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11 Trader Joe’s Foods Nutritionists Love for Winter Meal Prep

February 16, 2023
Clean Plates

Meal prep is great for maintaining our grocery budget and saving time on busy weeknights — and it’s also clutch for sticking to our healthy eating goals. But all the work involved in meal prep can feel overwhelming and stressful. That’s why we sought out these Trader Joe’s winter meal prep items, recommended by nutrition pros. Each one adds crucial nutrients, and makes meal prep simpler and more efficient.

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1. Steamed Lentils

Lentils are so versatile, and they can be great for lunch or dinner — no wonder they’re a meal prep fave.

“These come already cooked and seasoned, so all you need to do is cut open the package and add to salads, pasta dishes, soups, or even my favorite: quesadillas,” says Emily Newlands Murphy, certified nutritionist and  Jazzercise FitPro. “Lentils are high in plant-based protein and fiber, which will keep you full and energized until your next meal.”

Related: 5 Ways to Turn Lentils into a Hearty Plant-Based Meal

2. Trader Joe’s Organic Riced Cauliflower

Having frozen produce available makes winter meal prep much easier, especially when it’s pre-prepped, like this already-riced cauli.

“Trader Joe’s Organic Riced Cauliflower is a convenient frozen vegetable to have available during weekly food prep,” says Lisa Richards, nutritionist and creator of the Candida Diet. “Cauliflower is a nutrient-dense vegetable with health benefits that range from weight loss to gut health. Its rich plant compound and antioxidant content make it an ideal addition to any cardioprotective diet.”

Cauliflower is also a good source of fiber, with 3 grams per cup.

“Its fiber content makes it an excellent food for digestive health by feeding good bacteria in the gut, along with reducing inflammation,” Richards says. Use cauliflower rice in place of some or all of your regular rice, or enjoy it instead of other starches like potatoes.

Related: 5 Quick & Easy Ideas To Turn Cauliflower Rice Into Dinner

3. Trader Joe’s Organic Broccoli Slaw

Who doesn’t love shredded vegetables? They’re great for salads, slaws, sautéing, and more. We love them even more when someone else does the work of shredding. Plus, the broccoli part is made from the stalk, which is rich in nutrients.

“Trader Joe’s Organic Broccoli Slaw is a regular go-to product because it’s versatile,” says Trista Best, RD at Balance One Supplements. “It can be cooked, prepped, or eaten as a sandwich topping. It contains a great source of vitamin C and fiber, which will keep the immune system strong and working efficiently.”

4. Bagged greens

Trader Joe’s offers several types of bagged pre-washed greens, and all are a great idea for winter meal prep.

“Bags of baby spinach, baby kale, and arugula are my favorite fuss-free way to infuse extra vitamins and minerals into any meal,” Murphy says.

Use greens as a base for salads, wilt them into soups and stews before serving, scramble a handful into your eggs, or blend them into a smoothie.

5. Frozen Prepared Brown Rice

Making brown rice is not complicated, but it’s time consuming. You can take back that time thanks to Trader Joe’s.

“These individually wrapped packages are ready in three minutes out of the freezer, so you always have something on hand to build a meal around,” Murphy says.

Use it as a base for grain bowls layered with your favorite protein and vegetables, or stir fry with veggies, scrambled eggs, and soy sauce for a quick clean-out-the-fridge fried rice.

6. Vegan Kale, Cashew & Basil Pesto

A pre-made sauce is a huge meal prep time-saver, especially when it has just a few nutrient-rich ingredients like kale, olive oil, cashew butter, and lemon juice.

“This flavorful pesto adds nutrients and interest to ‘throw-together’ meals like grain bowls, salads, and stir-fries, but can also double as a dip with chopped veggies for a surprisingly satisfying healthy snack,” Murphy says.

7. Trader Joe’s Organic 3-Grain Tempeh

Trader Joe’s Organic 3 Grain Tempeh is a must-have for plant-based meal prep.

“It’s a quick and easy way to add additional plant-based protein to meals,” says Rhyan Geiger, RD. “For meal prep, it can be prepared ahead of time in a variety of ways like crumbled up into sauces, served in slices inside sandwiches, and even cooked into cubes. Tempeh has 19 grams of protein per serving and also has 10 grams of fiber per serving.”

8. Trader Joe’s Vegan Creamy Dill Dressing

Just like the pesto, this dressing can add oomph to dishes without tacking on meal-prep time.

“Trader Joe’s Vegan Creamy Dill Dressing can add a new flavor to each meal,” Geiger says. “For example, make a grain bowl with meal-prepped ingredients like quinoa, chopped lettuce, tomatoes, and a veggie burger, and add the dill dressing.”

Use Trader Joe’s falafel mix instead of a burger and switch up the vegetables, and you’ve got a different meal with mostly the same meal-prepped ingredients.

9. Extra Firm Tofu

Want to meal prep some breakfasts, too? Think about scrambling up some tofu.

“I’ve been on a tofu scramble kick for breakfast lately,” says dietitian Jessica Cording. “I’ll season the tofu with a sauce I make with curry powder and nutritional yeast and toss it with cooked veggies.”

10. Wild Caught Sardines in Olive Oil

Tinned fish is a budget-friendly must with plenty of quality protein, and it’s loaded with meal prep possibilities.

“To make it easy to get in those anti-inflammatory omega-3s, I love tinned sardines,” says Cording. “I’m obsessed with the boneless, skinless ones that come packed in olive oil. They’re really convenient to add to salads or pasta dishes. If sardines are too fishy for you, I also recommend the canned salmon and tuna from Trader Joe’s as an alternative.”

Related: 9 Incredibly Delicious Ways to Eat Canned Sardines

11. Organic Ground Turkey

table with asian turkey wraps with sauce


Stock up on ground turkey for everything from bolognese to meatloaf to chili.

“Compared to a lot of stores in my area, Trader Joe’s has great prices on organic poultry,” says Cording. “I love to use their organic ground turkey for healthier versions of classic comfort foods like chili and meatloaf. I also use it to make meatballs a lot that I’ll use in soups, pasta dishes, or even on salads.”

Read next: 15 Flavorful Dinner Recipes That Start With Ground Turkey

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