Trader Joe’s Frozen Spaghetti and Beef Meatballs

What a classic dish! I don’t know how many cans of Chef Boyardee I ate when I was a kid so I have a very special spot for spaghetti and meatballs. I have literally eaten hundreds of pounds of these things growing up and as an adult making them from scratch has become a staple of our diet here at the Chateau. I would say that I average 3-4 times a month hand rolling the meatballs and cooking them in Trader Joe’s Marinara Sauce. (I should post my recipe sometime)

Well, I was in the frozen section the other day. (Actually, what day am I not at Trader Joe’s? Seems like 7 days a week!) and saw this meal in a bag. So, I picked one up and had it for lunch yesterday. The picture on the bag looked very enticing and I was already drooling when I picked it up. Geez, I sure hope Trader’s can pull this one off because I could save a lot of time and energy by not having to make these from scratch every week!

Contents of bag from the freezer

So I got the bag home and the next day had it for lunch. He heating instructions called either for the microwave  or stove top preparation. (As a side note, I almost always go for stove top or in the oven because I think heating it that way cooks things more evenly and usually makes things taste a little better.

So, I opened the bag and dumped it on a plate to show you guys what’s in the bag. Basically, it’s meatballs, sauce in cubes and noodles in these weird patty like shapes. So, I dumped it all in a skillet and added the recommended water and cooked on a slow simmer for about 12 minutes. Got it off the stove and put it on a plate. The sauce had a kind of weird brownish tinge to it, not the red that I expected and the noodles had a hard time losing the shape they were in when frozen and the kind of broke up easily. It smelled pretty good and I could smell and see the herbs in the sauce and the meatballs. So far so good… but when I started on a couple of noodles, they had a kind of weird texture and were a little mushy. Could be I over cooked them, but I don’t think a minute or two would make them that mushy. At the same time I tasted the sauce and it too lacked flavor and seemed one dimensional and frankly a little sweet for my tastes (I checked the bag and sure enough Sugar is one of the top ingredients! Why?) Then the meatballs. They also lacked flavor and seemed kind of light bodied for being beef. Also, the whole thing needed some salt. I sprinkled some Trader Joe’s shaved Parmesan cheese to give it a kick.

Would I buy this again? Probably not. I think I could do better by buying either the Trader Joe’s frozen party meatballs or the fresh chicken meatballs, some real authentic spaghetti and one of their marinara sauces and putting it all together for a little extra effort and much better flavor.

I will rate this one 6 bells!


  1. Hi I agree with this review 100%. I just got the Trader Joes Spaghetti and Meatballs and it was very meh. It tasted bery bland and I was disappointed with it.

    I too had to load it up with cheese just to give it any flavor. I'd give it 4.5 stars.
    I think if the sauce was more flavorful that would make a huge improvement.


  2. It was clearly not my favorite either, but they seem to sell a lot of it. I bet there are a lot of kids out there eating this for dinner!

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