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The 10 Best Microwaveable Trader Joe's Finds Under $5

These go-to finds help get dinner on the table in minutes.

<p>Simply Recipes / Photo Illustration by Wanda Abraham / Getty Images</p>

Simply Recipes / Photo Illustration by Wanda Abraham / Getty Images

As a former professional cook and current recipe developer, I truly love making meals from scratch for my family. Shopping for fresh ingredients, preparing them with love, and serving them to my husband and two kids is a bucket-filler for me.

Sometimes, life has other plans.

Between work, school, extracurriculars, and social activities, that bucket can empty to the point that I can’t even imagine turning on the stove. When that happens, I call on my old friend Joe, aka Trader Joe’s, to help me get across the finish line with meals my family and I love that take minutes, not hours, to prepare.

Here are a few of my favorite microwavable foods from Trader Joe’s for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, all of which just so happen to ring in under $5.

<p>Simply Recipes / Stephanie Ganz</p>

Simply Recipes / Stephanie Ganz

1. Trader Joe's Kimbap ($3.99)

This is, hands-down, my favorite item at Trader Joe’s right now, and I know from my friends on the inside that I’m not alone. My local store has a two-item limit on this product, and my cashier friend told me he thinks it will become a permanent item soon. Maybe that’s because this seaweed and rice roll filled with braised tofu, greens, and pickled veggies takes a mere two minutes in the microwave to become the perfect afternoon snack or lunch.

<p>Simply Recipes / Photo Illustration by Wanda Abraham / Retailers below</p>

Simply Recipes / Photo Illustration by Wanda Abraham / Retailers below

2. Trader Joe's Jamaican Style Beef Patties ($4.49)

I was skeptical that I could get a flaky crust from a microwave, but TJ’s Jamaican Style Beef Patties give me just that, plus a savory, tender, cumin-scented beef filling, in about two minutes. This is one of those freezer finds I keep on-hand in case my 12-year-old doesn’t like what I’ve made for dinner. They can pop one or two of these hand pies in the microwave and DIY their way to a delicious, filling dinner without dirtying a pan.

<p>Simply Recipes / Photo Illustration by Wanda Abraham / Retailers below</p>

Simply Recipes / Photo Illustration by Wanda Abraham / Retailers below

3. Trader Joe's Creamy Spinach & Artichoke Dip ($3.79)

When I’ve got unexpected company, TJ’s Creamy Spinach & Artichoke Dip is waiting in the freezer to make me a hero. I pop it in a little Le Creuset crock and microwave it until it’s cooked through. If I have an extra minute, I’ll throw it under the broiler to get a nice bubbly top on the cheese. Served with flatbread crackers or baguette, it feels extra luxurious.

<p>Simply Recipes / Stephanie Ganz</p>

Simply Recipes / Stephanie Ganz

4. Trader Joe's Paneer Tikka Masala ($3.69)

Each component of TJ’s Paneer Tikka Masala makes me happy. The green rice is fluffy and flavorful, the paneer is bouncy with just a little chew, and the sauce is creamy and delicately spiced. It adds up to a winning lunch combo on days when I’m too busy to do anything but hit the start button on the microwave. If I have fresh cilantro in the fridge, I like to add a handful to bring in a little herbiness, but that’s just because I love to slightly doctor everything I eat.

<p>Simply Recipes / Photo Illustration by Wanda Abraham / Retailers below</p>

Simply Recipes / Photo Illustration by Wanda Abraham / Retailers below

5. Trader Joe's Steamed Pork & Ginger Soup Dumplings ($3.49)

This is another item that I get every single trip to Trader Joe’s because my oldest child could probably eat their weight in dumplings, and these are some of their favorites. I keep a few boxes hidden in our chest freezer just in case a certain middle schooler has a bad day—these ginger-scented, plump, broth-filled dumplings can reliably turn that frown upside down.

<p>Simply Recipes / Stephanie Ganz</p>

Simply Recipes / Stephanie Ganz

6. Trader Joe's Organic Brown Rice ($4.49)

I’m trying to include more brown rice in my diet, but my family is still firmly Team White Rice. Having a stash of these frozen rice packets, which are ready in just three minutes, helps me hit my personal nutrition goals while still creating meals that appeal to the rest of the family. It’s a win-win!

<p>Simply Recipes / Photo Illustration by Wanda Abraham / Retailers below</p>

Simply Recipes / Photo Illustration by Wanda Abraham / Retailers below

7. Trader Joe's Garlic Shiitake Green Beans ($2.69)

Green beans are one of those vegetables that still taste great after freezing, and these frozen green beans get an extra flavor boost from garlic, plus an umami punch from soy sauce and shiitake mushrooms, which are cooked down in the sauce. I like to use this as a jumping-off point for an easy stir-fry with shrimp or tofu. The sauce is mild with a faint kick that I like to amp up with some extra chili flakes.

<p>Simply Recipes / Photo Illustration by Wanda Abraham / Retailers below</p>

Simply Recipes / Photo Illustration by Wanda Abraham / Retailers below

8. Trader Joe's Madras Lentils ($2.49)

A favorite of mine for years, Trader Joe’s Madras Lentils are in my cupboard at all times. Whenever I forget to eat lunch until the last minute, these lentils and kidney beans in a lightly-spiced tomato sauce save me. They’re the perfect simple lunch, served over rice with a little dollop of raita or yogurt and a handful of Trader Joe’s Papadums.

<p>Simply Recipes / Photo Illustration by Wanda Abraham / Retailers below</p>

Simply Recipes / Photo Illustration by Wanda Abraham / Retailers below

9. Trader Joe's Cheddar Cheese and Uncured Bacon Egg Bites ($3.49)

The egg bite trend has fully taken hold of my family, and occasionally I whip up a batch from scratch. While it’s satisfying to be able to feed my family a homemade meal first thing, more often I’m scrambling (no pun intended) to get breakfast on the table. These egg bites, which are ready in under two minutes, help me keep the morning running relatively smoothly. My kids and I love the bacon and cheddar flavor, and my husband uses the cheese, spinach, and kale version to make a quick breakfast sandwich.

<p>Simply Recipes / Photo Illustration by Wanda Abraham / Retailers below</p>

Simply Recipes / Photo Illustration by Wanda Abraham / Retailers below

10. Trader Joe's Unexpected Broccoli Cheddar Soup ($4.99)

Trader Joe’s Unexpected Cheddar is another one of those every-visit purchases that I add to my cart whether I need it or not. The parm-like crystals and sharp flavor of the cheese make it one of my all-time favorite TJ’s scores. So, it’s not surprising that their Unexpected Broccoli Cheddar Soup is also the stuff of legends. I like to pour it into a bread bowl after microwaving and serve it with a salad and extra bread for dipping. It’s a dinner that feels fancy to my kids but easy to me, aka the best kind of dinner.

Read the original article on Simply Recipes.