25 of the Best Trader Joe’s Frozen Meals Under $5

25 of the Best Trader Joe’s Frozen Meals Under $5

Combat rising grocery prices by hitting up Trader Joe's frozen food section.

We may earn a commission from links on this page.
Image for article titled 25 of the Best Trader Joe’s Frozen Meals Under $5
Photo: Corinna Haselmayer (Shutterstock)

Inflation is hitting everyone hard. Grocery prices are skyrocketing, and after spending all that money at the supermarket it’s a real slap in the face that you then have to put together a meal from scratch. Sometimes buying in bulk can save you a buck or two, but if you live alone with limited cabinet space that’s not always plausible. You know what is always plausible? Buying Trader Joe’s frozen prepared foods.

Not only does the beloved grocery chain have dozens of offerings under $5, but a combination of our own experience and that of revered TikTok reviewers confirms that most of these prepared foods are actually really good—tasty enough to be enjoyed on their own, but versatile enough for you to jazz up to your liking with sauces, spices, and sides. We’re living in the golden age of solo dining, people. Here’s a sampling of 25 inexpensive meals to enjoy from Trader Joe’s.

Advertisement

2 / 27

Cedar Wrapped BBQ Sockeye Salmon Filet — $4.99

Cedar Wrapped BBQ Sockeye Salmon Filet — $4.99

You don’t have to forgo high-quality dishes like cedar plank salmon just because you’re in the frozen food aisle. This affordable entree features a wild caught Alaskan salmon covered in a thin wrapping of cedar and comes preseasoned. Bake it, throw it on the grill, or hell, even microwave it.

Advertisement

3 / 27

Mandarin Orange Chicken — $4.99

Mandarin Orange Chicken — $4.99

Skip the trip to Panda Express. This Mandarin Orange Chicken gives you more bang for your buck: You get over a pound of chicken for less than $5. If only Trader Joe’s would get rid of its problematic branding of non-Western dishes—in this case, “Trader Ming’s”—then we could call this a perfect meal.

Advertisement

4 / 27

Italian Style Meatballs — $4.99

Italian Style Meatballs — $4.99

Image for article titled 25 of the Best Trader Joe’s Frozen Meals Under $5
Screenshot: Trader Joe’s

With these Italian Style Meatballs, the possibilities abound. They come unsauced, so you can dress them however you like. Tuck them into a sub sandwich, mix them with some spaghetti, or serve solo with toothpicks to pretend you’re at a fancy event.

Advertisement

5 / 27

Kalua Pork Spring Rolls — $4.79

Kalua Pork Spring Rolls — $4.79

Trader Joe’s loves to play around with fusion items in its frozen food section, and these spring rolls are a good illustration of that. They pull from Hawaiian flavors, filled with Kalua pork (Hawaiian-style pork traditionally cooked in an underground oven), cabbage, onions, carrots, and scallions. Pair these rolls with some white rice and macaroni salad for the full island experience.

Advertisement

6 / 27

Greek Spanakopita — $4.49

Greek Spanakopita — $4.49

TJ’s packs a big punch with this little spinach pie, layering all the flavors of a traditional spanakopita into a ready-to-bake, pre-sliced Greek pastry with a satisfying crunch. Foreman grill optional.

Advertisement

7 / 27

Cheese Filled Fiocchetti with Pink Sauce — $3.99

Cheese Filled Fiocchetti with Pink Sauce — $3.99

As is the case with many of these dishes, you certainly can microwave the cheese filled fiocchetti with pink sauce, but you might do your taste buds a favor by heating this up on your stovetop instead, reducing slightly and mixing in a little parmesan or flour if you want to thicken up that pink sauce. And remember, if you amp up any of these dishes in any way with added spices or condiments, you are within your rights to brag about having made it yourself.

Advertisement

8 / 27

Dill Pickle Mini Falafel — $3.99

Dill Pickle Mini Falafel — $3.99

Dill pickle-flavored falafels—so crazy it just might work (and it does). These crispy bite-sized falafels are for those among us who would totally eat a whole jar of dill pickles for lunch, with extra dill. Pop them straight into your mouth one at a time or load a bunch into a pita with whatever toppings you choose for a satisfying meal.

