Three Trader Joe’s Meal Hacks

Trader Joe's Meal Hacks

When we were in Fire Island a couple weeks ago, my friend Linsey disappeared into the tiny kitchen of our rental house, with five little kids running underfoot. Fifteen minutes later, she emerged with the most delicious pulled pork tacos. Crazily enough, she revealed that she had used mostly Trader Joe’s stuff. Here’s her “recipe,” plus a few others…

From Linsey:

Pulled Pork Tacos
TJ BBQ Pulled Pork
TJ Tortillas
TJ Mango Salsa
TJ Shredded Mexican Blend Cheese

Heat up the pulled pork. Then pile on tortilla with mango salsa, cheese and avocado. That’s it!

From my sister:

Trader Joe's Meal Hacks

Boursin and Pea Ravioli

Any kind of TJ Ravioli
1/2 container of Boursin cheese (which Trader Joe’s sells CHEAP)
Dash of olive oil
1/2 cup TJ frozen peas
1/2 pack of TJ Organic Baby Spinach (optional)

Make the ravioli and peas separately. Then mix together, and stir in Boursin and olive oil. If you’d like, stir in baby spinach, which will wilt when mixed with the warm pasta. Add pepper to taste.

From my mom:

Trader Joe's Meal Hacks

Stuffed Red Peppers
Half bag of TJ Harvest Grains
Half can of TJ Cowboy Caviar
4 red peppers
Sour cream

Make half the bag of harvest grains. Then mix in half the can of Cowboy Caviar (or more if you’d like it spicier). Cut off the top of the red peppers and pull out any seeds or ribs. Fill peppers with mixture. Put in a baking pan covered with foil in a 375 degree oven for 30 minutes. Serve with sour cream or yogurt.

What Trader Joe’s recipe hacks do you have? I also want to try these easy fish tacos.

P.S. The fanciest Trader Joe’s dessert, and how to get kids to eat vegetables.

(Top photo by Stella Blackmon, second two photos by Tory Williams for Cup of Jo. This post isn’t sponsored, we just love Trader Joe’s:)

  1. Terry Goodman says...

    Taking several of your Trader Joes hacks out to our house on Fire Island! Everything is closed for the season, so these simple but innovative recipes are a great way to one stop shop and carry minimal ingredients to the beach. And SO delicious!

  2. Katie N says...

    rediscovered this from your vacay highlight posts! I need to read through everything since I now work above a Trader Joes. The elevator literally goes from our floor to the TJ parking garage. Magic! My meal hack is 2/3 of one carton of the roasted red pepper tomato soup mixed with one of the frozen Chana Masala (seasoned chickpea) entrees. It was a tasting sample in the store. Magic! And then, the joy I added in – I roast a head of cauliflower over the weekend, so it’s ready to toss in/thicken up. Sometimes toss in a can of chickpeas, too. Serve with their garlic naan…insta-meal :-)

  3. Monica says...

    Easy go to TJ meal hack, green chile pork:
    1 package Traditional Pork Carnitas
    1 jar green chile salsa
    1 can diced green chiles
    1 package tortillas, we prefer corn for this recipe
    Onion diced. Any kind of onion or use package of precut

    Chop pork carnitas into 2” cubes
    Sauté onion, pork cubes until onion is translucent stirring occasionally
    Add can of diced green chile and sauté for about a minute
    Add jar of green chile salsa plus water. I add a little water to the chile jar, about half a cup of water, replace lid, shake and pour this into pan.
    Stir and simmer over medium heat for about 10 minutes. F mixture starts to dry up, add a little more water.
    After 10 minutes, I take a wooden spoon and break up the meat cubes.
    Stir until mixed.
    Serve over warmed tortillas
    Garnish with sour cream, avocado and or shredded Mexican blend cheese. Enjoy!

    Sometimes we mix it up and add the TJ red enchilada sauce to the pork and onion sauté instead of the can of diced green Chile’s and jar of green chile salsa. We prefer flour tortillas with the “red” version.

  4. Lindsay Grega says...

    Omg. I am like a kid in a candy store .. just linked to your blog from the Food52 newsletter and I LOVE these TJ hacks!! Amazing! Can’t wait to try bunches of them .. keep me coming!

