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10 Trader Joe’s Recipes that Cost less than $5 per Serving

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You might already be familiar with Trader Joe’s, the grocery store chain – shopped there, seen an ad or a news story. Trader Joe’s has 474 stores across the U.S. and prides itself on unique, natural organic products.

The biggest difference between a Trader Joe’s and a Walmart is that there are no “branded” items.

Because of not offering discounted “branded” items, and all-natural food, it can be a bit pricey compared to Walmart. Not to worry, I have listed 10 Trader Joe’s recipes that cost less than $5 per serving. This is for the average family of 4, if you’re a couple, or are single, then you’d save even more.

1. Hot Link Hash

This is a quick and easy dinner to put together, especially after a long day of work, extracurricular activities, or just a having a lazy night. It only takes 2 minutes to prep and serves 4.

  • 1 package Trader Joe’s Uncured Pork & Beef Hot Link Sausages, sliced into bite size pieces. ($4.99 for a package of 4)
  • 1 package Trader Joe’s Roasted Potatoes with Peppers & Onions ($2.99)
  • 2 Tablespoons Water (free)
  • 1 package TJ’s Sour Cream ($1.99)

Cilantro (free from your herb garden – frugal money saving tip)

  • Sauté sausage slices in a large pan for about 3 minutes.
  • Add potatoes and water, cover and cook another 3 minutes.
  • Uncover and cook about another 8 minutes until potatoes are cooked through and sausages are browned.
  • Divide between 4 plates and serve with sour cream and cilantro.

Total cost of groceries = $9.97

Divided among 4 people = $2.49 per serving

2. Homestyle Pork Chops & Maple Butternut Squash

The shopping list for this recipe can actually be used for another separate recipe later on so you actually get more savings out of this. Serves 4 and is ready in less than an hour.


For Pork Chops

  • 1 Boneless Pork Tenderloin ($4.99/lb. or $2.00 for 4 slices). Sliced into Pork Chops. Save 4 or 5 cuts and either save or freeze the rest for another time.
  • ½ Cup Flour
  • 1 TB smoked Paprika
  • ½ tsp salt (plus more for chops)
  • ½ tsp pepper (plus more for chops)
  • ¼ Cup Olive Oil
  • 1 1/3 Cup Low Sodium Chicken Broth ($1.99 for 32oz. or 75¢ for this recipe)
  • 1 TB herbs (rosemary, thyme, or sage)
  • ½ TB butter

For Squash

  • 1 Butternut Squash $1.69
  • 4 TB butter, melted
  • 2 TB light brown sugar
  • 2 TB Maple Syrup ($7.99 for 12oz. bottle, 66¢ for this recipe)
  • ½ tsp salt
  • Preheat oven to 400°
  • Poke a fork in the butternut squash in a few places and microwave 1 minute (this softens it for easier peeling).
  • Peel and cube the squash into cubes.
  • Toss pieces with rest of ingredients and spread onto baking sheet.
  • Bake 30-40 minutes until tender, turning once half way through cooking.
  • In a plate mix flour, salt & pepper and paprika.
  • Rub pork chops in olive oil, add salt and pepper to taste, and then dredge in flour mixture. Shake extra flour off.
  • Heat oil in frying pan & cook over medium heat for about 3 minutes per side until golden brown. Set aside.
  • Pour off excess oil from pan, add chicken stock and cook to reduce for about 3 minutes.
  • Remove pan from heat, add the butter and herbs and mix. Pour over pork chops.
  • Serve everything together.

Total cost of Groceries = $16.66, more if you didn’t have butter and olive oil in your pantry already.

Cost of this meal only = $5.10

Divided among 4 people = $1.28 per serving.

Now you still have pork chops, chicken broth and maple syrup for another day.

3. Tangy Grilled Chicken & Corn on the Cob

Soon it will be grilling time and this would be a great family recipe, or one to share with friends visiting. This recipe serves 4 – 6 and only takes about 20 minutes cooking time.


