Everyone I know is busy.
And when life is busy, we all do the best we can to knock out the must-dos and compromise on the rest.
The past few months I’ve been shuffling work, my son’s high school track meets, my daughter’s softball practices and games, my own exercise routines, pets, laundry, cleaning and keeping everyone in my house fed.
During normal weeks, I meal plan and grocery shop on Sundays, cook most nights of the week and stick to one of my biggest family rules that we all eat dinner together every night at the kitchen table with no gadgets.
But when my kids started participating in different after-school activities, my boyfriend and I found ourselves splitting duties and driving in different directions to get the kids where they needed to be.
This meant my dinner rule that we all eat together temporary went out the window.
It also meant I needed to find easier ways to feed my family.
Enter Trader Joe’s.
Trader Joe’s has managed to figure out the formula for tasty frozen food. And fresh fruits and veggies. And marinated meat. And snacks. And lunch box staples. And special treats. All with relatively little prep for me.
When it comes to prioritizing when life gets busy, a trip to Trader Joe’s tops my list.
So what are my Trader Joe’s favorites?
Chopping veggies and mixing up marinades take time. That’s why I love letting Trader Joe’s do it for me.
One of my favorite meals is shawarma chicken thighs with a side of seasoned brussels sprouts. All I need is two baking pans, and I have a cooked meal in a half hour with no preparation whatsoever.
A big winner for my kids is Trader Joe’s lobster ravioli with alfredo sauce. (I prefer it with vodka sauce.) I roast fresh veggies as a side while the pasta is cooking.
In the mood for Chinese food? You can always find frozen orange chicken and jasmine rice in my freezer for a quick meal.
Other freezer staples I always have on hand that are perfect when I need to grab and cook without thinking — especially if I’m in the mood for appetizer munchies — include chicken tikka samosas, vegetable spring rolls, southwest chicken quesadillas, vegetable masala burgers, Japanese fried rice and mozzarella sticks.
And because I work from home, I like to have quick lunches available for days when I have meetings or when I have to eat at my desk. Trader Joe’s has a variety of prepared sandwiches and salads. (And soups too if you’re a soup person.)
I could list endless snacks that have come home from Trader Joe’s with me — from salsas and dips to veggie sticks and kale chips to trail mix and almond butter. But you can almost always find Trader Joe’s hummus quartet in our fridge, with baby carrots or their delicious veggie and flaxseed tortilla chips as dippers. “Just a Handful” almond packs are the perfect size for snacking. And my daughter loves roasted teriyaki seaweed packed in her school lunch.
Everyone in my house has a sweet tooth so every time I shop at Trader Joe’s I come home with a treat. Sometimes it’s mochi ice cream or bon bons, other times it Neapolitan Joe-Joe’s or pink lemonade. But we always have dark chocolate peanut butter cups stored in our freezer. (You’ll never eat Reese’s peanut butter cups again after tasting these.)
Thanks, Trader Joe’s!