The $3 Trader Joe’s Grocery I Never Leave the Store Without

published May 11, 2024
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Credit: Lauren Masur

Like every new parent, when my son was born, time quickly became my most rare and precious resource. Time to eat, time to shower, time to give my body the rest it so desperately needed — I was hungry for all of it. So any hacks I could find that put minutes back in my time bank? I cherished them and held on tight. 

One of those hacks was an unassuming packaged meal I discovered in the pantry aisle of my favorite grocery store: Trader Joe’s Indian Fare Kitchari. 

Credit: Stephanie Hallett

What’s So Great About Trader Joe’s Indian Fare Kitchari?

This little microwavable envelope of millet, mung beans, and more was an absolute lifeline for new-mom me. As a newborn, my son could only take naps if he was physically on someone else’s body, so between breastfeeding and contact-napping, I had almost no time to whip up a meal. 

But with TJ’s Kitchari? No problem — I could hold him in one arm and microwave that delicious pouch with the other. I’d throw it over some frozen, microwavable brown rice from TJ’s, grab a spoon, and dig in. I was nourished. 

Credit: Stephanie Hallett

What’s the Best Way to Use Trader Joe’s Indian Fare Kitchari?

Some days, if my son was willing to nap in his carrier and I had two hands (such luxury!), I might top it with a fried egg for bonus protein. Or, if I’d had the wherewithal to make dinner the night before, I might throw some leftover roast veggies into the mix. 

Even if I was just dumping it into a mug and slurping it down like soup, though, I knew I was getting a nice mix of whole grains, protein, and veggies: TJ’s Kitchari includes red pumpkin, carrot, green beans, brown rice, amaranth, and rolled oats, along with a whack of warming spices. It contains the fiber-rich ingredients I craved and needed as my body was healing from childbirth. Bonus for me, a person with an allium allergy, there are no onions (or onion relatives that I’m allergic to) on the ingredient list. 

The Indian Fare line from Trader Joe’s offers a bunch of other microwavable pouches, including Yellow Tadka Dal, Madras Lentils, and Tikka Vegetables, so there are plenty of one-handed options for busy new parents. They’re under $3 per pouch, too, so you really can’t go wrong. 

Find it in stores: Trader Joe’s Indian Fare Kitchari, $2.49 for 10 ounces

What Trader Joe’s staples did you rely on as a new mom? Tell us about it in the comments below.