Fact: Going grocery shopping at Trader Joe’s on a weekend morning is like willingly going to the airport on Christmas Eve—you know it’s going to be nightmarishly busy, the lines are going to snake into every crevice of the building and your fellow customers are going to be elbowing you at every turn. That said, the deals, man. The deals are truly unbeatable. So the fact is, despite the airport-on-Christmas-Eve conditions, you’re probably going to do some of your shopping there.
Now that you’ve admitted that to yourself, the key is to go in prepared. That’s where this list comes in: Below are over 20 staples you’ll find at Trader Joe’s that make whipping up a healthy dinner after a grueling day super easy, from dietitian-approved frozen meals to salad kits and more. Bookmark it and consider it your plan of action the next time you hit the aisles.
Over 20 Staples You’ll Find at Trader Joe’s
ALL-STAR TRADER JOE’S VEGGIES
1) Any and all pre-cut and cooked vegetables, prices vary
Trader Joe’s is the king of pre-cut veggies, and unlike those at many grocery stores, the price tag on ‘em won’t make you cry literal tears. They’ve got ton of options in the produce aisle, but a few extra-special guys worth pointing out: The Butternut Squash Zig-Zags are a constant find in healthy Instagrammers’ cart hauls (because tell me: WHO wants to deal with the evening-long process that is figuring out how to cut a butternut squash? No one) and the Shaved Brussels Sprouts are great for sauteeing on their own or throwing into salads with some quinoa and greens. The already trimmed and washed leeks, found in the frozen aisle, will also help to cut down on prepping time if you’re planning on whipping up a big batch of soup for the week.
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2) Riced Cauliflower, $2.49
On evenings when you’re so exhausted you want to curl into a ball, cry, then call your mother and beg her to PLEASE—pretty PLEASE!—come over and make your food, just remember that you have this riced cauliflower in your fridge. It’s the perfect base for everything from a fried egg to leftover Indian food. (Note: They’ve also got a frozen bag for a longer-lasting option.)
3) Salad and Slaw Kits, prices vary
Salad or slaw to pair with a protein is easy enough to throw together on your own, but these kits, which hover in the $4 range, literally take ALL the work out of the process for you. A few favorites: The Veggies and Greens Salad Kit, the Tahini, Pepita and Apricot Slaw Kit and the ABC + K Slaw. The first two are great on their own with a bit of avocado and leftover quinoa thrown in the mix, and the third is great for pairing with protein for a super-easy and nutrient-loaded dinner.
ALL-STAR TRADER JOE’S MEAL BASES
1) Pre-Made Pizza Dough, $1.19 to $1.29
Pizza might not call to mind “healthy,” but if the toppings are in your hands, it really can be—and with these pre-made doughs (there’s even a whole wheat option), a mini personal pie topped with chopped veggies comes together pretty effortlessly. They’ve also got a frozen Cauliflower Pizza Crust for the gluten-averse out there.
2) Organic Superfood Pilaf, $4
If you have this frozen medley of cooked quinoa, kale, sweet potatoes and carrots and a piece of salmon or chicken in the fridge, you’ve got yourself a meal that would make your mom proud while also requiring next to no effort from you.
3) Frozen organic brown rice, $3.49
Brown rice is great: It’s loaded with fiber to keep you full and serves as a hearty base for veggies and proteins, but it’s also notorious for taking forever to cook. Not this frozen take, though: It’s done in three minutes. Can we get a praise-hands emoji?
4) Trader Joe’s Riced Cauliflower Stir Fry, $2.99
This is another take on the almighty cauliflower rice, though this bad boy is seasoned to require barely any doctoring. Just pair it with some more veggies and a hunk of avocado or throw a piece of meat onto it for a super-fast meal.
1) Organic Sweet Italian Chicken Sausage, $5.99
I have friends who rave about Trader Joe’s chicken sausages as though they are served with a heaping side of complimentary gold. This organic sweet-and-savory take can be paired with fried eggs or thrown onto a bed of greens for an easy meal.
2) Simply Seasoned Tuna Burgers, $6.99 for four
These frozen tuna burgers aren’t super flavorful (see the variation on “simple” in the title), but they are versatile, which makes them a winner. You can chop ‘em up and throw them into some corn tortillas with salsa and avocado for quick tacos or throw a burger between bread for a sandwich.
3) Trader Joe’s Chile Lime Chicken Burger, $3.99 for four
These are a favorite on just about every health blog out there—they are flavorful, packed with protein, and feel deceivingly indulgent.
4) Spatchcocked Lemon Rosemary Chicken, $3.99 per pound
This butterflied, brined and pre-seasoned chicken can be thrown into the oven on a Sunday to serve as the protein for a large chunk of your meals throughout the week.
5) Thai Sweet Chili Veggie Burger, $3.69 for four
There is no better lazy meal than a frozen burger, and Trader Joe’s offers a slew of options for the vegetarians among us, but this flavorful twist is a favorite.
ALL-STAR TRADER JOE’S FROZEN MEALS
1) Yellow Jackfruit Curry with Jasmine Rice, $2.79
Jackfruit, a magnesium and antioxidant fruit known for boasting the consistency of pulled pork, is the star in this vegetarian curry, served over rice.
2) Shiitake Mushroom Chicken, $4.99
This saucy meal feels like takeout in the best way possibly while also being a favorite amongst dietitians thanks to the high veggie and protein counts.
3) Channa Masala, $2.29
This protein-rich, plant-based dish of delightfully spiced garbanzo beans pairs perfectly with brown rice or cauliflower rice for a meal that can be thrown together faster than you can put in a Grubhub order.
4) Chicken Burrito Bowl, $3.49
If Chipotle is your second home, enter this frozen bowl to save your bank account. Filled with quinoa, brown rice, black beans, chicken and more, it’ll leave you satisfied for half the price.
ALL-STAR TRADER JOE’S EXTRAS
1) Masala Simmer Sauce, $2.50
Confessions of a takeout addict: The people at the Indian restaurant near my house speak to me like I’m family because I talk to them so darn often on the phone. If you’re on my level, this sauce, perfect for pairing with proteins or veggies, will help to curb your addiction.
2) Thai Green Curry Simmer Sauce, $1.99
Throw whatever veggies you have lying around into a pan with this curry sauce, warm and serve over rice and voila! You’ve got yourself a fast, healthy dinner.
3) Raw Shelled Hemp Seeds, $5.99
Let me let you in on a little secret: Hemp seeds—which boast a ton of plant-based protein and healthy fats—are the lazy person’s dinnertime savior. At 10 grams of protein per serving (about three tablespoons), you can sub these nutty seeds in for protein when you don’t have any on hand or don’t feel like cooking. Thank me later.