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A Trader Joe’s Microwave Meal for Each Night of the Week (Because Cooking Can Be Hard)

Trader Joes, in general, gets a lot of hype amongst the college crowd, and let’s be honest, it’s totally justified. Before I moved to Boulder I avoided Trader Joe’s like a wildfire under the misconception that it was boujee and overpriced, and though some products you’re better off purchasing from your local grocery store, their frozen meals are not only cheap but also a pretty great option if you’re looking for a little convenience every now and then (pro-tip: all can be made in your dorm room microwave, so goodbye cafeteria food!). Was this article basically an excuse for me not to cook dinner for a week? Probably. But regardless, I provide you with 7 weeknight alternatives courtesy of Trader Joe’s freezer aisle.  

1.    Southwest Chicken Quesadilla
$3.69 and 400 calories per quesadilla

Source//Panda Bytes

This is my absolute favorite Trader Joe’s microwave meal so naturally, it’s number one on the list. Two individually wrapped quesadillas come in one box which makes it super convenient for microwave lunches at school or work. It also literally tastes like tortilla soup wrapped in a crispy tortilla, if that doesn’t sell you on this I’m not sure what will.

2.    Asparagus Risotto
$3.29 and 160 calories


This risotto was actually recommended to me by my roommate, and I can say with total confidence, it did not disappoint. Aside from its incredible flavor and surprisingly fresh texture, one nice thing about it is that you can adjust the ratio and tailor it to your liking (if you want more veggie, more sauce, etc.). Plus, it’s only 160 calories for a pretty decent sized portion, so bonus points there.

3.    Vegetable Pad Thai
$2.29 and 520 calories

Source//What’s Good at Trader Joes
This dish is crazy good, or I guess as good as frozen Thai can get. The noodles are surprisingly chewy and it has a nice kick to it. And honestly, with how cold it’s been in Boulder this past week, I’ll take whatever heat I can get. Good flavor but I ended up caving and adding peanut butter to it because I felt like it was missing that nutty flavor that all good pad Thai has. Regardless, it’s cheap, it has a decent amount of vegetables mixed in, and it’s even vegan-friendly!

4.    Stacked Eggplant Parmesan
$3.49 and 460 calories for stack


Definitely a fan favorite, and eggplant can do no wrong in my eyes. It’s incredibly filling and has a great blend of flavors. My only complaint with this would be that I wish it had more sauce, but that’s also a personal preference and that tiny caveat won’t stop me from purchasing more of these on my next Trader Joe’s run. This meal is a quick and easy vegetarian option, so pop it in your microwave and say hello #meatlessmondays!

5.    Honey Walnut Shrimp
$6.99 and 410 calories (2.5 servings in bag)

Source//Trader Joe’s
Not going to lie, the idea of frozen seafood was a little off-putting at first but all my hesitations disappeared once I tried this for the first time. You really can’t tell its frozen if you crisp it up in a pan for a bit and the sauce has a good depth of flavor (sort of like honey-lemon-vinegar?) and the candied walnuts offer a nice bit of texture to the dish.

6.    Vegan Tikka Masala
$3.29 and 430 calories

So let me start off by mentioning that in lieu of chicken, this dish uses a soy-based protein that is essentially trying to serve as faux meat (mimicking the texture, flavour, etc.), so if vegan food pretending to be meat isn’t your jam, maybe skip this one. Regardless of your protein opinions, I think everyone will agree that the sauce is phenomenal and the rice turned out really well, which surprised me initially because it doesn’t seem like something that should be frozen in my mind?? But once again, Trader Joe’s proved me wrong.

7.    Roasted Vegetable Pizza
$6 and 900 calories for whole pizza (serves approx. 3)

Source//Consumer Reports 
So I might be a little biased here because I think even the worst pizza is pretty edible because pizza is just that good, BUT I had my roommates try this one and they affirmed my opinion. This pizza is good. The level of veggies on this pizza helps to take away some of the heaviness and the sauce had a very fresh tomato-y taste to it. I was also impressed with how crisp the crunch was, so if this list and the general idea of frozen meals has made you a little uneasy, play it safe and get this pizza, it won’t disappoint.

Megan Grote

CU Boulder '21

Megan is currently a senior at CU Boulder, graduating December 2020, pursuing a double major in Communication and Chinese, and minoring in Information Science. Originally from Virginia, Megan grew up overseas in Qatar and loves learning about people and their experiences with the world. Her passions include all things ocean and space related, animals, and introducing others to the curative powers of funky socks.
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