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Easy Weeknight Meals for Busy Back to School Time

Easy weeknight meals for the busy back to school time | East Valley Moms Blog

Trader Joe’s is magical. It’s bright and open, staffed with the friendliest people, and full of fantastic food options for even the pickiest of eaters. It is at the top of my list of places to leisurely stroll when I have some kid free time (maybe it’s the Hawaiian shirts that make it feel like a mini vacation?). Not only can I do most of my grocery shopping there, I am always finding great options to make dinnertime faster, healthier, and more varied. As much as I love to cook, the shortcuts they provide by way of pre-cut veggies, sauces, and marinated proteins have really changed the way I approach dinner during the week.

Whether you enjoy cooking or not, these quick and easy meals featuring some of our family’s favorites from TJ’s will make your dinner prep more productive so you can spend the extra time drinking wine and watching the Bachelor…just kidding (kind of). All are 5 ingredients or less, balanced/healthy and can be prepared in as little as 20 minutes. Mom win!

Mediterranean Chicken

Ingredients: Chicken Shawarma, Tzatziki, Mediterranean Style Salad Kit, Riced Cauliflower


-Grill the chicken (these are thighs so on our grill, we usually do 6-8 minutes each side).

-While the chicken is cooking, sauté the cauliflower rice on the stove until soft (I like to season mine with a few dashes of turmeric and garlic powder)

-Prepare the salad while the other items are cooking.

-To assemble, slice the chicken, place over the cauliflower rice, and top with the tzatziki and serve the salad on the side.




Slow Cooker Spaghetti Squash with Meatballs

Ingredients: Spaghetti Squash, Frozen Turkey Meatballs, Marinara Sauce (I pick this one because it is lowest in sugar but any of their sauces will do)

Easy weeknight meals for the busy back to school time featuring some Trader Joe's favorites!Easy weeknight meals for the busy back to school time featuring some Trader Joe's favorites!

-Wash the outside of the squash and halve width wise. Scrape out the guts (I am sure there is a formal name but you know what I am talking about) with a spoon until clean.

-Place the frozen meatballs in the slow cooker and pour the sauce over. Then add the squash halves cut side down.

-Cook on low for 6 hours or high for 4 hours.

-When you’re ready to serve, carefully remove the squash and string the threads with a fork. Add directly back into the sauce/meatballs and stir so the sauce coats the squash. Divide into even portions and if you’re feeling fancy, top with parmesan cheese (or “snow” as my girls call it).


Shrimp Stir Fry

Ingredients: Frozen Shrimp, Riced Cauliflower Stir Fry, Asian Vegetable Stir Fry, Island Soyaki SauceEasy weeknight meals for the busy back to school time featuring some Trader Joe's favorites!

-Thaw the shrimp and pat dry with paper towels.

-In a medium sauce pan, cook the cauliflower stir fry per the package directions.

-In a wok or large pan, heat some cooking oil (I like to use sesame for this dish) and sauté the shrimp until cooked through. Remove to a bowl and add a few tablespoons of the Soyaki to coat the shrimp.

-In the same pan, add a little more cooking oil and then add the veggies. Sauté until cooked but still crisp (about 8-10 minutes). Add the reserved shrimp to the pan and a few more tablespoons of the sauce. Toss all together until well combined.

-To serve, place some of the cauliflower stir fry in a bowl and top with the shrimp/veggie mixture.


Sheet Pan Dinner

*Note: This can be made many ways using different vegetables and protein. Get creative!

Ingredients: Chicken Sausage, Baby Potatoes, Green Beans, Red Bell Pepper, Everything but the Bagel Seasoning (If you have not tried this yet, run to your nearest Trader Joe’s. It is life changing.)

Easy weeknight meals for the busy back to school time featuring some Trader Joe's favorites!-Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

-Prep the veggies: quarter the potatoes, toss with a little olive oil and shake on the bagel seasoning to your liking. Chop the red pepper into bite sized pieces, combine with the green beans and season with some salt and pepper.

-Line a baking sheet with parchment paper (this makes for easy clean up). Layer the red peppers, green beans, and potatoes so they are in a somewhat even layout. Pop in the oven and cook until the potatoes start to brown and the veggies soften (about 25-30 minutes).

-While the veggies are baking, slice up the chicken sausage and then add to the pan in the oven for the last 5-10 minutes of cooking. When heated through, remove the pan from the oven. Serve with more bagel seasoning and mustard of your choice.  


I hope your family looks forward to these easy dinners as much as mine does! Enjoy!


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