How I Prep a Week of Trader Joe’s Meals in 90 Minutes

published Aug 24, 2021
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Credit: Phots: Joe Lingeman; Food Styling: Amelia Rampe
Credit: The Kitchn

If you can resist filling up your Trader Joe’s shopping cart with just snacks and cheese, the cult-favorite grocery store is actually a brilliant place to help you meal prep for a super busy week. It’s a one-stop-shop for breakfast essentials like coffee and oats, and their already-prepped ingredients like hard-boiled eggs and frozen stir-fry blends make quick work of lunch boxes and weeknight dinners.

This Power Hour Meal Prep will walk you through everything you need to buy at Trader Joe’s, plus how to turn the haul into nine recipes for breakfast, lunch and dinner. At the end of an hour and a half, you’ll have prepped enough food to feed a family of four a week’s worth of breakfasts and dinners, as well as weekday lunches for two adults.

Credit: Phots: Joe Lingeman; Food Styling: Amelia Rampe

Meal Prep Goals 

  • Breakfast: Mornings are pretty harried, so fast and yummy breakfasts are essential for getting everyone out the door on time.
  • Lunch: I work from home and my husband is a freelancer. We both need lunches that we can grab and take wherever the day leads — even if that’s just back to our desks.
  • Dinner: This is a particularly busy time of year — lots of evening commitments (Girl Scouts, little league, etc.) — so we need quick dinners we can eat together.
  • Nutritional goals:  We’re mostly omnivorous but focus on eating vegetable-forward meals at least three nights a week to get more veggies on our kids’ plates.
Credit: The Kitchn

Meal Prep Snapshot 

  • Feeds: Four people
  • Prep Time: About 1-1/2 hours
  • Meals Covered: About 90% (no weekend meals)
  • Weeknight Cooking Required? Some — about 20 minutes of active cooking on weeknights but breakfast and lunches are ready to reheat and eat.

My Meal Plan 




Credit: The Kitchn

Shopping List 

This Trader Joe’s haul is heavy on fresh produce and packaged shortcuts that will save about an hour of prep time.

  • Produce: 2 bags Sorrento Blend Lettuce, 1 bag Organic Shredded Green & Red Cabbage with Orange Carrots, 1 bag Organic Tuscan Kale, 1 Organic Mediterranean Style Salad Kit, 1 bag Organic Cut & Peeled Carrots, 1 bag Organic Celery Hearts, 1 bag Organic Arugula, 2 cucumbers, 2 pints cherry tomatoes, 3 small avocados, 5 apples, 3 tomatoes
  • Packaged: Trader Giotto’s Three Cheese Pomodoro Pasta Sauce, 1 (16-ounce) box Falafel Mix, 1 (8.8-ounce) bag 10-Minute Farro, 1 jar Peanut Butter with Flax & Chia Seeds, 1 ½ cups Jumbo Raisin Medley, ¼ cup Unsalted Dry Toasted Slivered Almonds, 6 British Muffins, 1 package Organic Low Sodium Tomato & Roasted Red Pepper Soup, 2 packages Channa Masala, 1 package Malabari Paratha, 1 bottle Italian dressing, whole-wheat naan (frozen or fresh), salsa, corn tortillas, taco seasoning, ground cinnamon, light brown sugar, 6 cups quick cook steel cut oats, 3 cups unsweetened applesauce, Sriracha sauce
  • Protein: 2 Pesto Genovese Chicken Breasts (1 package), 1 pound ground beef
  • Dairy: 5 Cage-Free Fresh Hard-Cooked Eggs, 1 block English Coastal Cheddar (or 5 Sharp Cheddar Snack Pack pre-portioned, individually-wrapped pieces of cheddar), 3 packages Egg Frittata, Greek yogurt or sour cream, 12 slices fully-cooked bacon, 1/2 cup feta cheese, 1 bag shredded cheese
  • Freezer: 1 (22-ounce) bag Mandarin Orange Chicken, 1 (16-ounce) bag Stir-Fry Vegetables, 2 (10-ounce) bags from a 30-ounce box Organic Brown Rice, roasted corn
Credit: The Kitchn
Credit: The Kitchn

Power Hour: How I Get the Prep Done

  1. Cook steel cut oatmeal for Oatmeal Cookie Oatmeal and divide into jars. To make this a grab-and-go option, mix up a big batch and portion into jars that can be microwaved throughout the week.
  2. Reheat frittata and bacon to build Egg JoeMuffins. Follow the package instructions to reheat the frittata and bacon, and pack them with the English muffins and arugula in lunch boxes.
  3. Assemble Pesto Chicken SaladCook the Pesto Genovese Chicken Breasts in a skillet on the stovetop. As they cook, slice the cucumber, tomatoes, and assemble the salads into four lunch boxes. Slice the chicken and add to the boxes.
  4. Prepare Protein Boxes. This is really just portioning out carrots, celery, hard-boiled eggs, and peanut butter for each lunch.
  5. Cook the falafel according the package instructions for Falafel Salad. To make Monday night dinner even faster, cook the falafel in advance and reheat the following day.
Credit: The Kitchn
Credit: Joe Lingeman

A Week of Easy Trader Joes Meals


We alternated between the Oatmeal Cookie Oatmeal and the Egg Joe Muffins. The kids seemed to prefer the oatmeal! Next time, I’ll prep the Egg Joe Muffins more like a bento box breakfast so the frittata and bacon can be reheated separately to keep the English muffin from getting soggy or spongy.


I had the Pesto Chicken Salad almost every day for lunch, while my husband powered through Protein Boxes. We even sent one box as a Hail-Mary school lunch (sans the peanut butter) for one of the kids during the week.


  • Monday: I was so glad I prepped the Falafel Salad  in advance because between a PTA meeting and a little league meeting we had to eat these salads in shifts. We assembled them more like a grain bowl for the kids with a scoop of yogurt, which they both devoured.
  • Tuesday: We cooked the orange chicken for Orange Chicken Fried Rice in an air fryer for extra-crispy and delicious results.
  • Wednesday: Some of us (namely, my 5-year old) were really upset that these Loaded Beef Tacos were served in crispy taco shells, but otherwise it went over well —  a quick browning of beef is the only step required.
  • Thursday: Where has this Channa Masala Tomato Soup been all my life? You’re really just reheating a few things that together taste incredible.
  • Friday: Naan Pizzas were a big hit! I also sautéed some leftover kale and tomatoes (from lunches), but that didn’t go over quite as well with the kids.

All-in-all, this super-quick Trader Joe’s meal prep saved my food life this week! It’s a great plan to have when you don’t have much time to prep over the weekend and still want to eat quickly and well throughout the week.

This post originally ran on Kitchn. See it there: Meal Prep Plan: How I Prep a Week of Trader Joe’s Meals In 90 Minutes