Food

Trader Joe’s Dinner Hack

Trader Joe's Pot Pie Recipe

What comfort foods do you make when it’s freezing outside? Our friend Linsey whips up these mini vegetable pot pies, made with Trader Joe’s ingredients. They’re warm, filling and couldn’t be easier. Here’s how to make them…

Trader Joe’s Shortcut Pot Pies
Makes 6-8

You’ll need:

Yellow onion, diced
1 bag frozen TJ Colorful Carrot Coins
1 bag frozen TJ Mushroom Medley
2 tbsp TJ Garlic Herb Butter
Salt and pepper
1 tbsp flour
2 cups vegetable stock
Lemon
Maple syrup
1/4 tsp TJ Multipurpose Umami Seasoning Blend
1 bag TJ English peas
1 package TJ frozen pie crusts, thawed

Preheat oven to 400F. Over medium heat on the stove, sauté onions, carrots and mushrooms in garlic herb butter, salt and pepper for 5 minutes, or until vegetables are tender. Remove the vegetables from heat, and sprinkle with flour to coat.

Put back on heat, and add vegetable stock, a squeeze of fresh lemon, a drizzle of maple syrup and a dash of umami seasoning. Simmer to desired thickness, and remember, it will thicken a bit more in the oven. Add in peas.

Spoon vegetable mixture into ramekins and top with pie crust (or phyllo dough, if you’d prefer). Bake for 30 minutes. Enjoy!

Trader Joe's Pot Pie Recipe

Thanks for the idea, Linsey! (And see her apartment tour here, if you’d like.)

P.S. More Trader Joe’s recipes, including sweet potato gnocchi and coconut shrimp tacos.

(Photos by Posie Brien for Cup of Jo. This post isn’t sponsored, we just really like Trader Joe’s:)

  1. Kay says...

    Soo…what’s the deal with the serious love for Trader Joes? I’m Canadian and have never set foot in one, but the fan club is pretty serious. Is it just a Whole Foods with really nice employees?

    • Elisabeth says...

      Nice (almost TOO nice in a weird, let’s talk about the amount of fiber in that bread kind of way) employees. Unique products like the Umami seasoning, the Everything But The Bagel Seasoning, and OMG during the holidays they put out some great stuff. They also have really, really, reasonably priced GOOD wine and cheese!

      Another reason to love Trader Joe’s is that it’s small. I don’t think I realized it until years of shopping there but it’s somewhat relaxing to have less to choose from. Plus, no trashy magazines. I guess others could see that as a con but I really appreciate those particular qualities.

    • Not like Whole Foods, in that T.J.’s is more than affordable. Great prices, innovative, and always delicious. They take back/refund easily if you didn’t like something. Never a problem.
      Been shopping there since the early 80’s, Lucky me.
      San Diego.

    • Jessica says...

      I’ve personally never understood the hype. Sure they have a few unique, good tasting products. But they are big on premade/prepackaged items and so much of their produce is packaged, which is such a waste. They also ship their produce from all over, not very green friendly. If you have a grocery store near you that locally sources items, you are much better off going there. Also, people seem to have an impression that everything there is healthy and that is far from the truth.

  2. Cynthia says...

    We like a pot roast, beef stew, chicken and dumplings or soup when it is really cold. Leftover pot roast or stew makes a great pot pie. My husband makes a homemade crust which I taught him how to make. Trader Joe’s is not close enough to us to make shopping there worthwhile. Aldi and Lidl both have great produce.

    • Bethany G Suckrow says...

      I think you just changed my life with the leftover stew-turned-pot pie idea. I’m from the Midwest and I can’t believe I’ve never thought of this before or seen anyone else do this, but now that you’ve suggested it, it seems so obvious! Haha.

