Supermarket shortcuts for easier dinners
Cooking for one (or two) can be a chore, especially if you want to have something different every night.
So here are a few food shopping hacks that can significantly cut your prep and cooking time, and get you to a nice, easy dinner faster.
Make the salad bar your sous chef.
Walk on over to that salad bar and take a good look at it from an ingredient perspective. So many prepped foods to choose from!
Sliced peppers, diced onions, cubed zucchini, shredded chicken, cooked beans, washed baby spinach leaves, broccoli florets, a bounty of prepped items, all ready to turn into a stir fry, vegetable lasagna, frittata, soup — and sure, maybe even a salad.
And the nice thing is, you can buy exactly how much of each item you want.
Explore other precut, washed or prepped produce.
Next to the whole fruits and vegetables you can find a section of other prepared produce, usually uncooked. Shredded carrots, spiralized sweet potatoes, peeled garlic, shelled peas, bags of washed salad lettuces, and so on.
I know I’m not alone when I say that peeling, seeding and cubing a winter squash at the end of a busy day can feel like a real obstacle to dinner. But a container of peeled, cubed squash is a game changer.
Rotisserie chicken – best dinner saver ever.
Cold, warm right out of the container, or reheated, there are few supermarket gifts as happy-making as a rotisserie chicken. Add a salad and something starchy and you are done.
Or shred up that meat and you have a springboard for numerous other dinners: chicken salad, quesadillas, enchiladas and burritos, soups, stir fries, casseroles.
I buy a rotisserie chicken often because I know that it will get me to some chicken dinner in the coming days, and usually a different one every week.
Once a month, do a little inventory of your most-used ingredients and make sure you’ve got a good stash of all of them — pasta, beans, rice, broth, canned tomatoes, and fridge staples like eggs and grated cheese.
Having a full inventory saves you last-minute dashes to the market. Bonus points if you can stock up when these items are on sale.
Buying in the bulk-food aisle definitely saves money, and offers you some nice whole-food choices. But it can also save you time once you get it home.
Decant all of your bulk items — quinoa, lentils, rice, oatmeal — into containers, preferably clear ones, and label them. Organize them by category in your cabinets or pantry closet — for example, whole grains, cereals, baking ingredients.
Then when you are ready for them, there they will be, easy to find and easy to access. It’s also easy to see when you are running low on any of them.
Don’t underestimate the freezer aisle.
There are so many ingredients and meal components in the freezer aisle that can help you get dinner on the table faster.
Frozen vegetables are of really high quality, often quite economical, and cook up super quickly.
Some more ideas: Frozen fruits make quick smoothies. Frozen hash browns aren’t just good with eggs but also as a pot-pie topping. And frozen shrimp and fish cook up in a flash.