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5 Easy Trader Joe’s Meals (5 ingredients or less!)

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5 Trader Joe's Meals (5 ingredients or less!) | A Nutritionist Eats

Deep question of the day: where do you guys grocery shop?

5 Trader Joe's Meals (5 ingredients or less!) | A Nutritionist Eats

I tend to shop based on proximity, but the store has to have the natural and organic selection of foods I’m looking for or it just won’t work. In my current neighborhood (West Hollywood!) there are quite a few options within walking distance. I tend to visit most of them (Whole Foods, Gelson’s and Bristol Farms) on a pretty regular basis to see what new foods are out there, but Trader Joe’s is, without a doubt, a weekly stop for me. I can find most of the things I need – and for a pretty reasonable price – but I’ve got to admit that I love the frozen and convenience foods that Trader Joe’s offers. (If you’re ever wondering how something is, just ask. I’ve probably tried it!)

Recently, my friend Lynn and her husband came up with this super-clever buzzfeed video featuring Trader Joe’s mashups:

I loved the video and the premise –  it’s absolutely what inspired this post!

I started brainstorming some of my favorite trader joe’s combinations that fit the following criteria:

  1. under five ingredients (all but one are made with three ingredients)
  2. fairly healthy (all of them come in under or around 500 calories)
  3. include a vegetable (because every meal should!)
  4. delicious (again, because every meal should be!)

Here are the 5 Trader Joe’s meals that I came up with:

Classic Southern Dinner:

5 Trader Joe's Meals (5 ingredients or less!) | A Nutritionist Eats

Let’s start with an easy, classic meal: bbq chicken breast, mac & cheese and collard greens. Prepare the mac & cheese and bbq chicken as directed and lightly steam or saute the collard greens. *I really like their “reduced-guilt” mac & cheese, but have yet to try the gluten-free variety!

Palak Paneer Eggs:

5 Trader Joe's Meals (5 ingredients or less!) | A Nutritionist Eats

Why have I not combined Indian food with eggs before? Ah-mazing. Top cooked palak paneer with a fried or poached egg and serve with hot naan. This will definitely become a regular in our meal rotation – perfect for breakfast, lunch or dinner.

Tortilla Pizza:

5 Trader Joe's Meals (5 ingredients or less!) | A Nutritionist Eats
Tortilla pizzas are one of my favorite meals and considering that I’ve eaten them on  regular basis for years, it was a no-brainer. When topped with sauce, arugula, cheese and turkey meatballs, this is a particularly filling pizza. Simply bake the tortilla until crisp, top with sauce, cheese, arugula and warmed meatballs and bake until cheese has melted. (Brown rice and sprouted tortillas are my favorite to use.)

Chimichurri Rice & Sausage:

5 Trader Joe's Meals (5 ingredients or less!) | A Nutritionist Eats

Chimichurri rice is a somewhat new item and I’m so glad I finally put it in my cart – it’s delicious (so is the kimchee rice!).  When it’s combined with chicken sausage and a vegetable, you’ve got a balanced dinner that comes together in minutes. Slice and saute the sausage and rice as directed while you roast the broccoli in the oven.

Pasta with Mushrooms & Parmesan:

5 Trader Joe's Meals (5 ingredients or less!) | A Nutritionist Eats

This vegetarian meal is delicious and simple. And absolutely OUTSTANDING if you add a drizzle of truffle oil or sprinkling of truffle salt. Simply prepare the pasta and mushrooms as directed and top with a sprinkling of cheese. Use your favorite pasta variety.

Like this post? 4 MORE easy trader joe’s meal ideas

Got any favorite quick meals to share? 

P.S. I’m really sorry if you don’t have access to Trader Joe’s! Come visit and I’ll take you on a tour. 🙂

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  1. rebecca andestic

    Thanks Em, these are great ideas!

