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‘5 Items or Less:’ Trader Joe’s Recipes From an Instagram Favorite

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Sometimes cooking dinner after work can feel like a Herculean task. Luckily, Anna Lisa’s @traderjoes5itemsorless Instagram account has made it easier to whip up an affordable meal with just a handful of ingredients. Every few days, the Los Angeles-based Trader Joe’s expert posts a polished photo of five Trader Joe’s items, a recipe, and the finished product. Then the likes and comments roll in (she currently has over 137,000 followers). 


We collected 10 of Lisa’s most popular Trader Joe’s recipes — including an In-N-Out copycat — to give you a few creative ideas for your next meal.






In-N-Out Animal-Style Fries

Ingredients: Magnifisauce, handsome cut fries, yellow onion, and cheddar cheese


This In-N-Out copycat recipe is every East Coaster's dream, because you can make the beloved chain’s “not-so-secret” animal-style fries at home with just four ingredients. 


Vegetarian Sweet Potato and Black Bean Tacos

Ingredients: Sweet potatoes, black beans, corn tortillas, avocado, and Mexican-style roasted corn


Perfect for meatless Monday or taco Tuesday, these sweet potato tacos shine thanks to Trader Joe’s Mexican-style roasted corn, which comes with aged cotija cheese. Start by seasoning and air frying your potatoes (or roasting them in the oven) before assembling these filling veggie delights on corn tortillas.


Sweet Corn Ravioli With Brown Butter and Burrata

Ingredients: Burrata, balsamic glaze, frozen sweet corn, frozen garlic, butter (freebie), salt (freebie), and sweet corn, burrata, and basil ravioli


If you heat butter long enough, the milk solids begin to turn a beautiful golden brown, leaving you with a nutty sauce, the French beurre noisette. This quick-to-make meal makes use of that buttery goodness along with rich burrata cheese, sauteed garlic, and a sweet balsamic glaze.


Miso Ramen With Pork Belly

Ingredients: Instant ramen, eggs, miso ginger broth, roasted seaweed, and pork belly


Traditionally, ramen takes hours (even days) of stewing meat and vegetables to make a fatty, full-flavored umami bomb of a broth. But with a few Trader Joe’s staples, you can have something similar in minutes. The unexpected star of this recipe is Trader Joe’s instant miso ramen, which, with a little zhuzhing, will look like a restaurant quality meal.


Coconut Shrimp Tacos

Ingredients: Coconut shrimp, corn tortillas, broccoli slaw kit, lime, and pineapple salsa


These sweet and savory coconut shrimp tacos come together in minutes. Just air fry or bake the frozen shrimp, assemble them, and enjoy the combination of tropical flavors.


Beef Birria Fries

Ingredients: Beef birria, handsome cut fries, pico de gallo, guacamole, and Mexican shredded cheese


While this is a far cry from a traditional Jaliscan birria, there’s no doubt in our minds that these loaded birria fries taste amazing. Trader Joe’s popular (and difficult-to-find) beef birria — cooked for hours in a chili and tomato sauce —  is the highlight of this dish.


BBQ Chicken Stuffed Sweet Potato

Ingredients: Sweet potatoes, chicken, BBQ sauce, shredded mozzarella, and crispy jalapeño slices


Either bake or air fry your sweet potatoes before adding a to-die-for medley of BBQ, cheese, chicken, and jalapeño tastiness. If you’re feeling fancy, you can garnish with cilantro to add a little color and freshness.


Broccoli and Walnut Orange Chicken

Ingredients: Orange chicken, broccoli, walnuts, and rice


Here, Anna Lisa upgrades Trader Joe’s popular Mandarin orange chicken with just two easy-to-find ingredients: walnuts and broccoli. Add a side of rice, and you’ve got a tasty, protein-rich meal.


Beef Bulgogi Fried Rice

Ingredients: Beef bool kogi, vegetable fried rice, kimchi, and eggs


Korean food has been in the spotlight at Trader Joe’s recently, and we’re here for it. The only downside is that the supermarket chain’s beef bool kogi is a costly $18 for four servings. But hey, it’s still cheaper than most takeout, and you can cook it in your pajamas. 


Arugula and Parmesan Ravioli With Balsamic Glaze and Pancetta

Ingredients: Shaved brussel sprouts, lemon, arugula and parmesan ravioli, balsamic glaze, and pancetta


Travel to Calabria for a night with this perfectly balanced ravioli dish. If you’re feeling extra indulgent, add a bit of parmesan, and at the suggestion of a fan, spoon in some pasta water to give the dish a saucier consistency.


Live Well For Less

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