Quick & Easy Trader Joe’s “Cheater” Meals
We’re changing things up this week. Instead of a typical meal plan, I’m sending you a few of my favorite Trader Joe’s “cheater” meals. These dinners come together in minutes and save you when you’re tired or short on time. They’re also great to leave for a spouse or babysitter for an easy-to-prepare meal. We all need backup dinners every once in a while!
I use Trader Joe’s Salsa Verde and their organic boneless, skinless chicken thighs for this. Grab some avocado, cilantro, sour cream and tortillas and you’re all set.
These are always in our freezer. Meatless and gluten-free, these make a decent babysitter dinner or after school snack.
Also stocked in my freezer at all times, but sold in the refrigerated section at TJs. Cook it about a minute less than package directions. Toss with your favorite marinara or pesto, or use in my tortellini casserole. Also good cooked and tossed with your favorite pasta salad ingredients, which is great in a lunchbox.
Another freezer staple. Do NOT cook this according to package directions, just get a skillet hot with a small amount of olive oil and sauté the gnocchi for 3-4 minutes per side. If you have an air fryer, use that. Or heat your oven to 425 degrees and cook the gnocchi on a sheet pan (use the convection setting if you have it). Toss with fresh spinach or arugula, marinara and a pinch of red pepper flakes.
The dough is already made so you’re just assembling and heating. My kids can make these themselves and I’ll just toss a salad and call it a night. I use Rao’s instead of TJs pizza sauce–we always keep a few jars stocked in the pantry. Or use TJs kale, cashew and basil pesto as the sauce. Bake on a sheet pan at high heat, 425-450 degrees, for about 15 minutes.
This is another freezer staple. Good for late night teenager snacks and feeding ravenous boys (who have no idea they’re eating cauliflower).
Follow my quick and easy stir fry for a delicious quick dinner. If you’re really in a hurry, a few shakes of tamari and a sprinkling is toasted sesame oil is all you need. Grab some frozen edamame to snack on while you microwave some pre-cooked Trader Joe’s jasmine rice. Easy peasy.
This isn’t perfect (it has soy, sulfites and too much sodium). But we’re not perfect either and sometimes you need a 2-minute dinner that’s a kid-pleaser. Warm up with 1 cup Rao’s, 1 cup frozen riced cauliflower and a handful or two of fresh spinach (you can use the rest in a salad). Serve over TJs gluten-free rice rottini or spaghetti squash. Or use it to make sloppy joe sliders.
Yes, this is mind blowing. Add some baby arugula to the mix if you want more greens. Take it to your next book club or pot luck, and add some TJs pita chips on the side for dipping.
Use chicken Italian sausage for this, and I leave out the quinoa and the water. To keep it meatless, replace the sausage with a can or two of drained and rinsed organic great Northern beans.
Serve with a side of your favorite veggie or some warmed up TJs refried beans. Someone told me they steam these and send in an insulated container for school lunch — great idea!
What are your favorite TJs dinners? The easier the better! Leave a comment to share your “cheater dinner” below.