  5. Jacklyn says...

    I added two Trader Joe’s chicken apple sausage to the ravioli mix and it turned out incredible!

  6. Stephanie Johnson says...

    My favorite Trader Joe meal is one container of their refrigerated olive tapenade, 1 tin of anchovies, drained, 2-4 cubes of the frozen garlic, 1 jar of TJ arrabbiata sauce, and 1 bag of the rotini of your choice. I like their brown rice and lentil pasta corkscrews but they also have the regular kind. Oh and a jar of capers! I sauté the olive tapenade with the anchovies until the anchovies disintegrate then add garlic and the sauce. Simmer until the pasta is ready! Add 1-2 tbsp capers and some chopped fresh parsley to the top and some grated Parmesan!

  7. Lynn says...

    TJ’s frozen breaded eggplant, 1 jar of marinara and shredded mozzarella. Cover the bottom of a casserole dish with marinara. Add a layer of eggplant medallions (about half), then cover with marina and a layer of mozzarella. Repeat, ending with cheese on top. Bake about 45 minutes.

  8. Mac says...

    Trader Giotto’s! It’s the little things.

  9. Carey Rudell says...

    2 cans wild sockeye salmon
    dill – dried or fresh
    Juice of 1 lemon
    olive oil
    any TJ’s pasta
    frozen green peas

    Puree the salmon, dill, lemon juice, and olive oil, along with a little ground pepper, in the food processor until smooth. Boil the noodles. Heat the green peas. Then, mix the salmon sauce, green peas, and noodles together. It sounds strange but it’s my kids’ favorite meal.

    • Ereene says...

      This sounds interesting! How much dill do you use?

  10. Dolly says...

    a bag of Chimichurri rice
    A can of Cuban black beans
    1/2 cup frozen corn

    • Dolly says...

      Woops forgot to finish this

      Place in a saute pan until hot. Sometimes I grate cheese on the top and serve with salsa

    • Kate says...

      All that plus a container of their roasted red pepper soup. Delish!

  11. anna maria says...

    a little late to this party, but I LOVE a good trader joe meal hack. here’s mine (it’s gluten-free!)

    TJs Organic Brown Rice Fusili Pasta
    TJs Pesto
    TJs Julienned Sun-dried Tomatoes in Oil
    TJs Goat Cheese
    TJs pine nuts

    1. Boil the pasta. Toast the pine nuts.
    2. Mix together warm pasta, pesto, sun-dried tomatoes (with some of their oil), goat cheese & toasted pine nuts.

    Delicious warm & excellent cold for lunch the next day ;)

  12. Susan says...

    Super easy soup:
    1 box of TJ Latin Style Black Bean Soup
    1 pkg prepared TJ Traditional Carnitas (found I n the deli section)
    1 bag frozen TJ Chimichurri Rice with vegetables

    Heat the soup with the shredded carnitas and rice.
    You can top with a dollop of sour cream and/or chunks of avocado if you’d like, but it’s got plenty of flavor on its own.

  13. My new favorite TJ’s hack is:

    1 can of Jackfruit
    1 jar of thai green chili sauce
    1 bag of frozen rice

    I throw the jackfruit and sauce in the crockpot while I am making breakfast in the morning, and by lunch I have something ready! Throw a bag of mixed veggies on the stove with some frozen rice.. so delish!

  14. Claire says...

    My favorite easy TJ meal…their Chicken Tikka Masala simmer sauce + Frozen Peas + Chicken breast + Basmati Rice + their Frozen Garlic Naan. Ready in 20 minutes! If I don’t feel like dealing with chicken breasts, I’ve also used their Roasted Garlic Chicken Sausage and it’s also delicious.

  15. Stefania says...

    I don’t have a name for it but we make this easy delicious soup all with shelf stable or frozen ingredients so its easy to have on hand and soooo good.

    -1 carton tomato roasted red pepper soup
    -1 can cuban style black beans (drained)
    -1/2 package frozen fire roasted corn
    -any rice

    combine the soup, beans, and corn and heat long enough until the frozen corn is hot. add the rice in separately otherwise it absorbs the soup. super delicious and filling and under $5 for the whole pot

  16. Brier Willis says...

    A super easy favorite that is great for meal prep lunches.

    ground turkey browned and mixed with cowboy cavier.
    put that on top of some riced cauliflower and sprinkle on some goat cheese.

