A professional chef shares the 2 Trader Joe's frozen-food favorites he always buys for an easy meal under $5

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Rachel Askinasi
·2 min read
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Orange Chicken Jae Lee
Jae Lee says he uses Trader Joe's brown rice (left) and the brand's orange chicken to make the perfect meal. Rachel Askinasi/Insider and 4kodiak/Getty Images
  • Professional chefs are among the many people who love Trader Joe's.

  • Jae Lee, chef and owner at Nowon, told Insider he makes a full meal with two frozen-food items.

  • The restaurateur combines frozen orange chicken with microwavable rice for an easy dinner under $5.

  • Visit Insider's homepage for more stories.

Even professional chefs love Trader Joe's.

Speaking with Insider, chef Jae Lee, the owner of New York City's Nowon restaurant, recently shared the five items he's been loving from Trader Joe's. Out of those five favorites, two are found in the frozen-food section - and according to the chef, those items make a delicious, easy meal when prepared together.

Lee says Trader Joe's Mandarin orange chicken, a fan-favorite item which was voted the store's best-overall entree by customers for the seventh year in a row, pairs perfectly with the microwavable brown rice.

The 22-ounce bag of frozen, ready-made chicken costs $4.99 and the rice will run you $2.99 for a box of three portions. That means each of the five suggested servings of chicken (about 1 cup each) that come in the bag cost $1, and each package of rice costs the same.

Even if you make two of the recommended servings of chicken, it's still a chef-approved meal for less than $5.

Lee says this meal isn't just cheap - it's also delicious and easy to make

The pro chef told Insider that this quick chicken-and-rice dinner "tastes just like your local Chinese-American take-out spot on the corner."

The chicken can either be baked in an oven or cooked on the stove in a skillet, while the rice comes in a microwavable pouch.

"Poke a few holes [in the portioned bag] and microwave two-and-a-half to three minutes - delicious," Lee said of the rice. "It's slightly seasoned and tastes fresh even after being microwaved. It's brown rice that tastes so good."

And since he's recently started to more heavily consider the nutritious value of what he's eating, Lee says the brown rice is "perfect for 30-year-olds that finally realize health is wealth."

Though he wishes the pieces of chicken were more uniformly sized, Lee told Insider that the dish overall "is properly done - very well-made."

While the two items can make a perfect meal on their own, the chef sometimes adds steamed broccoli florets too - but don't worry, this addition still won't put you over the $5 mark for your meal.

Read the original article on Insider