  3. Sara says...

    I love Trader Joe’s; my husband works there and they take great care of their employees and their families. One of the few things I don’t love (including all the plastic wrapped produce!) is that their prepared products rely heavily on palm oil. I don’t want to bum everyone out, but the palm oil industry is the leading cause of deforestation in many countries. Orangutans are awesome and endangered! It may not be the most effective way to help solve this issue, but I boycott any and all products that contain palm oil, including the otherwise wonderful TJ’s pie crust. Big love to all!
    https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/harvesting-palm-oil-and-rainforests/

    • Sophia says...

      Yup! Me too and it’s shocking how many products have palm oil! However, if I remember correctly, TJ’s puff pastry is butter based NOT palm oil based and it works great for pot pies. Unfortunately, I think it might be seasonal since I can’t find it all the time.

    • Ali says...

      YES! I’m so glad others care about this too! I wonder if TJ’s is doing anything to address their egregious sustainability issues?

  4. Bradley Wintet says...

    Fantastic recipe!
    I am so going to make this for my lady, but I was wondering if it would be ok the leave out the mushrooms? Thanks for your post.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      yes, definitely! you could also swap in potatoes. it’s one of those loose recipes for sure. happy valentine’s day!

  5. Keith says...

    Lindsay, thanks so much for this idea…I love TJ’sbut never tried their frozen crust… Now I will! I would probably add a few bits of last night’s leftover chicken as well, cut up in little pieces.
    I’m wondering if you have an idea to add a bit of crust to the bottom as well?

  6. Mary D. says...

    An even better hack is buying their small frozen chicken pot pies. :) They’re pretty yummy!!

    • Chen Cao says...

      Then it wouldn’t be called a hack ;)

  7. NN says...

    Since this is a congregation of TJ fans, I have a question: I love TJ but find that their vegetables and other perishables go bad way quicker than when I buy from other grocers. I love their English peas but the whole batch got fungus in just a day!
    I have done various control experiments with other brand grocery vegetables and have had this bad experience with only TJ’s vegetables. Just me?

    • NaD says...

      Yes, I’ve had TJ’s veggies go south often enough that I force myself to walk past the all the tempting produce. I stick with their frozen vegetables and fruits.

    • Vishakha Gupta says...

      I’ve had the same issue! I now go to farmers markets, whole foods, or farmstead.com for my produce and TJ’s for Cheese, salami and the like.

    • michaela says...

      This nearly always happens to me, too. I skip their produce now unless it’s something I’m planning to eat same-day (like grabbing a banana or apple before work.)

    • Amy says...

      Not just you. Quality isn’t great there.

    • Rez says...

      This drives me crazy! I’m so glad it’s not just me.
      The organic strawberries are always moldy before we can finish them. Ugh!
      I suffer the pain of their veggies because I just can’t stand to make yet another store stop. My tipping point is coming soon though, I can feel it.

    • Laura says...

      I had a horrible experience with their frozen brussels sprouts. They cooked up tough and chewy and seemed weirdly air-filled and hollow. Threw the remainder of the bag out. Like you, I know what I’m doing in the kitchen and have used national and store brands without encountering anything like this.

    • Christine Hart says...

      Same problem…2 almost full bags of arugula, french beans, tomatoes on the vine all bad within a day of bringing them home.

    • Hilary says...

      This may be of little help but TJ’s has an EXCELLENT return policy. Bring that back and get a refund! Even empty bags they’ll take. I’m taking back some cookies this week just because I didn’t love them. At least get you money back!

  8. Emily says...

    These look soooo good, especially since I am vegetarian. I also hate the wasteful packaging at Trader Joes, but sometimes I need the convenience. And as many of you have mentioned, it’s great for someone like my mom who can’t really use a knife anymore due to arthritis.

    Another TJ comfort food I just learned about ….Mix a bag of their frozen Chimichurri rice with a box of their Creamy Tomato Soup for a wonderful hearty and favorable bowl of goodness. Serve with cheese quesadillas or grilled cheese. Oh my word, yum! I need a couple of easy stress free meals like this each week.

