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17 Best Prepared Meals at Trader Joe's

When you need dinner in a hurry, you can count on these ready-made options from the popular grocer.
The product recommendations in this post are recommendations by the writer and/or expert(s) interviewed and do not contain affiliate links. Meaning: If you use these links to buy something, we will not earn a commission.

Some days don't leave much room for cooking, but you still need to eat. When you don't feel like grabbing a bite at a restaurant, the supermarket is a convenient and affordable place to find prepared foods that can be heated in a microwave or eaten straight out of the package.

Fortunately, Trader Joe's stocks a high-quality assortment of ready-made options—from salads, soups, and sandwiches to pre-seasoned, cooked meats and entrées. The lineup at the cult-favorite grocery st0re is already quite curated, but we've gone one step further to find the best of the best.

These are the 17 items that you should add to your cart whenever you need the occasional easy, no-fuss meal at TJ's.

Braised Beef Roast

Trader Joe's Braised Beef Roast
Chris Shott/Eat This, Not That!
Nutrition: (Per 6-Oz. Serving):
Calories: 270
Fat: 18 g (Saturated Fat: 7 g)
Sodium: 710 mg
Carbs: 5 g (Fiber: 0 g, Sugar: 0 g)
Protein: 21 g

For a fancy meal, the Braised Beef Roast with Demi Glace is a next-level fridge find. Many shoppers praise this ready-made entree for its flavor and quality. "I LOVED this. We had it last Christmas," raved one customer in r/traderjoes. The 2-pound box is one of the more expensive items at the affordable grocer, at $14.99, but plate it up with some mashed potatoes and roasted veggies, and the elite dinner will save your wallet that restaurant premium.

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Chicken Meatballs

trader joe's chicken meatballs in package.
Trader Joe's
Nutrition: (Per 4 Meatballs):
Calories: 150
Fat: 9 g (Saturated Fat: 2 g)
Sodium: 300 mg
Carbs: 2 g (Fiber: 0 g, Sugar: 0 g)
Protein: 16 g

Don't underestimate the convenience of a lean, pre-made protein. These antibiotic-free chicken meatballs are nutritious and highly versatile. Try them over pasta, in a sandwich, or on a toothpick. "These are so well seasoned and inexpensive and such pure ingredients," one Reddit user posted. "I can't believe I've missed these, thanks to all who recommended! Meatball subs on four cheese Texas toast is on the menu tonight!" The heat-and-eat morsels come in a 12-ounce pack, around four servings, for $3.99.

Balela Salad

Trader Joe's Balela salad
Chris Shott/Eat This, Not That!
Nutrition: (Per 1/2 Cup):
Calories: 180
Fat: 8 g (Saturated Fat: 1 g)
Sodium: 580 mg
Carbs: 22 g (Fiber: 6 g, Sugar: 4 g)
Protein: 4 g

If you're tired of the typical leafy green salad kits, the Balela Salad is a Mediterranean-style switch-up with chickpeas, tomatoes, black beans, spices, and citrus that can be eaten cold or warmed up. "Weekly staple for me as I'm too lazy to make my own until wintertime," wrote one fan of the mix, along with suggestions to eat the salad along with hummus, tabbouleh, or cheeses like feta or halloumi. The 8-ounce tub goes for $3.49.

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Cheeseburger Burrito

Trader Joe's Cheeseburger Burrito
Courtesy of Trader Joe's
Nutrition: (Per 1 Burrito):
Calories: 610
Fat: 31 g (Saturated Fat: 10 g)
Sodium: 1,190 mg
Carbs: 53 g (Fiber: 4 g, Sugar: 6 g)
Protein: 27 g

Trader Joe's is a true experimental ground for novel food crossovers, and this cheeseburger burrito is possibly the most interesting invention in the fresh prepared section. It was even named "Grocery Item Of The Year" in 2022 by food enthusiast Bill Oakley's Steamed Hams Society. You'll find that this adventurous meal comes with a long list of ingredients, including a flour tortilla with seasoned ground beef, melty cheddar, chopped tomatoes, onions, and dill pickle relish.

