Tips & Techniques

The 30 Best Trader Joe's Items to Cook in Your Microwave

The 30 Best Trader Joe's Items to Cook in Your Microwave
Tips & Techniques

The 30 Best Trader Joe's Items to Cook in Your Microwave

News Tips & Techniques The 30 Best Trader Joe's Items to Cook in Your Microwave

Trader Joe's is a gold mine when it comes to finding microwave-worthy meal inspiration — but the options that typically get all the attention are often their full-on frozen dinners. That's not to say they're not worth all the hype —they're fan-favorites for a reason! (We're looking at you Mandarin Orange Chicken, Gnocchi al Gorgonzola, and Channa Masala...) But if you have Anyday cookware at home, the sky is the limit as to what TJ's groceries you can use to make microwave magic.

 

 

While the frozen aisle is still your oyster, with Anyday you can source the fresh produce and pantry items, too. Just throw them in your Anyday bowl, pop on the lid, lift the silicone knob, and hit "start" (using some timing discretion, of course). With the right tools, you can enjoy the whole "heat and eat" experience in an entirely new light. Is there anything more delicious than saving tons of time and effort?

The Best Trader Joe's Groceries to Cook in an Anyday Dish

Here are our top 30 ingredients to get started (and some tips on how to improvise with them in your Anyday). 

 

*Note: Not every microwave is the same and cooking timing may vary. (The following suggestions were meant for a 1000-watt machine.) Keep a close eye on your microwave while cooking, and if you need to add more time, do so in 30-second intervals. You can always add more time, but you can't take time away!

 

 

1. Frozen Chicken Gyoza Potstickers

Spend 5 minutes in the frozen aisle and you'll see at least 50% of shoppers add a bag of these to their cart. I like to prepare a handful of these in my Anyday Medium Deep Dish on top of Trader Joe's frozen rice (see #9), a few handfuls of bagged kale, a splash of soy sauce, and chili crisp. (It takes about 4 minutes on full power and makes a great lunch portion for one.)

 

2. Frozen Artichoke Hearts

The best part about these artichoke hearts? They're pre-quartered, so you can enjoy all the goodness with zero of the prep work that comes along with this notoriously fussy veg. Cook these in the microwave straight from frozen for a few minutes (3 to start) in your Anyday (lid-on, knob-lifted) with a pat of butter, some garlic, a squeeze of lemon, and some chili flakes. So simple, so good. Eat them on their own or add them to creamy pasta, chicken, or even our creamy spinach dip.

3. Thai Style Green Chili Sauce

Spoon this zesty, slightly spicy sauce made of fresh chilis, garlic, shallots, lime juice, lemongrass and Thai lime leaves over veg or rice made in the Anyday. You can also use it as a marinade for the protein of your choice.

 

4. Butternut Squash Zig-Zags

You'll find these "crinkle cut fry-shaped" butternut squash pieces in the fresh produce aisle. Instead of roasting them, give them a whirl in the microwave. Start with our 1-ingredient recipe for carrots as a reference point for the starting cook time, then add 30-second increments until they're fork-tender. Dress them up however you like.

 

5. Cacio e Pepe Pasta Sauce

Here's another sauce you should keep an eye out for— a release new to stores this year. Use it as a shortcut to make our Cacio e Pepe Cabbage recipe or spoon over another veg of your choice.

 

6. Organic Tricolor Quinoa

Yes, you can buy tricolor quinoa at a lot of grocery stores, but while you're grabbing all of the above exclusive-to-TJ's items, why not stock up on some pantry staples? Cooking quinoa on the stovetop can take more than 20 minutes, but with Anyday you can cut that cook time in half. Follow our quinoa ingredient guide or microwave instructions on the back of the bag: 2 parts water, 1 part quinoa, cover (in an Anyday) and heat for 4 mins, stir, and heat for 2 more minutes. Let stand for 1 and serve.

 

7. Quick Cook Steel-Cut Oats

Attention breakfast people! Trader Joe's steel cut oats already promise to be "quick cooking," but save yourself the time it takes to boil water and make them in your microwave instead. Use an estimated 1:2 oat-to-liquid ratio and make sure to use a Deep Dish to prevent the liquid from bubbling over. (Lower your power level to 3-5 and keep a close eye on this one.)

