7 Best And 5 Worst Pre-Made Meals You Can Buy At Trader Joe's

If only we all had the time and energy to harness our inner Gordon Ramsay and whip up a delicious home-cooked meal whenever we were hungry. Unfortunately, so many of us have busy schedules that simply don't allow for carving out time to craft a whole dinner. Luckily there's no shortage of pre-made meals available at every grocery store to make your dining experience quick and easy. If you're on the hunt for some frozen goodies to stock your freezer, Trader Joe's is a great place to start the search.

The grocery store offers a large variety of pre-made food to make dining simple. You're sure to find at least a couple of options that appeal to you, so that's a huge plus. However, keep in mind that there are plenty of products that aren't culinary home runs, so you'll want to keep far away from these subpar items. Before you venture out to your local Trader Joe's, brush up on this list of the best and worst pre-made options you'll find. Just because you're looking for something convenient doesn't mean you should sacrifice quality.

1. Best: Egg Bites

A lot of people swear that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, and it makes sense. Starting your day off with a belly full of delicious food puts you in a good mood, and that positivity will help you conquer whatever stressful tasks you might have lined up in the hours to come. At Trader Joe's, you can snag yourself a box of egg bites. They're little cupcake-shaped concoctions made with eggs and other breakfast ingredients so you don't have to worry about prepping food or dirtying any pans.

Right off the bat, you'll notice the creamy and fluffy consistency thanks to the cottage cheese and butter. Both those ingredients really give each morsel of egg a wonderful mouthfeel. If you opt for the cheese, spinach, and kale flavor, you get a punch of tangy feta cheese as well as seasoned spinach and kale. None of the ingredients overpower the taste of the egg either. The other flavor available is cheddar cheese and bacon, and these are absolutely awesome too. The cheddar cheese offers a sharp taste that complements the creamy egg really well, and the bacon lends every bite a salty burst of goodness.

2. Best: Cheeseburger Burrito

Let's be real for a moment: It's almost impossible to turn down a well-crafted cheeseburger when you're hungry. If you love burgers, there are few things better than a glistening patty of meat draped in gooey cheese. It hits all the right notes on your palate. But, have you ever wondered what it would be like to dive into a burrito stuffed with all the delicious fixings that come in a cheeseburger? If that question has ever floated through your mind, Trader Joe's swoops in with the answer in the form of its cheeseburger burrito. And, this is certainly the answer you're looking for.

What lies inside this flour tortilla is all the stuff you need to create one heck of a mouthwateringly good time. You get seasoned ground beef, shredded cheddar cheese, chopped tomatoes and onions, ketchup, mustard, and relish. The beef is super savory and chock-full of those run-down-your-chin juices that make burgers so inviting. The tomato and onions add the perfect sweetness to every bite, and the cheddar cheese gives the whole thing a creamy sharpness. But it's the extra condiments that really give this an authentic cheeseburger feel. The sweet ketchup, zesty mustard, and vinegary relish all join forces to smack your palate with the sensation you're biting into a delicious cheeseburger.

3. Best: Kettle Cooked Chicken Soup

We all remember those days as kids when our parents would whip up a hot bowl of chicken soup when we were feeling under the weather. For some reason, chicken soup just hits right, and all the ingredients come together like savory superheroes to help us feel better. But, chicken soup isn't just an awesome dish to eat when you're feeling crummy. Plunging your palate into a bowl of the stuff is a treat any time of day, which is why you should absolutely purchase the kettle cooked chicken soup at Trader Joe's.

When it comes to chicken soup, creamy is the name of the game, and this stuff embodies that word to the fullest. The broth coats every inch of your mouth, so you have a wonderful flavor dancing throughout the entire time you are eating. The chunks of chicken are tender and juicy and melt on your tongue with each bite. The onions, carrots, and celery soak up the broth really well and lend a soft texture that works well when paired with the juicy chicken. Finally, the sea salt, thyme, black pepper, and bay leaves ensure the broth is teeming with vibrant flavors.

4. Best: Peanut Udon Noodle Salad

If you know your way around a bowl of soup, then you've likely enjoyed a mound of udon noodles at some point. These wheat-flour noodles are thick, hearty, and wonderful served with a hot, flavorful broth. Just because udon noodles are usually seen in liquid doesn't mean they aren't delicious outside of the broth. Trader Joe's carries a peanut udon noodle salad that takes all their fantastic qualities and delivers them with cold ingredients, and it's totally worth your time.

