17 Trader Joe's Hacks That Make Meal Planning A Little Less Scary
by Mia Mercado

There are no two words that will ignite a culinary fire in your belly or strike fear in your hungry heart like “meal prep.” If you’re among the camp that has a hard time imagining what they’re going to eat tonight — hi, hello, I’m right there with you — let alone what you’ll want to eat every night for dinner this week, I have two words for you: Trader Joe’s. Bless the TJ Gods that there are plenty of Trader Joe’s meal prep hacks to make planning meals for the week easy, painless, and, most importantly, delicious.

Meal prepping is far from a new phenomenon. Just ask anyone with a Pinterest account or who follows a parenting blog like it is a sacred text. Of course, the start of a new year is a chance to reflect on who we’ve been and look forward to who we want to be, food habits included. Whether you’re looking to make your work lunches a little healthier or just want products that will make dinner time easier, there is a meal prepping hack for you. Here are 17 Trader Joe’s meal prep hacks to make every meal of the week a belly-satisfying breeze.


Utilize TJ's Pre-Chopped Fruits & Veggies


If chopping up fruits and vegetables is among your least favorite things to do, Trader Joe’s has you covered. Along with cut and prepped veggies like butternut squash — cutting butternut squash is a unique form of dinnertime torture — Trader Joe’s has pre-chopped produce mixes like this mirepoix for an easy soup base.


Turn Frozen Dinners Into Taco Starter Kits

Want to get extra mileage out of your Trader Joe’s frozen meals? Double up on your favorites like the Cuban-Style Citrus bowl or Chimichurri Stirfry and make sure to pick up tortillas and whatever toppings you prefer.


Recipe Idea: Shawarma Chicken Soup

Rather than worrying about marinating meat ahead of time, pick up Trader Joe’s Shawarma Chicken. Then, use that as your starting point for a delicious Shawarma Chicken soup that’ll feed you for a whole week.


Tempeh, Tofu, & Chickpeas

When you’re looking for a little variety to your proteins or are trying to eat more plant-based, Trader Joe’s has a great selection of meat-free proteins. Their Organic 3 Grain Tempeh is great for bulking up your favorite salads. Try adding some baked tofu to your favorite meal prep grain bowl. Pair chickpeas with Trader Joe's Thai Green Curry Simmer Sauce and some sautéed mushrooms and onion.


Get Innovative With Salad Mixes

Trader Joe’s refrigerated section is a salad lover’s dream. And here’s the thing about salads: you don’t have to just eat them as a salad. Turn Trader Joe’s Caesar Salad Kit into a Caesar wrap. Add chicken to the mix for added protein. Just portion out the dressing on the side so your lunches stay crunchy.


Recipe Idea: Vegetarian “Beef” Tacos

Tacos make for easy meal prep. Make them even easier with Trader Joe’s vegetarian ground “beef” which is pre-seasoned and just needs to be warmed up. You could even bulk it up with some sauteed mushrooms or black beans.


Cauliflower Rice


Save yourself the time and trouble of ricing your own cauliflower and check out Trader Joe’s Riced Cauliflower. A one-pound bag runs about $2.49 so you’re not spending much more for convenient’s sake. The product has been so popular that Food & Wine reported in 2017 Trader Joe’s was rationing its cauliflower rice. Make a big batch of cauliflower fried rice with peas, carrots, and some shrimp. Or try using cauliflower rice in your next risotto.


Use Trader Joe’s Harvest Grains As A Base

Sick of various forms of rice as your go-to meal prep? Try Trader Joe’s Harvest Grains. It’s a hearty combination of Israeli Style Couscous, Orzo, Baby Garbanzo Beans, and Red Quinoa, adding a good variety to your meal prepping. Make a bunch of black bean burgers to pair with your harvest grains. Mix up your toppings throughout the week! Try it with goat cheese and sriracha. Add some sweet chili sauce and crispy onions. There is no wrong way to grain.


Recipe Idea: Cowboy Caviar Quinoa Bake

Trader Joe’s had a brilliant idea to turn their Cowboy Caviar salsa into a whole meal. All you’ll need is quinoa, cheese, your veggies of choice, and whatever protein you fancy. You could still even eat it with tortilla chips. Your meal prep, your rules.


Pre-made Sauces, Please!

If you want to save yourself the trouble of making sauces from scratch, Trader Joe’s has you covered on that. They’ve got everything from marinara to alfredo to curry sauce — all you need to do is find the perfect thing to pair them with. Their Italian Bomba Hot Pepper Sauce is a great, spicy marinara alternative to add to your prepped pasta.


Recipe Idea: Tofu + Simmer Sauce + Rice

You don’t have to just alternate between tacos and various quinoa dishes when meal prepping. Make a big match of tofu paired with Trader Joe’s Masala Simmer Sauce and rice. Throw in whatever roasted veggies you like if you want to bulk up the dish even more.


Bulk Up Your Soup

Soup is, in my extremely correct opinion, the epitome of comfort food. There are lots of Trader Joe’s soup hacks you can use when meal prepping to make your premade TJ’s soup last all week. Try adding gnocchi to Trader Joe’s Creamy Chicken Soup for a fancier, “grown-up” chicken noodle.


Get Creative With The Pizza Dough

Trader Joe’s pre-made pizza dough is both a lifesaver and a time saver. Make mini pizzas for a week’s worth of lunches. Or make a bunch of garlic knots to dip into the aforementioned soup!


Recipe Idea: Lentil Salad & Everything Seasoning Crackers

Trader Joe’s has pre-cooked lentils that will save you the step of having to cook them during meal prep. Make an easy lentil salad by pairing them with TJ’s bruschetta sauce and some feta. You can enjoy them however you please, but you can’t go wrong with Trader Joe’s Everything Seasoning Crackers.


Pre-made Dips For Snack Prep

Want something other than hummus or ranch to dip veggies in? Trader Joe’s pre-made dips are a bounty of snack prep inspiration. Try Trader Joe’s Garlic Spread, which is my personal favorite, or check out their new Green Goddess Dip which will make your midday snack less mundane.


Recipe Idea: Curry Chicken Salad Over Greens

If there’s any TJ’s product that’s worth the hype, it’s Trader Joe’s Curry Chicken Salad. It’s great over spring greens. It’s great with crackers. It’s perfect when you want to meal prep but don’t actually feel like cooking.


Meatballs Galore!

When meal prep has turned into endless amounts of chicken breasts or ground turkey, that’s where meatballs come in to save the day. Trader Joe’s frozen meatballs go great with any sauce, especially Trader Joe’s barbecue sauces. A big batch o’ meatballs with quinoa is about to be your meal prep go-to.

If all else fails, you could just nurse a jar of Trader Joe’s cookie butter for a week and call it good.