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Trader Joe’s college cookbook provides cheap and delicious meals

Courtesy of Ulysses Press
Courtesy of Ulysses Press

If you’re looking for the ultimate grocery store for any hipster looking to impress people with their organic creations, Trader Joe’s is your destination. Trader Joe’s, one of the artsiest grocery stores known to man, knows their demographic and has made a fortune off of sales and widening their realm with cookbooks for any specific culture they can find — vegans, bakers and now the college student. The egotistically named book “I Love Trader Joe’s College Cookbook: 150 Cheap-and-Easy Gourmet Recipes” focuses on cheap and easy meals targeted specifically at college students.

Now, how could you possibly be prepared to hand out recipes that work with students who have little to no access to stoves and ovens, a real grocery store, or even the concept of real food since leaving home?

The folks at Trader Joe’s are apparently the ultimate smarty-pants, conquering almost every quip that college students can stir up when it comes to their collective inability to cook good food whilst living in the dreaded dorm. Each recipe is simply referenced by a key that helps students pick a recipe that works perfectly with their time crunch or limited resources. These recipe icons include microwave-only, five-minute prep, no cooking required, vegan/vegetarian, on-the-go capable and meals with only one pot needed.

Not only is each recipe keyed, but the table of contents shows off the detailed chapters, giving these young adults recipes for snacks, study group portions, and an entire chapter devoted to cooking out of your microwave — a major selling point for the dorms lacking community kitchens.

For the truly culinary-impaired kids out there, Trader Joe’s has even included tips and techniques for small cooking deeds not everyone tackles right away. Additionally, for those of age, spiked punches are a part of good old Joe’s gastronomic curriculum.

The cookbook seems like it should be just the thing for students, but there are a few draws. ASU should love this book with the exception of a few drawbacks.

Tempe campus is not quite walking distance to any major grocery store, let alone a Trader Joe’s. The closest TJ’s is miles from campus, and even if it was an accessible shop, the prices are a bit steep for most college students.

Not all of the recipes will tickle the fancy of the average 18-21-year-old. Trader Joe’s still, and will always, appeal to an organic-loving, creative taste bud.

Lastly, have you ever tried keeping produce fresh in a dorm room? If you have, you find that it’s a pretty tough conquest. It’s too bad this book asks you to do that quite a bit.

All in all, a majority of the recipes are easy to tackle and students can improve ingredients with items found in nearby corner stores. That is, until your parents visit, when this reporter would suggest stocking up on some of these ingredients. It’s the easiest way to have all your neighbors become your “best” friends — a.k.a. moochers of the century.

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Mediterranean chicken with feta cheese and sun-dried tomatoes


Yield: 2 servings

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Cooking Time: 6 minutes



1 pound Trader Joe’s Organic Free Range Chicken Breast Tenders

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 tablespoon canola oil

1/2 cup Trader Joe’s Julienne

Sliced sun dried tomatoes in olive oil, plus 1 tablespoon of the oil

1/4 cup pitted kalamata olives

1/2 cup Trader Joe’s Crumbled Feta with Mediterranean Herb



1. Season the chicken with salt and pepper. In a medium skillet, heat the oil over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add the chicken and sauté until golden on one side, 2 to 3 minutes. Flip the chicken over and cook for 2 to 3 minutes longer. Cut into the thickest piece to determine it’s no longer pink.

2. In a small bowl, stir the sun dried tomatoes with the olives and feta to combine.

3. Transfer the chicken to a serving plate and top with the feta mixture.

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