Meal Prep Plan: Here’s How I Prep a Week of Trader Joe’s Meals for 4 for Under $100

updated Jun 29, 2021
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Credit: Meghan Splawn
Credit: The Kitchn

Do you have a go-to meal prep plan? Earlier this year, I would have said “no,” but the combination of cooking fatigue and the need for less grocery shopping, more comfort meals, and easy breakfasts and lunches got me hooked on this particular meal prep plan. I’ve made it for my family three times in the last five months!

This meal prep plan encompasses everything I love about shopping at Trader Joe’s — it can be easy and affordable, while giving lots of cooking-friendly shortcuts without sacrificing quality or flavor. It includes some easy-to-prep staples you use across the week as well as some fun shortcut meals. Oh, and it costs less than $100 to feed 4 people for the week and only takes 90 minutes to prep! Here’s how I do it.

Credit: Images: Meghan Splawn; Design: The Kitchn

My Meal Prep Goals 

  • Breakfast: Easy-to-throw-together or grab-and-go breakfasts are what our family needs right now. Some days we’re rushing to get online early for work or school, while other days we have a little more time to scramble some eggs or assemble a breakfast plate (five days).
  • Lunch: My kids are in a “snack-plate lunch” phase right now, so this particular plan focuses on grown-up lunches that my husband and I can grab when we take shifts working and eating around our kids’ school schedule (five days).
  • Dinner: Our family needs a variety of dinners with very little to no prep during the week, so that both parents can catch up on work needs between after-school and family time (five days).
  • Budget goals: I usually budget $150 a week for food for the week. Having made this meal prep plan several times, this plan rings in between $85 and $100 depending on how well-stocked your kitchen is.
Credit: The Kitchn

Meal Prep Plan Snapshot 

  • Feeds: 2 adults for breakfast and dinner; 2 adults for lunch
  • Prep Time: About 90 minutes
  • Meals Covered: About 80% (no weekend meals)
  • Weeknight Cooking Required? Minimal

My Meal Plan 




Credit: The Kitchn
Credit: Meghan Splawn

My Shopping List 

These are the ingredients I bought or used for this week’s meal plan. I also used staple ingredients like olive and vegetable oils, kosher salt, and black pepper that are not listed here.

Produce: 4 large avocados, 1 pint blueberries, 1 pint raspberries, 2 limes, TJ’s Shredded Green & Red Cabbage, 4 large bell peppers (any color), TJ’s Peanut and Crispy Noodle Salad Kit, green beans 

Proteins: 1 package TJ’s Soy Chorizo, 12 large eggs, smoked turkey lunch meat

Dairy: TJ’s Shredded 3-Cheese Blend, 2 cups dairy milk or unsweetened non-dairy milk, 1 cup plain Greek or non-dairy yogurt, 1 (16-ounce) bag TJ’s Shredded Mozzarella Cheese, grated Parmesan cheese,

Frozen Foods: 1 bag TJ’s Roasted Potatoes with Peppers & Onions, 1 box Frozen Chocolate Croissants, 1 bag Frozen Chicken Breast, 1 Asian Stir-Fry Kit, 1 (16-ounce) bag TJ’s Frozen Flame Broiled Turkey Meatballs, TJ’s Fish Nuggets, Turkey Bolognese.

Pantry: 3 packages TJ’s Corn & Wheat Tortillas, TJ’s Mild or Hot Pico de Gallo Salsa, 2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats, 3 tablespoons maple syrup or honey, 1 tablespoon chia seeds (optional), 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon, 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt, 1 (26-ounce) jar TJ’s Tomato Basil Marinara Sauce, TJ’s Green Goddess Salad Dressing, 1 bottle BBQ sauce, 1 box spaghetti, white rice 