For the Chicken

  • 1 ½ lbs. boneless, skinless Chicken ($2.69/lb about $4.04)
  • ½ Cup plain Greek Yogurt ($4.99 for 32 oz – 62¢ for this recipe)
  • ½ a lemon (about 39¢ for 1 lemon)
  • 1 TB Olive Oil
  • 2 tsp Onion Salt
  • Lemon Slices for garnish (optional)

For the Corn

  • 6 ears of Corn on the Cob (50¢ per Cob – $3.00 for 6)
  • 6 TB TJ’s Cilantro Salad Dressing ($3.49 for 12 oz. – 87¢ for this recipe)
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp pepper
Instructions for Chicken:
  • Mix yogurt, olive oil, lemon juice and onion salt in a bowl. Add chicken and mix to coat. Cover bowl and chill in fridge for an hour.
  • Preheat your grill to medium heat and oil the grating.
  • Shake excess liquid off chicken & place on grill. Grill for about 6 – 8 minutes per side until internal temperature is 165°F.
  • Remove from heat and serve with lemon slices if desired.
Instructions for the Corn:
  • Remove a few layers of the outer husks of each Cob. Keep the inner layers for the grill. Peel back the remaining layers and clean off the silk from each cob and close up again.
  • Soak Cobs in water for at least half an hour.
  • Peel back husks again and coat with a Tablespoon of Cilantro Dressing and cover back up.
  • Grill over medium high heat for about 20 minutes. The husks will get charred which is okay.
  • Remove from heat, cool a few minutes and remove husks and serve.
  • For an addition to this meal you can buy a $1.99 bag of Salad, use the remaining Cilantro Salad Dressing on it and you have a complete meal.

Total cost of Groceries = $17.99

Total cost for this recipe = $10.91

Divided among 4 people = $2.73 a serving

Divided among 6 people = $1.82 a serving

Not bad for an evening dinner with family or friends.

4. Chili Cornbread Casserole

Nothing like hot chili on a cool night, right? So, this Chili Casserole is even better! Serves 6 – 8 people and only takes 40 minutes to cook.

  • 4 cans of TJ’s Beef Chili with Beans ($1.99 each, so $7.96)
  • 1 egg
  • ½ Cup Canola Oil
  • ¾ Cup Milk
  • 1 Box of TJ’s Cornbread Baking Mix ($2.69)
  • 1 Cup TJ’s Mexican Blend Cheese ($3.29 for 12oz bag, $1.65 for this recipe)
  • 2 Jalapenos, deseeded & sliced (optional) (about 99¢ each, $1.98 total)
  • Preheat oven to 350° & grease an 8×10 casserole dish.
  • Dump the cans of Chili into the casserole dish.
  • In a large bowl, mix together the cornbread mix, milk, egg & oil.
  • Pour the cornbread mix over the chili & spread evenly.
  • Bake for 35-40 minutes until an inserted toothpick comes out clean.
  • Cool for about 10 minutes, top with cheese and jalapenos (if using), and serve.

Total cost of Groceries = $15.92 ($13.94 without the Jalapenos)

Total for this recipe = $14.28 ($12.30 without the Jalapenos)

Divided among 4 people = $3.57 ($3.08) per serving

Divided among 6 people = $2.38 ($2.05) per serving

5. Slow Cooker Chicken Verde

I love slow cooker recipes because they’re so easy – fix it and forget it. Dump the ingredients in the pot in the morning, head to work, and have a nice hot meal waiting when you return home. This pot can feed 6 – 8 people, great for leftovers for another night – even more savings in money and time.

  • 1 large onion, diced (69¢)
  • 12 cloves Garlic, minced ($1.49 for 3oz. pkg. 75¢ for this recipe)
  • 2 Jalapenos, seeded & diced ($1.98)
  • 2 lbs. Frozen Chicken Thighs ($6.99)
  • 2 Jars Salsa Verde ($1.99 each, $3.98 for this recipe)
  • ½ tsp ground cumin
Sides & Garnishes:
  • TJ’s Jasmine Rice, heated ($2.99)
  • TJ’s Organic Black Beans, heated ($1.19)
  • Lime wedges, chopped Cilantro, and Greek Yogurt for garnish (optional)
  • Place onion, garlic, chicken, jalapenos, salsa verde and the cumin to the slow cooker. Stir to combine everything.
  • Set on Low for 6 – 8 hours or on High for 2 – 4 hours. Check to see if the chicken is at least 165°. Shred chicken with 2 forks and mix again.
  • Serve with the rice and beans and garnishes.
  • Use the Greek Yogurt left from the Tangy Chicken recipe for money savings.

