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School lunches for young ones can start to feel like mission impossible after a while. On the one hand, you want them to be appealing and somewhat diverse (even a 5-year-old appreciates a little variety) but on the other hand, you’ve gotta make them every…single…weekday.

That’s why having pre-made or semi pre-made lunchbox staples— something you might not necessarily make from scratch yourself—is a good idea to keep lunches interesting and your sanity intact. Enter TJ’s.

Family by Hetty McKinnon, $15.62 on Amazon

New Vegetarian Comfort Food to Nourish Every Day
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For cookbook author and mother of three Hetty McKinnon, that go-to lunchbox staple she keeps on hand comes from the frozen foods aisle of our favorite quirky neighborhood grocery store, Trader Joe’s. The snack in question is TJ’s frozen potstickers (or gyoza) which come stuffed with either chicken, pork, or a Thai vegetable filling and can be heated up easily in a pan with oil or dropped in boiling water.

Related Reading: Mmm, Soy Good: The Best Vegan Foods at Trader Joe’s

Better still, Trader Joe’s dumplings are a serious steal, generally on sale for just $3 per one-pound bag, and contain no scary ingredients or fillers.

“For a fave lunch, I have to say Trader Joe’s dumplings (potstickers),” McKinnon tells us, “I always have 2 or 3 or 4 packs in my freezer—the pork for my boys and also the Thai veggie ones for my vegetarian daughter. When I’m running behind, I will chuck a few dumplings into a frying pan in the morning, and put them warm into my kid’s bento lunchbox.”

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Keeps lunch hot, cold, or in between with compartments and a vacuum-sealed lid.
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What’s your favorite lunch shortcut to keep in stock? Let us know in the comments.

Header image courtesy of Getty Images

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