For many Millennials,
Trader Joe's is more than just a grocery store — it's an experience, a lifestyle, a state of mind. It's a place where we are freed from the suffocating constraints of a society that says "Wine should cost more than three dollars," and "Cookie butter is not a real thing." It is also a haven for the laziest among us, people who enjoy a good meal but aren't willing to spend too much time prepping and cooking because Netflix exists, and we have to like, vacuum and clip our nails and spend at least an hour planning a dream vacation for when we win the lottery.
Fortunately, Trader Joe's offers an abundance of items that can be whipped into respectable-looking meals with relatively minimal effort, so our co-workers don't look sadly over our cubes and say things like "Lunchables again?" even though the word "lunch" is right there in the name and maybe Karen should mind her own business for once. Whether it's a frozen meal, bagged veggies, or
a decadent sauce that you use to cover the fact that you cannot, in fact, make a frittata, here are some handy TJ's hacks for the laziest among us.
We've all heard breakfast is the most important meal of the day. But between showering and picking an outfit and mentally composing your to-do list for the day, it can be difficult to squeeze in enough time to eat before we run out the door. But a bowl of instant oatmeal is a fast and nutritious way to start the day. And if plain old instant oatmeal doesn't sound that exciting, try this
Pecan Pumpkin Instant Oatmeal for something a little more flavorful and seasonal.
For your takeout cravings ...
Orange chicken is a Chinese takeout favorite, but when your delivery guy starts getting a little too familiar with your order ("You did't call on Tuesday, I was worried!") it's time to try cooking on your own. But you don't need to be a skilled chef to enjoy your favorite dish at home. TJ's
Mandarin Orange Chicken was its favorite overall product for 2016, because it's delicious, cheap, fast, and easy to prepare.
And if orange chicken isn't your thing, T.J.'s has an
extensive selection of frozen foods that you can keep on hand.
For a fast, healthy lunch ...
The right salad can be a delicious and nutritious work lunch, and at most restaurants, it can also be wildly overpriced — $12 is way too much for a pile of spinach and a couple of strips of grilled chicken. By grabbing one of Trader Joe's salad bags, like this
Kohlrabi Salad Blend, you can whip up your own salad for lunch, or as a side with dinner. And at just $1.99 per bag, it's a far more affordable way of getting your greens.
For spicing up your standard fare ...
If you're a novice chef who isn't sure how to add some zest to your food, and your spice rack is somewhat lacking, buying a ready-made spice or sauce combo is a great, fast way to add flavor to your food. This
Everything But the Bagel Sesame Seasoning Blend can go on everything from pizza, to mac and cheese, to chicken.
For the love of cheese ...
Affordable cheese is one of Trader Joe's greatest strengths/hacks. Their extensive cheese aisle has an extensive selection at far lower prices than some of their competitors, so whether you're getting ready to entertain, or just looking for something to put on a sandwich, stock up on T.J. cheeses, like
this elaborate goat's milk cheese with apricot, cherry, and cranberry for only $3.99.
For a quick, seasonal meal ...
Are you not always sure which pasta to pair with which sauce? Your friends at T.J.'s have done the work for you, and it's the perfect, decadent fall dinner. The
Autumnal Harvest Creamy Pasta Sauce includes all the tummy flavors of fall, including pumpkin, butternut squash, carrots, cream, rosemary and sage. Mix it in with some pumpkin-shaped pasta made from butternut squash, and you have a quick, sumptuous dinner for a chilly autumn night.
For a healthy addition to your meals ...
Canned foods get a bad rep, but they can be extraordinarily handy for those of us who are crunched for time and/or ideas. According to Trader Joe's, this
can of butternut squash can make a healthy addition to almost anything: "Bake it in a casserole dish and sprinkle with spices like nutmeg or cloves; add it to stews or soups – it adds flavor and creamy texture without adding any cream."
For last-minute entertaining ...
So you've agreed to have people over for a game night, or for some drinks before a show. You know you should put out snacks because it seems like the sophisticated, adult thing to do, but you don't want to just dump some Doritos in a bowl and call it a day. Stocking up on fancy dips, like this
Curried Carrot and Cashew Dip, will help you be prepared for any last-minute entertaining you have to do, though they're also good to snack on while bingeing your favorite TV show.
Cereal bars are the ultimate hack for the laziest among us. They're a yummy, nutritious way to eat on the go. These
pumpkin cereal bars are seasonally appropriate, so even if you forgot to pack a lunch for work, people might be impressed that your snack matches your PSL.
For indulging your sweet tooth ...
While theit famous Cookie Butter gets all the attention, Trader Joe's has an array of delicious desserts that you can keep in your freezer, and whip out when you have guests over, or whenever you're craving something sweet. In addition to a rich chocolate ganache, this
Chocolate Almond Butter Tarte has a layer of almond butter on top of a crumbly butter crust — a decadent treat to keep on hand.