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I rely on Trader Joe's for easy-to-prepare meals and snacks for 2. Here are the 17 staples I swear by.


I had no oven and no microwave while my kitchen was being remodeled for a year. So, we used staples from Trader Joe's to make easy meals and snacks.

trader joe's brownie crisp ice cream sandwiches next to bbq chicken salad
I've been to Trader Joe's often and I've developed a solid list of go-to items from the chain.
  • I shop at Trader Joe's for two — recently, we had no kitchen for a year during a remodel.
  • We used a lot of simple, premade ingredients from Trader Joe's and our grill to prepare meals. 
  • I love Trader Joe's salad with BBQ-flavored chicken, Romano Caesar dressing, and burrata. 

I've been grocery shopping at Trader Joe's for as long as I can remember.

I've frequented many Trader Joe's across Southern California as I believe the chain's prices are better compared to local grocery stores of similar quality. Plus the chain's changing seasonal items always make me excited to eat and cook something new.

Recently, my husband and I didn't have a kitchen for close to a year due to extensive renovations in our home. During that time, we cooked with a Weber grill (with a griddle) in our backyard, used a refrigerator we plugged in outside, and washed dishes in a utility sink in our garage. I often prepared meals on top of our washer and dryer.

It wasn't ideal, but we quickly developed a solid list of grocery staples from Trader Joe's that prioritized simple and convenient recipes, snacks, and meals. 

I make healthy meals with Norwegian farm-raised salmon fillets.
trader joe's fresh atlantic salmon in package
Salmon fillets can be cooked on a grill.

I used to only buy wild-caught salmon but I think Trader Joe's farm-raised Atlantic salmon has a far superior fresh taste and is moister and flakier

Cooking the salmon is simple — all we do is squeeze on some lemon juice, sprinkle on salt and pepper, and pop the fillets on the grill with the skin side down for a few minutes. Sometimes I make an easy dipping sauce for it using Greek yogurt, dill, and salt. 

Pair the salmon with grilled vegetables or serve leftover pieces with scrambled eggs in the morning. 

Trader Joe's bool kogi can be the star of a meal.
trader joe's bool kogi
Bool kogi is grilled beef.

I use the Korean-inspired sesame-marinated bool kogi as a main dish.

The meat is tender and juicy with a sweet-savory taste similar to the "fire meat" found at a Korean BBQ restaurant.

Since the beef is already seasoned and marinated, all you have to do is fire the meat up on the grill and slice. It's perfect on a salad or in a sandwich.


I make sandwiches with shaved beef steak.
trader joe's shaved beef steak
Trader Joe's shaved beef steak makes for a great sandwich.

I really like the shaved beef from Trader Joe's and I use it to make steak-and-cheese sandwiches that remind me of my East Coast roots. 

To make, grill half a diced yellow onion, then add the shaved meat to the grill. The meat only needs about five minutes or less to cook if you keep moving it around. Top the meat with Trader Joe's shredded Swiss and Gruyere or Trader Joe's sliced provolone and let it melt.

Finally, toast ciabatta rolls on the grill with some butter and stuff them with your filling. The whole package of meat makes about four stuffed sandwiches.

Trader Joe's Argentinian red shrimp are the best for quesadillas.
trader joe's raw argentinan red shrimp
Trader Joe's Argentinian red shrimp tastes better than some lobster I've had.

I think the wild-caught frozen shrimp tastes super fresh once defrosted from the bag, which comes with 20 to 25 shrimp for about $12.

The shrimp are already peeled, deveined, and tail-free so you only have to defrost them ahead of time and grill. We often use the shrimp to make easy quesadillas. 

Just grill thinly chopped garlic and onions in butter, then add shrimp. Cook the protein on both sides for four to five minutes. Then, pop a tortilla on the grill and throw shredded cheese inside.

Once the cheese starts to melt, toss five or six shrimp into the quesadilla. Fold in half, then grill each side for a few minutes. Serve with sour cream.

Trader Joe's salad with BBQ-flavored chicken is our favorite when we're in a rush.
trader joer's salad with bbq flavored chicken
Trader Joe's salad with BBQ-flavored chicken is so easy to prepare.

Our favorite Trader Joe's grab-and-go salad when we have no time to prepare a meal is the variety with BBQ-flavored chicken.

The tortilla strips, corn, black beans, spicy chicken, and Monterey Jack combine to create a delicious medley. I think the combo of barbecue sauce and ranch that comes with the salad can be overwhelming, though, so use your toppers in moderation.

We also regularly make Caesar salads.
Trader Joe's romano caesar dressing
Caesar salads were a weekly staple in our house for a while.

For our base, we cut or rip romaine hearts and douse them with Trader Joe's Romano Caesar dressing. Then we add a lot of cracked pepper and a giant handful of shredded Parmesan.

