The $2.99 Trader Joe's Freezer Find I Always Keep Stocked

It saves me on busy weeknights.

If you’re looking for a quick but tasty meal on the cheap, Trader Joe's has you covered. And while I spend my fair share of time in the chilly frozen aisles of my local TJ’s, there’s a surprisingly short list of frozen items I buy regularly. They’re the workhorses that I pull out when I’m low on fresh ingredients and/or energy, and they save me time and time again.

Number one on that list is Trader Joe’s Vegetable Fried Rice. At just $2.99, it’s a steal and is enough to feed both my husband and me dinner in about five minutes flat.

<p>Simply Recipes / Getty Images</p>

Simply Recipes / Getty Images

Why I Love Trader Joe’s Vegetable Fried Rice

First, let’s talk about convenience. Since this product is frozen, it will last for months in the freezer, so you don’t have to worry about food waste. It doesn’t take up too much room, so I tend to pick up a bag or two every few trips to TJ’s to make sure we’re always stocked. There’s almost always at least one bag in my freezer, and if there isn’t, it’s on my shopping list.

The frozen meal takes just five or so minutes to heat up—talk about convenience. And that’s on the stovetop, which is superior to heating in the microwave. Few things take under 10 minutes to get on the table, even if they’re ready-made frozen meals, but this is one of them.

Second, there’s quality. If you cook the rice on the stovetop (I always do), it tastes shockingly similar to takeout fried rice. The right textures and flavors are all there, with tender but not mushy rice and a medley of veggies. I love that it’s not just peas and carrots—there’s also leeks, corn, edamame, and bell pepper. It makes for colorful and tasty fried rice.

Finally, you cannot deny the price. At just three bucks, it’s enough to feed my husband and I lunch or even dinner, especially if you bulk it up a bit.

<p>Simply Recipes / Laurel Randolph</p>

Simply Recipes / Laurel Randolph

How I Make Trader Joe’s Vegetable Fried Rice

When preparing this frozen fried rice, I have a couple of tips. Before you open the bag, break up the rice with your hands as best you can. This way it will heat up quickly and evenly. Also, use a nonstick pan. The oil will help, but the rice will still want to cement itself to anything other than nonstick.

In a pinch, you can simply heat this fried rice on the stove and serve it as-is and you’ll likely be pleased. A little soy sauce and sriracha don’t hurt, and neither does chili crisp. Adding a little toasted sesame oil towards the end of cooking is another easy upgrade.

If you’re not vegan (this fried rice is naturally vegan), get in a little more protein by adding egg, a classic fried rice ingredient. Once the fried rice is heated through, push it to one side of the pan and add a bit more oil. Crack in an egg and gently scramble it before tossing it into the rest of the mixture. Alternatively, you can top each bowl with a fried egg.

I regularly add a few more veggies because I am a vegetable fiend. I’ll toss in whatever I have at the start, whether it’s leftover or frozen chopped broccoli, chopped kale, or even diced, cooked sweet potato. Cubed baked tofu is a great addition, too.

<p>Simply Recipes / Laurel Randolph</p>

Simply Recipes / Laurel Randolph

Read the original article on Simply Recipes.