  17. Maddie says...

    I just realized I was reading all of these but not contributing my own! Here are a couple of my go-tos:

    Sweet Potato Gnocchi
    – Sweet Potato Gnocchi (Frozen)
    – Arugula
    – Spicy Chicken Sausage
    – Onions/Mushrooms/Tomatoes

    Mediterranean Salad
    – Mediterranean-spiced Feta
    – Diced cucumbers, tomatoes, and onions
    – 1 can chickpeas
    – Season w/ lemon juice, salt, and pepper

  18. Jen says...

    I was there the other day and they were sampling a dip that was phenomenal. It was a pack of their jalapeño artichoke dip mixed with 1/4 bag of their roasted corn (from the freezer section) and mozzarella cheese served with tortilla chips! Delicious!

  19. Hillary says...

    My FAVORITE easy dip for a party is made exclusively with ingredients from Trader Joe’s:
    -1 package of pre-cooked lentils
    -1 container of their bruschetta mix
    -1 container of crumbled feta

    Mix together in a bowl and serve with crackers or pita chips. SO tasty!

  20. Renee says...

    What wonderful ideas – more like this please!

  21. Vanessa says...

    My husband is away for work this week, and these recipes have been a great way to make quick meals for my toddler and me. Thanks!

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      so glad, vanessa!

  22. Adrienne says...

    I like to make a room-temp salad with:
    – whole wheat spaghetti noodles (cooked, drained)
    – a package of raw cruciferous crunch
    – the spicy peanut dressing to taste (it’s not so spicy that my 6 year-old can’t eat it)
    – sesame seeds or crushed peanuts
    – if I want a protein, some chicken, tofu, or shrimp.
    This is so easy, and friends have appreciated it after having a baby/ as a potluck offering because it’s filling but fairly healthy.

  23. Joanna Tsay says...

    Not.sure if this has already been mentioned, but the fresh bruschetta sauce with steamed green lentils. Mix together. Eat with multigraph tortilla chips. So good!

  24. Christine Webb says...

    My question about their tasted like chemicals, smelled like chemical. After eating a few bites, I couldn’t eat any more of it. The burps were even worse. And according to the ingredients, there should be no way it should taste that was the really wide noodles. Everything else I’ve tried from there is awesome!

  25. Christine Webb says...

    My question about their tasted like chemicals, smelled like chemical. After eating a few bites, I couldn’t eat any more of it. The burps were even worse. And according to the ingredients, there should be no way it should taste that was the really wide noodles.

  26. Nicole says...

    The Boursin and Pea Ravioli was also terrific with their Lobster Ravioli! Husband loved it!!

  27. Robin says...

    These are fantastic hacks! My TJ must-haves are always the edamame hummus (for a sandwich spread) and the mushroom and black truffle flatbread. I wanted to share this Food & Wine article on what actual chefs by from TJ’s… I had so much fun reading this!

  28. I made the ravioli tonight and my husband instantly asked where I got the idea :) Thanks for sharing!

  29. Lennie says...

    I love this post so much! I read all of the comments for more ideas, too. This post saved my butt for this week’s meal planning.

    • Lennie says...

      P.S. We tried the pulled pork recipe last night and my husband loved it!

  30. Amy P says...

    I made the Boursin pasta tonight. I had high hopes but it was pretty mediocre. I weighed out the 1 lb pasta it called for but I think it needed much less; we could barely taste the Boursin and the texture was not at all creamy. Maybe 2/3-3/4 lb pasta? I kinda want to try it again because I feel like it’s got such potential.

    • Nicole says...

      Hi Amy,

      The Ravioli is in an 8.8 oz pkg. A pound of pasta would be too much. Maybe give it another shot with less.

