5 Groceries from Trader Joe’s That’ll Taste Even Better If You Grill Them

published May 24, 2019
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We tend to think of Trader Joe’s as the microwaver’s paradise — all those heat-and-eat frozen goodies sporting flavors from around the globe. But there are treasures for the grill there, too — especially when you shop the perimeter for marinated meats or packs of veggies.

Now that my grill is dusted off and ready for its summer workout, I walked the aisles of my local TJ’s to see which groceries there could be improved by a stint over some fiery flames. Here’s the best of what I found.

Credit: Danielle Centoni

1. Frozen Pizzas

Whatever you’re in the mood for, Trader Joe’s probably has a pizza to fit the bill. And they’re all a steal at around $5 for a 15-ounce pie. When the weather warms, no one wants to heat up the house with a blistering hot oven. Instead, let the grill do the baking. The Wood-fired Naples-style Uncured Pepperoni Pizza ($5 for 15 ounces) and Arugula Pizza with cherry tomatoes and three kinds of cheese ($4 for 15 ounces) definitely taste better with some char.

Credit: Danielle Centoni

2. Frozen Burgers

Yes, TJ’s has plain frozen burger patties of grass-fed beef ($7 for 16 ounces), but what really caught my eye were the half-dozen more unusual options made with everything from chicken to tuna. There are Buffalo Burgers ($11 for three 5-ounce patties), Turkey Burgers ($3 for 6 ounces), Chile Lime Chicken Burgers ($3.50 for 16 ounces) veggie burgers in Vegetable Masala ($3 for 10 ounces), and Thai Sweet Chili flavors, ($4) to name a few, as well as mahi mahi, salmon, and tuna burgers (all around $5 to $6 for four patties).

Credit: Danielle Centoni

3. Flatbreads

The frozen naan (both regular and garlic: $2 for 12 ounces) makes frequent appearances with my family’s near-weekly curry dinners. The pre-grilled breads warm up great in the oven, but when you brush them with butter and warm them on the grill, they get even more smoky char. The frozen paratha is a great contender, too. Tip: Try serving them with kebabs and grilled veggies. And there’s no better way to make a homemade pizza or flatbread with TJ’s fresh pizza dough than by putting it on a searingly hot grill.

Credit: Danielle Centoni

4. Marinated meats

Sure, you can make your own marinades and rubs for the various steaks, chops, and roasts in the Trader Joe’s meat section, but the pre-marinated meats seem tailor-made for the grill — and they make life so much easier. Think: Spatchcocked Lemon-Rosemary Chicken ($4 per pound), which is perfect alongside a grain salad; Pollo Asado ($6 per pound) or Carne Asada ($10 per pound) that you can tuck into tacos; sweet-hot Bool Kogi ($10 per pound) that you can serve with rice and quick-pickled cucumbers; and Santa Maria Tri-Tip Roast ($10 per pound), a classic when thinly sliced and served with potato salad. And there’s a pretty good selection of sausages too, like Bavarian Bratwurst ($4 for 12 ounces).

Credit: Danielle Centoni

5. Fresh produce

If you’re not grilling your vegetables, you’re missing out. Grilled romaine makes a great warm salad with thinly sliced steak, and TJ’s always has packs of romaine hearts in its produce section. These days you can also find eggplant, zucchini,and bell peppers, perfect for a grilled take on ratatouille, as well as shucked corn on the cob. Big, fat portobello mushroom caps can stand in for a veggie burger. Even better, add sliced grilled avocado for even more smoky notes. And don’t forget about grilled pineapple, which you can toss in salsas or serve with ice cream for dessert.

What groceries do you get from Trader Joe’s when you know you’re going to be grilling?