I’m fiercely committed to getting a home cooked meal on the table for my family every night (well, at least 5 out of 7 nights a week!). But sometimes that means taking a little help from the store. While planning ahead and batch cooking can take me a long way on busy weeknights, sometimes I’m really short on time for meal prep and need one of my go-to Trader Joes meal hacks to get dinner on the table.
Thank goodness for Trader Joes! These dinner hacks make it possible to get a homemade-ish meal on the table. Ready in about 20 minutes, these meals use prepared foods and take advantage of the delicious offerings available at my favorite grocery store. And…these happen to be some of my kids’ favorite dinners.
Watch the video below for some of my favorite Trader Joe’s dinner hacks and let me know which one you’re trying in your meal plan next week!
My Favorite Trader Joe’s Dinner Hacks
Chili Potato Bowls
Vegetarian Canned Chili + Russet Potato + Chili Toppings
This is one of my kiddos’ favorite meals, and it’s so simple. I use the canned veggie chili from Trader Joe’s. Amy’s Kitchen also makes a great one. Bake (or microwave) potatoes. Split and carve them open into a bowl-like shape and top with a ladle full of chili and your favorite accompaniments. This meal also works great with tator tots in place of Russets (and also with sweet potatoes for added nutritional value).
Trader Joe’s Vegetable Fried Rice + Tofu + DIY marinade or Soyaki + kale + broccoli florets
This is one of my favorite comfort food meals. Trader Joe’s fried rice mix is already delicious on its own but when you add more plant power with kale, broccoli and marinated tofu, it gets a major flavor upgrade. Marinate the tofu in the morning while making breakfast to speed up the meal prep even more.
Frozen falafel + bag of pita + bag of Organic Mediterranean Style Salad Kit + hummus
Hold the cheese in the Trader Joe’s Mediterranean Salad Kit and this meal is vegan! Spoon a heaping serving into a pita, top some chopped falafel and a dollop of hummus.
Trader Joe’s also has a yummy tabbouleh and balela (chickpea salad) in the refrigerated foods section by the carton salads that would also make delicious sides or fillings for the pitas. I serve these with their stuffed grape leaves (located in the spaghetti aisle next to the olives).
Italian Sausage Calzones
Trader Joe’s Italian sausage + pizza sauce + pizza dough + dairy-free cheese
This is a fun twist on pizza! Divide the pizza dough into 4 balls. Roll out each ball of dough and spread with sauce. Top with the sausage, cheese (and any other toppings). Fold in half and bake for 10 minutes at 350 degrees.
Spaghetti and “Meat”Balls
Bag of meatless meatballs + can of marinara sauce + spaghetti
This is one of the easiest Trader Joes dinner hacks on the list! Just heat the “meat” balls in a pot with the marinara sauce. (I love their can of marinara sauce.) Serve over your family’s favorite pasta. Toss up one of Trader Joe’s bagged salads for an easy and healthy side dish. (They have a Caesar salad in a bag that’s vegan without the cheese.)
Italian Pasta Primavera
Linguine + bruschetta + can of artichoke hearts + olives
My kids love for bruschetta and olives inspired this quick and easy dinner hack. We love the bruschetta from Trader Joe’s in the refrigerated section. Combine cooked linguine with the bruschetta, artichoke hearts and sliced Kalamata olives. That’s it and dinner is served. Sometimes I add cannelinni beans to the mix. The most time consuming part of this meal is cooking the pasta. If you’re feeling fancy, toss together a salad and slice some ciabatta while the pasta cooks.
Trader pizza dough + pizza sauce + dairy-free cheese + sliced olives (or any other topping)
With just 4 ingredients, this fun and easy dinner is prepped in 10 minutes (and cooked in another 10). My kids love these packed for lunch too!
Bottle of Yellow Curry Sauce + block of firm tofu + bag of cauliflower florets + box of jasmine rice
My eldest daughter, Gaby, is obsessed with this sauce from Trader Joe’s. It’s mild so it’s very kid friendly. She doesn’t love that I add in the cauliflower, but a vegan mom’s gotta do what she’s gotta do! Saute chopped garlic in 1 tablespoon of olive oil, along with the cauli florets. Cook for about 7 minutes and stir in the tofu (chopped into bite size squares). Pour in the sauce and cook until heated through.
My daughter loves it served over the jasmine rice, but it’s also equally tasty served as a lettuce wrap. Top a lettuce leaf with with a spoonful of Trader Joe’s Yellow Curry Chopped Salad Kit. (It’s vegan without the dressing.) Spoon some of the tofu curry on top. Dress with a squeeze of fresh lime.
Box of frozen jasmine rice + block of teriyaki tofu + edamame + shredded carrots + avocado + Persian cucumber
These are a family favorite and make it in our dinner or lunchbox rotation at least twice a month. The most time consuming part of this Trader Joes dinner hack is chopping up all the veggie toppings (which only takes about 10 minutes). I serve this salad bar style and let the fam build their sushi bowl as they like. I serve tamari (soy sauce), dulse flakes, nori strips and gomasaio (seasoned sesame seeds) on the side for extra flavor and fun!
Tofu & Veggie Stir Fry
Bag of coleslaw mix + broccoli florets + baked tofu + Asian sauce + frozen Jasmine rice
The teriyaki baked tofu from Trader Joe’s is a tasty choice for this stir fry. I get jasmine rice from Trader Joe’s. Saute a few cloves of garlic in your oil of choice, along with the vegetables. Cook until desired tenderness. Drizzle in Soyaki (or your favorite sauce). Stir in chopped baked tofu. Serve over the rice.
Trader Joe’s Miso Ramen + baby bok choy + edamame + shiitake mushrooms + green onions
With just a few fresh veggies and TJ’s cup of ramen, you’ve got a delicious soup in 5 minutes. Yes…5 minutes!!!
I’d love to hear which of the Trader Joes dinner hacks above is your favorite. Tell me in the comments below!
Falafel photos by Canva.