My 10 Favorite Trader Joe's Freezer Meals—They're All Under $5

They're bound to make your life easier and tastier.

<p>Simply Recipes / Getty Images </p>

Simply Recipes / Getty Images

After years of working in restaurant kitchens, teaching at a culinary school, and owning my own donut business, I more than consider myself to be an advanced home cook. But, if I’m honest, sometimes I’m just not in the mood to prepare a meal—or I just simply don’t have the time to carve out in the kitchen.

However, just because I can’t make it myself doesn’t mean I’m willing to compromise on taste. So, I, like so many of my more than willing brethren out there, find myself turning to Trader Joe’s time and time again to get the job done for me.

If you’ve spent any time in the TJ’s frozen aisle, you’ll know, there is a bounty of frozen options to choose from. Some are snacks, some are sides, some are sweets, and when it comes to finding a full frozen meal that’s balanced, flavorful, and easy there are still a ton to choose from!

Here are 10 of my favorites from the frozen aisle, all under $5—they're bound to make your life easier and tastier.

1. Butter Chicken with Basmati Rice ($4.49)

A TJ’s fan-favorite, this butter chicken is one of those frozen meals that is constantly being restocked by anyone familiar with it. A creamier, milder cousin to their also popular chicken tikka masala, this five to six-minute microwaveable meal comes in a divided dish so you can mix your rice-to-sauce ratio as you like.

2. Pizza Margherita ($4.49)

While this pizza is technically microwaveable, trust me and take the extra few minutes to preheat your oven. Unlike other frozen pizzas, there’s no synthetic cheese flavor or overly oregano-ed sauce on this; instead, its circular slices of mozz pull away in long, stunning strings, the sauce is made with high-quality tomatoes, and the crust is perfectly browned on the bottom.

3. Sriracha Shrimp Bowl ($3.49)

Calling all sriracha lovers—this soupy seafood bowl does not skimp on flavor. In fact, it might just be among the tangiest and spiciest TJ’s frozen meals out there. Packed with sweet chunks of corn, bell peppers, and edamame, these saucy shrimps might not be as texturally complex as fresh shrimp, but they’re subtle and leave the microwave free of any of that unsavory seafood odor.

4. Spaghetti Carbonara ($4.29)

The first thing to note about this sub-10 minute meal (or sub-five if you nuke it), is that it's going to look a little funny before it's cooked; it’ll emerge from the bag looking like space food, with sauce frozen in chunks and the spaghetti in little clusters.

Just wait! When cooked, it's a bowl of deliciousness. Slightly more creamy than a traditional carbonara, the sauce is thick and cheesy and bits of pancetta add a salty, meaty bite that harmoniously accompanies the perfectly cooked noodles.

5. Chicken Burrito Bowl ($3.49)

With a healthy serving of chicken, accompanied by juicy beans, rice, quinoa, and cheese, this burrito bowl truly tastes like someone opened up the belly of a perfect burrito and let you go at it with a fork. The bowl is topped with sour cream, tomatoes, and poblano peppers adding texture and flavor.

Pro tip: Top it off with a few dashes of green Cholula for some added spice.

6. Broccoli & Cheddar Cheese Quiche ($2.99)

One of the hardest meals to eke out on busy days is breakfast. When most grab-and-go options have tons of sugar or just little nutritional value, carving out the time to prepare a proper breakfast sometimes feels impossible. With surprisingly flaky crust, cheese-endowed fluffy eggs, and bits of broccoli for an added veggie kick, this personal quiche is a protein- and flavor-packed meal for honestly any time of the day.

7. Vegan Tikka Masala ($3.49)

It’s hard to find a good frozen vegan meal (you know, the kind that could fool even a meat lover?), but this tikka masala checks all the boxes. The vegan meat substitute is texturally supreme, they’re substantial with a mild flavor that soaks up all the delicate notes of the tikka masala, which is a rich balance of spices, sweetness, and tang all sitting atop basmati rice.

8. Outside-in Stuffed Gnocchi ($3.69)

Sounds like something you ate in a dream? Well, thanks TJ’s for making dreams come true! Unlike traditional gnocchi that gets most of its flavor from whatever it's topped with, this version of the Italian dish has all the sauce and cheese stuffed inside.

Now these oozy, mozzarella-ladden little balls of goodness can be popped in the microwave, but don’t skip cooking them in a pan with oil or butter or you’ll miss out on a golden, crispy outer layer.

9. Cheese & Green Chile Tamales ($3.79)

If you don’t want to go through the whole steaming-on-the-stove process, just wrap each of these tamales in a wet paper towel, place them in the microwave, wait three minutes, and get ready for gooey, melted Monterey jack and mild green chiles encased in firm but smooth and flavorful masa. Ultimately, these tamales are a classic, simple dish that never disappoints.

10. Asparagus Risotto ($3.29)

Making risotto from scratch is a workout, the constant stirring and monitoring is a task that few of us have the time or patience for. So, finding a microwaveable version is a huge win in my book. All in all, this risotto is full of cheesy, asparagus flavor (no one’s stopping you from adding a little extra Parm on top), and the mouthfeel is superb. The rice maintains a nice bite to it all while soaking up the pale green sauce with a flavorful chew.

Read the original article on Simply Recipes.