Trader Joe’s is to you what the LEGO store is to your kids. A land of possibility that both delights and overwhelms. That’s why we’ve found six simple dinner recipes to help you navigate Trader Joe’s landscape, each one with a trick. From a five-minute meal even your Insta-pot can’t recreate to a fortified version of everyone’s favorite Mandarin Orange Chicken, these dishes will keep you warm and sane when the snow flies.
Warm Winter Salad
This easily assembled winter salad takes advantage of the fruits (and veggies!) of the season. It’s hearty enough to serve as a main dish but can double as a side just as easily. The trick? The warm vinaigrette dressing you whip up ahead of time and pour over a package of Trader Joe’s Cruciferous Crunch bagged salad mix to soften it up. Top the now slightly wilted salad with sliced yellow beets, edamame and pomegranate seeds that all come prepped and ready to go. Then throw on your favorite winter citrus (we’re partial to grapefruit) before serving. This dish hits all the healthy notes!
Trader Joe’s is on a mission to bring fondue back. We’re loving it because busy parents can throw this cheesy meal together faster than your Insta-pot can say “ready, set, go!” Simply heat a container of Trader Jacques’ La Fondue (made with three savory kinds of cheese) in the microwave for about five minutes. Let it sit for one or two more, and then bring it straight to the table (psst … no dishes or special cookware are part of this easy-peasy meal’s appeal), where you can have fresh fruit, veggie, and French bread pieces waiting. The only thing that would make this meal better is a matching container of chocolate fondue for dessert!
Butternut Squash Soup
Bring your best winter soup game with this lighting-quick meal that’ll warm your mini crew up from the inside. It starts with a box of Trader Joe’s butternut squash soup heated through on the stove. It finishes with all kinds of scrumptious, seasonal toppings your little chefs will love to toss into this healthy soup base (We’re digging dried cranberries, sour cream, and pumpkin seeds, but green onions, almonds, and goat cheese might be just as good!). Cater your topping choices so everyone in the fam gets to ladle up a bowl of their favorite flavors. Pair it with a box of Raisin Rosemary Crisps, and you’ve got the easiest, tastiest soup you’ve ever made.
Fortified Mandarin Orange Chicken
You know your little foodie will gobble this one up no matter what the season. So why not turn it into a filling dish that meets your kiddo’s daily veggie requirement too? It’s easy to beef it up with winter greens like broccoli, peas and green peppers. Follow SOP for stovetop prep when you’re cooking the chicken and sauce. Throw in chunky green peppers and broccoli florets for the last few minutes, and cover your saucepan so they steam a bit, and then swirl in a handful frozen green peas just before you serve. Your little chef won’t know what hit her!
Individual Pizza Pies
Pizza is always a hit in your house, but deciding on toppings is where you hit a snag. Overcome the great pizza debate by making simple individual pies for your half-pint and better half this winter. Use Trader Joe’s frozen naan bread, covered with your favorite pizza sauce to start. Then let everyone pile their must-have toppings onto pre-shredded mozzarella. Mushrooms, olives, pineapple, pepperoni. It’s all fair game here. It takes about 5-7 minutes in a preheated 400-degree oven to turn the cheese nice and bubbly. That’s when you know they’re ready to bring to the table!
Winter Rice Bowl
You’ve been looking for an excuse to try Trader Joe’s new Everything But the Bagel seasoning, so we came up with one for you. Make it the primary flavor of this simple winter rice bowl that combines seasonal squash and broccoli with Trader Joe’s precooked, frozen chicken. Cook the chicken, squash zig zags and broccoli on their own (psst ... it’s easy to throw a personal spin on this bowl by subbing your seasonal faves in lieu of ours). Then zap the three-minute miracle bag of TJ's Organic Brown Rice in the microwave before tossing it into a bowl. Top the rice with fixings and then get down to seasoning it to your liking. Serve it mixed together or leave the separate parts atop the rice.
Which easy meal looks good to you? Leave a comment to let us know.
— Allison Sutcliffe, copy and images