Each plastic container has a heap of boiled udon noodles, and the texture of each strand plays so well on your palate. The noodles are delicate but also carry a firmness to them so every bite feels hearty. They come tossed with carrot matchsticks, green and red cabbage, red bell peppers, and dry roasted peanuts. The textural contrast between the soft noodles and the bright crunch of fresh veggies is so welcoming. But, the peanut-ginger dressing that marries everything together takes this product to mouthwatering heights. Erupting with vibrant flavors, it's creamy and nutty thanks to the peanut butter and soy sauce base. At the same time, it has a zesty kick from fresh ginger puree and dried chili peppers that elevates every ingredient it coats.

5. Best: Shrimp Boom Bah

Sometimes it's the photo of the food on a box that first appeals to us, but other times a name catches our eye and intrigues our bellies. This is the case with the shrimp boom bah at Trader Joe's. It's impossible to walk past an item labeled "boom bah" and not stop to at least take a look at what's happening beneath the cardboard exterior. It's not just the name here that's fun; this product is crammed with great flavor that deserves a spot in your freezer pronto.

The box comes with a slew of tail-off breaded shrimp that are ready to eat after a quick trip into the oven or air fryer. The breading on the outside of the shrimp is light, avoiding the overly greasy flavor so many fried foods suffer from. The shrimp also come with a wonderful sweet-and-spicy sauce that can either be used for dipping, or you can toss the whole batch of succulent crustaceans in it so every piece is coated in a glistening layer. The sauce carries a little heat — not enough to scorch the tongue — and a hint of sweetness that helps balance it out. If shrimp is your go-to seafood, you'd be remiss not to get these.

6. Best: Pastry Bites with Feta Cheese and Caramelized Onions

Whether you're planning on hosting a party or just want a bite-sized snack to munch on, pastry bites are always a solid decision. The flaky, delicate pastry shells are an excellent accompaniment to whatever sweet or savory ingredients are nestled inside. This is exactly what makes the feta cheese and caramelized onion pastry bites at Trader Joe's more than worth your attention.

Each box comes with 12 flaky, buttery morsels of pastry dough stuffed with feta cheese and caramelized onions. The feta is combined with cream cheese to make a soft filling with a salty kick and a silkiness that coats your palate, allowing the flavor to linger. But, the caramelized onions are truly the star of this performance. They're sweet and a little savory, with a texture that melts on your tongue and pairs with the cheese mixture for an optimal taste. Sweet, savory, and crunchy, these pastry bites have it all.

7. Best: Jamaican Style Beef Patties

You don't always need a long list of ingredients to craft a stellar product. Sure, having a slew of high-quality components gives a dish a large variety of flavors and textures, and your palate welcomes that. But, sometimes all you need for a winning item is to have a couple of ingredients prepared correctly with the right amount of seasoning. Such is the case with the Jamaican-style beef patties at Trader Joe's. Ground beef and a flaky pocket of dough come together for a one-two roundhouse kick of awesome flavor.

Let's start with the pastry pocket that houses the ground beef. It has a perfect crunch on the outside and a soft inside, making it a textural delight in your mouth. The golden color of the pastry has turmeric to thank, so not only is the consistency a treat but there's a subtle earthiness to it, as well. This crispy epidermis leads to an eruption of savory beef flavor underneath. The meat is so tender that it melts right onto your palate, giving way to a potpourri of seasonings like curry powder, fenugreek, and cayenne. These handheld pockets of flavor heaven make an easy snack or meal, so make sure they're on your next Trader Joe's shopping list.

8. Worst: Korean Beefless Bulgogi

Anyone who's been to a Korean barbecue restaurant knows how terrific bulgogi is. These thin strips of marinated beef offer an eruption of savory, melt-in-your-mouth flavors that warrant a return trip to the restaurant. But, Trader Joe's decided to flip the script on bulgogi — and barbecue in general — by creating a meatless version. The Korean beefless bulgogi appeals to anyone who stays away from meat but still wants to enjoy the flavor that authentic barbecued beef delivers. However, you won't find any of that here.

The "beef" is made with soy protein, which has every intention of mimicking the texture of real beef but falls way too short to be enjoyable. It has an oddly chewy texture that removes you from the illusion you're eating actual meat. The sauce here does nearly all of the heavy lifting, which isn't a great feature. The marinade is made with soy sauce, pear puree, garlic, ginger, green onions, and sugar, and although the flavor is pretty good, the faux meat it's slathered on strips away a lot of its positive qualities. Do your appetite a favor and look elsewhere if you want meatless beef.