"OH. MY. GOD. The Cheeseburger Burritos are SOOO good…" wrote one poster on Reddit, garnering more than 200 upvotes. "Just tried it on a whim (a crew member even heated it up for me!) And THIS BLEW MY MIND. So creamy, tangy, savory, beefy, crunchy, and SUPER satisfying. I immediately u-turned and had to pick up 3 more!" If you're curious to try it, you can pick up the 8-ounce burrito for $4.49.

Wine Country White Chicken Salad

Trader Joe's WIne Country Chicken Salad
Chris Shott/Eat This, Not That!
Nutrition: (Per 4 Ounce Serving):
Calories: 230
Fat: 11 g (Saturated Fat: 2 g)
Sodium: 210 mg
Carbs: 11 g (Fiber: 3 g, Sugar: 2 g)
Protein: 21 g

A longtime refrigerator favorite, this chicken salad has cranberries, pecans, white meat chicken, and celery with a sweet and creamy vinaigrette. On a Reddit post about the most addicting Trader Joe's items, one commenter named this one as their guilty pleasure: "After finally admitting defeat, that the wine country chicken salad is always going to be a single [serving] for me, I cut it down to a tub every month instead of every week." Many enjoy it as the filling to a sandwich or a topping for crackers. Though the 12-ounce tub claims to have three servings for $4.99, you may find yourself with an empty container after one sitting.

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Turkey Apple Cheddar Sandwich

Trader Joe's Turkey Apple Cheddar Sandwich
Chris Shott/Eat This, Not That!
Nutrition: (Per 1/2 Sandwich):
Calories: 250
Fat: 12 g (Saturated Fat: 2.5 g)
Sodium: 520 mg
Carbs: 23 g (Fiber: 2 g, Sugar: 4 g)
Protein: 12 g

With fresh layers of turkey, crisp apple, cheddar, arugula, and Dijon, this sandwich is a favorite for many customers at the island-themed grocery store. "It's a 10! Great flavor contrast and texture," one fan posted on Reddit. Another user wrote, "i'm a vegetarian but I cheat with that sandwich." The hearty handheld is perfect for throwing in your work bag for lunch, and it's only $4.99.

Sesame Miso Salad with Salmon

trader joe's sesame miso salad with salmon in package.
Trader Joe's
Nutrition: (Per Container):
Calories: 370
Fat: 27 g (Saturated Fat: 4.5 g)
Sodium: 910 mg
Carbs: 18 g (Fiber: 4 g, Sugar: 9 g)
Protein: 14 g

There's a salad for everyone at Trader Joe's, and this one is for the pescatarians. Featuring moist, flaky salmon on a bed of greens, red cabbage, and shredded carrots with sesame miso dressing and crispy onion topping, this relatively new leafy dish has customers captivated. "I tried it for the first time yesterday and haven't stopped thinking about it," one commenter wrote on Reddit. We hope this prepped lunch for $6.99 for about 10 ounces is here to stay.

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Tomato Feta Soup

Trader Joe's Tomato Feta Soup
Courtesy of Trader Joe's ©2023
Nutrition: (Per 1 Cup):
Calories: 130
Fat: 7 g (Saturated Fat: 3.5 g)
Sodium: 800 mg
Carbs: 14 g (Fiber: 3 g, Sugar: 8 g)
Protein: 4 g

When you need comfort, few things do the job like a warm, rich soup. Trader Joe's special tomato soup with crumbles of tangy feta and a hint of spice is the ultimate grilled cheese pairing. A reviewer at Business Insider named this the best-premade soup at this neighborhood grocer, and customers agreed. "Tomato Feta Soup is delicious!" one fan posted on Reddit. "I bought this soup for the first time and loved it!" Another suggested using it as a sauce base for pasta to stretch the 20-ounce container into more servings. This quick yet satisfying meal option can be added to your cart for $4.49.

