In an ideal world, we would have time to shop, prepare and eat healthy homemade meals every day. But with busy lives filled with school, work and all the little things that come up in-between, it’s hard to find the time. On your next visit to the grocery store, combine the convenience of prepared foods with a personal touch for an almost homemade meal.
Thankfully, while your children may not be keen on helping you prep dinner, your local grocery store is happy to be of service! You can find items in the deli, refrigerated and frozen section or the grocery aisle to help supplement your main meal, or act as the centerpiece that you can personalize to your families’ tastes.
Your grocery store’s deli is the perfect place to head for precooked meats, vegetables and grains. Mix and match mains and sides to go alongside something you’ve already prepared, or use it as inspiration to create a meal.
- Rotisserie chicken: You can eat this as is with some homemade sides, or shred and toss it into tacos, soups and chili, salads, noodle bowls and more.
- Prepared pizzas: Everyone’s favorite meal, personalize a take-and-bake pizza with your favorite toppings, like artichoke hearts or sun-dried tomatoes.
Most stores are now offering fruits and vegetables that have been washed, cut and packaged. Picking up a container of prepped produce will allow you to spend less time in the kitchen and more time doing other things you love. They are also very helpful for people who have a difficult time chopping due to arthritis or other health conditions.
- Vegetables: Grab a container of cut veggies, like carrots, onions or root vegetables, to shave off prep time. These are the perfect option for dinner-worthy salads, stir fries and soups. You don’t need a salad spinner — choose a container of pre-washed salad mixes instead.
- Fruit: Packaged, pre-sliced fruit makes for a quick and easy dessert, paired with yogurt or ice cream, a slice of cake or just on its own.
There’s no reason to make every component of your meal from scratch. Head to the refrigerated or frozen section to pick up the base of your meal, and see what fun you can have.
- Refrigerated pizza dough: Yes, you can make pizza, but also try calzones, flatbreads, breadsticks or stromboli.
- Prepared pie dough: Skip the sweet and head to savory side of things by using pie dough as a pot pie topper or form it into savory hand pies filled with meat or cheese and summer veggies.
Stock up on staples to make sure you always have what you need on hand for your next meal.
- Bread: Think outside of the sandwich box, and use different types of breads for new meal ideas. Try pita for stuffed sandwiches, or grab a loaf of French bread to make pizza.
- Canned beans: Of course you can toss beans into soups and stews, but you can also puree them into a sandwich spread or dip, or pair them with prepared curry sauce and serve or rice or flatbread.
Instead of doing the majority of the work, start with prepared meals or ingredients, then add a few fresh ingredients to really make the dish special. Adding the finishing touches to a dish turns your meal from store-bought to homemade.
Editor's note: This article was sponsored by New Seasons Market.