6 Trader Joe's Products That Make Meal Prep a Breeze, According to Dietitians
Trader Joe's is great for saving time, money and energy in the kitchen. Not only does the grocer have amazing frozen foods for ready-to-eat meals, as well as snack packs, dips, condiments, desserts and more, but it also happens to have several items that are specifically geared towards meal prep. If you aren't sure what Trader Joe's items to buy and keep at home to simplify the meal-prep process, here are a few picks from dietitians who swear by their taste and nutrition.
Vegan Kale Cashew Basil Pesto
This pesto is an amazing dip that works well in a variety of meals. "In the summer, I like to make my own basil pesto, but even then I sometimes want something easier. I always buy several of these and freeze them so I can pull them out whenever I'm in a pinch and need to add last-minute flavor to a dish," says Kelly Jones MS, RD, CSSD, LDN.
Jones likes to use it as a seasoning beyond just a dip. "When I meal prep, I like to prep ingredients that can pair together in a variety of ways, so I use the pesto to season starches like potatoes and proteins (like tofu) after roasting," she says. You could also spread it on a sandwich or a plate of grilled or roasted veggies!
Organic Low-Sodium Vegetable Broth
This broth is simple and has only a handful ingredients, so it works as a great base for pretty much anything! "There is no vegetable broth on the market that provides as much flavor as Trader Joe's organic low-sodium vegetable broth. It's more thick and flavorful than any others I've tried, so I use it not only for soups when meal prepping but also to add more flavor and moisture to roasted vegetables," says Jones.
Fully Cooked Brown Rice and Quinoa
These two frozen boxed grains are perfect for sides, grain bowls, stir-fries and more, so they are major meal-prep time-savers. "I mix half frozen brown rice and half quinoa into my lunch prep bowls, adding in frozen veggies and a protein. I can quickly grab and go on my way to work and heat up in the break room," says Gabrielle McGrath, MS, RD, LDN, a dietitian for Baze.
It's a super simple, but a well-balanced meal! Both quinoa and brown rice are whole grains, meaning they have a bit more fiber than their white rice or refined grain counterparts, so it will help keep you full for longer during the workday.
Organic Tropical Fruit Blend
Use TJ's frozen fruit varieties for smoothie prep bags. "Trader Joe's has a wide variety of frozen fruit at great prices, often a bit cheaper than conventional frozen fruit options at supermarkets and other grocery stores," says McGrath. "For easy prep for smoothies (whether that's for breakfast or a snack during the day), grab five reusable silicone bags and fill them with 1 cup frozen fruit, a handful of greens (spinach or kale), seeds such as chia, flax or hemp…really any combo of smoothie ingredients you enjoy," she says. Pack 'em up and throw them in the freezer. That way they are ready to be dumped into your blender each morning and all you need to do is add the liquid (like your favorite plant- or dairy-based milk).
Miso Vegetables and Brown Rice Sauté Kit
"The miso vegetable and brown rice sauté kit is a new favorite when I'm low on time. I love to make stir-fry, but the time it takes to chop veggies, cook rice and make a sauce adds up, and this kit comes with everything you need except the protein," says Jones. After you enjoy it for dinner, pair leftovers with eggs at breakfast. For your dinner protein, try steak, chicken, shrimp or tofu!
These lentils are steamed and ready to eat, so you don't need to worry about cooking them from scratch. "Most people think of canned lentils when they hear they're already cooked, but Trader Joe's Cooked Lentils are sold in the produce section and have a much better texture," says Jones. "I use them on top of salads, for a quick taco night, and in chilis or soups. You can even make your own lentil burgers," she says.