Tips & Tricks

Tips & Tricks

Smart Shopping for Fast Cooking

The easiest way to get quick, healthy dinners on the table is to go to the grocery store armed with a plan—and a list. Using these tips for supermarket success, you’ll be equipped to find the freshest ingredients to put dinner on the table in a flash.

A young woman looking at her shopping list in a supermarket aisle.

Choose ripe produce. 

It may sound simple, but ripe fruits and vegetables cook faster and add much more flavor than their unripe counterparts. How do you tell what’s ripe? One general rule of thumb works for many fruits and vegetables: smell the produce you’re picking. If it doesn’t smell like anything, it may not be very tasty.

Choose fast-cooking cuts of meat.

Save the pot roast for the weekend when you have more time for slow cooking. During the week, pick small cutlets, chops and fillets that start out tender and cook quickly.

Sometimes less is more.

Buying produce or meat in bulk can save money, but it can kill time too. When you’re faced with huge amounts of food to cook and store, it can be hard to find creative ways to use it. If you only need one celery stalk or a handful of diced peppers, consider shopping at the salad bar or in the to-go section to get what you need and no more. The exception: Sometimes, more is more—such as when it’s just as easy to make a double recipe of something that freezes well. Tuck the extra in the freezer for later and you’ll have a ready meal at your fingertips for a later date.

Embrace convenience.

Frozen vegetables and precut fresh vegetables can trim time and effort in the kitchen without sacrificing nutrition. Look for good-quality vegetables in your supermarket’s freezer case or produce section—and skip those loaded with extra salt. Prewashed bags of salad mixes also can help you get a healthy meal together quickly.

Chop less.

Buy containers of peeled garlic cloves and refrigerated jars of chopped ginger, both available in the produce section. The time saved in chopping can mean dinner’s on the table faster.

Choose convenience items carefully.

Canned broths and tomato sauces can be a true gift to the cook; crackers are an easy on-the-go snack. But beware of convenience products that are loaded with salt or partially hydrogenated or hydrogenated fats (trans fats). Always check the nutrition label to know exactly what you’re getting.

Shop with your pantry in mind.

A well-stocked kitchen helps you avoid the there’s-nothing-to-eat-so-let’s-go-out moment. Keep a running list of pantry items and restock essentials when they run low.

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