All this quarantine cooking has made me more acquainted than ever with the Trader Joe’s frozen food section. It goes against the laws of sanity to prepare three* home cooked meals a day for a family, so frozen food, and the occasional takeout meal have been a saving grace in the kitchen, and with meal planning in general.
Over the years of shopping at Trader Joe’s, there have been hits and misses, but I have amassed a family approved list of frozen meals and pantry staples that make weeknight cooking more bearable.
These are a new find in the frozen section, and an appetizer that did not disappoint. I prepared these in a toaster oven to achieve a perfect crispy interior. The filling is a slightly spicy curry-like mixture of peas, carrots, potatoes, lentils, and onions. They are the perfect snack or appetizer for any meal.
Officially, unofficially the most popular frozen meal at TJ’s is the Chicken Tikka Masala. It’s been a lunch staple of mine for years, and if you haven’t given it a try or aren’t sure about Indian food look no further. The ratio of rice to chicken and sauce is near perfect, and the blend of spices is not overpowering or too spicy.
STOP the presses! This tasty breakfast dish is as good as any Shakshuka I’ve ever tasted. If you aren’t familiar, Shakshuka is a Mediterranean dish of eggs (normally poached) in a tomato-y sauce of peppers, onion, garlic, and spices. It’s best served with some crusty bread to feel like you are having brunch in one of Manhattan's trendiest spots.
I discovered this meal during a low-fat diet phase, and it did not disappoint. It’s ready in a little over five minutes and the vegetables, noodles, and chicken come out near perfect for being from a bag. The sauce isn’t too sweet, or too salty-- it’s just right goldilocks, and a perfect weeknight dish for two.
I have one child who likes mushrooms, and one who does not, but oddly enough they both like this meal. The mushrooms are tiny, and the sauce isn’t overpowering with mushroom flavor, but it's savory and tasty. Sometimes I add in chicken to make it go farther and more filling, but not because it isn’t perfect on it’s own.
Mint chocolate ice cream has been a weakness since childhood, and these mini ice cream sandwiches deliver both nostalgia and flavor as the perfect desert. The perfectly portioned ‘mouthful’ is mint ice cream sandwiched between two oreo-like cookies for a circular play on an ice cream sandwich.
Grab yourself some sour cream and prepare for one of the most sinfully delicious fried Mexican meals at Trader Joe’s. These mini taco’s are available in beef or chicken, both are delicious so it’s your preference between the two. There are three options for cooking these: on the stove, in the oven, or in a microwave. For optimal eating pleasure opt for the oven or toaster oven.
If you are in the mood for pizza but don’t want an entire pie, the bambino pizza’s are the way to go. These were initially a purchase for the kids, but ended up being an all around family favorite. Take it from a self described pizza snob, these frozen pizzas are the real deal.
The fiery in the title is as advertised, but not enough to overpower the flavor from the robust tomato-y curry sauce. It's served with turmeric rice that pairs well with sauce but doesn’t do much to cut the heat. This has become a go-to in my lunch rotation to mix it up with the beloved tikka masala.
I bought this on a whim for a book club gathering and got so many compliments it’s become an appetizer staple when entertaining. Trader Joe's has no shortage of great apps and small bites, and this cheesy flatbread has an air of sophistication that pairs fabulously with red wine.