Don’t Let Dorm Life Affect the Way You Eat: Five Trader Joe’s Recipes that Students Love

Tiffany Remmenga adding the final touches to her personal Trader Joe’s pizza. Photo credit to Grace Byde.

On Jan. 25 Trader Joe’s released its 15th annual edition of its “customer’s choice awards.” This list included, but was not limited to, winners in the categories of overall favorite: the chili and lime flavored rolled corn tortilla chips, favorite beverage: apple cider and favorite lunch and dinner item: the butter chicken and basmati rice. 

While these results may account for the overall population of Trader Joe’s customers, students who designate all their cooking to a dorm kitchen have a few of their own preferences.

Here are five different Trader Joe’s meals and recipes that Point Loma Nazarene University students love and why you should try them too.

  1. Mediterranean Bowl

Alissa Havey, a third-year communication studies major, said her favorite Trader Joe’s meal to make is a Mediterranean bowl with a mix of ingredients that are all minimally processed. This meal can be made quickly and the ingredients can be saved and used over multiple days. 

“I’ve been making this meal for a few years,” said Havey. “It is very healthy and filling.”


  • Brown rice: $3.79
  • Chicken meatballs: $3.99
  • Tzatziki dip: $4.29
  • Hummus: $2.99
  • Optional additions: red onions: $1.29, cucumbers: $2.49 and tomatoes: $0.29


  1. The first step to creating this nutritious bowl is to turn on the stovetop and heat up the chicken meatballs. This gluten-free and pre-seasoned item is already fully cooked so even though you can still microwave them, reheating them on the stovetop helps them to get back to their original and intended texture.
  2. While the meatballs are cooking, heat up the brown rice in its microwave-safe package to save some time.
  3. Chop up as much of the veggies as you would like to add to your bowl.
  4. Combine all the ingredients in a bowl and top with tzatziki sauce and hummus. 
  1. Lentil Dip

Makenna Dobbs, a second-year nursing major, has recently come across a lentil dip recipe suggested by one of her friends and has been enjoying it ever since. 

Dobbs said that this recipe is one of her go-to’s because it is healthy, easy to make and a good source of alternative protein.


  • Canned lentils: $2.49
  • Feta: $2.99
  • Bruschetta: $3.29
  • Veggie flax seed corn tortilla chips: $2.99


  1. Grab a reusable container that can fit all of your ingredients.
  2. Place all your ingredients in your container and mix them. 
  3. Dip a chip or cracker of your choice in and enjoy.
  4. Store in a refrigerator to snack on later.
  1. Pizza

Tiffany Remmenga, a second-year accounting major, has been making Trader Joe’s pizzas in the dorm kitchens for the past two years. Her love for them comes from how delicious and fun they are to make, despite their cheap price. 

“It’s the best to make with friends because it feeds many and always makes a good time,” said Remmenga. “I recommend it for any kind of date or hang-out idea.”


  • Pizza dough: $1.49
  • Pizza sauce: $2.69
  • Mozzarella: $4.29
  • Optional toppings: prosciutto: $3.99, arugula: $2.29 and ricotta: $3.99


  1. Preheat the oven and stretch out the pizza dough to your desired size and shape. One serving of dough can be split in half to provide two smaller personal pizzas. 
  2. Add sauce and pizza toppings of your choice. The listed ingredients above are necessary for Remmenga’s recipe, however, you can get creative and select whatever you would like.
  3. Follow the baking instructions on the pizza dough bag to see what temperature the oven should be at and how long you should keep it in for.
  4. Take your pizza out of the oven, slice it and share.
  1. Chicken Soup Dumplings and Lemon Arugula Salad

This meal is the quickest to make and easiest to put together. Claire Wiersma, a second-year nursing major, is a fan of many of the different dinner options that Trader Joe’s has to offer but always goes back to her go-to chicken soup dumplings and lemon arugula salad. 

“Both of these are super convenient,” said Wiersma. “You just pop the dumplings in the microwave and the salad is pre-made.”


  • Steamed chicken soup dumplings: $3.49
  • Lemony arugula basil salad kit: $3.99


  1. Cut the corners of the dumpling bag and place them in the microwave for one to two minutes.
  2. Let the dumplings sit in the microwave for another minute to allow them to cool down. 
  3. As your dumplings cool down, grab a large bowl and pour the salad mixture out. Add your desired amount of dressing and mix around.
  4. Now your dumplings should be cooled off and your salad is ready to go,
  1. Gnocchi

Jack Walker, a second-year graphic design major and former Trader Joe’s employee’s most consistent meal of choice is the gnocchi simmered in with his favorite pasta sauce and a few additional add-ons. This meal isn’t as simple as opening up a box and putting it in the microwave, but it is just as cheap. 

“That’s probably the most gas dish you can make, and take that from someone who worked there,” said Walker. 


  • Gnocchi: $1.99
  • Three cheese pomodoro pasta sauce: $3.49
  • Optional additions: mushrooms: $2.29, onion: $0.99 and pancetta: $3.49


  1. Chop up mushrooms and onion.
  2. Simmer the mushrooms, onion and pancetta in with the pasta sauce on a stovetop.
  3. Add in the gnocchi last and wait until it starts simmering again. 
  4. Place in a bowl and eat it while it is hot.