You can’t buy time, but these come pretty close. 

By Laura Fisher
Updated January 17, 2020

Did you know that women in American spend an average of 51 minutes a day on meal prep? If you have a family to cook for, that number might even seem low. And some days, you just don’t have that extra hour to spare. Luckily, in addition to its creative private label products, Trader Joe’s has an extensive collection of affordable cut vegetables, frozen apps, entrees and desserts, and private label sauces that make weekly meal prep fly by (or save you on the days you didn’t have time to prep at all). Stock up on these products so you can wind down in your newfound free time.


This is the item that I buy every single time I go to Trader Joe’s, without fail. It makes my meal prep for the week go so much faster, and ensures that I have a ready supply of pre-chopped veggies at my fingertips for stir fries, salads, and soups. Healthy 8 is a colorful mix of carrots, cabbage, celery, jicama, and broccoli—basically everything you need for the base of a nutritious meal without any of the washing and chopping. Try throwing it into your favorite chili recipe for an added dose of vegetables that even picky eaters won’t notice.


Traditional Thai green curry is delicious, but pretty time-consuming to prepare, not to mention the long list of ingredients it requires. This Green Thai Curry Simmer Sauce will give you all that rich, coconutty flavor with none of the work. An easy and fast weeknight meal is some pre-cooked rice or quinoa, veggies pulled from the freezer, and baked or grilled protein of your choice. Pour this sauce over top and voila, dinner is served. You could also take those same ingredients and throw them all together in a wok or large saucepan for a simple stir fry.


Squash season means a plethora of baked, pureed, and stewed recipes taking full advantage of creamy and sweet squash varieties. But what about the time and hassle it takes to peel and cut hard squash? Even if you don’t mind the process of meticulous peeling and cubing, sometimes there isn’t just time in the day—leaving those gorgeous squash serving as table decorations rather than the main course. For those busy moments I fully rely on TJ’s Peeled and Cubed Butternut Squash. It makes the cold-weather staple accessible for even last minute meals, no sharp knife required. Roast them up and throw them into a salad, taco, or on top of toast.

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It’s Sunday morning and you’re hosting brunch for your extended family. They are coming over in one hour and you still have to finish cleaning the house, get the kids dressed, the dog walked, and your well-laid plans of cooking all morning have gone awry. Enter: the Frozen Broccoli and Cheddar Quiche. Pop a few of these babies in the oven while you’re running around getting everyone and everything ready, and your brunch main will be deliciously taken care of by the time the guests walk in the door.


Bringing a salad to work for lunch is a great way to stay on track with your health during the week and save money on meals out. But all that washing and chopping is just too much sometimes, like those mornings when you realize you have a packed day and need to bring lunch…five minutes before you have to be out the door. What really sets this particular salad kit apart from the rest are the creative add-ins, like cotija cheese, pumpkin seeds, and crunchy tortilla strips, plus a spicy avocado dressing with no blender-cleaning required.

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I’ve written about this before, but my go-to weeknight dinner when I’m short on time is chicken breasts in the slow cooker with this enchilada sauce. Literally just throw it all in there and turn it on to high for 3 hours, or low for 6 hours. Shred the chicken, throw onto a tortilla with some avocado and cilantro, and voila: you have a delicious, Mexican-inspired meal requires about 10 minutes of prep, total.