My favorite cheater ingredients from A Duck's Oven


If you’ve been following along with my meal planning 101, you’ve heard me talk about “cheater” ingredients. These are ingredients that help me get a home-cooked dinner on the table consistently, and I feel NO SHAME about using them. You shouldn’t either.

Trader Joe’s is my go to spot for “cheater” ingredients, but I also find some of what I like at Fred Meyer and on Thrive Market.

  1. Ground turkey. I use ground turkey all. the. time. I use it in stir fries in place of chicken breasts when I’m short on time because I don’t need to cut it into pieces and it cooks up more quickly. We’ve also just started eating in place of ground beef 99% of the time because it’s leaner and a little better for you.
  2. Maya Kaimal curry sauces. We LOVE curries, both Indian and Thai. When I have the time, I love to make my own sauces, but when I don’t, this is my go to for Indian sauces. I get these off Thrive Market.
  3. Trader Joe’s marinated meats. I love the carne asada, pollo asado, and the spatchcocked lemon rosemary chicken. Tacos, rice bowls, or something simpler, nice and easy.
  4. Trader Joe’s sweet potato gnocchi. This is an ultimate cheater meal, but Husband LOVES it and so do I. Usually I throw in leftover chicken and call it a day.
  5. Trader Joe’s Thai simmer sauces. See number 2, but when I’m looking for a Thai sauce, I use Trader Joe’s. I usually doctor these up with extra fish sauce and lime juice. For those of you who think you don’t like fish sauce, make sure you get a GOOD one. Bad ones are… really bad. Here’s my favorite fish sauce.
  6. Frozen turkey meatballs. Just check the ingredients and again: feel no shame. I LOVE frozen turkey meatballs. We use them to make spaghetti squash and meatballs, orange meatballs, and Thai meatballs. Seriously… love these things. The ones we use are from, you guessed it, Trader Joe’s.
  7. Riced cauliflower. Yes, you can “rice” it yourself in a food processor. But I have a tiny, crappy food processor (something I need to change) and I could also just not and get this instead.
  8. Butternut squash zig zags, noodles, and other precut veggies. These things are a life saver, especially with hard to cut veggies!
  9. Alexia products generally. The frozen sweet potato fries and onion rings are my favorite.

BTW, none of the above is sponsored. These are just things that I really truly like.

Figure out what works for you and your family based on what you like to eat and make things easy on yourself. Do it to it! Don’t forget to check out how I use these ingredients to help me meal plan.