Advertisement

9 / 27

Truffle Cream Filled Gnocchi — $3.99

Truffle Cream Filled Gnocchi — $3.99

Truffle isn’t just for Michelin-starred restaurants. Trader Joe’s understands that we all need this rich, indulgent flavor every once in a while, and for $3.99, you can experience it baked into some fluffy, easy-to-cook gnocchi. The mascarpone-based filling is infused with black truffle, and while that’s substantial enough to sauce your serving of dumplings, cooking them in cream and parmesan cheese (as in the video above) will amp up the indulgence.

Advertisement

10 / 27

Organic Açai Bowl — $3.99

Organic Açai Bowl — $3.99

The frozen food section isn’t relegated to just one meal—there are some delicious prepared breakfasts to be found there too. You can either microwave this $3.99 açai bowl to warm up the fruit, defrost it in your fridge overnight so it’s ready for your morning meal, or, if you’re feeling really wild, dig right in for a frozen treat.

Advertisement

11 / 27

Tteok Bok Ki — $3.79

Tteok Bok Ki — $3.79

Fans of Trader Joe’s were excited to see this Korean rice cake dish join the ranks of the frozen foods aisle in 2022. The gochujang-spiced sauce packs a punch, even though you might need to employ outside methods like corn starch to thicken it up a little. (Maybe try using slightly less water than directed, too?) For a little something extra, and to tie it together as a full meal, throw a fried egg on top.

Advertisement

12 / 27

Quinoa Cowboy Veggie Burgers — $3.69

Quinoa Cowboy Veggie Burgers — $3.69

If you like Trader Joe’s tri color quinoa and cowboy caviar salsa, then you’re gonna love the cowboy quinoa veggie burger because, well, the patty is basically just a mashup of those two products, ready to serve on a bun. You get four patties per pack (less than $1 per patty ain’t too shabby). This product serves as a good reminder that not every vegetarian burger needs to try to replicate the real thing, like Impossible meat does—sometimes a patty in which you can taste the veggies is exactly what hits the spot.

Advertisement

13 / 27

Chipotle Vegetable Quesadillas — $3.69

Chipotle Vegetable Quesadillas — $3.69

Sometimes something as simple as a veggie quesadilla can be the most satisfying, especially if all the ingredients are already neatly assembled inside the tortilla like in this Trader Joe’s offering. Don’t worry if you mess up the execution on this one. As TikToker @stony_ley says in the above video, “burnt or not, it’s still bomb.”

Advertisement

14 / 27

Cuban Style Citrus Garlic Bowl — $3.49

Cuban Style Citrus Garlic Bowl — $3.49

Image for article titled 25 of the Best Trader Joe’s Frozen Meals Under $5
Screenshot: Trader Joe’s

This microwavable bowl is a perfect office lunch. It’s flavorful, compact, and easy to heat up quickly. Plus, it doesn’t contain any of the most offensive ingredients to subject an entire workspace to—in fact, your coworkers are going to be delighted to catch a whiff of this one as it cooks.

Advertisement

15 / 27

Chicken-less Mandarin Orange Morsels — $3.49

Chicken-less Mandarin Orange Morsels — $3.49

Once again, Trader Joe’s comes through strong for the non-meat-eaters of the world with these mandarin orange morsels. Just don’t make the same mistake that @msnewfoody does in the video above—cook these on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, not wax paper, otherwise you might have to miss out on a delicious meal to deal with the fire department. (At $3.49 per pack, at least the destroyed morsels will be cheap to replace!)

Advertisement

16 / 27

Sriracha Shrimp Bowl — $3.49

Sriracha Shrimp Bowl — $3.49

If you like a spicy kick, you can never go wrong with Sriracha, as proven by Trader Joe’s Sriracha shrimp bowl. This bowl comes pre-sauced, so the faint of heart should approach with caution. When an item is a favorite even among the grocery chain’s employees, as this one is, that’s when you know it’s good.

Advertisement

17 / 27

Riced Cauliflower Stir Fry — $3.49

Riced Cauliflower Stir Fry — $3.49

Yeah, we’d all love to eat more riced cauliflower, but who has the time to prepare the cauliflower yourself, let alone prep all the other elements you want to add in alongside it? This stir fry bowl contains chopped vegetables mixed in with the rice, all topped with a tamari sauce and sesame oil. For best results you’re going to want to cook this one on your stovetop.

