How to Meal Prep a Week of High-Protein Lunches From Trader Joe's
There's no denying Trader Joe's is the place to snag some of our most-loved staples, clever snacks and fun sweets and treats. But the store is also home to some of our favorite convenience and short-cut items for throwing together healthy meals in minutes. We love a good TJ's weeknight dinner hack, and we're equally excited about using their products to step-up (and simplify) our meal-prep lunch game.
While you can grab a pre-made salad, burrito or wrap from Trader Joe's famous prepared foods cooler for a no-fuss lunch this week, why not pick up a handful of items to cover you for most of the week for a few bucks more than you'd spend on a single meal? We're walking you through three simple meal-prep guides to prepare high-protein lunches in as few as 10 minutes. Each plan uses a handful of products from Trader Joe's for four days of healthy easy meals (assuming you'll eat out one day or take leftovers). These lunches average a whopping 24 grams of protein per serving to fill you up and keep you going all afternoon.
Tips for Building High-Protein Lunches from Trader Joe's
Start with a hearty green base
Trader Joe's is known for affordable pre-washed greens, which are perfect for quick assembly-style meals. Try one of their creative blends—we're using Cruciferous Crunch in these Thai-Style Chopped Salads with Sriracha Tofu—or salad kits to bulk up your meal prep bowl.
Toss in a high-protein grain
We love the convenience of Trader Joe's frozen cooked quinoa, which can be microwaved on demand, and their 10-minute farro. In addition to adding great texture and fiber, quinoa and farro boast a higher protein content than some other whole grains, such as brown rice or whole-wheat pasta. You can also get creative to jazz them up—we're mixing TJ's farro with one of their prepared side salads in this Middle-Eastern Salad Bowls with Farro & Chicken recipe, for example.
Add a pre-cooked protein
While Trader Joe's has a number of marinated and ready-to-cook items, like their popular Shawarma Chicken Thighs, save yourself major time by snagging one of the store's many already prepared and cooked proteins. Look for seasoned and grilled chicken breast or baked tofu in the cooler near the hummus and dips. Or grab something from the freezer case. We're using the frozen cooked shrimp in our Green Goddess Quinoa Bowls with Arugula & Shrimp, which come conveniently peeled with the tails off.
Finish with a flavorful dressing
There is no shortage of dressings, sauces and dips at Trader Joe's, all of which make for great toppings for lunch bowls. Stick with a classic vinaigrette, or try something different, like their fresh avocado-based Green Goddess salad dressing. You can also mix one of their hummus varieties with a little lemon juice or water to make an easy dressing.
How to Meal-Prep High-Protein Lunches From Trader Joe's
Set yourself up for a delicious week with grab-and-go high-protein lunches that call for as few as four ingredients from your neighborhood Trader Joe's. By following these step-by-step meal prep lunch plans, you can prepare these healthy lunches in 20 minutes or less. We keep these recipes at four servings, assuming that at least one day per week you'll be taking leftovers or eating out.
Store these healthy lunches in an air-tight meal-prep container to keep fresh (To buy: amazon.com, $30 for 5). Store any dressings separate in a leak-proof container (To buy: amazon.com, $11.50 for 8) to prevent wilting and wait to add till ready to eat
Green Goddess Quinoa Bowls with Arugula & Shrimp
Ready in: 20 minutes | Protein per serving: 15 grams
To add extra protein (while minimizing prep time), take advantage of Trader Joe's fully cooked quinoa, which you can find in the freezer section. While you're there, grab a bag of frozen cooked shrimp, which thaw in 2 to 3 minutes. With a few more easy ingredients, you'll have what you need to assemble these lunch bowls, which boast an impressive 15 grams of protein per serving.
Step 1: Heat quinoa
Follow the microwave directions on the box of Trader Joe's frozen Fully Cook Quinoa to prepare quinoa (you'll need both pouches). Once heated, transfer quinoa to a shallow bowl to cool completely before assembling the bowls.
