6 Time-Saving Trader Joe's Products That Make Meal Prep a Breeze

You can't buy time, but these shortcuts come pretty close. Let Trader Joe's solve your weeknight dinner dilemmas.

Most weeknights, finding time to prep for dinner poses a challenge. Before contemplating which drive-through to use, consider letting Trader Joe's do the prep work for you. In addition to its creative private label products, Trader Joe's stocks an extensive collection of affordable products that help with meal prep (or save you on days there's no time to prep at all). Stock up on these products and wind down in your newfound free time.

01 of 06

Healthy 8 Chopped Veggie Mix

Trader Joe’s Health 8 Chopped Veggie Mix

I buy this every visit to Trader Joe's, without fail. It makes weekly meal prep go so much faster, and ensures 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 washing and chopping. Throw it into your favorite chili recipe for an added dose of vegetables that even picky eaters won't notice.

02 of 06

Thai Green Curry Simmer Sauce

Trader Joe’s Thai Green Curry Simmer Sauce

Traditional Thai green curry is delicious but time-consuming to prepare with a long list of ingredients. Trader Joe's Thai Green Curry Simmer Sauce gives you all that rich, coconutty flavor with none of the work.

For an easy and fast weeknight meal, grab some pre-cooked rice or quinoa, veggies pulled from the freezer, and baked or grilled protein of your choice. Pour this sauce overtop and voila!

You can take those same ingredients and throw them in a wok or large saucepan for a simple chicken stir-fry. Swap out teriyaki sauce with TJ's Thai Green Curry Simmer Sauce. Dinner's ready!

03 of 06

Cut Butternut Squash

Trader Joe's Cut Butternut Squash

Fall signals a plethora of squash recipes that feature baking, roasting, and pureeing the many varieties of cucurbits. But timewise, a weeknight preparation of winter squash, with its tough exterior and extra-firm flesh, is all but impossible.

The meticulous peeling, seeding, and cubing required—followed by an hour or so of roasting—often relegates those gorgeous squash as table decorations rather than the main course. But you can make roasted butternut squash with no prep at all.

For those busy moments, I rely on TJ's Cut Butternut Squash. It makes this cold-weather staple accessible for last-minute meals; no sharp knife required.

04 of 06

Frozen Broccoli and Cheddar Cheese Quiche

Trader Joe’s Broccoli & Cheddar Cheese Quiche

It's Sunday morning, and you're hosting brunch for your extended family. They're coming in an hour—and you still have to clean the house, dress the kids, and walk the dog. So your well-laid plans of cooking all morning have gone awry.

Enter TJ's Broccoli and Cheddar Cheese Quiche. Pop a few of these babies in the oven while you're running around getting everyone and everything ready, and your brunch main is deliciously taken care of by the time your guests arrive.

Turn this quiche into a breakfast-for-dinner situation by serving it with savory breakfast rolls, which feature their own time-saving shortcut: store-bought pizza crust.

05 of 06

Southwestern Chopped Salad Kit

Trader Joe's Southwestern Chopped Salad
Photo: Trader Joe's.

Trader Joe's

Taking a salad to work is a great way to stay on a healthy track during the week and save money. But sometimes that washing and chopping is just too much, like those mornings you have a packed day and need to gather a lunch with only five minutes to spare.

What sets this salad kit apart are the creative add-ins: like cotija cheese, pumpkin seeds, and crunchy tortilla strips; plus a spicy avocado dressing with no blender-cleaning required. Make it a hearty dinner by pairing with some southwestern chicken soup.

06 of 06

Enchilada Sauce

Trader Joe’s Enchilada Sauce

I've written about Trader Joe's sauces 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 on high for 3 hours or low for 6 hours. Shred the chicken, throw it onto a tortilla with some avocado and cilantro, and you have a delicious, Mexican-inspired meal that took only 10 minutes of prep total.

If you have enough time for the whole enchilada (45 minutes, to be exact), use this Trader Joe's sauce on some skillet chipotle-pork enchiladas.

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