  9. Christina says...

    Fast, easy comfort food is the best kind! For me, when it’s freezing out, nothing beats curling up on the couch with a mug of something warm and tasty. Currently loving this golden milk recipe since it is delicious and healthy at the same time, which is an unbeatable combo in my opinion! https://www.thriveayurveda.com/blog/golden-milk-recipe

    • Jill says...

      Hi Christina,
      Does it work to use cows milk? This combination of spices sounds heavenly!

    • Christina says...

      Yes, cow’s milk would definitely work! The spices are so nice together and warm you right up!

    • Golden Milk tastes 100% better with fresh turmeric other than the powder that is suggested in the recipe. Also there are way more nutrients in it that way. It’s advised to add coconut oil to your golden milk too as turmeric Needs the fat to break down – so I guess using cow’s milk can serve for adding that fat naturally too!
      Only beware of the turmeric stains on white kitchen tools/appliances and your own hands! :) If anyone has a tip on how to remove those, shoot!

  10. Those are actually my least favorite grocery store pie crusts, but I would totally make this recipe with another brand.
    You could make mini dessert pies, too – the TJs frozen blueberries, sugar, lemon juice, flour or cornstarch and some butter and done.

  11. Milka says...

    These do look yummy, but I’m sad to see a recipe that encourages buying so much packaging. This is not a sustainable way to cook! Many of these ingredients can be bought in bulk (flour for pie crust or whole from the priduce aisle (garlic, carrots, onion) which saves a lot of throw-away packaging.

    The world is having a crisis at the moment because China is no longer accepting our recycling. One of the best things we can do as consumers is to reject excessive packaging! Thanks COJ for listening.

    • Kelly says...

      Yes, thank you for saying it! It sounds harsh to say, but the health of our planet depends on people accepting some small inconveniences. Veggies really don’t take long at all to chop–especially if you have one of those quick-chop kitchen tools. I’d love to see CoJ talk more about the problems with plastic, sustainability, etc. (I remember one of their Week of Outfits featured a woman who only wears ethical/sustainable clothes, which was awesome.)

    • Karen says...

      Milka I’m thrilled to see your comment. Thanks for pointing out something so important! It does take a lot of effort as consumers to start thinking this way, but once you do, you realise how developing some changes in your habits (even something as simple as bringing cloth shopping bags to pack your items in, and not using the thin plastic bags in the produce dept – you wash the fruits and veg anyway before eating them!) can make a huge difference in cutting down on packaging.

    • Erin says...

      Or just buy already-made frozen pot pies from TJ’s. That would involve quite a bit less plastic packaging than purchasing the ingredients for this recipe separately as suggested in the post.

    • T says...

      I am thrilled to see so many comments about the wastefulness of excess packaging! So many more comments than even just a few months ago. (Yes, I know that pre-chopped stuff is necessary for some people, but let’s admit it, that’s the exception not the rule.)

    • b says...

      Agreed. I’m not a fan of waste and try to be as environmentally friendly as is feasible for me in this season of my life, but I am also a proponent of having options available for people who may be differently abled, whether from age or a lifelong disability. They may not have someone available to assist them all the time and pre-chopped veggies, fruits, etc. enable them to maintain a sense of independence they may not otherwise have. I say this having grown up with a disabled uncle. He could handle things like chopping veggies, but there were many things he couldn’t do and our family appreciated the resources available to him when we couldn’t be there.

    • Alix says...

      Thank you Milka for bringing up this important point! While these recipes do sound delicious and convenient, I quit TJ’s a few years back simply due to the packaging waste (not to mention the bouncer that sits outside mine due to crowding on weekends…). Even the shallots and tomatoes come in a plastic bag there!

      I’d love to see COJ bring attention to less wasteful dinner options that are still tasty and quick (<30 minutes).

    • Shannon McGuigan says...