Step 2: Portion out dressing
Transfer 2 tablespoons of Trader Joe's Green Goddess Salad Dressing (found near the salads in the refrigerated section) into each of 4 small lidded containers and refrigerate for up to 4 days.
Step 3: Assemble lunch containers (but leave the shrimp out for now)
Divide 1 package Trader Joe's Baby Wild Arugula among 4 single-serving containers (about 1¼ cups each). Top each with ½ cup quinoa and 2 tablespoons Trader Joe's Crumbled Feta Cheese. Seal and refrigerate for up to 4 days.
Step 4: Thaw shrimp
The morning before taking your lunch to go, transfer one-forth of the bag of Trader Joe's frozen Large Cooked Shrimp in a colander and run under cool water until thawed, about 2 to 3 minutes. Add to the meal-prep container. Dress with the salad dressing just before serving.
Thai-Style Chopped Salad with Sriracha Tofu
Ready in: 10 minutes | Protein per serving: 15 grams
We're using one of our all-time favorite salad mixes from Trader Joe's—Cruciferous Crunch—as the hearty base in these chopped salad bowls. Using pre-baked seasoned tofu from the refrigerated section cuts down on prep time.
Step 1: Thaw edamame
Bring 4 cups of water to a boil in a saucepan. Add 2 cups Trader Joe's frozen Shelled Edamame and boil for 4 minutes. Drain and rinse under cold running water; set aside. You can also thaw the edamame in the fridge overnight.
Step 2: Cube tofu
Remove tofu from two (7 ounce) packages of Trader Joe's Sriracha Flavored Baked Tofu. Cut into 1-inch cubes; set aside.
Step 3: Portion out vinaigrette
Transfer 2 tablespoons Trader Joe's Spicy Peanut Vinaigrette (found near the salads in the refrigerated section) into each of 4 small lidded containers and refrigerate for up to 4 days.
Step 4: Assemble lunch containers
Divide 1 package Trader Joe's Cruciferous Crunch Collection salad mix among 4 single-serving containers (about 2 ½ cups each). Top each with ½ cup edamame and one-fourth of the tofu. Seal containers and refrigerate for up to 4 days. Dress with the vinaigrette just before serving or, because this salad mix is hearty, you can dress these bowls up to 24 hours before serving to allow the flavors in this healthy chopped salad to marry.
Middle Eastern Salad Bowls with Chicken & Farro
Ready in: 20 minutes | Protein per serving: 33 grams
We're pairing two of Trader Joe's fan-favorite products—the Middle-Eastern inspired Balela Salad and 10 Minute Farro—to add protein, fiber and satisfying texture to these high-protein lunch bowls. To cut down on prep time, we're using pre-seasoned and grilled chicken breasts from the refrigerated section, bottled balsamic dressing and a few other ready-to-use ingredients.
Step 1: Cook farro & mix with the salad
Prepare Trader Joe's 10 Minute Farro in the microwave according to package directions. Allow to cool for 5 minutes. After the farro has cooled, mix in 1 (8 ounce) container Trader Joe's Balela Salad (located near the prepared salads); set aside.
Step 2: Portion out vinaigrette
Transfer 2 tablespoons Trader Joe's Balsamic Vinaigrette into each of 4 small lidded containers and refrigerate for up to 4 days.
Step 3: Slice chicken
Slice 1 (12-ounce) package Trader Joe's Grilled Lemon Pepper Chicken Breast (from the refrigerated section); set aside.
Step 4: Assemble lunch containers.
Divide 1 (5-ounce) package Trader Joe's Organic Baby Spinach among 4 single-serving containers (about 1 cup each). Top each with one-fourth of the chicken, one-fourth of the Balela-farro mixture and 2 tablespoons Trader Joe's Crumbled Feta Cheese with Mediterranean Herbs. Seal and refrigerate for up to 4 days. Dress with the vinaigrette just before serving.