I’ve loved to cook since I was in grade school though I would have considered myself more of a baker than a cook. Layer cakes and brownies? I was your girl! I didn’t really start cooking until the summer between my sophomore and junior year of college. I moved off-campus and cancelled my campus meal plan. Chicken tenders (pronounced TEN-dahs) and insanely greasy quesadillas were no longer an option. I could’ve forked over the $6 or $7 to get these dishes but after feeling like I had eaten them for free for two years thanks to my student ID, I just couldn’t bring myself to do it. It was a matter of principle. Though I wasn’t above begging underclassmen friends to swipe me in. But now I’m getting off topic.
It was around this time I discovered Trader Joe’s. I’d heard about it from West Coast friends but I assumed it was just another version of Whole
Paycheck Foods. I’ve carefully documented my love/obsession of Trader Joe’s so for those of you DC Girl veterans, I won’t bore you with a repeat performance. New readers (Welcome!!!), you can read my love letters to Trader Joe’s here. Click here to read my scientific thoughts on Trader Joe’s microwave meals.
When I go to Trader Joe’s, I usually do about 3 laps in the frozen section. Not because I’m crazy, though if you see me at Trader Joe’s you might think that. I once spent at least 10 minutes staring at the olive oils. But because there are so many hidden gems in that section.
Like I said, I love to cook and get a genuine thrill over conquering a recipe and creating a delicious meal for myself. I will channel my inner Barefoot Contessa and imagine my paperclip sized kitchen is Ina’s impeccable Hamptons one. Maybe I am crazy.
But I’m human and there are nights where I get home later than usual. And I still have to write tomorrow’s post and oh yeah, I’m usually ravenous when I get home late. I need a meal in minutes so I don’t just inhale everything in my pantry like some kind of Hoover vacuum. I know I will pay the price for this binge dearly the next morning when I have to zipper up my outfit.
So, I’m sure you’re thinking, “Lauren. Get to the d*** point.” The point is I make sure I have a couple of frozen meals from Trader Joe’s locked and loaded in my freezer to get called into active duty when I need a meal and I need it now. Even if you’re not in a rush to eat, these meals are delicious to keep around for those nights you’d rather Netflix binge Parks and Recreation than cook + do dishes. Been there, done that.
Cioppino Seafood Stew: This bad boy was the inspiration to pull this post together. I tossed it into my basket on a whim and had it for dinner last week after a particularly exhausting day. I was pleasantly surprised with how generous the seafood serving was. The shrimp was a tad chewy but other than that, I was a happy camper. This dish is spicy and had my lips burning for several minutes after eating it. Note that one bag makes two cups. And I ate both cups. Sharing is overrated when a dish is this tasty. If you are cooking for two, I’d suggest getting each person a bag or making this an appetizer instead of the main course. Add crusty bread to soak up the spicy seafood stew if you’re feeling fancy.
Burritos: I think we can all agree that burritos are a gift from above to humanity. Soft carb pillows nestled with veggies, beans, cheese, chicken or beef. My mouth is watering just thinking about it. Frozen burritos are a great freezer staple: perfect for dinner + next day lunch. Or if you wake up feeling (ahem) “under the weather” over the weekend. Dip into Trader Joe’s salsa or reduced guilt guacamole for extra taste points. The only winners of that game are your tastebuds.
Arugula Pizza: I’m pretty certain my naan pizza is the easiest pizza recipe of all time. But sometimes, you don’t have the ingredients and sometimes, you just want the satisfaction of taking a pizza out of the box and immediately put it in the oven. No fuss, no mess. I love TJ’s Arugula Pizza for these times: the crust is crispy and the arugula and tomatoes taste like they’re fresh. Again, if you want to feel fancy, drizzle the pizza with balsamic vinegar or sprinkle some feta because let’s face it, sometimes four types of cheese just isn’t enough. Or add fresh arugula for double the peppery flavor.
Lamb Vindaloo: If there’s one cuisine that Trader Joe’s does right frozen, it’s Indian. If you are a fan of spicy dishes, you will achieve nirvana with this dish. Large chunks of lamb in a deliciously heat-happy sauce paired with fragrant basmati rice. Just YES. I always keep this meal in my frozen rotation, serve with a slice of Trader Joe’s frozen naan for a fuller meal.
I might have to do a Part Two of this post because there were so many other wonderful frozen meals that didn’t make the cut. I’m talking about you, Linguine with Clam Sauce. I’m comin’ for ya.
Do you have a favorite Trader Joe’s frozen meal? Have you also lapped a section in the grocery store three times? Please please please say yes!!
* * *
Twitter | Pinterest | Instagram | Bloglovin’