Favorites from the Trader Joe's freezer section

Life gets busy. Thank goodness for the Trader Joe's freezer section. I feel like it's saved me the hassle of making dinner on quite a few occasions lately. Plus it's way cheaper than getting take out! I know frozen picks can be sort of hit or miss so I thought I'd share a few of my favorites. All of these are vegetarian, of course. and they're all pretty affordable!

TRADER JOE'S CHANNA MASALA
This one is a single serving dish (it might actually say 2 servings but that's a lie). It's really flavorful and pretty healthy, thanks to all the protein and fiber in those chickpeas. If you really want to get the take out experience, grab a pack of the Trader Joe's frozen Garlic Naan and toss a piece in the oven while you're heating up this bad boy.

TRADER JOE'S QUINOA COWBOY BURGERS
I've tried dozens of veggie burgers and I'm pretty picky about flavor and texture. These Quinoa Cowboy burgers are awesome. Even if you just bake them in the oven, they have a bit of a crispy exterior (thanks to some breadcrumbs on the outside!) so they have a crunch that almost tastes like it's fried. The flavor is great and I love it with a little salsa on top. Side note, I've also tried the Trader Joe's "pizza" burgers but I didn't like those at all. Save your money and get these instead.

TRADER JOE'S SPELT RISOTTO
I love love love this one. You can literally just dump it into a microwave safe bowl, add a little water, and cook. I was actually surprised at how great the texture of the vegetables was. I feel like sometimes frozen vegetables can get kind of soggy when reheated but these were great. The chickpeas fill you up and the seasoning is on point. It's creamy and has sort of a smokey-cheesy flavor, sort of like a smoked gouda. My one complaint is that it's too much for one person and not quite enough for two. Typically Alex and I will split this with share this avocado and grapefruit salad or some panko crusted asparagus, so it's not a big deal.

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Trader Joe's Secrets
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Trader Joe's Secrets
For starters, the pay is pretty legit.

The employee that spoke to Popsugar started out making $12 an hour at Trader Joe's, well above the state's minimum wage. After three months of working at least 30 hours a week, employees get health insurance and a 401k—and you can expect a raise at least once or twice a year.

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They donate a lot of food.

Basically anything you wouldn't be excited about buying, but is still perfectly good to eat, according to Popsugar. "They donate flowers, produce—everything—to local organizations," the employee told Popsugar.

The secret to their amazing customer service? Overstaffing.

"They totally overstaff so that you don't feel like your stocking duties or your register duties trump interacting with customers—they encourage you to be nice to customers," the employee told Popsugar.

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Every store employs artists.

To create all that chalkboard signage you see throughout the store. "Literally all of the signage around the store is custom-made by two or three artists who hang out in the back and almost exclusively do that, and register work every once in a while," the employee told Popsugar.

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There's also a person in charge of cooking all the new products.

"Each Trader Joe's has a break room, and they have one person who's in charge of cooking new stuff that the store gets and making it available for the entire staff who comes through the store that day to try it," the employee told Popsugar. "They want you to try all the products so you can have an opinion so that when you recommend stuff to people, it's not baseless."

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The bell-ringing is actually a secret code.

One bell? That means the lines are getting too long and everyone needs to get to their register. Two bells means an employee needs to come over and help with something. "For example, let's say the bag of spinach you bought is partially opened or looks bad; you ring two bells and an employee will come over and grab a new one for you," the employee told Popsugar. And three bells is code for send a manager.

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You can return anything. Seriously.

Talk about a game-changer. According to Popsugar, you could buy anything, try it, and if you don't like it or there's something wrong, bring it back for a full refund. BRB, we're going to sample everything.

Melissa Renwick via Getty Images

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TRADER JOE'S GNOCCHI ALLA SORRENTINAHello, comfort food. I don't even know how they make this taste so good (oh maybe it's because it's pasta made from potatoes?) but it's amazing. I cook this on the stovetop and it's ready in less than 10 minutes. I usually toss in a handful of mozzarella cheese for a little extra cheesy-ness and maybe a sprinkle of Italian spices so I can pretend like I actually "cooked" something, but it's great as-is. Again, it's an awkward amount of food but it's great split between two people and rounded out with this spicy kale salad or some veggies on the side. It's actually kind of perfect for portion controlled comfort food!

TRADER JOE'S BLACK BEAN AND CORN ENCHILADAS
Ok, my biggest complaint with this one is that they say it's two servings and it's so clearly one. But that aside, this one is quick meal option I like having on hand. The sauce is pretty flavorful and just the right amount of spicy. The texture of the corn tortillas is pretty good and the whole thing is pretty high in protein for the amount of calories. I'm pretty sure this is similar to the Amy's frozen enchiladas, except it's much cheaper!

Looking for more ideas? Here are a few more of my grocery picks!

The post Favorites from the Trader Joe's Freezer Section appeared first on I Heart Vegetables.

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