Recipes from The Kitchn

The $5 Trader Joe's Dinner Bowl I Make Every Single Week

Image Credit: Joe Lingeman | Kitchn

I'm always looking to make quick and easy weeknight meals, but especially on Mondays, when it's still sinking in that the weekend is over. Tempting as it is to order takeout and sulk, I've found it's much more rewarding to cook something at home and kickstart a week of eating healthy homemade meals.

Planning out what I'm going to cook makes the process that much easier — I can pick up groceries over the weekend or on my way home from work, which guarantees I'm not left standing totally clueless in my kitchen at 6 p.m. One Sunday, instead of rushing through the grocery store, I decided to take my time strolling through the aisles of Trader Joe's. I picked up some fun ingredients I had never tried before and combined them all for dinner — and the result was this brown rice bowl I've made every Monday since. Now, not only do I have a plan for Monday night dinner, but I also have a satisfying, protein-packed meal I look forward to every week.

Image Credit: Joe Lingeman | Kitchn

How to Make the Tastiest Brown Rice Bowl for Just $5

In addition to the fact that it's packed with whole grains, fiber, vitamins, and protein, this brown rice bowl is great because it's easy on the wallet. You'll need four Trader Joe's ingredients: Frozen Brown Rice ($2.99), Organic Baby Broccoli ($3.29), Butternut Squash Zig-Zags ($2.99) and Soy Chorizo ($2.29). That's a total of $11.56 for four servings (and those are generous servings), or a little less than $3 a serving. Add an egg, some garlic, fresh cilantro, and a wedge of lime, and you've got a dinner that's about $5 a head. Not too shabby.

What is it about these ingredients specifically that I love so much? For starters, they're all incredibly easy to prepare, meaning this meal comes together in 15 minutes tops. Unlike broccoli, whose tough stems you have to peel, you can use an entire stalk of Broccolini from stem to floret — simply chop them into one-inch pieces. The butternut squash has already been prepped for you, and not just into cubes, but into fun little crinkle cuts that become deliciously sweet and crispy when cooked. The soy chorizo is a revelation for vegetarians like myself (in fact, it won the Vegan/Vegetarian category of the TJ's 10th Annual Customer Choice Awards): It's spicy and savory and bulks up the dish, and it's a nice departure from tofu. And the brown rice speaks for itself — there's truly no easier way to cook rice than from one of these microwavable pouches.

Don't Live Near a Trader Joe's? You Can Still Make This Easy Vegetarian Dinner

Although I'm biased towards TJ's for their cheap prices and fun packaging, this dish can easily be re-created with ingredients from your local grocery store. Look for baby broccoli or Broccolini, a package of pre-cubed butternut squash (or cut it yourself), and, if you can't find soy chorizo, tempeh or seitan would both be great alternatives.

If I'm taking leftovers for lunch, I'll cook up all four to six servings at once (and if you want to do the same, simply double the recipe below). But more often I just cook enough for myself, my sister, and my roommate for dinner — the recipe below serves 2 to 3 — then save the remaining ingredients in the fridge for the following week.

Love this dish? Try our cauliflower rice lunch bowl with sweet potatoes and chickpeas.

Butternut Squash and Broccolini Rice Bowl with Soy Chorizo

Serves 3

Prep time: 5 minutes ; cooking time: 10 minutes to 12 minutes

  • 2 tablespoons

    olive oil, divided

  • 6 ounces

    Trader Joe's Soy Chorizo (half a 12-ounce package), casings removed

  • 6 ounces

    Trader Joe's Butternut Squash Zig-Zags (half a 12-ounce package)

  • 4 ounces

    Trader Joe's Baby Broccoli, florets and stems cut into 1-inch pieces (half an 8-ounce package)

  • 2 cloves

    garlic, minced

  • 1/2 teaspoon

    kosher salt

  • 1/2 teaspoon

    ground cumin

  • 3

    large eggs

  • 1 (10-ounce) package

    Trader Joe's Frozen Brown Rice, cooked according to package directions

  • Lime wedges and cilantro leaves and tender stems, for serving

Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a large cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add the chorizo and cook, breaking it up with a wooden spoon, until crispy, browned in spots, and warmed through, 5 to 6 minutes. Transfer to a plate.

Add the remaining 1 tablespoon oil to the skillet. Add the butternut squash zig-zags, baby broccoli, garlic, salt, and cumin and cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are just tender and charred in spots, 5 to 6 minutes. Return the chorizo to the skillet and stir until warmed through. Remove from heat.

While the vegetables are cooking, bring a pot of water to a boil. Carefully lower the eggs into the boiling water and cook for 6 minutes. Using a spider or slotted spoon, remove the eggs from the water and run under cold water until cool to the touch. Peel and slice in half.

Divide the cooked rice between 3 bowls. Add the chorizo and veggie mixture and add an egg to each bowl. Top with cilantro leaves and tender stems and serve with lime wedges.

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