Healthy Cooking

These 10 Nutrient-Packed Trader Joe’s Products Will Shave Hours Off Your Holiday Meal Prep Time

Photo: Stocksy/Nataša Mandić
Whether you’re preparing a special meal for your immediate family or putting together a feast for a gathering of friends and family, hosting during the holidays can be as stressful as it is joyful. Between limited oven space, dishes with varying cook times, and multi-step recipes, finding ways to save time in the kitchen is a total gamechanger. If you are a conscious cook and attempt to prepare a healthy meal, this becomes even more true as pre-made options are off the table (literally).

To no one’s surprise, Trader Joe’s has a few solutions for your holiday meal prep that not only help reduce the amount of time you spend over the stove—and therefore increase time spent actually enjoying the holiday—but actually add flavor, nutrients, and a dose of creativity to your meal. Some of these time-saving Trader Joe's products are part of their incredible seasonal selection, and others are standby products that are stocked year-round, but all are bound to become your new kitchen essentials. No matter if the people around your table have dietary restrictions or you’ve just made a commitment to feel your best throughout the holiday season this year, these ten groceries from TJ’s will help you serve a holiday meal that’s as delicious as it is good for you.

The best time-saving Trader Joe's products that are perfect for healthy holiday meals

1. Peeled and Trimmed Brussels Sprouts

Whether you roast, shave, steam, or saute, Brussels sprouts are a staple on the healthy holiday table. But let’s be honest: They’re a total pain to clean and prep. Trader Joe’s stocks its stores with extra two-pound bags of peeled and trimmed brussels over the holiday season to help majorly shave off kitchen time. Speaking of which, if you’re feeling a tad decadent, the shaved brussels sprouts saute kit ($4.69) is a whole side dish in and of itself. This majorly time-saving Trader Joe's product is complete with shaved parmesan, chopped hazelnuts, and a creamy lemon garlic dressing. Just saute and toss everything together for an impressive and delicious complement to your main.

2. Vegan Caramelized Onion Dip

Nothing makes a better (and easier) app than a delicious dip, and this is one dish you shouldn't think twice about outsourcing. Trader Joe's vegan caramelized onion dip takes out the dairy but leaves the creaminess, making it an ideal option for both plant-based eaters and omnivores. Pair it with crackers, crudite, or toasted bread for an easy pre-meal nosh.

3. Holiday Vegetable Hash

When you’re cooking up a healthful feast, having a medley of quality pre-cut veggies—already combined with fresh herbs, ready to be made into stuffing, sauteed as a side dish, or roasted and sprinkled on top of a salad—is a gamechanger in the time-saving department. TJ’s Holiday Vegetable Hash combines butternut squash, sweet potato, red onion, and celery with sage, rosemary, and parsley for a quintessential holiday flavor profile—no peeling or dicing required.

4. Fresh Cranberry Orange Relish

Can we all agree that it’s time for a fresh take on cranberry sauce? If you’re looking for something easier than homemade but a bit punchier than the regular store-bought varieties, TJ’s nails it once again with this fresh relish. The only ingredients are cranberries, Valencia oranges, and a bit of sugar. And unlike a traditional cranberry sauce, this one is uncooked, leaving the fruits with more texture and just the right amount of tartness.

5. Olive and Herbs Mixed Nuts

Leave it to Trader Joe's to innovate the standard bowl of mixed nuts. Their delicious rendition includes chewy dehydrated Kalamata olives and a spice blend of oregano, sage, thyme, basil, marjoram, and rosemary. Serving this aromatic mix of almonds, cashews and pecans is the absolute easiest way to elevate your cocktail hour—just make sure to buy a few bags, as they won’t last long!

6. Wine-Infused Sea Salt Grinder

Sea salt is an absolute staple in the kitchen, and is the easiest way to bring out all the natural flavors of meat, veggies, and everything else you’re cooking. But what if you could make your sea salt do double duty? This special holiday salt is infused with dried peppercorns, rosemary, and rosé wine for an unexpected depth of flavor that goes with basically anything on the holiday table (without relying on butter, oil, or sugar). Try it on poultry, meat, and seafood either as a rub or a finishing salt or tossed with roasted veggies.

7. Pumpkin Butternut Squash Bisque

Sure, you could make your own soup starter, but if you want to save yourself hours of prep time (and valuable stovetop space), this bisque ticks all of the holiday entertaining boxes. Pumpkin and butternut squash are blended with sage, brown butter, nutmeg, and a touch of honey for the ultimate comforting seasonal combo. Just fancy enough for the holiday table without being pretentious. BTW, your guests will never guess that this creamy concoction is packed with fiber and nutrients like vitamin A, folate, and magnesium thanks to the winter squash.

8. Cauliflower Mash

No one will miss classic mashed potatoes with this rich, nutritious cauliflower mash on the table. Best of all, it requires no work from you other than reheating (part of the beauty of so many time-saving Trader Joe's products). The genius over at TJ’s use both pureed cauliflower as well as small chunks of florets in the mixture, so you get the creaminess you expected from a mashed side with a little extra texture.

9. Organic Balsamic and Fig Dressing

When you want the convenience of a pre-made dressing but with ingredients you would actually use in your own kitchen, reach for this sweet and tangy organic pick. Combining honey and fig paste as natural sweeteners with balsamic and extra virgin olive oil makes for a slightly thick, hearty dressing ideal for salads, vegetable sides, proteins, and even drizzling on poached fruit and vanilla ice cream for dessert. It’s a perfect complement to all the best flavors of the season!

10. Vanilla Non-Dairy Frozen Dessert

There’s nothing better than an apple crisp or berry crumble for dessert, served warm from the oven and topped with a scoop of melting vanilla ice cream. If you don’t eat dairy, or have a guest that doesn’t, that shouldn't mean that this option isn't on the table. The Vanilla Non-Dairy Frozen Dessert is surprisingly creamy while being almond-based and gluten-free, making it an easy way to keep things sweet for everyone at the table.

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