 

 

8. 10-Minute Farro

Buy this farro at Trader Joe's and immediately run home to make our Warm Farro with Tomatoes, Parmesan, and Basil. This quick-cooking version of the classic grain takes a fraction of the time that the un-pearled version does (start with 10 minutes, as the package suggests, at power level 4).

 

9. Frozen Rice

Back at the freezer aisle, pick up a box of the frozen (fully-cooked) rice of your choice. (You can't go wrong with their Organic Brown or Jasmine, both of which are always in high demand.) The multi-serving bags are individually packed in plastic pouches, but we recommend removing them and cooking for 3 minutes in the Anyday with the lid on instead. You won't need to add any additional liquid and the rice turns out perfectly every time.

 

10. Organic Riced Cauliflower

If you want to add more veggies into your rotation, but want to create the illusion of rice, riced cauliflower is your friend. We have a delicious recommendation on how to cook it, too: Try this Warm Kale and Cauliflower Salad with Raisins.

 

11. TJ's Teeny Tiny Potatoes

Fingerling fans should 100% keep an eye for out for these petite taters at Trader Joe's. Microwave them for 8-10 minutes then place on a parchment coated sheet pan. Smash with the bottom of a drinking glass, drizzle with olive oil, and roast in the oven until crispy. It'll take a fraction of the time than if you'd cooked it in the oven the whole time. OR try one of these fun potato ideas instead.

 

12. Assorted Nuts

You can get nuts at pretty much any grocery store, but you can't beat the price per unit at Trader Joe's. They're super high quality for a super low price. Get an assortment and run don't walk to make these insanely easy candied nuts in the microwave. Immediately.

 

13. Frozen Mashed Potatoes

This bag is a must try. Potatoes, milk, water, and butter are frozen into "medallions" that are ready to heat and serve. Place medallions into your Anyday dish, pop on the lid, and microwave for 2-2.5 minutes, stir, and repeat for another 2-2.5 minutes. Once the potatoes have a creamy, scoop-able consistency, garnish and serve. It's an easy shortcut to everyone's favorite side dish.

 

14. Frozen Branzino Filets

Anyday founder, Steph Chen, bought these frozen Branzino Filets on a trip to Trader Joe's and on a whim turned them into this restaurant-quality dinner. She put the (frozen!) filets in the Large Shallow Dish, splashed with olive oil, lemon juice, olives, and chopped scallions and microwaved or 5 minutes (1000w). Yes, you can microwave fish from frozen with Anyday. (Continue to add time in 1 minute increments until you reach an internal temp of 145-degrees Fahrenheit.) Pro tip: if you plan to make this, don't forget to stop by the bakery section and get a loaf of crusty bread to dip in the sauce.

 

15. Shawarma Chicken Thighs

The Anyday traps in just the right amount of moisture while cooking, so proteins like chicken drumsticks and thighs turn out tender and juicy in 10 minutes or less. Look for this pre-marinated pack to save even more time.

 

16. Seasonings

Trader Joe's seasonings aren't regular seasonings — they're cool seasonings. Super fans swear by Everything But the Bagel, Cuban-Style Citrusy Garlic Seasoning, and a ton more. They're an easy way to dress up vegetables or protein in the Anyday too.

 

17. Crunchy Chili Onion

This right here is a condiment that everyone should have on hand at all times. It's made of crunchy garlic, onion, peppers, and olive oil, and is great when paired with the gyoza potstickers (see #3), drizzled over salmon rice bowls, spooned over veggies, and pretty much any other application.

 

18. Frozen Peach Slices

Stock up on bags of frozen peach slices so that you can make Anyday jam on demand. You can also use the peach slices to top breakfast bowls or even to make poached peaches (modified from this recipe)!

 

19. Shakshuka Starter

For those who want to make it from scratch (in the microwave), we have a shakshuka recipe— but if you shop at Trader Joe's, you can cut down prep time even more with their frozen Skakshuka Starter. Take it out of the plastic packaging, place it in your glass Anyday dish and microwave for 3 minutes, or until the sauce defrosts. (Then follow these instructions for perfect results.)