    I was actually gifted a fabulous cook book called, “The I Love Trader Joe’s Cookbook” by Cherie Mercer Twohy.
    Over 150 recipes using Only Foods from T.J’s. I refer to it at least once a week since I practically live at Trader Joe’s.

  2. sarah k @ the pajama chef

    what a fun post! i wish i had all those stores in walking distance. or any stores within walking distance, really. well, there are a few basic grocery stores i could conceivably walk to but they are off really busy roads so that wouldn’t be very safe.

    • Emily

      I love Sprouts too and was so happy when a new one opened near my office! Poached eggs just make any meal so great, especially on pasta!

  3. Mercedes

    Emily, I love this! I am so into Indian food lately since I found a great little place close to our house so I am very intrigued by your Indian meal! Also, that reduced-guild mac and cheese looks great. Is the shredded chicken all breast meat? I love that you posted easy meals made from convenient foods that manage to be healthy and delicious! Great post!!

    • Emily

      Don’t you love Indian food? Have you been to Dancing Ganesha yet? It was my favorite in MPLS! The chicken isn’t 100% breast meat, but it is pretty lean. So glad you liked the post!

  4. Michelle

    Love this! And- we have very similar taste! I make brown rice tortilla pizzas weekly and we too love the chimichurri rice. I usually get the chicken jalapeño sausages. We use their vegan fried rice, add more veggies and scramble a couple of eggs into it. Also adore the naan bread!

    We are about to get a new TJs about 5 miles away and I can’t wait!

  5. Megan (Braise The Roof)

    One of my favorite TJ’s mashups is a piece of their frozen naan, topped with their WI extra sharp cheddar (their cheese may spoil a bit faster than that from other stores, but it’s so cheap! And delicious!)and baked until the cheese is bubbly, served with a simply dressed side salad. Can’t miss with that one!

  6. Amanda

    This is awesome! We love making Trader Joes meals. Our favorite is the frozen orange chicken cooked in a pan with olive oil and the frozen veggie fried rice. We pick up their frozen dumplings or go get takeout crab rangoon from a nearby chinese place and call it a meal!

    Question for you — how spicy is the palak paneer?

    • Emily

      I’ll have to pick up the orange chicken again, it’s been a while! I didn’t think the palak paneer was spicy at all, but I love spicy foods. But I don’t even remember it having much of any spice…not like when you get it at a restaurant!

  7. Kristen M

    My kids love “chicken soup” which is really just a can of TJ’s chicken heated up with a carton of TJ’s broth. To fancy it up a bit I add a back of TJ’s cheese tortellini. Spinach is great addition too.

  8. Brett

    I work at Traders in San Diego and the different things we come up with on the fly in the back should have its own site… Wait! I’m working on it, hah. This is a great thread you have going here. Keep it up Emily!


  9. Jean

    Definitely doing the palak paneer eggs. I love Indian food, and this looks like a perfect breakfast.

    One thing. Low calorie does not necessarily equate ‘fairly healthy’.

    • Emily

      Oh I definitely agree. The calories weren’t the only consideration for “fairly healthy” … which is an arguable term to begin with! 🙂

  10. Katie rulketter

    I’m excited to look through the rest of the comments and I love the idea of this post! I love trader joes’ butternut squash ravioli and then mixed with a container of their pesto. Both items are in the refrigerated sections.

  11. Chelsea

    I love the chimichurri rice and have made with a little grilled chicken mixed in. I want to try the last one with the mushroom medley. The only drawback with TJ’s frozen stuff is it only seems to be –barely enough for two people to have one meal. Usually my boyfriend is eating cereal afterward. However, it’s good inspiration. I’m making chimichurri rice tonight from scratch–a ton of it! We can eat with seafood, chicken, as a side all week 🙂

    • Emily

      Hi Chelsea – you are so right! A lot of their frozen meals are smaller in portions. Can you share your rice recipe with me? I’d love to make it!

    • Emily

      Hi Edna! Sorry to hear this, I’m currently going through a new website launch, so things have unfortunately been really slow. Is that what you mean?