11 Trader Joe’s Foods Nutritionists Love for Winter Meal Prep
We often think of meal prep as something we do to maintain our grocery budget or save time on busy weeknights, but it’s also a great way of maintaining a balanced and healthy diet no matter the season. The most important aspect of successful winter meal prep is to keep it simple. You’re going to want to stock up on those versatile ingredients that can be mixed and matched to create lots of great meals to stash in the fridge or freezer, and these Trader Joe’s winter meal prep items help make it easy.
You may not often consider Trader Joe’s as a winter meal prep solution, but after looking into these nutritionist suggestions, you’ll see this beloved store in a whole new light.
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1. Steamed Lentils
Lentils are so incredibly versatile and can be great for everything from lunch to dinner, making it at the top of the list of Trader Joe’s winter meal prep options.
“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, Jazzercise FitPro and a certified nutritionist. “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 without cutting down on the nutrient quality of your meals.
“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. These characteristics also enable it to reduce the risk of certain cancers from replication of damaged cells by reducing free radical damage.”
Cauliflower is a significant source of fiber at 3 grams for just one cup.
“Its fiber content makes it an excellent food for digestive health by feeding good bacteria in the gut and along with reducing inflammation,” says Richards. “It is a versatile food that can replace many carbohydrates in the diet, like cauliflower rice or potatoes.”
Related: 5 Quick & Easy Ideas To Turn Cauliflower Rice Into Dinner
3. Trader Joe’s Organic Broccoli Slaw
During the winter months, Trista Best, RD at Balance One Supplements, enjoys integrating as many vegetables into her meals as possible, but she doesn’t always have the time to wash, cut, and prep them all.
“This is why I love Trader Joe’s selection of pre-packaged fresh produce,” says Best. “Their Organic Broccoli Slaw is a regular go-to product because it is versatile in that 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.”
This product is also a great way to sneak broccoli and carrots into a meal without the traditional plain versions.
4. Bagged greens
Bagged pre-washed greens are all a great idea as far as Trader Joe’s 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,” says Newlands Murphy.
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 green smoothie.
5. Frozen Prepared Brown Rice
Making brown rice is not complicated, but it can easily add nearly a half hour to dinnertime prep time.
“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,” says Newlands Murphy.
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, and Basil Pesto
Pesto has so many meal prep possibilities.
“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,” says Newlands Murphy.
7. Trader Joe’s Organic 3-Grain Tempeh
Trader Joe’s Organic 3 Grain Tempeh is a must-have item for 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 is a plant-based protein with 19 grams of protein per serving and also has 10 grams of fiber per serving.”
8. Trader Joe’s Vegan Creamy Dill Dressing
When meal prepping and reheating meals they may seem similar or even dry. A way to change up the flavor of meals is by adding a new sauce.
“Trader Joe’s Vegan Creamy Dill Dressing can add a new flavor to each meal,” says Geiger. “For example, making a grain bowl with meal-prepped ingredients like quinoa, chopped lettuce, tomatoes, and a veggie burger to a bowl and adding the dill dressing turns the bowl into a deconstructed burger bowl.”
Changing just a few ingredients like adding Trader Joe’s falafel mix instead of a burger and swapping in the green goddess dressing gives it a Mediterranean-inspired flavor with just a couple of changes.
9. Extra Firm Tofu
We know tofu for stir-fries and sautees, but it’s also a good idea for breakfast.
“I’ve been on a tofu scramble kick for breakfast lately,” says Jessica Cording, MS, RD, CDN, INHC. “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
Never turn your back on tinned fish. 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
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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