It's pretty hard to find the time and energy to prep a healthy dinner from scratch. But that's where Trader Joe's comes in handy: The cult-favorite grocery store stocks some healthy meal helpers in the freezer aisle that can cut meal prep time in half. Literally, half.
All of our go-to Trader Joe's frozen foods are super versatile — they pair well with different cuisines, spices, proteins and fats to fill you up and keep hunger at bay until morning. And you can even make a big batch of some of these to keep on hand throughout the week or to simply re-heat in the morning for breakfast. Breakfast pizza, anyone?
1. Cauliflower Gnocchi
OK, so ICYMI, this low-carb gnocchi was basically the trendiest item at Trader Joe's for a year. And it's still a go-to staple in the kitchen for easy cooking.
"Definitely a fan-favorite, this frozen gem from TJ's is definitely a great one that will shortcut meal times and offers both nutrition and flavor," says Maggie Michalczyk, RD. "Pair it with pesto or red sauce and extra veggies for meal that's ready in less than 10 minutes." Plus, it's made with simple ingredients and has an impressive 6 grams of fiber per serving.
- Nutrition facts per serving (1 cup): 140 calories, 3 grams of fat (0.5 grams of saturated fat), 460 milligrams of sodium, 22 grams of carbs (6 grams of fiber, <1 gram of sugar), 2 grams of protein
Buy it: Trader Joe's stores; Price: $2.69 per 12-ounce bag
2. Japanese-Style Fried Rice
If you find yourself craving takeout often, stock this fried rice from TJ's instead. "It's a healthier alternative to ordering Chinese food," Michalczyk says, and you can jazz it up by adding chicken or an egg on top for some extra protein, which only takes minutes with the bulk of the work being done.
This meal helper comes packed with tofu, which offers some plant-based protein. Just stick to a single serving as the sodium content is a bit high.
- Nutrition facts per serving (1 cup): 250 calories, 5 grams of fat (1 gram of saturated fat), 450 milligrams of sodium, 42 grams of carbs (1 gram of fiber, 3 grams of sugar), 7 grams of protein
Buy it: Trader Joe's stores; Price: $2.99 per 16-ounce bag
3. Cauliflower Pizza Crust
Made with a blend cauliflower and corn, this crust is a great gluten-free option. "I like this one because it's like a blank canvas for more nutrition since you can top it with different veggies," Michalczyk says.
Boost your homemade pizza's protein by tossing some chicken or cheese on top, such as fresh burrata or ricotta and upping the fiber with some kale and artichokes.
- Nutrition facts per serving (1/6 crust): 80 calories, 0 grams of fat (0 grams of saturated fat), 220 milligrams of sodium, 17 grams of carbs (1 gram of fiber, <1 gram of sugar), 1 gram of protein
Buy it: Trader Joe's stores; Price: $3.99 per 10.6-ounce crust
4. Chicken Gyoza Potstickers
Perfect to pull out of your freezer for a party or just to have as part of a weeknight meal, these frozen chicken potstickers from Trader Joe's are protein-packed and satisfy that craving for Asian food in a healthy way, Michalczyk says.
This kitchen staple cuts prep time by providing the bulk of your meal, the chicken, leaving you to simply add in a side like veggies or cauliflower rice.
- Nutrition facts per serving (7 potstickers): 200 calories, 4.5 grams of fat (1.5 grams of saturated fat), 550 milligrams of sodium, 30 grams of carbs (4 grams of fiber, 0 grams of sugar), 10 grams of protein
Buy it: Trader Joe's stores; Price: $2.99 per 10.6-ounce bag
5. Chicken Tikka Masala
"Flavorful and moderate when it comes to calories and sodium content, Trader Joe's frozen chicken tikka masala is another dinner shortcut and takeout alternative that is quick and easy to make for lunch or dinner," Michalczyk says.
Instead of buying all the ingredients for tikka masala and making it from scratch, TJ's has done the hard work for you, so you can feel good knowing you're getting a protein-packed frozen meal with minimal effort on your part.
- Nutrition facts per serving (1 tray): 360 calories, 14 grams of fat (2.5 grams of saturated fat), 580 milligrams of sodium, 39 grams of carbs (1 gram of fiber, 6 grams of sugar), 21 grams of protein
Buy it: Trader Joe's stores; Price: $3.99 per 8.5-ounce bag
6. Frozen Sockeye Salmon Fillets
Salmon is high in anti-inflammatory omega-3 fats and makes for an easy weeknight dinner. "Super simple to pull out of the freezer and make a meal with, the salmon fillets in the freezer section at Trader Joe's are easy to defrost and pair with any veggies, or try with pasta or tacos," Michalczyk says.
They bake quickly in the oven and are a great source of protein and healthy fats to fill you up for hours.
- Nutrition facts per serving (4 oz.): 160 calories, 7 grams of fat (2.5 grams of saturated fat), 80 milligrams of sodium, 0 grams of carbs (0 grams of fiber, 0 grams of sugar), 23 grams of protein
Buy it: Trader Joe's stores; Price: $11.99 per 1-pound bag
7. Organic Frozen Brown Rice
"A great base for any meal, this rice is ready in three minutes, so it makes for a smart shortcut to get dinner on the table faster," Michalczyk says. Top it with veggies and chicken for a homemade grain bowl, or you can use in a stir-fry with some spiced vegetables and tofu.
It's also great for meal prep since the whole grain is easy to cook a big batch of at once to have on hand throughout the week.
- Nutrition facts per serving (1 cup): 230 calories, 2 grams of fat (0.5 grams of saturated fat), 0 milligrams of sodium, 49 grams of carbs (3 grams of fiber, 0 grams of sugar), 5 grams of protein
Buy it: Trader Joe's stores; Price: $2.99 per 30 oz. per box