We also top our Caesar with anchovies.

Flat filet Anchovies are the best enhancement for a Caesar salad.
trader joe's cento anchovies
Trader Joe's sells Cento anchovies.

These salty anchovies in a tin of olive oil are just under $2. I use them to finish off my previously mentioned Caesar salad. After peeling back the lid of the anchovies, I drip the anchovy oil into the salad, then toss all ingredients together. I also sprinkle extra anchovies on top. 

They're also perfect for a snack or to top on baguette bread with burrata or tomato.

When grilled, Trader Joe's sweet mini peppers have so much flavor.
trader joe's sweet mini peppers
When ready to eat, hold the stem and take a bite.

We grilled a lot of produce when our kitchen was under construction — and we usually just added salt, pepper, and olive oil to them.

Some of our favorites were Trader Joe's thin asparagus, eggplant (sliced), cremini mushrooms, and mini peppers. The peppers were the stars of the show since they tasted sweet and super flavorful when grilled. 

No need to slice them up, either. Just grill the whole baby pepper until it's charred.

Italian dry salame has been a weekly staple for us.
columbus italian dry salame at trader joe's
Salame can be the star of any sandwich.

Columbus reduced-sodium Italian dry salame is always an easy snack to eat on its own or with slices of cheese.

We often make easy-to-grab sandwiches on Trader Joe's pull-apart Aloha rolls using just salame, dijon mustard, and sharp cheddar. 

Trader Joe's burrata balls taste so fresh and enhance tomatoes or grilled peaches.
trader joe's burrata
Burrata is so easy to dress up.

The chain's burrata come in a pack of two mozzarella balls filled with cream. The quality is better than any I've tried elsewhere and often beats the taste of most I've sampled in restaurants.

The beauty of burrata is it can be used in so many ways. We often use it as a delicious base for grilled peaches or fresh tomatoes. To serve, drizzle a split-open burrata ball with olive oil and balsamic. Pair with greens or basil for an added touch.

Truffle mousse pâté with crackers is a satisfying, easy snack.
trader joe's truffle mousse pate
Trader Joe's truffle mousse pâté is good with crackers.

We've regularly had this pâté made with chicken liver, sherry wine, mushrooms, and truffles as a snack. The rich, umami flavor is great.

I'm iron deficient so maybe that is why I crave this snack, as chicken liver provides a nice dose of iron. It's also just so easy to eat. Peel back the little layer of gelatin on top of the pâté, then spread on crackers.

The pub cheese with cheddar and horseradish is a great midday pick-me-up.
pub cheese at trader joe's in writer's hand
There are a few varieties of pub cheese out there.

Another regular snack we devoured is the Rondele pub cheese – an invention of creamy flavors like blue cheese, sharp cheddar, and horseradish. I love that the horseradish gives the cheesy dip such a nice kick.

Trader Joe's honey-wheat pretzel sticks pair well with the pub cheese.
trader joe's honey wheat pretzel sticks
Trader Joe's honey-wheat pretzel sticks are crunchy and slightly sweet.

The Trader Joe's honey-wheat pretzel sticks are a perfectly crunchy vehicle for all sorts of dips. I especially like pairing them with the aforementioned pub cheese.

Volpi's Roltini snacks are great for a quick bite.
trader joe's volpi meat and cheese sticks
Volpi snacks have prosciutto and mozzarella.

These cheese sticks wrapped in prosciutto from Volpi are an easy 140-calorie snack. They are individually packaged, a solid source of protein protein, and so good on the go. 


Trader Joe's brownie-crisp coffee ice-cream sandwiches are the best late-night treat.
trader joe's brownie crisp coffee ice cream sandwiches
There are four in a box of Trader Joe's brownie-crisp coffee ice-cream sandwiches.

These treats always seem to do the trick on a hot summer day when I'm craving a late-night dessert. I love how the chocolate-chip brownie crisp holds the coffee ice cream, which tastes creamy and homemade. 

Mango cream bars are refreshing on hot days.
trader joe's mango cream bars
Trader Joe's mango cream bars are great for hot weather.

Trader Joe's creamy bars are a mix of mango sorbet and vanilla ice cream, which makes them a perfect refresher for a hot day.

The $3.50 box comes with six bars.



Crispy dark-chocolate-chunk almond cookies are the best dessert.
trader joe's cookies display
Trader Joe's dark-chocolate-chunk almond cookies are easy to eat in one bite.

Trader Joe's buttery crisp cookies are small so it's easy for me to eat a few without feeling guilty ... although it's hard to not want to eat the whole tub.

These cookies have a good crunch and are loaded with dark-chocolate chunks and almond pieces. 

Click to keep reading Trader Joe's diaries like this one.


Read the original article on Insider

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