Kitchn Love Letters

The $3 Trader Joe’s Ingredient I’ve Been Using on Repeat with My Slow Cooker

published Aug 26, 2021
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Credit: Joe Lingeman

Finding dinners that are simple to make, nutritious, and tasty enough that my family won’t roll their eyes when they see it on their dinner plates is the stuff that dreams are made of. Yes, Pinterest is packed with great family dinner ideas, but many of them involve a lot of time in the kitchen. And time is the one thing that I don’t have to spare during the school year.

Because I’m so strapped for time, I lean on my slow cooker a lot during the workweek. While using this small appliance solves the time issue, it sometimes makes me cut corners in the nutrition or taste department — that is, until I discovered Trader Joe’s Island Salsa.

Credit: Lauren Manaker

This salsa is chock-full of sunny flavors (think: mango, pineapple, and jalapeño peppers). And while I love to dip tortilla chips into salsa, I decided to try this stuff in a slow cooker recipe — and I never looked back. 

Credit: Lauren Manaker

I toss chicken thighs, sliced red and orange bell peppers, onions, and frozen mango chunks into a slow cooker; top it all with an entire jar of Trader Joe’s Island Salsa; and cook it for at least six hours. This results in a dinner that has high-quality protein and fruits and veggies, and, most importantly, is gobbled up by my very picky 6-year-old daughter and my even more picky 50-year-old husband. 

Credit: Lauren Manaker

I serve this dish over rice, inside a baked potato, as an ingredient in a unique nacho recipe, or with tortillas and sliced avocado for tacos. And chilled leftovers make a great topping for a green salad at lunch the next day. 

This $3 jar of salsa is a staple in my home. Using it as a slow cooker hack can open the door to so many meal variations that help add a boost of nutrition to your dishes with very little effort. We make slow cooker salsa chicken at least once a week as soon as our busy season starts!

Do you have any smart TJ’s finds that you pair with your slow cooker? Tell us in the comments below!