Total cost of Groceries = $19.31

Total cost of this recipe = $18.57

Divided among 4 people = $4.64 per serving

Divided among 8 people = $2.32 per serving

6. Spaghetti Squash with Meatball Marinara

This is a great and healthy recipe for when you’re trying to cut carbs. The spaghetti squash is just like regular spaghetti noodles but has less carbohydrates, less calories, and more nutrients too. This recipe serves 8 people and can be made quickly in 30 minutes.

  • 1 large Spaghetti Squash (about $2.69 depending on weight)
  • 1 pkg TJ’s Party Mini Meatballs ($3.99 for a package of 40, so let’s use half $1.99)
  • Olive Oil
  • 1 can Tuscan Marinara ($1.79)
  • 2 TB grated Parmesan, or to taste ($4.99 for a 12oz bag, 42¢ for this recipe)
  • ½ tsp salt, or to taste
  • ½ tsp pepper, or to taste
  • Cut the squash in half lengthwise, scoop out the seeds and fibrous strings.
  • Season with salt and pepper, place cut-side up in a microwave dish with about an inch of water. Cover with cling-wrap and cook on high for 10 – 14 minutes.
  • Let cool and then use a fork to scrape out the squash. The fork turns the squash into “spaghetti strands”.
  • Cook meatballs in a large skillet according to the package directions.  Add marinara sauce and spaghetti squash strands. Toss to cover and warm through.
  • Serve with Parmesan cheese.

Total cost of Groceries = $13.46

Total cost of this recipe = $6.89

Divided among 4 people = $1.72 per serving

Divided among 8 people = 86¢ per serving

7. Crock Pot Beef Stew

Another slow cooker recipe, I told you I liked them. This yummy, hearty recipe feeds about 6 – 8 people and only takes 10 minutes to throw together before work in the morning.

  • 1 Cup flour
  • ¼ tsp salt, or to taste
  • ¼ tsp pepper, or to taste
  • 1 ½ pound TJ’s All-Natural Stew Meat ($5.99/lb. so roughly $8.98)
  • 3 TB Olive Oil
  • 1 Cup each – Carrots ($1.49 for 1 lb. bag), Celery ($2.29/bunch) & Onions (69¢), cubed (roughly $2.59 for this recipe)
  • 2 Cups Potatoes, cubed ($1.00/lb., so $2.00 for this recipe)
  • 2 Cups Beef Stock ($2.50 for 32oz., $1.25 for this recipe)
  • 2 TB Tomato Paste (99¢ a can, 17¢ for this recipe)
  • 4 – 5 fresh sprigs of Thyme (again from your garden)
  • Add salt and pepper to the flour and dredge the stew meat in it.
  • Heat 2 TB olive oil in a skillet and brown the stew meat (might need to do two batches). Transfer to crock pot.
  • Add remaining oil to skillet and cook carrots, celery, onions and potatoes and cook about 10 minutes. Transfer to crock pot.
  • Add thyme, salt and pepper to pot. Cover & cook on low for 6 to 8 hours.
  • Serve.

Total cost of Groceries = $18.94

Total cost of this recipe = $14.99

Divided among 4 people = $3.75 per serving

Divided among 8 people = $1.87 per serving

This is a great recipe to carry over for several nights if need be, especially if there are only 2 of you at home.

8. Sassy Slaw Fish Tacos

I can’t have a list of recipes without having a fish recipe. Fish is a great change from the usual money-saving chicken and beef recipes. It is healthier to eat but can be pricey for the regular budgeter.

This taco recipe feeds 3 – 4 people (or double it for 6 – 8). With a bit of preparation ahead of time, this recipe only takes 10 minutes to put together.

