I know I'm not the only parent out there who has days (or weeks, months or years) when getting dinner on the table is a struggle for which I barely have the time, energy or capacity. Some nights I don't have time to tend the stove, others no time to prep, and during the years I had a baby on my hip or in my lap, definitely no hands free for chopping. Unfortunately, in those times I didn't have much of a plan (there were lots of eggs). I know what else you're going to say—takeout. I know, I know. But that's not how I want to spend my money, plus I like to eat (relatively) healthy. And I still want a home-cooked meal (and maybe some leftovers, if that isn't too much to ask).
That's why I devised this two-week "homemade with help" weeknight dinner plan centered around Trader Joe's products. This plan lets me cook, but with very little prep, and still turns out meals that are healthy and delicious. These 10 no-chop, no-prep shortcut weeknight dinners will feed at least four people with one package each of the ingredients listed here and you'll likely have some leftovers. And you only have to go to one store to get all the ingredients—major bonus! No Trader Joe's near you? Many of these meals can be made with similar products from other grocery stores.
Products: Trader Giotto's Arugula & Parmigiano Reggiano Ravioli, Pesto, Frozen Peas
Prep tips: Cook the ravioli according to the package directions, adding the peas in the last minute to the pot; drain and toss with pesto (or butter and grated Parmesan cheese if you prefer). The longest part of making this meal is waiting for the water to boil. Meditate while you wait. Feel free to swap out the arugula ravioli for the ravioli of your choice—so many good ones to choose from!
Products: Trader Joe's Chicken Gyoza Potstickers, Trader Joe's Broccoli & Kale Slaw, Trader Joe's Organic Brown Rice (frozen)
Prep Tips: Steam or sauté the potstickers according to the package directions, sauté the slaw with oil, salt and pepper until crisp-tender and microwave the rice. Delivery couldn't even arrive that fast.
Products: Trader Joe's Healthy 8 Chopped Veggie Mix, Marinated Baked Tofu, Arugula, Green Goddess Dressing
Prep tips: Forget the fancy pick-your-own salad shop—just toss these three ingredients together in a bowl to make a giant salad to feed your whole family for less than you'd pay for lunch. TJ's baked tofu comes in a variety of flavors, so you can vary your salad's flavor profile too.
Products: Ground Beef, Trader Joe's Organic Shredded Green & Red Cabbage with Orange Carrots, Roasted Corn (frozen), Salsa, Shredded Cheese, Corn Tortillas
Prep tips: Cook the ground beef in a skillet until browned, then mix in the corn and heat through. Set out dishes of cabbage, cheese, salsa and warmed tortillas, and let everyone build their own taco for the easiest taco night ever.
Products: Trader Joe's Mediterranean Hummus, Trader Joe's Olive Tapenade, Artichoke Hearts (frozen or jarred), Trader Joe's Fully Cooked Organic Quinoa (frozen), Trader Joe's Cruciferous Crunch Collection or Kohlrabi Salad Blend, Whole-Wheat Pita
Prep tips: Warm the artichoke hearts (if using frozen) and quinoa. Toss each ingredient in a bowl in the amounts that you want so you can have the perfect bite every time. The biggest risk is the number of spoons you use to build your bowl, but you might not even have to run the dishwasher.
Products: Beef Steak, Frozen Fries, Cut Green Beans, Trader Joe's Rice Medley (frozen)
Prep tips: This dinner feels fancy but couldn't be simpler—just cook the four ingredients according to package directions and serve!
Products: Trader Joe's Curry Chicken Tenders, Trader Giotto's Organic Riced Cauliflower (frozen), Carrot Spirals, Frozen or Fresh Whole-Wheat Naan
Prep tips: Grill or sauté the chicken according to the package directions; sauté the cauliflower and carrots with oil and season with salt and pepper. Toast the naan. Boom, dinner done.
Products: Trader Giotto's Three Cheese Pomodoro Pasta Sauce, Shredded Cheese, Whole-Wheat Naan (frozen or fresh), Organic Tuscan Kale
Prep tips: Lay out the ingredients and let everyone make their own pizzas. Either put all the pizzas on a cookie sheet in the oven and broil them (don't walk away) or bake a few at a time in the toaster oven. Shred and sauté the kale to serve on the side or serve it as a salad with cherry tomatoes and either oil and vinegar or premade dressing. Pizza delivery can't compete with this situation.
Products: Trader Joe's Spatchcocked Chicken, Trader Joe's Butternut Squash Zig-Zags, Baby Potatoes
Prep tips: Spatchcocked chicken is flattened so it cooks quickly, and TJ's are already seasoned so you can skip that step too. Roast the Zig-Zags (butternut crinkle fries) and potatoes (toss in olive oil and season with salt and pepper) alongside the chicken for an easy one-pan dinner.
Products: Dried Pasta, Zucchini Noodles, Jarred Sauce, Shrimp
Prep tips: Cook pasta according to package directions; drain and set aside. Sauté shrimp in a large skillet until almost cooked through. Add zoodles and sauce and cook briefly to warm through. Add pasta and stir to combine.
Need more meal-prep ideas? See How to Meal-Prep a Week of Healthy Family Dinners on Sunday and get ahead of the game this weekend!