I always have them in my freezer for when I don't have the wherewithal to make dinner.
Before I had kids, I judged parents who kept a second refrigerator in the basement. The excess! Then, sometime after my third child was born, I became one of nearly 43 million Americans who own a second fridge. (I saw the light! I repent!)
Our second fridge is a lifesaver. It's filled with foods I cook or buy in bulk, like kimchi, banchan (Korean side dishes), pickles from many summers ago, and lots of condiments. The fridge has a freezer compartment containing a Noah's Ark of frozen foods that comes in handy when I don't have the wherewithal to make dinner. Most are from Trader Joe's, a family-favorite grocer.
On the busiest days, I grab my air fryer and one or two packages from the freezer. The air fryer is a space-efficient convection oven that can crisp up foods in a fraction of the time it takes to preheat the oven and bake. And when I air fry frozen foods, I don't need to add oil to get them nice and crispy.
These are 10 of my family's favorite Trader Joe's frozen foods that I always have in my freezer, and tips for how to air fry them.
1. Trader Joe's Mini Chicken Tikka Samosas ($3.99)
If Trader Joe's ever discontinues these tasty mini samosas, my precocious six-year-old will likely write a letter to its CEO to express his objection. My freezer is never without at least four boxes.
I can fit samosas from two boxes in my eight-inch bucket air fryer, which is enough to feed three kids. It's fine if the samosas overlap. The ideal temperature and cooking time is 375°F for about 12 minutes, shaking the basket halfway through.
2. Trader Joe's Breaded Fried Ravioli ($3.99)
Spread the ravioli in a single layer—it's OK if they touch but they shouldn't overlap. The instructions say to preheat the air fryer, but I don't find it necessary. Air fry them at 400°F for about 12 minutes, flipping them once halfway through. This is two minutes longer than what the instructions say, but you'll be glad for the crunchier breading.
Serve them with a bowl of warmed Rao's Marinara Sauce and a pile of cucumber, sweet pepper, and carrot sticks (for balance).
3. Trader Joe's Kibbeh ($4.99)
I'm honestly not sure if there's a right way to eat kibbeh—please do write me if you know!—but I air fry these and stuff them into wraps. In a pita, lavash, or even a tortilla slicked with TJ's garlic spread and a handful of greens. They're delicious.
I can fit kibbeh from two boxes in my eight-inch bucket air fryer. Air fry them at 350°F for 18 minutes. Any longer and I notice they get quite dry and crumbly.
4. Trader Joe's Breaded Fish Sticks ($5.99)
I didn't grow up eating fish sticks in Paraguay, so my kids and I tried them together for the first time. They're tasty, but a little bland so we eat ours with kimchi or a mayo-Sriracha dip.
These fish sticks get soggy and stick to the sheet pan when baked in the oven. I highly recommend the air fryer at 375°F for 12 to 14 minutes, flipping them once halfway through.
5. Trader Joe's Mini Chicken Tacos ($5.99)
I can fit all of the tacos in my air fryer if I stack them side by side with the opening facing up. That way you can air fry them all in one go and none of the filling will ooze out. Air fry them at 375°F for five minutes. No need to flip them over or shake the basket halfway through.
6. Trader Joe's Jamaican Style Beef Patties ($4.49)
Here's my trick for reheating these delicious patties: Remove the plastic wrap and place the patty on a microwave-safe plate (or wrap it with a paper towel and place it directly in the microwave). Microwave on high for one minute. Then, air fry them at 375°F for 10 minutes, until the crust sounds crunchy when you tap it with your finger.
7. Trader Joe's Kalua Pork Spring Rolls ($4.79)
I serve these smoky pork spring rolls with rice and banchan. A box comes with four spring rolls. Follow the box instructions, 400°F for 10 minutes, or if you prefer the outsides extra crispy, cook for 12 minutes.
8. Trader Joe's Mandarin Orange Chicken ($4.99)
Google "Trader Joe's Mandarin Orange Chicken" and you'll get nearly one million search results. That's how popular this TJ's star product is. It's also one of the first to join their official hall of fame.
The air fryer is hands down the best way to cook the chicken pieces. Every single one will get crispy and golden brown. Pour the entire bag into your air fryer—it's OK if the pieces overlap. Air fry at 400°F for 13 minutes, giving the basket a good shake halfway through.
9. Trader Joe's Parmesan Pastry Pups ($4.99)
These are fancy-pants pigs in a blanket and they're so yummy I could eat an entire box on my own. One of my sons had friends over, so I set out a plate and they were gone in two minutes flat.
TJ's doesn't provide instructions for how to air fry these tasty appetizers. Here's what I do: Spread the pastry pups in a single layer—it's OK if they touch but do not overlap. Air fry them at 375°F for 15 minutes. You don't need to flip or shake the basket. It's best if you don't open the air fryer so that you don't lose any of the hot air needed to make the pastry puffy and crisp.
10. Trader Joe's Mac and Cheese Bites ($3.99)
I buy this product for my nine-year-old, who's obsessed with mac and cheese. Air fry these balls at 400°F for 10 minutes, gently shaking the basket or flipping the balls over halfway through.
Read the original article on Simply Recipes.