  • ½ Bag of TJ’s Broccoli Slaw ($1.69 a bag, so 85¢ for this recipe)
  • ½ bottle of Cilantro Dressing (use the rest of the bottle from the Tangy Grilled Chicken recipe)
  • ½ Cup flour
  • 1/8 tsp salt, or to taste
  • 1/8 tsp pepper, or to taste
  • ½ pkg Frozen Cod Pieces, thawed & drained ($3.99 a pound, $1.99 for this recipe)
  • 2 TB Canola Oil
  • ½ pkg Tortillas ($1.99, 99¢ for this recipe)
  • ½ Tub of Chunky & Spicy Guacamole ($2.99, $1.50 for this recipe)
  • In a large bowl, combine the broccoli slaw with the cilantro dressing and let soak at least 20 minutes (or leave overnight).
  • Season the flour with the salt and pepper, dredge the cod pieces, shake off excess flour. In a large skillet, heat up about 3 Tablespoons of the oil and fry the fish until golden. Set aside.
  • Wipe and reheat skillet with a tablespoon of oil and heat up the tortillas, 2 at a time.
  • Take a warm tortilla, spread 1 or 2 tablespoons of guacamole across it, place 2 or 3 pieces of fish on one side, add broccoli slaw on top of fish. Add optional toppings such as squeeze of lime, chopped cilantro, or hot sauce. Fold up taco and enjoy!

Total cost of Groceries = $10.66

Total cost of this recipe = $5.33

Divided among 4 people = $1.33 per serving

$1.33 for a delicious taco meal! Serve some Trader Joe’s Salsa and Tortilla Chips beforehand for another $4.68.

9. Trader Joe’s Style Sloppy Joe’s

I got to add a fun dish for the kids here. But, who doesn’t like Sloppy Joe’s, it’s an easy dish sure to please everyone! This serves 4 – 6 people and can be completed in a quick 15 minutes. Great for those busy nights of extra-curricular activities.1

  • 2 tsp Canola Oil
  • ½ Cup Onion, chopped (69¢ or use leftover onion from the Beef Stew recipe)
  • 2 lbs. Ground Beef $4.99/lb., $9.98 for this recipe)
  • ½ Cup TJ’s Frozen Fire Roasted Corn ($2.49 16oz. bag, 62¢ for this recipe)
  • ½ Cup Black Beans, drained ($1.19 a can, 60¢ for this recipe)
  • Hamburger Buns ($2.69)
  • Sauté onion over medium high heat until transparent. Add the ground beef and cook through, breaking up pieces as you go.
  • Reduce heat to medium and stir in the corn and black beans. Add the salsa and cook until armed through.
  • Serve on the buns.

Total cost of Groceries = $17.04

Total cost of this recipe = $14.58

Divided among 4 people = $3.65 per serving

10. Potsticker Soup

I couldn’t end a recipe list without a hearty soup. This potsticker soup gives an unique Asian flavor without a lot of work. This simple soup feeds 6 – 8 people and only takes about 30 – 40 minutes to cook. Another great recipe for company’s visit.

  • Olive Oil
  • 1 pkg of TJ’s Gyoza ($3.29) These come in Pork, Chicken, Shrimp or Vegetable.
  • 1 container TJ’s Mirepoix ($2.99)
  • 2 packages Chicken Broth ($1.99 each, $3.98 for this recipe)
  • 1 bag Baby Spinach ($2.49)
  • 1 TB soy sauce
  • 1 TB Sesame Oil (if it’s not in your pantry, it’s $2.29)
  • Cilantro for garnish, optional (from your garden)
  • ¼ tsp salt, or to taste
  • Put 2 – 3 Tablespoons of Olive Oil in a large frying pan. Gently fry the Gyozas over medium-high heat until lightly browned. Set aside.
  • In a large soup pot, add some oil and sauté the mirepoix until translucent.
  • Add broth to soup pot and bring to simmer. Add spinach, soy sauce and sesame oil. When it starts simmering again add the potstickers and serve with the cilantro if desired.

Total cost of Groceries = $15.04 (including the Sesame oil)

Divided among 4 people = $3.76 per serving

Divided among 8 people = $1.88 per serving

Serve this soup up with some Vegetable Spring Rolls and Asian Dipping Sauce for another $5.28 if you like.

The grocery bill for all these recipes would total $155.01. That’s for 10 meals plus leftovers for 5 more nights. There’s also enough meats left to create 3 more meals with. So, a total of 18 meals with very little food waste. That’s roughly $8.61 a meal altogether (or $2.15 per person in a family of 4).

150 more great Trader Joe’s recipes can be found in this book. Happy Cooking!

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