These Trader Joe's Snacks Will Make Your Life Easier

Gone are the days of pre-packed lunches by mom or a quick run through my college dining hall's hot food line. It’s just me against the big, busy, and expensive working world now. What’s a girl to eat, with so little time and energy, and a whole lotta' living expenses? One way I cope is by turning some of my favorite snacks into meals. Boom.

Perhaps some of you have tried your hands at this completely acceptable practice, as well? For those of you especially lucky enough to live in the vicinity of an almighty Trader Joe’s, I’ve put together five of my favorite go-to TJ’s snack-to-meal recipes. Requiring few extra ingredients and consisting of products you may already have in your fridge and pantry, these dinner ideas are fast, easy, and cheap — perfect for your post-work feasting pleasure. So read on, and keep on snacking.

Photo: Illustrated by Paola Delucca.
The Snack
Pita Chips & Hummus

TJ's Products
Multigrain Pita Chips
Cilantro and Jalapeño Hummus
Photo: Illustrated by Paola Delucca.
Make It A Meal: Mediterranean Platter
All of your basic food groups are covered.

Additional TJ's Ingredients
Olive Oil
Crumbled Feta
Greek Olive Medley
Tomatoes

Instructions
Slice tomatoes and arrange on a plate with a dollop of hummus, pita chips, and olives. Sprinkle crumbled feta on top and drizzle with olive oil.
Photo: Illustrated by Paola Delucca.
The Snack
Meat & Cheese Plate

TJ's Products
Blue Cheese
Raisin Rosemary Crisps
Truffle Salami
Photo: Illustrated by Paola Delucca.
Make It A Meal: Charcuterie Salad
This salad is fancy, French-ish, and delicious.

Additional TJ's Ingredients
Arugula
Balsamic Glaze

Instructions
1. Dress arugula with balsamic glaze in a bowl.

2. Cover with crumbles of blue cheese, raisin rosemary crisps, and sliced salami.

3. Drizzle extra balsamic glaze atop finished bowl with a sprinkle of salt and cracked pepper.
Photo: Illustrated by Paola Delucca.
The Snack
Cheese & Fig Spread

TJ's Products
Fig Butter
Jarlsberg
Photo: Illustrated by Paola Delucca.
Make It A Meal: Gourmet Grilled Cheese
Figs can make anything gourmet.

Additional TJ's Ingredients
Rustico Bread
Butter (salted or unsalted, the choice is yours)

Instructions
1. Generously butter a frying pan over medium heat.

2. Take two slices of rustico bread and butter one side of each.

3. On the non-buttered sides of the bread, spread the fig butter and top with thin slices of Jarlsberg.

4. Sandwich together and add to the heated pan butter-side down.

5. Cook over medium heat until cheese begins to melt and butter begins to brown (about 5 minutes per side).
Photo: Illustrated by Paola Delucca.
The Snack
Popcorn

TJ's Products
Organic Popcorn with Olive Oil
Photo: Illustrated by Paola Delucca.
Make It A Meal: Loaded Popcorn
Yes, you can eat popcorn for dinner!

Additional TJ's Ingredients
Parmesan
Butter
Fresh Sage
Fully Cooked Bacon

Instructions
1. Melt 3 tablespoons of butter in a pan over medium-high heat.

2. Add 2 tablespoons of coarsely chopped sage to the pan and cook until butter browns (it will give off a nutty aroma and sage will crisp).

3. Chop bacon into bits and add to brown butter-sage mixture for a minute to lightly heat, then remove pan from heat.

4. Once slightly cooled, pour brown butter sage and bacon over a bowl filled with popcorn.

5. Mix bowl together and garnish with freshly grated Parmesan and cracked pepper (salt to taste).
Photo: Illustrated by Paola Delucca.
The Snack
Cheese & Crackers

TJ's Products
Pita Bite Crackers
Pesto Gouda Cheese
Photo: Illustrated by Paola Delucca.
Make It A Meal: Baked Cheesy Pesto Rigatoni
Make this dish with any combo of cheese and crackers.

Additional TJ Ingredients
Milk
Rigatoni
Garlic Powder

Instructions
1. Preheat oven to 350°F.

2. Bring a well-salted, large pot of water to a boil and add in rigatoni.

2. Cook for 6 to 8 minutes until just al dente and remove from heat to strain (saving 1/4 cup of water in the pot).

3. Let rigatoni sit in strainer and return 1/4 of pasta water in pot to the stove on medium heat.

4. Add in 1 cup of milk, 1/2 tablespoon of garlic powder, 1/4 cup of grated pesto gouda, and a few turns of cracked pepper, stirring until well heated and combined.

5. Place strained rigatoni in baking dish and pour cheesy sauce mixture over it.

6. In a separate small bowl, crumble pita bite crackers and mix with 1/4 cup of grated pesto gouda (topping).

7. Cover rigatoni with crumble topping and finish off with another turn of cracked pepper.

8. Bake in oven until topping melts, becomes golden, and begins to bubble (5 to 10 minutes).