Lifestyle Entertaining Food & Drink Food Recipes

What to Buy at Trader Joe’s When It’s Too Hot to Cook

No stove required.

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It’s 8 p.m. You’ve made your way home after a long day of work, braving sweltering temperatures and packed subway cars in pursuit of air conditioning…only to realize that you have an hour of cooking in front of you. Rather than add to your woes by turning on the stove, why not give yourself a break for one night? Trader Joe’s is here to help on those hot, hangry evenings when you just want something quick—and don’t want to slave over a steaming pot to get it.

From easy-to-prep ceviche that will make you feel like you’re on holiday to flavor-packed summer salads, here are four simple meals to prepare with Trader Joe’s ingredients: 

Melon Salad

Nostalgia in the form of perfect little spheres: There’s something so satisfying about making an entire meal one scoop at a time.

Shopping List: 

  • 2 ripe medium melons (cantaloupe, honeydew, etc.)
  • 1 ¾ oz pint Authentic Greek Feta or Ciliegine Fresh Mozzarella Balls
  • 1 small bunch fresh mint, washed well and chopped
  • Extra virgin olive oil, sea salt, and black pepper to taste


Scoop out seeds of the melons, then use a melon baller to make perfect spheres. Dice feta into pieces similar in size, or slice mozzarella balls into halves. Combine everything in a shallow bowl and garnish with basil. Drizzle some olive oil, and grind a little salt and pepper on top. 

Summer Rolls

When salad fatigue sets in, wrap up your favorite fresh ingredients.

Shopping List: 

  • 6 rice paper wrappers [Editor’s note: Pick these up at your local specialty grocery store.]
  • 1 7-oz package Organic Baked Tofu, thinly sliced lengthwise
  • ¼ head Napa cabbage, thinly sliced
  • 1 carrot, shredded
  • 1 cucumber, thinly sliced lengthwise
  • 5 mint leaves, washed well
  • 5 basil leaves, washed well
  • 2 scallions, ends trimmed and thinly sliced lengthwise


Neatly pile your fillings, mixed evenly, on a plate. Fill a shallow bowl with warm water and slide in a rice paper sheet for 10 to 15 seconds, until it softens and becomes pliable. Gently remove from the water and place on a plate. Add your fillings to the left of the wrapper’s center, and fold over the left side, so the filling is snug. Roll to the right, then bring up the bottom and top of the wrapper and continue to roll until the right side is also securely in place.

Photography by ANTHONY PEREZ


Citrus, salt, seafood…every flavor you’re craving, transported on a crunchy chip.

Shopping List:

  • 1 lb fresh white-flesh ocean fish from the TJ’s seafood section, rinsed and diced into ½ inch pieces
  • 1 cup fresh lime juice
  • 1 medium purple onion, diced into ½ inch pieces
  • 2 medium tomatoes, washed and diced into ½ inch pieces
  • 1 avocado, peeled and diced
  • ⅓ cup cilantro, washed well and chopped
  • 1 to 3 fresh green chiles (serranos or jalapeños), seeded and finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, or to taste


In a glass or stainless steel bowl, combine fish, lime juice, and onion. Make sure the fish has enough juice so that it “cooks” evenly—anywhere from 15 to 45 minutes, depending on how “well done” you like it—and place in the refrigerator, covering the bowl, as you wait. When ready, drain the liquid and set aside. In another bowl, mix together tomatoes, green chiles, cilantro, and olive oil. Add the fish and avocado right before serving, along with a bowl of tortilla chips. 


When the weather is too hot to even think about food, try drinking it.


  • 2 lbs ripe tomatoes, washed, cored, and chopped
  • 1 green pepper (Anaheim), cored, seeded, and roughly chopped
  • 1 cucumber, peeled and chopped
  • 1 small mild white onion, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 2 tsp sherry vinegar or Trader Joe’s Rice Vinegar
  • 2 tsp salt
  • ½ cup extra virgin olive oil


Combine tomatoes, pepper, cucumber, onion, and garlic in a blender. Blend on high until consistency is smooth, around 2 minutes. Add vinegar and salt, slowly pour in the olive oil, and blend again. The mixture should be creamy, not watery, so add more olive oil if necessary. Strain contents into a container and keep in the fridge for at least 6 hours. Before serving, add salt and pepper to taste, drizzle olive oil, and serve in glasses—on the rocks. 

See more Trader Joe’s stories:  These Trader Joe’s Products Are a Chef’s Weeknight Dinner Saviors I Use These Trader Joe’s Sauces on Literally Everything This Is Exactly What a Keto Expert Buys at Trader Joe’s

Elly Leavitt

Writer and Editor

Elly enjoys covering anything from travel to funky design (tubular furniture, anyone?) to the latest cultural trend. Her dream apartment would exist on the Upper West Side and include a plethora of mismatched antique chairs, ceramic vessels, and floor-to-ceiling bookcases—essential to her goal of becoming a poor man’s Nora Ephron. You can probably find her in line at Trader Joe’s. You will never find her at SoulCycle.