Trader Joe’s to the Rescue

Maybe I’ll be an expert meal planner someday, but ever since we got back from a last-minute family vacation a couple weeks ago, it’s been hard to get back on track. We both dove head-first into work and emails as soon as we walked in the door and never quite made it to the grocery store for a full-on shop. I typically stock the pantry with easy staples like canned beans and soups, but it was slim pickings! We also found ourselves slipping back into our old habits of eating out pretty regularly. Enter, convenience foods from one of my favorite grocery stores, Trader Joe’s.

I like to limit the amount of pre-packaged, pre-chopped foods for cost purposes, but sometimes it’s just easier to have on hand. Would you rather spend a little extra for convenience foods you can easily pair together, or feel overwhelmed that you have no time and resort to cereal or even the drive-through?

Pair a hearty can of minestrone soup with a side salad and a slice of toast. Use pre-cooked chicken breast for chicken salad sandwiches, dice and throw into an omelet, veggie hash, or pair with some rice and veg for dinner. There’s so much you can make with as little as 4 ingredients. Check out what I bought below!

Trader Joes Haul

Dairy Products

  • Butter spread
  • Cream cheese (for bagels)
  • Vanilla yogurt (for dessert)
  • 2% Greek Yogurt (for my dog and for quick breakfasts)
  • Swiss cheese slices (sandwiches)

Meat, Poultry, Fish

  • Frozen tilapia fillets (breaded with pank0)
  • Roast chicken breast (pre-cooked)
  • Beef sirloin (for stew)
  • Turkey deli meat (sandwiches)
  • Low-sodium salami (impulse, I like cured meats on occasion)
  • Breakfast chicken sausages (chopped up in omelettes)
  • Jumbo eggs (for anything!)


  • Clementines (grab n’ go, add to cranberry sauce)
  • Bananas
  • Diced sweet potatoes (I’ll add these to the stew)
  • Baby carrots
  • Broccoli kale slaw (SO good, new favorite)
  • Bagged spinach
  • Frozen broccoli florets (I always buy a bag for a quick side)
  • Fresh cranberries (For sauce! I like to add to oats, yogurt, or for chicken)
  • Ready-to-eat, pomegranate arils (Expensive compared to whole pomegranate, but I wanted them)

Bread & Bread-Like Things

  • Soft 10-grain bread
  • Harvest bagels (great stats on these!)
  • Frozen blueberry waffles
  • Frozen almond croissants (these are so GOOD for a Sunday treat, leave out overnight to “proof”, bake in the morning)
  • Mini biscotti (I have these with tea at night)

Soup (it’s own category)

  • Minestrone
  • Lentil (best ever!)
  • Creamy Tomato Soup (use as a base for stew or quick bowl for lunch)
  • Chicken Noodle (Jason’s favorite)


What’s your favorite go-to recipe that’s quick and simple?


Say Yes and Figure It Out Later: Turning 26

Today I turn 26!

Alternative titles for this post:

What I Still Don’t Know. 

How Did I End Up With So Many Justin Bieber Songs?

Brandi Glanville Shares The Same Birthday!

Why do your twenties move by so fast? I’ve heard this from many people who have moved beyond these years. Yes, I’m still such a young pup who has a lot to learn, but I have felt incredible challenged this year. It’s been awesome. So, in no particular order, here are 5 things I’ve learned the past year about being 25.

  1. Say thank you.

The first 5 months of this year I was still a dietetic intern, hopping from one rotation to the next and meeting new people every few weeks. I made sure to write out a thank you card for all of my preceptors. Even the toughest person can be (slightly) melted by a sincere thank you. Also, everyone loves mail!

2. Yes, you’ll feel uncomfortable.

From interning to working and starting my own business, it has been a year of growth and upheaval. So many feelings! Sometimes you just have to pull your big girl pants on and push forth. What’s the worst that could happen? I have found the most success in life so far when I thrust myself into new and scary situations and when I *gasp* failed at something.

3. Grow your circle.

I love meeting people, but I also love that everyone has unique experiences that shape them. When I was younger, I always felt a bit like a chameleon, and never had a “clique.” I had a few good friends, but they came from all walks of life. It gets boring if you only talk with people who are exactly like you. Learn from others and grow your circle with different types of people. I’m that person who sits next to you on a plane and wants to know your life story. No shame!