      I’m echoing every woman on this thread–thank you Milka for your post! It makes me very happy to see so many informed consumers speaking up! Ideas to minimize waste but still enjoy convenience: 1)you could meal prep your own frozen veggie mix and reuse plastic bags you already have (better yet glass tupperware) or 2) make pot pies in bulk and freeze extras to pop in the oven for a quick dinner. I second everyone’s sentiment–please more sustainable posts on COJ! I especially think this topic deserves attention with respect to the beauty and fashion industries.

  12. stacey says...

    I know you aren’t a cooking site per se but a print button for your recipes would be delightful!

    • Kate says...

      Agreed! There are a few CoJ recipes that I’ve gone back to time and time again – it would be lovely to be able to print them easily!

    • Becky says...

      Screen capture and print! And then send it to your email as well 😀

  13. Ann Williams says...

    TJ pie crust is the BEST!

    • Kile says...

      They really are!!!

  14. BRB – on my way to Trader Joe’s!

  15. Sam says...

    These look great and very tasty! Would you guys consider doing a food series on food for one or smaller portions? I don’t know if you’ve done this before.

    • Rachel says...

      The Serious Eats podcast just did an episode with Anita Lo who published a cookbook last year called Solo: A Modern Cookbook. I’m married but it’s so satisfying when my husband has a late meeting so I can cook whatever I feel like (lately, that’s been mac and cheese :)

  16. Kat says...

    If you have celiac disease–stay away from carageenan. Not good for people or pets and I noticed that almost all products at TJ have carageenan!

    • Barbara says...

      They also load their products with added sodium.

    • gfy says...

      Wow this is a great step forward! Thanks for the link!

    • Samantha says...

      amazing news!!!!! thanks for sharing

  17. Wondering if you could freeze them prior to baking so you could pull them out as a prepped meal.

    • Franny Eremin says...

      I think that’s a great idea, Samantha!

  18. Liz says...

    Yum! Can’t wait to try this–I live by a TJs right now & I am trying to take MAXIMUM advantage.

    (Love that this is a vegetarian recipe too, btw! Thanks for the variety, Joanna.)

  19. Jean says...

    Thanks for the recipe, but I’m intrigued about the ‘English peas’….I’m in England, so I’m assuming they’re what we’d call garden peas or maybe their smaller sibling, the petit pois? Love that you call them English peas :)

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      yes! i love those tiny english peas :) my kids like to eat them frozen.

    • Kirsty says...

      Yes, coming from England this tickled me too!

  20. Gaby says...

    This looks delicious! I’ve read a lot about that Multipurpose Umami Seasoning Blend, but haven’t tried it yet. It does remind me, however, that I picked up a mushroom bouillon from my nearby Asian supermarket and it adds that Umami flavor and is so versatile! I grew up with my mom adding chicken bouillon to most dishes for that added flavor and this is a great option for when I’m making vegan meals.

    The mushroom bouillon comes in a yellow container with a cute cartoon mushroom on it, if anyone is interested.

  21. Andrea says...

    Yum, this looks so tasty and easy to make!

    I’m not super keen on the idea of TJ’s selling pre-diced onion in a plastic container though; it feels like such unnecessary waste. A bit reminiscent of a couple years ago when Whole Foods was selling pre-peeled oranges in plastic containers…

    • Una says...

      This!!! I love TJ’s (and this recipe looks delish!), but their packaging/heavy reliance on plastic is no bueno. I’m sure they have very logical reasons for why so much of the produce is packaged, but those reasons really don’t fly with my conscience. They are such a cool, fun food store (and aren’t TJ’s employees just the nicest humans??) so I wish their ecological footprint was as up to date as their tasty food ideas.

    • Alison says...

      Yes, I think the same thing. I stopped shopping at TJ’s completely a few years ago after realizing almost ALL of their products are in plastic. There are some things that I can’t find plastic free no matter where I go, but they feel very extreme :( bummed because I always loved their quality. My values geared toward environmentalism/waste reduction are way more important than saving a few minutes chopping an onion though.