Lemony Arugula Basil Salad Kit

Trader Joe's Lemony Arugula Basil Salad Kit
Courtesy of Trader Joe's ©2023
Nutrition: (Per 1 1/3 Cup):
Calories: 150
Fat: 13 g (Saturated Fat: 2 g)
Sodium: 230 mg
Carbs: 7 g (Fiber: 2 g, Sugar: 3 g)
Protein: 4 g

This brightly flavored salad kit is perfect for the springtime, featuring citrusy notes over fresh arugula and shaved carrots, crunchy almonds, savory Parmesan, and basil lemon vinaigrette. Not only is it light and tasty on its own, but it also serves as a starter for any additional ingredients you want to layer in. "This is MY FAVORITE salad of all time! Shrimp, chicken, pork, whatever! Everything is good with it," wrote one commenter on an Instagram post by @trainwithshay. Each package serves about three and costs $3.99.

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Traditional Carnitas

Trader Joe's carnitas
@scuffling / reddit
Nutrition: (Per 3-Oz. Serving):
Calories: 200
Fat: 14 g (Saturated Fat: 4.5 g)
Sodium: 350 mg
Carbs: 1 g (Fiber: 0 g, Sugar: 0 g)
Protein: 18 g

When you don't have the time to make tender, flavorful, slow-cooked pork on your own, the Traditional Carnitas can step in as a seamless protein addition to your tacos, salads, or rice bowls. "I feel like the traditional carnitas in the [refrigerator] section never gets talked about," wrote one Reddit user. "This has been a reliable item my wife and I make for dinner often and we think it's absolutely delicious and super easy to use in recipes." Four servings come in the package for just $5.99, making it fairly affordable for a just-warm-it-up meat option.

Black Bean and Jack Cheese Burrito

Courtesy of Trader Joe's
Nutrition: (Per Burrito):
Calories: 600
Fat: 15 g (Saturated Fat: 8 g)
Sodium: 1,140 mg
Carbs: 43 g (Fiber: 10 g, Sugar: 3 g)
Protein: 21 g

Try this tortilla packed with Monterey Jack cheese and black beans for a simple yet scrumptious grab-and-go lunch. Customers say that this burrito is well-balanced in texture and taste despite its short ingredient list. According to review blogger Freezer Meal Frenzy, "The black beans are of an exceptional quality—they have a great flavor and a soft consistency. The monterey jack cheese just adds a subtle creaminess to the whole thing." It goes for $3.99 and can be found next to the salsas and wraps.

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Egg Bites

Trader Joe's egg bites
Courtesy of Trader Joe's
Nutrition: (Per Package):
Calories: 150
Fat: 8 g (Saturated Fat: 5 g)
Sodium: 520 mg
Carbs: 7 g (Fiber: 0 g, Sugar: 1 g)
Protein: 12 g

If you know about egg bites from Starbucks, you'll be glad to know you can find them for a more affordable price at the cult-favorite grocer. With two flavors, you can take your pick between cheese, spinach and kale or cheddar cheese and uncured bacon for a bit more morning indulgence. "I prefer the cheddar bacon ones but will buy both. Staples every time I go! You can use them as eggs for breakfast sandwiches," wrote one Reddit user. "Yes! Addicted to the spinach and kale one. I have it every morning with buttered whole grain bread and coffee," commented another. Skip the drive-thru and grab this package of two bites for $3.49 each.

Spinach Tortellini

trader joe's spinach tortellini in package.
Trader Joe's
Nutrition: (Per 1 Cup Serving):
Calories: 260
Fat: 4.5 g (Saturated Fat: 2.5 g)
Sodium: 230 mg
Carbs: 43 g (Fiber: 4 g, Sugar: 1 g)
Protein: 11 g

When you don't have the time or skill to make tortellini—tiny stuffed pasta—from scratch, you can get some freshly made from the Trader Joe's fridge instead. These tasty tidbits hold a savory meld of spinach, ricotta, mozzarella, and Parmesan that can be dressed up with a protein or served as is. "i love to make the tortellini with chicken and veggies (zucchini, sundried tomato, artichoke) and top it all with pesto and parmesan! such an easy meal and so yummy" commented one Reddit user. All you need is a pot of boiling water and a few minutes before you turn this 10-ounce, $2.99 package into your next dinner.