9. Worst: Mini Chicken Tacos

When tacos are on the menu, you know you're in for a good time. There's just something about the word "taco" that gets the fiesta in your belly started. You can stuff those crispy shells or flour tortillas with a bunch of vibrantly flavored ingredients and have at it. But, what's more fun than regular tacos? Mini tacos, of course. You can toss back a handful without feeling like your stomach is stretched to its breaking point, and that spells success. Trader Joe's sells miniature chicken tacos for anyone looking for bite-sized treats, but sadly, these aren't worth a spot in your shopping cart.

The huge issue here is the ratio of meat to shell. Each mini shell comes with pulled chicken and roasted green salsa (a combination of tomatillos, jalapeños, and green bell peppers). The filling should taste fantastic, but there simply isn't enough of it to offer any pleasure. Each taco is mostly shell, which means the little bit of meat you get is completely overpowered by the taste of the soybean oil-fried encasement. The chicken tastes pretty good, which makes the execution of these an even bigger bummer.

10. Worst: Perfectly Pickled Pups

There are a lot of foods that taste wonderful after going through a pickling process. Eggs take on a great vinegary taste, as do most veggies. But, then you have some foods you wouldn't ever think to pickle, like hot dogs. Wait, are pickled hot dogs a thing? At Trader Joe's they sure are. The grocery store sells a product called perfectly pickled pups. At first glance, they look like miniature hot dogs covered in batter and fried, which they are. Upon closer inspection, you learn that the pieces of meat actually go through a pickling process before they hit the fry oil. It's a fascinating idea, but unfortunately, it's one that never really finds its culinary legs.

The idea behind this product is pretty solid. You figure your palate will soak up the rich flavors of the beef franks while also basking in a bite of vinegar to help offset any overwhelmingly heavy flavors that the frying oil provides. However, that never happens. The pickled flavoring results in a weird taste that gives the impression something just isn't right with the meat. The franks are infused with dill flavor and soak in a brine consisting of sea salt, sugar, onion, garlic, vinegar, and dill weed before being battered and fried. While this might sound delicious, the end result leaves you wondering why anyone would attempt to pickle hot dogs in the first place.

11. Worst: Asian Style Vegetables with Stir Fry Sauce

When you have a medley of ingredients on hand and you're not quite sure what to do with them, crafting a stir-fry dish is an easy idea. Toss everything in a skillet and let the flavors of the individual ingredients blend into one another. All you have to do is make a delicious sauce and you have a quick and tasty meal your appetite will thank you for. When the urge to stir-fry hits, you might feel tempted to grab a package of Asian-style vegetables with stir-fry sauce, but trust us, fight that temptation tooth and nail.

The product comes teeming with veggies, which is great. You get sugar snap peas, broccoli, baby corn, green beans, water chestnuts, red bell peppers, carrots, and kikurage mushrooms. The bag only contains veggies so if you're looking for a starch like rice or noodles you'll have to add it yourself. The veggie selection is super solid, but once the included Beijing-style soy sauce comes into play, everything goes downhill quickly. The sauce punches you in the face with overwhelming saltiness. It feels as if all of the nutrition from the veggies is instantly canceled out thanks to the ridiculously high sodium content. Either only use the veggies and avoid the sauce, or better yet, leave this product out of your cart altogether.

12. Worst: Chicken Sausage Breakfast Burrito

Mornings can be a tough time for people. The alarm starts blaring way too early, and that leads to thoughts about the upcoming workday and all the stressful tasks that accompany it. Eating a delicious breakfast is one surefire way to kick it off correctly and put you in a pleasant headspace before tackling whatever the day has in store. If you find yourself perusing the aisles of Trader Joe's, the chicken sausage breakfast burrito might look like the perfect way to kick off your morning. But, we're here to tell you it isn't, so don't waste your time.

The burrito comes with chunks of chicken sausage flavored with sage and thyme, scrambled eggs, white cheddar cheese, potatoes, and sauteed onions all nestled inside a flour tortilla. It's hard to imagine all these ingredients coming together and not smashing a culinary grand slam, but sadly that's what happens. The potatoes are mostly at fault and taste like they aren't fully cooked, leaving you with an overly starchy, too-firm texture that makes chewing unenjoyable. The eggs are fluffy but flavorless, and the chicken sausage is extremely salty. If you're looking for a breakfast burrito that's gonna slap a smile on your stomach, this isn't the product that'll do it.