  31. My favorite TJ hack I beet salad
    Makes 2 servings

    1 pack baby beets
    1 pack fresh mint
    1 goat cheese medallion (it comes in a package of about 5 medallions)
    Balsalmic vinagrette
    Toasted pecan pieces (or your nut of choice)
    1 orange

    1) Chop up the beets and orange, divide into 2 bowls
    2) Cut or use fingers to split goat cheese into pieces. Drop half onto each salad
    3) Sprinkle each salad with pecans
    4) Garnish with torn pieces of mint
    5) Drizzle in balsamic vinagrette and Enjoy!!

  32. Roxana says...

    Was at TJ’s yesterday and I thought of this post and picked-up the pulled pork taco supplies and the Boursin (the entire package of which I could eat entirely on my own. . . sans cracker :) and ravioli supplies. Looking forward to trying these out this weekend! Love TJ’s. They should sponsor you ;). Thanks for these great meal ideas!

  33. Amy says...

    My toddler won’t touch it, but a favorite TJ’s lunch of mine:

    Heat up their frozen garlic naan. Top with a mashed avocado and a tin of smoked trout. Finish with salt, red pepper flakes, olive oil, and a drizzle of balsamic.

    Toddler approved: TJ’s smoked Apple Chardonnay chicken sausage + Pioneer woman’s red pepper pasta (sauce can be doubled and frozen without the cream)

  34. Karen says...

    Warm Lentil Salad – Saute pancetta cubes (you can buy them already cubed at TJs) in a bit of oil, add in TJ’s mirepoix, add TJ’s ready to eat lentils, top with a bit of chicken broth, salt, pepper, fresh or dried thyme and 1 bay leaf. Let simmer for about 15 minutes. After removing from the heat, add 1 tbsp sherry vinegar (this is key for flavor). Mix and serve. I sometimes add oven roasted zucchini and/or cauliflower on top so it feels like a complete meal.

  35. Loving all these posts! Everyone is so creative, I’ve got a ton more easy meal ideas now! I suffer from Fibromyalgia so as much as I love to cook, my body can ‘t tolerate long hours in the kitchen anymore so TJ’s has been a huge help in simplifying and improvising!

    Couple more of my go-to TJ faves:

    Chicken medallions in red coconut curry sauce that they have in the deli section. I take a bag of TJ’s frozen stir fried veggies that you can steam in the microwave and mix those in with the chicken medallions and serve over a pack of the TJ microwave frozen red sprouted rice. You get a few servings out of it when in a pinch and its less than 10 mins (maybe even 5) to throw together!

    Chicken, egg, & potato salad (Persian Salad Olivieh) easy TJ version –
    I take 1 large potato and 3 eggs and boil them (hardboil for eggs, potato should be soft enough to mash) and add a can of TJ’s chicken in broth. Mash everything together, add mayo to whatever your desired creaminess, add a pack of the TJs chopped Miripoix mix of onions, carrots, and celery, and a pack of TJs peeled and ready to eat edamame, season with TJ’s 21 Solute and sea salt, and optional pepper, garlic & turmeric and mix thoroughly . I like to serve as lettuce wraps with the romaine hearts, or its good for sandwiches or toast or crackers or wraps. Lasts a couple of days for lunches for my hubs & I!

    Pizza Pasta – I like to fry up a pack of the Italian bacon and chopped Italian sausage, a pack of the sliced mushrooms, a small can of sliced black olives, and a pack of the frozen roasted peppers – all in the TJ’s garlic infused olive oil and season with the 21 solute and sea salt. Then I make a pack of whatever TJs gluten free pasta I feel like that day, and combine everything with a jar of the Tomato Basil pasta sauce. Then I add a layer of shredded cheese to the top and a layer of pepperoni slices on top of that and put it under the broiler for a few minutes. Delish and everything comes from TJs, a lot of food and super easy!

    • KE says...

      Love this!!! Thank you! ❤️

    • KE says...

      This is amazing! Thank you!

  36. Love this! So handy for those quick meals that still need to be delish!

  37. Jane B. says...

    Who’s published the Trader Joe’s Meal Planner?!!!?! Where can I get my hands on it?!! Please tell me is is complete with maps of the store on where to find that sauce that goes with those things that need to be dipped in it. Wouldn’t it make THE perfect holiday hostess gift!!!!?!!

    • Sandi says...

      I would like a copy of that.