Credit: The Kitchn

Power Hour: How I Get the Prep Done

  1. Preheat the oven to 400°F.
  2. Start chicken in slow cooker or Instant Pot. Cooking a whole bag of chicken breast until tender will give us plenty of prepped chicken for one dinner and a couple of lunch boxes. If you’ve made time to thaw the chicken ahead of time, slow-cooking can be relatively quick (about 2 hours on HIGH) or you can use an electric pressure cooker to cook the chicken breast from frozen (about 30 minutes total time).
  3. Roast potatoes with peppers for breakfast tacos. Meanwhile, prepare the bag of frozen potatoes for the breakfast tacos according to the package instructions. Cooking the potato base of these tacos during a meal prep session means that during the week we can reheat this, quickly scramble some eggs, and slice an avocado for a heartier breakfast. You can add the Soy Chorizo to the potato mixture or keep it separate for those spice-averse folks in your house. Cool completely and refrigerate in an airtight container(s).
  4. Make a pot of rice and cook the stir-fry vegetables. Rice will be the base of lunches as well as part of the filling for the stuffed peppers. Cook 3 cups white rice, and while it simmers (about 20 minutes), cook the frozen stir-fry vegetables according to the package instructions.
  5. Cook the turkey Bolognese and fill the stuffed peppers. Cook the frozen turkey Bolognese according to package instructions. Stir 2 cups of the cooked rice into the sauce. Prep the bell peppers according to the recipe instructions, stuff with the sauce and rice mixture, and add to a 9×13-inch baking dish. Cool completely then wrap the baking dish.
  6. Assemble lunches. Make the chicken and vegetable stir-fry by shredding the cooked chicken breast, adding teriyaki sauce to the stir-fried vegetables, and packing them both with about 1/2 cup cooked rice. Assemble the salads with turkey according to the recipe instructions.
  7. Mix up the overnight oats. Prepare the oats according to the recipe instructions. You can store this recipe in one large container to portion from each morning, or portion into individual servings. I find that small canning jars encourage our kids to feed themselves in the morning.
  8. Assemble Slow Cooker Meatball Parm and refrigerate. This is an optional task, but since we are having this for dinner the following night and the slow cooker is already out from cooking the chicken, I do like to take this extra step.
Credit: The Kitchn
Credit: The Kitchn
Credit: Meghan Splawn

A Week of Easy, Comforting Trader Joe’s Meals


Monday and Thursday, Overnight Oats: I pull the oats from the fridge, give it a stir, top with berries, and dig in.

Tuesday and Wednesday, Breakfast Tacos: Each day I reheat half of the roasted potatoes and Soyrizo, scramble 6 eggs, slice some avocado, and assemble the tacos.

Friday, Chocolate Croissants and Berries: I heat the frozen croissants according to the package instructions and we dig in. Admittedly, chocolate croissants were the winning breakfast of the week!


Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday, Salad Kit with Sliced Turkey: I’ve been making a riff on this three-ingredient Trader Joe’s lunch for months now and love that just switching out the salad kit makes a big difference.

Tuesday and Friday, Chicken with Stir-Fried Vegetables: The stir-fry lunches are best if you’ve got a place (and time) to reheat them, so we mostly ate them in our home office.


Monday, Trader Joe’s Slow Cooker Meatball Parm: Since the frozen meatballs are already cooked, they just need to be reheated on the stovetop, while water is boiled for the pasta and green beans. You could easily ditch the pasta for garlic bread or even pita pockets.

Tuesday, Fish Tacos: Prepare the fish tacos according to the recipe instructions, using the pre-shredded cabbage as a shortcut. Try cooking the fish in your air fryer if you don’t have time to heat the oven; tt makes the fish extra crunchy and moist. Save some of the slaw for tomorrow’s dinner sandwiches.

Wednesday, BBQ Chicken Sandwiches: The idea for these BBQ chicken sandwiches is just to reheat leftover slow cooker shredded chicken with BBQ sauce and serve it on rolls with a coleslaw for topping — you don’t even really need a recipe.

Thursday, Shortcut Stuffed Peppers: Since they’re already assembled, the stuffed peppers just need to be popped in the oven and heated according to the recipe instructions. If you’ve got tiny eaters, spoon the filling out and cut the pepper into strips for easier eating.

Friday, Pizza: I like to grab Trader Joe’s Bambino Pizzas for Friday’s dinner to avoid both cooking and takeout. It helps make the whole week end on an easy and nourishing note, while leaving a little bit of extra cash in our pockets for takeout over the weekend.

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Power Hour Meal Prep is the series where we help you put it all together. We show you how to eat well during the week with an hour or two of Power Hour prep over the weekend. Every plan is different; mix and match to find your own personal sweet spot.