Culinary Chaos: Best frozen food from Trader Joe’s

Since the members of the Scribe are passing around the chef’s hat, I found myself in a dilemma. I live in the dorms and don’t have a kitchen. Not to worry, though — this past academic year I have tried almost every microwavable frozen meal Trader Joe’s has to offer.

Trader Joe’s is an excellent place to pick up a quick meal. Their prices are much lower than eating out every day. They have a world of options for the average college student, especially with their microwavable meals.

These are four of the best options you can pick up in the frozen meal section.

4) Chicken Tikka Masala

The chicken tikka masala comes with a main protein and a side of basmati rice.

What’s exciting about this meal is there’s a vegan version of it, which I prefer. It’s surprising how well-flavored this meal is for less than five minutes in the microwave.

Trader Joe’s refers to this as a “classic, Indian(ish) dish.” The chicken is smothered in a creamy, light tomato-based curry saucet.

Initially, I was a little worried about it since I can be a picky eater. I was surprised by the quality after trying it.

3) Mini Beef Tacos

These are a classic for me, as I grew up eating the mini beef tacos. I was overjoyed when I found out you can cook them in the microwave. This box is packed full of tacos, so it can last a few meals.

The meat is tender and the green salsa inside adds great flavor. These tiny tacos are perfect when I’m craving Mexican food. Eat them with a side of salsa or guacamole to have the best experience.

2) Japchae Korean Glass Noodles & Vegetable Stir Fry

Japchae is a classic Korean dish, and this microwavable meal seems fresh enough to be homemade.

Trader Joe’s japchae is packed with vitamin-rich vegetables like bell pepper, onion, carrot and spinach for academic working brains. The noodles and stir fry are seasoned with sesame oil and soy sauce for an umami taste.

When I first tried this, I was stunned to find the noodles have a perfect chewiness. Glass noodles are made from sweet potatoes, and are called glass due to their translucent appearance.

This is perfect way to easily get some vegetables into your diet in a delicious way.

1) Hatch Chile Mac and Cheese

Anyone from my family will attest this microwavable macaroni is the best money can buy. I grew up in Albuquerque, New Mexico, so I have it on good authority that the green chile is legit.

This dish isn’t spicy, even with hatch chile in the mix. The chile adds a nice flavor to the savory cheese, and the thought of it is making my mouth water while writing this.

Trader Joe’s has also somehow perfected microwavable macaroni. The cheese sauce stays creamy, but when heated, it creates a delectable brown crust on the top of the cheese, making this comfort food feel like a homemade meal.

I usually have a few of these boxes stored in the freezer for nights when I don’t feel like finding a meal elsewhere, and it always leaves me full and happy.

Graphic by Neako Hallisey.