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Vegan Enchilada Casserole

trader joes vegan enchilada casserole
Courtesy of Trader Joe's ©2023
Nutrition: (Per 1 Cup Serving):
Calories: 260
Fat: 11 g (Saturated Fat: 3.5 g)
Sodium: 660 mg
Carbs: 35 g (Fiber: 6 g, Sugar: 4 g)
Protein: 5 g

Meal prep is infinitely easier with prepared foods such as this hefty enchilada casserole made with sweet potatoes, zucchini, onions, poblano peppers, spicy red chile sauce, and vegan mozzarella and cheddar. Shoppers say the faux cheese in this meal is an impressive imitation of the real thing. "If you've been missing the frozen vegan enchiladas, or just want to try this, it is delicious!" posted one fan on Reddit. "I wish I tried it sooner!" Another user replied, "It's excellent, and I don't generally like vegan cheese." The veggie bake comes in a 20-ounce pan for $5.99 and is suitable for about two meatless meals.

Butternut Squash Ravioli

Trader Joe's butternut squash ravioli
Chris Shott/Eat This, Not That!
Nutrition: (Per 1 Cup Serving):
Calories: 200
Fat: 4 g (Saturated Fat: 3 g)
Sodium: 470 mg
Carbs: 34 g (Fiber: 3 g, Sugar: 6 g)
Protein: 7 g

Trader Joe's is home to many fresh pastas, but these highly sought-after ravioli have taken shoppers by storm. Despite being full of fall flavors, the creamy, sweet, and cheesy Butternut Squash is available year-round—although you may have trouble locating them due to their popularity. A Reddit poster asked if the beloved pasta pockets were discontinued because they'd stopped seeing them in stores, and they were met with reassurance from other fans that they were likely just sold out. "I've been checking every time I go for a while now and haven't seen it. I'm pregnant and it's my one craving," commented one. "[H]oping it will be there soon and I'll catch it in time." If you find it, this 8.8-ounce package goes for $3.69.

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Roasted Hatch Chile & Jalapeño Cheese Dip

trader joe's roasted hatch chile jalapeno dip
Trader Joe's
Nutrition: (Per 2 Tbsp Serving):
Calories: 60
Fat: 5 g (Saturated Fat: 3.5 g)
Sodium: 150 mg
Carbs: 2 g (Fiber: 0 g, Sugar: 1 g)
Protein: 2 g

Forget nacho cheese—this fiery dip combines the smoky heat of roasted Hatch chilies with the zesty tang of jalapeños to create an addictive sidekick for crackers and chips. "PSA! Run, don't walk to get the Roasted Hatch Chile & Jalapeño Cheese Dip," posted one user on Reddit. "The dip is phenomenal with the ridge cut chips." For a limited time, you can get this seasonal side for entertaining or solo snacking at $4.99 for 10 ounces.

Buffalo Style Chicken Wrap

Trader Joe's Buffalo Style Chicken Wrap
Chris Shott/Eat This, Not That!
Nutrition: (Per 1 Wrap):
Calories: 670
Fat: 34 g (Saturated Fat: 7 g)
Sodium: 1,170 mg
Carbs: 60 g (Fiber: 4 g, Sugar: 3 g)
Protein: 29 g

If you like a bit of spice in your life, you'll love this tomato tortilla wrap with Buffalo-flavored white chicken meat. Can't handle the heat? No worries—it also comes with a blue cheese dressing to balance it out. "Their buffalo chicken wrap has become my favorite," wrote one customer. "Pair it with some caramelized onion dip and chips for a good time." One of these wraps is $5.49 and will make an easy on-the-go lunch for your busy days.

Sarah Wong
Sarah studied at Northwestern University, where she received a bachelor’s degree in computer science and experimented with mixing tech and journalism. Read more about Sarah