Advertisement

18 / 27

Chicken Burrito Bowl — $3.49

Chicken Burrito Bowl — $3.49

Trader Joe’s knows its bowls, and its chicken burrito bowl is one for the carnivores among us. This entree is a great alternative to a Chipotle run when you’re craving Southwestern flavors, and as the initially reluctant TikToker above can attest, it is hearty and satisfying and keeps you full for a long time. Not bad for $3.49.

Advertisement

19 / 27

Mexican-Style Riced Cauliflower — $3.49

Mexican-Style Riced Cauliflower — $3.49

This Mexican-spiced cauliflower rice frozen dish somehow contains pickled jalapeños. Pickled items in a frozen meal? Don’t think about it too hard; just accept that science has something to do with it and enjoy the tangy bite they add to the dish. “I swear, this is my new favorite vegan Trader Joe’s item,” the TikTok video above gushes. “The flavors are insane.” Even if that’s a bit of an embellishment, $3.49 is a fair price at which to give this one a shot.

Advertisement

20 / 27

Vegetable Pad Thai — $3.49

Vegetable Pad Thai — $3.49

Another dish that’s touted as a favorite among employees, the vegetable pad thai is a crowd pleaser. You’ll likely have to adjust this entree to your specific tastes—a dash of chili oil here, a squeeze of lime there—but it serves as a hearty (and inexpensive) canvas upon which you can layer your favorite flavors.

Advertisement

21 / 27

Turkey Burgers — $3.49

Turkey Burgers — $3.49

Just in time for grilling season, these turkey burgers go from frozen to cooked in a matter of minutes. But don’t be afraid to think beyond the burger. If you’re sick of eating them on a bun, take these patties and crumble them onto a salad or into one of your protein-less Trader Joe’s bowls for added heft and flavor. There are four burgers to a pack, so go ahead and get creative. You can eat a turkey burger however you want to.

Advertisement

22 / 27

Vegan Pasta Bolognese Bowl — $3.49

Vegan Pasta Bolognese Bowl — $3.49

We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: mushrooms are great in a bolognese. Even in frozen form, they act as a hearty meat substitute in this classic Italian dish. You don’t need beef in a stellar bolognese.

Advertisement

23 / 27

Steamed Pork & Ginger Soup Dumplings — $3.49

Steamed Pork & Ginger Soup Dumplings — $3.49

These soup dumplings are perfectly good as is, but if you want to add an extra crunch to the exterior, add a corn starch slurry to your frying pan while cooking them up. The mix of textures you can achieve—crispy dumpling bottom, soft dumpling dough, and soupy filling—is like a symphony in your mouth. Good news for those of us living in cities without a Din Tai Fung.

Advertisement

24 / 27

Chickenless Crispy Tenders — $3.29

Chickenless Crispy Tenders — $3.29

Whether you’re a vegetarian or vegan who wants to relive the chicken tender lunches of your youth or you’re simply a flexitarian looking for a new protein to throw on a salad or in a wrap, the chickenless crispy tenders at Trader Joe’s are an affordable plant-based option. As the TikTok video above concludes: “Not bad, Trader Joe’s.”

Advertisement

25 / 27

Cauliflower Gnocchi — $2.99

Cauliflower Gnocchi — $2.99

You can really turn cauliflower into just about anything these days, including this $2.99 gnocchi. Most TikTokers agree: This entree is only delicious if you completely ignore the cooking instructions on the package and toast them up on your stovetop or in your air fryer until they have a nice golden brown exterior. We also encourage you to season and sauce to your heart’s content.

Advertisement

26 / 27

Mac and Cheese — $2.99

Mac and Cheese — $2.99

Trader Joe’s has not one, not two, but several varieties of frozen mac and cheese that vary by season, and each and every one of them is craveable in their own way. There’s the classic Joe’s Diner mac and cheese, an option for our gluten-free friends, a hatch chile variety for the heat seekers among us, and for the fall season, a butternut squash flavor that many TJ’s devotees adore.

Advertisement

27 / 27