Chicken breast is a good source of lean protein, an essential part of a healthy diet. These nuggets are lightly breaded and made with organic chicken breast and rib meat.

You’ll find them in the frozen section. Each 4-piece serving contains 180 calories, 10 grams of protein, and 10 grams of total fat (with 3 grams of saturated fat). They crisp up nicely in the oven without the need for additional oil for frying. You can also microwave them for a quick meal or try them in an air fryer.

When it comes to prepared foods, you could do worse than 450 mg of salt per serving (20 percent of your daily recommended amount), but you may want to go easy on dipping sauces which can add hidden sugar and salt.  

Quinoa Cowboy Veggie Burger

These frozen veggie patties can make low-calorie dining quick and simple. Quinoa is a whole grain that’s high in fiber and is a complete protein, meaning it contains all nine essential amino acids that your body cannot make on its own and needs to get from your diet to build and maintain muscle and other bodily functions. These burgers also contain fiber-filled black beans and provide 5 grams of protein per patty.

Compared to a traditional beef burger, which packs 239 calories and 19 grams of fat, these veggie patties contain just 180 calories and 8 grams of fat. Have one open-faced on a slice of whole grain toast (69 calories) with a packet of yellow mustard (3 calories) for a meal that is about 250 calories.

The patty's 4 grams of fiber and relatively low sodium (310 mg) are an added benefit. Heat one up in the microwave or on the stovetop and enjoy.

Cauliflower Pizza Crust

Pizza is an American staple, but it’s not always calorie-friendly. A single slice of a typical fast-food chain-restaurant 14-inch pizza with regular crust topped with cheese has about 285 calories and 690 mg of sodium. 

And while not all cauliflower crusts are healthier or lighter than regular crusts, Trader Joe’s brand delivers delicious pizza flavor with fewer calories and carbohydrates. The crusts come in single-serving sizes and one crust contains just 120 calories.

Top each crust with a dollop of low-sodium tomato paste mixed with just enough water to make it spreadable. Then sprinkle with dried oregano or basil and a quarter cup of shredded light mozzarella cheese (also available at Trader Joe's) for a dinner that totals about 180 calories and 430 mg of sodium per serving. For more nutrition, add low-calorie veggies like broccoli, bell peppers, or spinach.

Premium Salmon Burgers

This healthy alternative to a beef burger is made with wild Alaskan salmon and seasoned with carrots, celery, and onions. It’s quick-frozen so it stays juicy, and has a mild, non-fishy taste.  

With just 100 calories, 15 grams of protein, and 330 mg of sodium per burger, it’s a delicious way to get your omega-3 fatty acids. The American Heart Association recommends that people eat fish high in omega-3 fatty acids, like salmon, at least twice a week for heart health. It’s also high in vitamin D—20.9 micrograms (mcg) or 100 percent of your recommended daily value.

Steamed Lentils

Lentils are low in calories, high in fiber and a great source of plant-based protein—9 grams per half cup. The problem is, they typically take quite a while to cook. Trader Joe’s solves that problem with these ready-to-eat legumes. They’re produced in France and seasoned with cloves, laurel, thyme, pepper, and garlic. Each half-cup serving contains 120 calories, 10 grams of protein, 6 grams of fiber, and 230 mg of sodium.  

Need serving suggestions? Replace grilled chicken in your lunchtime salad with lentils. For a simple and hearty meal, load a spoonful of lentils into a wide, shallow bowl and layer in your favorite veggies, like roasted sweet potato, spinach, broccoli, and beets. Top it off with a few slices of avocado for a dose of healthy fats.

Article sources open article sources

Cleveland clinic. Questions about Quinoa? Last reviewed August 29, 2018.
American Heart Association. Fish and Omega-3 Fatty Acids. Last reviewed November 1, 2021.

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