 

20. Spicy Chunky Tomato & Pepper Pasta Sauce

Speaking of shakshuka.... here's another sauce that makes the perfect base. As the name suggests, it is spicy with notes of red bell pepper and chunks of tomatoes. 5 minutes with Anyday and breakfast is served.

 

 

21. Cauliflower Gnocchi

When you find a bag of cauliflower gnocchi in your freezer section, make sure to snag it! (These oft-elusive bags of frozen cauli nuggets frequently sell out.) They're the perfect gnocchi-like texture with the benefit of added veggies in every bite. Microwave these in your Anyday dish with the lid on for 4 minutes. Remove, stir, and add more time if needed. Bonus points if you pair this with the jarred Cacio e Pepe Pasta Sauce (see #5). 

 

 

22. Frozen Vegetable Fried Rice

If you have a bag of this on hand, you're just minutes away from satisfying your fried rice craving. To microwave this, place in the Anyday Large Shallow Dish with the lid on. Give it 3-4 minutes and stir to make sure it's heated through. For an easy protein addition, see #23 below. 

 

 

23. Frozen Raw Shrimp

Forget to defrost whatever protein you were planning to have for dinner? Let this bag be your saving grace. Defrost under running water and steam in an Anyday dish for 3 minutes (or keep frozen and cook the shrimp for 4-5 minutes or until pink). We like to season with ginger, a drizzle of sesame oil, and soy sauce, especially if you're pairing with the fried rice. To take this in a complete different direction, try our Shrimp Scampi recipe

 

 

24. Ready Veggies

Inspired by Mercedes Davis of the popular Instagram account @BlackGirlsinTraderJoes, we couldn't wait to get our hands on this bag of pre-prepped vegetables. Full of already shredded cabbage, carrots, Broccoli florets, snap peas, and kale, this bag takes all the work out of enjoying fresh vegetables. Microwave in an Anyday dish with Trader Joe's lemon pepper seasoning (like Dee!), or whatever seasonings you prefer, along with a drizzle of olive oil, salt, and pepper.

 

 

25. Chicken Cilantro Mini Wontons

When you cook these mini frozen wontons in your Anyday dish, here's a smart tip from the Anyday Community (our exclusive Facebook Group): Place a few wontons on a bed of whatever greens you have on hand. The moisture from the veggies will keep the wontons from hardening and help them steam to perfection in less than 4 minutes. 

 

 

26. Miso Ginger Broth

Here's another suggestion from the Anyday Community: For a quick wonton soup, keep a carton of this flavorful broth on hand! Pour into an Anyday Deep Dish, drop in Mini Chicken Cilantro Wontons, along with sliced scallions, and greens if you prefer. Microwave until heated through, making sure to stir halfway. 

 

 

27. Organic Jasmine Rice

What's so special about this jasmine rice, you ask? For one thing, it cooks to perfection in the Anyday every time if you follow our simple instructions for white rice. This is a pantry staple you're going to want to have on hand at all times. 

 

28. Atlantic Salmon with Lemon Herb Butter

When Anyday Brand Director Danielle Walsh discovered this frozen salmon filet with pats of herb butter, she knew it was made for the Anyday. She cooked it until perfectly flaky along with Trader Joe's frozen brown rice, and thawed spinach for the perfect less-than-10-minute-microwave-from-scratch lunch.

 

 

 

29. Dried Fruit 

Trader Joe's has an expansive collection of dried and freeze-dried fruit, perfect for snacking and breakfast purposes. We especially love using the freeze dried blueberries and pineapple to add a flavor burst to overnight oats made in The Small Dish!

30. Blueberry Lavender Almond Beverage

Speaking of overnight oats (and regular oats too!), this Blueberry Lavender Almond Beverage is a flavor upgrade that makes your breakfast taste instantly fancy.

 

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Author

Lauren Masur

Lauren is the Marketing Manager at Anyday and a former editor at Food Network Magazine and The Kitchn. She is based in New York City where she enjoys long walks on the High Line and in Trader Joe's.