    • Rita says...

      It’s important to remember that pre-chopped vegetables and fruit are really useful to some people – for example people who can’t use knives or other tools. Another way of looking at it is – we buy milk in cartons and cheese in packets, we don’t milk a cow ourselves!

    • Samantha says...

      i totally agree re: plastic.
      love the idea of this recipe, and for those that are able, it would be fairly easy to get a lot of the components plastic free (my local grocery store has mushrooms, carrots, onions, and even flour for homemade crust- in bulk) and use the same concept!

      an option for people who have carpal tunnel or other conditions that would prevent knife usage: buy a whole onion (or other thing), peel, chop the ends off, and then quickly pulse in a food chopper like this one: https://www.bedbathandbeyond.com/store/product/kitchenaid-reg-5-cup-food-chopper-in-white/5259728?skuId=66589082&&mrkgcl=609&mrkgadid=3249758698&rkg_id=0&enginename=google&mcid=PS_googlepla_nonbrand_kitchenaccessories_online&product_id=66589082&adtype=pla&product_channel=online&adpos=1o3&creative=228347162358&device=c&matchtype=&network=g&gclid=EAIaIQobChMI9aikz6W54AIV0pCfCh2wOgl3EAQYAyABEgJcT_D_BwE&gclsrc=aw.ds

    • gfy says...

      Why recycling is not integrated into stores like this I have no idea – it seems like such an entrepreneurial opportunity! I love TJ’s but only go occasionally and selectively shop only for things that allow me to recycle. Packaging is something that really presses on my conscience. Any scientists out there ready to disrupt the recycling industry??? Take it public and I’ll invest!

    • Hilary says...

      I agree that TJ’s is struggling with packaging and plastic but if you read their Fearless Flyer and website they’re making strides in improving the situation. I know I’ve seen major improvements at my local TJ’s including compostable produce and meat bags for example.

    • Danielle says...

      There are a lot of good points here. I know that Trader Joe’s has initiatives in place to reduce their packaging significantly. I think it’s easy to criticize packaged convenient foods because they seem frivolous.However as someone mentioned there are many people dependent on prepared foods for a variety of reasons. For many conditions even operating a food processor or peeling an onion for a chopper would be impossible. For a busy working family shortcuts like these could mean more time with their kids and an avoidance of take out which would carry it’s own packaging pitfalls. I do think it’s important to call out the use of plastic but also I think so many people are trying their best on any given day with what resources they have.

    • Abesha1 says...

      I’m a mostly from scratch, organic, low-waste, composting, local-veg-box-buying cook… but I am very allergic to raw onion. It’s a huge help to me when I can find pre-chopped onions! I’ve never seen organic ones, ever, sadly.
      And yet, I too once might have made the same comment! No judgement.

    • Ramona says...

      My 95-year-old grandma actually loves those pre-chopped onions. She’s got arthritis and tremors in her hands and can’t use sharp knives safely, but thanks to pre-chopped onions and other pre-portioned things, she can still prepare her own food. She loves cooking, resents any implication that her capacity to care for herself is at all diminished by age, and finds comfort in the taste of her own food. Simple rituals like preparing a familiar meal are an anchor to her own life for her. Just worth remembering that a product that may feel silly or lazy to one person may be necessary for another, and that doing away with these products altogether could have negative consequences for the people who they help most.

  22. Betsy says...

    How big are the ramekins??

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      about 3.5-4 inches in diameter, like these: http://bit.ly/2DAEM5z

    • Betsy says...

      Thanks, Joanna!

  23. Amanda says...

    That umami seasoning blend has become my new favorite thing from Trader Joe’s. It’s great on everything, from tofu to popcorn. I like that it has a little kick from the red chili flakes. (I also recommend the Chili Lime and Everything Bagel seasonings for popcorn, too.)

    • Mel Flohr says...

      Oh I never considered putting it on popcorn, genius!