Trader Joe’s has developed a loyal following for its amazing selection of frozen and packaged foods that can’t be bought anywhere else, as well as for its competitively low prices. Devoted Trader Joe’s shoppers brave the crowds once a week or more to scoop up cult favorites such as Oven-Baked Cheese Bites, Heat & Eat Falafel, and Frosted Maple and Brown Sugar Shredded Bite Size Wheats as well as new products that are frequently introduced.
Even if you love a brand, sometimes it is nice to take something and make it your own. Using prepared foods in recipes can save time and yield wonderful results even on busy weeknights. It is all about looking at the product and figuring out a way to add maximum flavor for a dish that is even better than the original.
Having frozen food in your freezer (even if it isn’t something homemade and freezer friendly that you’ve made yourself) can take the stress out of cooking and allow you to enjoy the process a whole lot more! If you aren’t quite a domestic goddess (or god) in the kitchen, then substituting some of the more time-consuming aspects of a recipe with something premade can offer you a great chance to expand your repertoire.
These recipes offer new and interesting ways to use foods you may already have at home (if you shop at Trader Joe’s, that is) so have a look and get inspired! There’s lots of fun to be had and delicious food to be made!
Eggplant parmesan is an obvious (and delicious) way to use frozen, breaded eggplant cutlets. If you want something a bit different that is perfect for a summer cookout, why not use these handy frozen eggplant cutlets in a veggie burger? The breading will add great texture for a satisfying burger that will please vegetarians as well as omnivores.
Bottled sauces are a great way to inject flavor into your home-cooked meals with minimal effort. Of course you can use this sauce for enchiladas, but why not try using it as a marinade for chicken, or even as a cheesy pasta sauce that is different from the regular marinara?
Make fish tacos in a flash using Trader Joe’s battered fish nuggets. You’ll have the tacos you crave with none of the mess from battering and frying fish fillets yourself.
A meatball sub is always a good use of frozen meatballs, but if you are looking for something a little bit different that is also easy to make, try using meatballs in a casserole. This casserole manages to be creamy without using cream and has lots of broccoli rabe mixed in so that you will eat your vegetables effortlessly.
Frozen mashed cauliflower is a convenient and healthy food to have in your freezer, waiting patiently for the moment when you are suddenly hit with a craving for carbs but want to avoid potatoes. Mashed cauliflower is a great way to satisfy your appetite and is a great substitution for classic mashed potatoes. Try using it in place of regular mashed spuds to lighten up your favorite recipes. You can also try making something a little bit different — something like a crunchy potato casserole, for example, or maybe a mashed potato soup. Simply sub the frozen cauliflower mash in place of the mashed potato!
Frozen naan makes a delicious vehicle for curry, certainly, but there are other ways to use it! Try using naan as a wrap — when you pair naan with falafel, tzatziki, some fresh greens, and perhaps a tomato, you have a delicious lunch ready in a jiffy! For a tasty party appetizer, you can slice the naan into strips, bake them until crunchy, and maybe brush them with melted butter or olive oil and salt. Pair these crispy naan strips with your favorite dip for a fun alternative to breadsticks. You can even use naan as a pizza base — the opportunities are endless!
Use frozen wontons to make your own wonton soup at home. Buying premade wontons means you only have to worry about making a delicious broth.
Instead of cooking these frozen gnocchi in a pan, defrost them and then bake them. Add a splash of cream, a dollop of ricotta and shave over some freshly grated Parmesan before throwing them in a 350-degree oven until golden brown and bubbling. It’s a great way to transform a store-bought frozen pasta!
Use frozen, shredded hash browns to make hash brown waffles! Using frozen hash browns means your waffles will hit the plate that much faster with less mess, which is never a bad thing!
If you want to go completely crazy, use these mini chicken tacos to make the ultimate nachos! The bite-size tacos are adorable and a fun (albeit high-calorie) alternative to tortilla chips. Make the mini taco nachos for a crowd — this is a recipe to share!
These spinach and kale bites are a great appetizer for a party. If you want to serve them as part of a meal, try wrapping them with wonton wrappers and cooking them like pasta. Dressed simply with butter, olive oil, and Parmesan, these wonton-wrapped bites are an easy way to make homemade ravioli with none of the hassle of homemade pasta.
Steel-cut oats are a great way to start the day, but they take a really long time to cook. Cut corners instead using Trader Joe’s frozen steel-cut oatmeal, and jazz it up by topping it with cream, honey, and even whiskey (as long as it isn’t a work day).
Ready-to-use pizza dough is a wonderful convenience food. Aside from making your favorite pizza, you can also make easy doughnuts at home. Simply roll the dough into small, bite-size balls and fry them in moderately hot canola oil until they are deeply golden brown. To finish, simply roll the hot doughnut bites in sugar — powdered, cinnamon, or plain granulated sugar, it’s up to you! So there you have it, 12 easy ways to use some of the best ingredients Trader Joe’s has to offer — and that’s not even including these 15 items you should always buy at Trader Joe’s.
More from The Daily Meal: