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8 Trader Joe’s Dinner Hacks (Easy Meals in Less than 30 Minutes)

pumpkin alfredo spaghetti on fork

8 Trader Joe’s Dinner Hacks (Easy Meals in Less than 30 Minutes)

If you enjoy shopping at Trader Joe's, you will love these eight hacks that will help you create delicious family dinners in less than 30 minutes. Our tips and tricks cover everything from making the easiest southern chicken and dumplings to creating homemade pretzels that rival Auntie Anne's. Along with offering quick and simple meal ideas, we also recommend other hacks that will save you time in the kitchen. Here are eight of our favorite Trader Joe's hacks.

Hispanic mother and child daughter cooking at kitchen in Mexico Latin America
These eight hacks will help you make quick, delicious meals with Trader Joe's ingredients.

Two-Ingredient Chili Mac


  • TJ's Just Sauce Turkey Bolognese
  • TJ's Mac ‘n Cheese

For a tasty twist on chili mac, combine Trader Joe's Mac ‘n Cheese with their turkey Bolognese sauce. Or, for more of a kick to your chili mac, use TJ's Hatch Chile Mac & Cheese.

Easy Chicken and Dumplings

Chicken and Dumplings with green beans and carrots.
With this Trader Joe's hack, you can enjoy homemade chicken and dumplings in about 15 minutes.


  • TJ's Organic Biscuits
  • TJ’s Grilled Chicken Breast
  • TJ's Organic Free Range Chicken Broth
  • Herbs of your choice (we recommend rosemary and thyme)

This recipe comes from “Inside Trader Joe's,” which is the store's official podcast. In April 2023, the podcast hosts revealed an incredibly easy and quick chicken and dumpling soup recipe. Follow these instructions and enjoy your chicken and dumplings in about fifteen minutes.

  • Cut the biscuits into quarters.
  • Depending on your preference, roll them into balls or cut them into strips.
  • Add pre-cooked chicken breast to the already heated chicken broth.
  • Add any spices you choose.
  • After about 15 minutes, you will have an easy and delicious chicken and dumpling soup.

You can also customize the recipe by adding cream for a thicker soup or vegetables such as spinach or carrots.

Tomato & Roasted Red Pepper Soup with Chimichurri Rice

    Tomato soup, vegan dish on white.
    Trader Joe's Tomato & Roasted Red Pepper Soup perfectly complements Chimichurri Rice, creating an altogether new dish.


  • TJ's Organic Tomato & Roasted Red Pepper Soup
  • Frozen bag of Peruvian-Style Chimichurri Rice with Vegetables

This Trader Joe's hack combines a carton of TJ's Organic Tomato & Roasted Red Pepper Soup and a frozen bag of Peruvian-style chimichurri Rice with Vegetables to create a fulfilling combo that you can enjoy as an entrée or side dish. For some reason, the soup's rich tomato and red pepper flavors pair perfectly with the aromatic rice.

Falafel Tabbouleh Bowls with Tzatziki

Plate of falafel with pita bread and tzatziki sauce on wooden table. View from above
Trader Joe's Fully Cooked Falafel is the key ingredient of this simple and delicious salad bowl, perfect for bringing to work for lunch or an effortless weeknight dinner.


  • TJ's Fully Cooked Falafel
  • TJ's Tzatziki
  • TJ's Tabbouli
  • TJ's Power to the Greens salad mix

If you are looking for a convenient meal-prep option, consider making Falafel Tabbouleh Bowls with Tzatziki using all Trader Joe's ingredients. In fact, this Trader Joe's meal hack would be a great lunch option for work.

To assemble your meal, scoop two tablespoons of Trader Joe's Tzatziki into a small, lidded, single-serve container. Add your desired amount of Trader Joe's Tabbouli and one-fourth of a bag of the salad mix to the container. This meal can be stored in the fridge for up to four days. When you are ready to eat, simply reheat the falafel in the microwave, add it to the tzatziki, and enjoy. Heating the falafel for one minute in the microwave is the most intensive part of this meal's preparation.

Lemon Chicken Orzo Soup

Avgolemono Soup (aka Greek Lemon Chicken Soup): Bowls of traditional Greek soup made with chicken, rice, and lemons
Trader Joe's pre-cooked Grilled Lemon Chicken makes preparing this Lemon Orzo Soup recipe incredibly easy.


  • TJ's Organic Free Range Chicken Stock
  • TJ's Grilled Lemon Pepper Chicken
  • TJ's Mediterranean Style Orzo Pasta Salad

For a quick Lemon Chicken Orzo Soup, shred Trader Joe's pre-cooked Lemon Chicken and add it to a large stockpot. Then, add two tubs of Mediterranean Orzo Salad and two cartons of chicken broth. Bring to a boil and enjoy with a squeeze of fresh lemon. You will be enjoying your soup in less than 15 minutes.

Penne Arrabbiata with Sausage and Spinach

Arrabiata pasta penne with Parmesan cheese on a plate. horizontal top view
Enjoy almost homemade Penne Arrabbiata with sausage and spinach in minutes with this easy hack.


  • TJ's Sweet Italian Sausage
  • TJ’s Frozen Penne Arrabbiata
  • Spinach

Technically, you can use any Trader Joe's sausage or pasta sauce, but we recommend this combination because it is so easy to make, and the flavors complement each other so well. To make this easy pasta dinner with greens and protein, follow these steps.

  • Start by removing the casing from your favorite Trader Joe's Sausage and cooking it thoroughly.
  • Add it to a prepared skillet of Penne Arrabiata.
  • Add the spinach if you want to blend it into the pasta. Or you can simply serve the pasta on a bed of spinach.

Perfect Pretzels

Homemade whole meal pretzels with sesame and salt
Trader Joe's pizza dough can be used to make tasty soft pretzels in under 30 minutes.


  • TJ's Pizza Dough
  • Kosher Salt
  • TJ's Everything But The Bagel Seasoning
  • Butter

You can use pizza dough to make delicious buttery soft pretzels, similar to Auntie Anne's, without spending hours making the dough from scratch. To make soft pretzels at home, shape the dough into traditional pretzels or bite-sized pieces. The secret to the pretzel's chewy texture is boiling water with baking soda.

Before baking the soft pretzels, boil them in water with baking soda for a few seconds, then put them in the oven until the tops are golden brown (typically 12 to 14 minutes). Once out of the oven, brush the tops with butter, then top the pretzels with kosher salt, TJ's Everything But The Bagel Seasoning, or, if you prefer something sweet, even cinnamon and sugar.

Trader Joe's Two-Ingredient Ice Cream

  • TJ’s Almond Milk (or Oat Milk)
  • TJ’s Frozen Wild Boreal Blueberries

While the texture is more like a slushie rather than ice cream, it is still absolutely delicious and requires only two ingredients: the milk of your choice (we suggest almond or oat for some added flavor) and the blueberries. Simply add milk to one cup of frozen blueberries. You only need to cover the blueberries and stir. Let it sit for one minute, then stir again. Somehow, it combines into this refreshing ice cream-like texture with no blending.

Other Creative Trader Joe's Hacks To Try

Here are a few more simple Trader Joe's tips and tricks that we suggest.

  • Cook Trader Joe's frozen pizza in a cast iron skillet. A Trader Joe's employee suggests doing this for the best pizza crust ever. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. Next, place the frozen pie in a cold cast iron skillet. Then, bake the pizza in the cast iron skillet until the cheese is brown and bubbly for a crispy crust every time.
  • Make DIY frozen yogurt. Another Trader Joe's employee hack is to slip a popsicle stick into the chain's six-packs of yogurt and freeze them overnight. The result is mini-frozen yogurts that are almost as good as ice cream.
  • Make easy and delicious beignets. A Trader Joe's employee created this two-ingredient sweet treat, requiring only a package of TJ's Crescent Rolls and some powdered sugar. First, cut the crescent rolls into pieces. Then, fry them and toss them in powdered sugar. You can also make this beignet-like dessert in an air fryer.
  • Keep your Trader Joe's natural peanut butter from separating with this hack. To prevent the oil from forming on top of natural peanut butter, store the jar upside down in the refrigerator. The cold temperature and gravity will cause the oil to rise to the bottom of the jar, making it easier to stir back into the peanut butter when you turn it over.
  • Put TJ’s Everything But the Bagel Seasoning on chicken and onion rings. This seasoning is one of the most popular items at Trader Joe's because it can be used on many different kinds of food. We recommend adding this seasoning to your chicken tenders for a quick upgrade. Furthermore, it is delicious on fried pickles and onion rings.
Closeup of plain brown toasted bagel with everything but the bagel seasoning topping, including sesame seeds, poppy seeds, garlic, sea salt.
Trader Joe's Everything But the Bagel Seasoning is not only great on bagels but can be added to everything from fried pickles to chicken tenders.

In Summary

If you enjoy shopping at Trader Joe's, you probably already appreciate their healthy products and affordable prices, not to mention their eco-friendly policies. Another great thing about Trader Joe's is the way you can create many kinds of meals using their budget-friendly products, which allows you to prepare healthy food for your family while spending less time in the kitchen. With our eight hacks, you can create delicious foods and desserts for yourself and the entire family.

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