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My 3 Go-To Dinners (à la Trader Joe’s)

These days it seems that every single morning I wake up and the first thought that passes through my mind is “What am I going to make for dinner tonight?” 

Making every single one of your own decisions and cooking every single one of your own meals is a recipe for decision fatigue and also maybe a touch of regular fatigue. 

My dinnertime salvation? Trader Joe’s. The love of my life, Mr. Trader Joe, provides ample ingredients to make cooking easier. All you need is to stock up on some staples and decide on a few routine meals, and you’re ready to banish your dinner decision fatigue by rotating through simple recipes.

Allow me to ease your burden by providing three recipes of my own. (I'm just warning you now — it is rare that I measure any of my ingredients, so take this guide with a grain of salt.) Use your heart and your eyes, adjust according to your likes and dislikes, and let the spirit of Trader Joe move you.

“Chipotle” Bowl

Grab a pan, turn on the stove, and start with the new frozen Spanish-Style Cauliflower Rice (if you can find it! Otherwise, normal frozen cauliflower rice is wonderful as well – you just might need some hot sauce to spice it up). Let the cauliflower rice cook for a minute or so and then push it to the side and throw some Soyrizo (or Grilled Chicken Pieces if you’re not into the delicious plant-based soyrizo). Once that’s cooked, add in a bit of Roasted Corn and some diced red onion. Stir until everything is cooked through, and then throw in a bowl, top with some shredded cheese and salsa, and enjoy with your choice of tortilla chips.

Ingredients: Frozen Spanish-Style (or regular) Cauliflower Rice, Roasted Corn, red onion, Soyrizo or Grilled Chicken Pieces, shredded cheese, salsa, tortilla chips

Pesto Pasta

This has been one of my favorite meals as the weather warms up! Cook whatever form of pasta you like according to the instructions on the box – I personally like rotini – and run it under cold water as soon as it’s done. Throw the pasta in a bowl and toss with TJ’s Pesto alla Genovese (or the Vegan Pesto in the cold food section if you’re into that!), then add in halved cherry tomatoes, diced red onion, spinach (I usually cut mine into smaller pieces) and some feta cheese. Add as much salt and pepper as feels right.

Ingredients: pasta, TJ’s Pesto alla Genovese or Vegan Kale, Cashew and Basil Pesto, cherry tomatoes, red onion, spinach, feta cheese

Indian Food + Roasted Veggies

First of all, if you’ve never tried Trader Joe’s Chicken Tikka Masala, Paneer Tikka Masala or any of their other glorious microwavable Indian food meals, you are missing out. However, while they’re super yummy, they aren’t the healthiest food option in the freezer section. Here’s my solution: Add in some broccoli and/or brussel sprouts. Halve the brussel sprouts and cut the broccoli into manageable pieces. Toss in olive oil and sprinkle with salt, pepper, garlic, chili pepper and whatever else behooves you. Roast the brussel sprouts in the oven at 425º for about 10 minutes, and then add the broccoli and roast an additional 15 minutes, or until browned and crispy. Heat up your microwaveable Trader Joe’s delicacy and put it in a bowl with your veggies. Mix together and you’ve got the perfect easy meal.

Ingredients: Trader Joe’s Indian frozen food of your choice, broccoli, brussel sprouts, olive oil, spices

And that’s it! Three super easy meals that are ready in no time at all and require very limited skills. Now, go forth and go to Trader Joe’s!

Cassidy Woodward

Pepperdine '21

Hi y'all! My name is Cassidy Woodward, and I'm a senior Integrated Marketing Communications major at Pepperdine University. I'm originally from Fort Worth, Texas but ventured out to the west coast for college. Some of my hobbies include consuming novels in fewer than 48 hours, making copious amounts of baked goods for friends, and combing Google Flights for cheap plane tickets to my next adventure! Follow me on Insta @cassidymw or Twitter @Cassidy_Michal
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