5 Fantastic Frozen Vegetarian Trader Joe's Meals
Last week, posted our most recent Trader Joe's haul full of amazing summer ingredients. This week, we're featuring five of our favorite frozen vegetarian meals because cooking lunch or dinner isn't always in the cards. We know that summer can be busy with COVID restrictions lifting, visiting friends and family, and travel. Having some great frozen meal options is always helpful when you're on the go. These five frozen options are all vegetarian or vegan and can be kept in the freezer for months - but let's be honest, they'll be gone before your next trip to the store! I have included reviews for each of these items as well as cooking recommendations for achieving the best flavors and textures. Be sure to read all the way to the end of the post to see my all-time favorite Trader Joe's frozen lunch!
1. Organic Tomato Mozzarella Piccolo Pizza
This personal sized pizza was a quick and delicious take on the traditional margherita pizza. The pizza was covered in tangy tomato slices and mozzarella cheese with a sweet red sauce. The crust was thicker than I was expecting, similar to a pita bread or naan texture. The instructions on the package claim that the serving size is two for the pizza, but this is definitely a one-person dish unless you are having something else substantial with it (salad, pasta, appetizers etc). I personally would have liked to see a bit more cheese on the pizza, especially with the bready texture of the crust. I will definitely be adding more cheese and red pepper flakes if I have this one again. If you’re looking for a vegetarian frozen pizza option, be sure to try this one out!
Cooking Methods: Oven - this item must be baked which results in a nice, crispy crust, but limits the ability to take it to work or on-the-go
Overall Rating: 6.5/10
2. Vegetable Biryani with Vegetable Dumplings
I have found that Trader Joe’s take on many classic Indian (or at least Americanized Indian) food is pretty delicious and simple to make. There are dozens of different curry dishes to try, though most have meat or fish or lack rice on the side. This Vegetable Biryani with Vegetable Dumplings is a complete meal and perfect for a quick lunch or dinner. The rice cooked quickly and easily in the microwave, though I found the dumplings a bit spongy and bready, not crispy like you might find in a restaurant or take out option. If you are preparing this dish at home, I would highly recommend picking out the dumplings and putting them in the air fryer or a frying pan so they get extra crispy. While the rice was very flavorful and tender, I prefer Trader Joe’s Chana Masala for a great vegetarian Indian option.
Cooking Method: Microwave with the preferred option of air- or pan-frying the dumplings
Overall Rating: 7/10
3. Hatch Chile Mac & Cheese
This version of the Trader Joe’s mac and cheese is very creamy and cheesy and a much richer alternative to a boxed mac and cheese. The sauce is rich, gooey, and pretty smooth, even for a frozen cheese sauce. There is a hit of spice from Hatch green chiles; overall, the dish overall is medium heat. Some of the downsides of the dish are that it is a bit salty and the chiles are small and lack a roasted flavor that comes from larger pieces. I have a recipe for Hatch green chile mac and cheese on the blog that is a bit more balanced and chile forward which you should definitely try out. However, if you are looking for a quick side dish or meal, this mac and cheese is a great, spicy option!
Cooking Methods: Oven or Microwave - I baked the dish which led to a melty caramelized crust on the top of the mac and cheese.
Overall Rating: 7.5/10
4. Vegetable Pad Thai
This was my first time trying the Trader Joe’s vegetable pad thai and I cannot believe I waited this long - it is such a simple, flavorful dish that is a great takeout alternative or lunch on-the-go. The noodles and vegetables are flavorful, fresh tasting, and even have a bit of a bite, despite being frozen. The sauce is tangy, sweet, and flavorful. There was a small amount of fried tofu and crushed peanut as well for some added protein. If I were to have this dish again at home, I would add a scrambled egg for protein and some sriracha for a little extra heat. That said, this is definitely a great option to keep on hand in your freezer for the days you’re in a hurry or too exhausted to cook.
Cooking Methods: Microwave or stovetop - either works great!
Overall Rating: 8.5/10
5. Cheese & Green Chile
This is my go-to frozen lunch option from Trader Joe’s and I usually have at least one pack in the freezer for emergency meals or snacks. In fact, when we moved to our new apartment and didn’t have anything unpacked, I was living on these tamales! The cornmeal is soft and tender and the filling is cheesy with lots of spicy green chiles. It is also the easiest of the frozen meals I reviewed to prepare - you only need 3 minutes in a standard microwave. I think these tamales are tender, moist, and flavorful enough to eat on their own, but you can always add hot sauce or salsa for added heat. If you eat meat and prefer to mix up your tamale options, Trader Joe’s also sells chicken and beef options which my fiancé loves. Be sure to check this item out if you haven’t yet - there’s a reason it made the top of my list!
Cooking Method: Microwave - wrap the tamale in a damp paper towel to keep the cornmeal from drying out
Overall Rating: 9/10
What are your go-to Trader Joe's frozen options? What about simple lunches or dinners for on-the-go or busy days? What should we try next? Share your thoughts in the comments below.