A guy I met on Hinge once shared that his ultimate dream in life is to appear onChopped. As a huge Chopped fan and a hopeless cook, I was thrilled. Yet, when he asked me about my secret ingredient, all I could think of was Trader Joe’s frozen rice. Truth be told, my cooking repertoire pretty much revolves around Trader Joe’s frozen meals.

While I do have a few go-to recipes, most of my meals stem from my collection of TJ’s favorites that help me survive the week at home. To keep things interesting, I like to mix things up and combine items rather than sticking to a routine of solely indulging in a massive bowl of Mandarin Orange Chicken every time (though, let’s be real, those days happen too). The outcome? Quick, tasty meals that demand minimal to zero culinary prowess. Here are the Trader Joe’s frozen meals I lean on to get through the week:

1. Broccoli Florets + Spaghetti Cacio e Pepe + Cooked Shrimp

In my book, Trader Joe’s Cacio e Pepe is the most decadent pasta in their range. Adding a vegetable and some protein turns it into a satisfying meal that doesn’t leave me feeling like I just devoured a massive, unhealthy bowl of pasta and cheese sauce. This dish pairs wonderfully with shrimp but works equally well with chicken!

2. Chicken Chow Mein + Chicken Gyoza Potstickers

I recently discovered this Chow Mein, and it swiftly became a staple once I savored its simplicity and flavor. I tend to pair it with an additional protein like these potstickers, creating a hearty dinner that almost rivals Panda Express.

3. Cauliflower Gnocchi + Pesto + Broccoli Florets

A beloved choice among Trader Joe’s regulars, cauliflower gnocchi paired with a dollop of pesto and a vegetable makes for a fail-safe combination. Occasionally, I like to include some protein—TJ’s chicken sausages complement this dish beautifully! As it requires minimal effort, I find myself preparing this for both lunch and dinner frequently. Simply pop the gnocchi into the air fryer, drizzle some pesto on top, and sometimes add regular pasta sauce—it all depends on what’s in my fridge!

4. Asian Vegetables With Soy Sauce + Riced Cauliflower + Chicken Spring Rolls

For a veggie-packed meal, I combine these frozen veggies with riced cauliflower in a large bowl. This mix works great for lunch, especially when I anticipate indulging in a bowl of vodka pasta later while catching up onThe Bachelorette. To up the protein content, I prepare a few chicken spring rolls or add pre-cooked grilled chicken.

5. Breaded Chicken Nuggets + Broccoli Florets + Mac & Cheese

While Trader Joe’s assortment of mac and cheese options serve as fantastic lunches, a single serving never quite hits the spot for me. So, I jazz them up with broccoli and chicken for added protein, and on adventurous days, a drizzle of buffalo or hot sauce. This makes for a perfect work-from-home lunch that takes less than 10 minutes to assemble.

6. Chicken Fried Rice + Riced Cauliflower + Chicken Cilantro Mini Wontons

Combining the classic TJ’s fried rice with riced cauliflower is a tried-and-true tactic. The cauliflower melds seamlessly into the rice dish, supplying an extra veggie while adding volume. Pair this with chicken cilantro mini wontons and a dash of stir-fry sauce for dipping, and you’ve got one of my preferred Trader Joe’s frozen meals for weeknights.

7. Breaded Chicken Nuggets + Turkey Corn Dogs + Dill Pickle Mustard

For a nostalgic lunch craving, I opt for this combo. Trader Joe’s Turkey Corn Dogs rank among my top favorite indulgences. So much so, that when I recently revisited my eight-year-old self’s favorite meal at home, non-TJ’s corn dogs just didn’t cut it for me. I team them with breaded chicken nuggets and my favorite condiments. Feel free to choose your preferred condiment, but currently, I must express my unwavering love for Dill Pickle Mustard. Please, Trader Joe’s, always keep this in stock. It’s the best condiment I’ve encountered in a long time.

8. Japanese Style Fried Rice + Thai Sweet Chili Veggie Burger

This Japanese-style fried rice could very well be my favorite frozen item at Trader Joe’s. I could easily devour the whole bag (though I’d feel guilty, my taste buds would be thrilled). I often top it with a fried egg and serve it with a Thai veggie burger alongside some sriracha for added protein.

9. Mandarin Style Orange Chicken Bowl

Yes, sometimes, all I need is a bowl of Mandarin orange chicken! This frozen bowl has bailed me out countless times. I always keep one in my freezer just in case of emergencies. It tastes just like the beloved Trader Joe’s Mandarin Orange Chicken, but with rice and additional veggies. It’s also perfect for office days when I need a lunch pack.

10. Spinach Artichoke Dip + Pasta + Breaded Chicken Nuggets

One of my top Trader Joe’s tricks involves using the Creamy Spinach & Artichoke Dip as a pasta sauce. I came across this gem on Instagram, and it has been a game-changer for me. I cook my preferred pasta, prepare the dip as instructed, and pour it over the noodles with a splash of water to thin it out. This yields a fabulous creamy, light sauce. For some protein, I add breaded chicken nuggets and pair it with a side salad (often incorporating extra veggies or more spinach) to create a complete yet effortlessly fancy dinner.


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