4. Say yes, and figure it out later.

You can thank Tina Fey’s BossyPants for this quote:

“A couple of times I’ve been called on to do things — jobs or whatever — where I’ve felt, Maybe I’m not quite ready. Maybe it’s a little early for this to happen to me. But the rules are so ingrained. “Say yes, and you’ll figure it out afterward” has helped me to be more adventurous. It has definitely helped me be less afraid.”

5. One of the best accessories is confidence.

This has been such a theme for me this year. I’m guessing it’s that time of life when you begin to care less and less what others think. Whatever your size, shape, color, gender, or persuasion, own up to your strengths. Don’t feel like you have to fit a certain mold to prove anything to anyone. You are uniquely YOU.

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I've shared #ontheblog before about my pursuit of "imperfection." For years, this full-length photo would've freaked me out, but now I see someone who is happy and proud of her accomplishments. #nothighgapnoproblem. Even after losing 75lbs. and gaining healthy habits, I felt trapped in a cycle of body hate. As a #registereddietitian, I went through enough schooling to understand that factors like lab values, waist circumference, and lifestyle play a much greater role in overall health rather than your dress size, but it's hard to listen to your own advice! Nowadays, I shift my focus to how strong my body feels and maintain a balanced lifestyle that includes exercise, vegetables AND donuts. I love what @theashleygraham said at a @ted talk earlier this year, "Once I realized i was never going to fit the narrow mold that society wanted me to fit in. I was never going to be perfect enough for an industry that defines perfection from the outside in, and that's okay." Thanks to @inthedetailsphoto for the awesome 📸. #gmabodyproud #foodbalance #curves #selflove @goodmorningamerica

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Other discoveries this year:

The Wildflower Latte at The Henry.

Clogs are not particularly attractive, but they can be charming, comfortable and helpful for posture.

Saying sorry and seeking forgiveness is really scary. But then it’s done, and you’ll feel better for it.

Paying attention to the wash instructions on clothing tags means they last longer.

A dog will bring so much joy into your life.

My husband is excellent at making grilled cheese sandwiches. Don’t question the amount of butter.

Call your parents regularly.

Bring extra deodorant.

It’s ok if you don’t have all the answers.

Find a theme song:

Enjoy the moment.

Q&A: Everything in Moderation? NEW VIDEO

Last month over on my Facebook page, I put a call out for any questions you might have had regarding food, nutrition, health, and overall wellness. I finally got around to answering them and compiled the answers into a video!

Question 1: What does moderation really mean? For example, I love baked goods like cupcakes, cookies, donuts. Can I have a small baked good a day and call that moderation if the only other thing I am eating is fruits, veggies, and lean protein?

Question 2: What’s your take on artificial sweeteners? Not a problem or cancer causing spawn of satan? Which is best/least terrible?

Question 3: Is calorie free soda really better for you than actual soda? How does that work?

Halfway through the video, I realized I was rambling, and I had so much more to say on the topics, especially that pesky term, “moderation.” During my personal weight loss journey, I was pretty rigid with the foods I allowed myself to eat. When you fall into the diet trap, suddenly you lose trust with your mind and body. I thought if I gave in to an urge to eat a donut or have chips with my sandwich, all those “bad” foods, that suddenly I would re-gain the weight. Cue cycle of self-loathing and misery. I became even more obsessed with food and had intense cravings for strange things. One day I drove by a Starbucks, circled back, and drove by again because all I wanted was a slice of pumpkin bread. Instead, I went home, baked cookies, and hastily ate half the batch. Which would have been the better scenario? It would have been best to simply shift my focus to another activity, but what if I had stopped at the Starbucks? I might have ordered the bread and sat, like a normal person, with a fork, and enjoyed it. Eating half a slice would’ve at least been better than eating half a dozen cookies.

moderation meme

Ultimately, I decided to just own up to these cravings and move on with my life. I knew eating an entire bag of Doritos wouldn’t bring me happiness, but I also knew that eating just a handful would save me from eating the rest of the cabinet. I ate fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and whole grains, but I also saved room a few times during the week for a portion sized snack of whatever I felt like. By portion size, I mean actual portion sizes not 100-calorie packs. Things like a small dish of ice cream or a couple cookies. Interestingly enough, when you stop eating foods with intense flavors like sweet or salty, you can lose the taste for them over time. Practicing this also led me to be a bit pickier over my cravings. Every time I gave in and took the time to enjoy a food I once feared, I suddenly started to realize what I truly liked and disliked. I also found other things to occupy my time, like spending time outdoors, catching up with a friend, and simply, living.

How do you practice “moderation” in your life?

What other questions do you have about nutrition, health, or wellness?