When I first began my cooking journey in college, it took me a long time to get in the habit of making actual meals for myself. I would go to the store to grab some chicken nuggets here and some buffalo chicken dip there — enough to snack on but never actually cook something. Now I have some staple meals that I love to make, and I only need to make one stop at my favorite store: Trader Joe’s. I am going to share three of my favorite meals using Trader Joe’s products that have no significant prep or cook time for anyone who might be struggling with what to make.
First, the go-to dish that started my Trader Joe’s fixation: fish tacos. I developed an addiction to the tangy Trader Joe’s Peri-Peri sauce and was trying to find what best to pair it with, and I landed on these easy tacos. They are nothing fancy, but even in their simplicity, they are delicious.
Yield: 3 tacos
Time: 15 minutes
- 3 Trader Joe’s Organic Stone Ground Yellow Corn Taco Shells
- 4 pieces of Trader Joe’s Battered Halibut
- A spoonful of Trader Joe’s Peri-Peri Sauce
- Shredded mild cheddar cheese (for topping)
- ½ avocado, sliced
- 1 tomato, diced
- A handful of shredded green cabbage
- Cook the battered halibut by putting it in the air fryer for 10 minutes or in the oven for 13 minutes at 425 F.
- While the halibut is cooking, dice your tomato and slice your avocado.
- Grab three taco shells and put in the shredded cabbage, diced tomatoes and avocado slices.
- After the fish is done cooking, chop each piece in two and place them in each taco shell.
- Sprinkle some cheese and Peri-Peri Sauce on top of each taco and enjoy!
My next meal recommendation is an ode to the vodka sauce from my favorite restaurant in my hometown. I tried to recreate it, and while it’s not the exact same dish, I ended up loving it. While Trader Joe’s sauce doesn’t compare to the homemade variety, it’s pretty tasty and definitely makes this meal extremely efficient to prepare.
Chicken Pasta with Vodka Sauce
Yield: 2 bowls of pasta
Time: 20 minutes
- ½ bag of Trader Joe’s Italian Penne Rigate
- ½ jar of Trader Joe’s Giotto’s Organic Vodka Sauce
- 2 Trader Joe’s Frozen Chicken Breast Tenderloins
- Make the pasta according to the instructions on the package.
- While the pasta is boiling, start cooking the chicken in the oven for 20 minutes at 350 F or in the air fryer for 15 minutes.
- When the chicken has been cooked, chop it up into small pieces and set it aside.
- After the pasta is strained, pour in the vodka sauce and the chopped chicken into the pot.
- Mix it all together and serve yourself a bowl!
This third meal is something that I have been fixated on as of late and frequently make for a quick lunch. Originally, my mom introduced me to the Trader Joe’s gyro. I wanted something easy to carry with me on campus to snack on in between classes, so I decided to make a sandwich out of it and incorporate some of my other Trader Joe’s favorites like their tzatziki dip!
Yield: 1 sandwich
Time: 10 minutes
- 1 Trader Joe’s Original Pita Bread
- 2 tablespoons Trader Joe’s Tzatziki Creamy Garlic Cucumber Dip
- 3 Trader Joe’s Gyro Slices
- 1 tomato, sliced
- ½ avocado, sliced
- Slice the pita bread in half. If you want, you can briefly put it in the oven or air fryer to warm it up.
- Thinly slice the tomato and avocado and lay them on one side of the pita. Spread the tzatziki on the other side.
- Heat up the precooked gyro on the stove for 20 seconds or in the microwave for 30 seconds.
- Place the gyro on the side of the pita with the tzatziki.
- Put the two pieces together, slice down the middle and you’re done!
These three recipes are relatively low cost and perfect for any mood. Sometimes I add other ingredients to change it up, but I find that these recipes are the ultimate guide to easy college cooking, especially after a long day of classes. I hope these meals can be of use to anyone struggling to find quick meals to make and, like me, have an ever-growing addiction to Trader Joe’s!