Speed up the cooking with versatile, healthy supermarket convenience foods that help you turn out vibrant, healthy main dishes. The prep time for each of our featured shortcut recipes is slashed to about 20 minutes. We guarantee that these helpful tips and products will help you turn out a delicious, made-with-care meal in no time.
2 of 11Photo: Romulo Yanes
Shortcut Pizza: Refrigerated Fresh Pizza Dough
Store-bought dough yields pizzeria quality. Ask for it in the bakery of your supermarket, or check specialty retailers like Trader Joe's. In a pinch, buy dough in tubes from the refrigerated section of the grocery store (it's higher in sodium than fresh dough). Just bring the dough to room temperature while the oven preheats.
1| Brush with olive oil and top with cheese and herbs to make flavorful flatbreads.
2| Cut into small portions, roll small circles, bake and top with salad or meats for piadines.
3| Make great calzones with dough, pasta sauce, cheese, wilted spinach, and cooked, crumbled sausage.
4| Roll into a rectangle, brush with butter, and sprinkle with cinnamon sugar for roll-ups. Cut crosswise and bake.
5| Cut into strips and make garlicky cheese sticks.
4 of 11Photo: Romulo Yanes
Shortcut Stir-Fry: Washed & Bagged Baby Spinach
Rinsing, drying, stemming, and chopping supermarket spinach is a messy time-eater. Ready-to-use baby spinach from the bag cuts out that whole process. Inspect in the store to make sure it's in prime condition—no black spots, no wilting.
1| Stir into scrambled eggs or omelets during the last minute of cooking.
2| Up your veggie intake by adding chopped or whole leaves to rice or pasta.
3| Toss with olive oil, thinly sliced shallots, and crumbled bacon. Put on a pizza after it's baked.
4| Stir into soups just before serving for a boost of garden flavor.
5| Sauté spinach and garlic until wilted and use it to fill savory tarts.
6 of 11Photo: Romulo Yanes
Shortcut Turnover: Refrigerated Pie Dough
The nutritional difference between refrigerated pie dough and one made from scratch is actually quite small, so on a weeknight, this is a shortcut that's worth the trade-off. Pillsbury is our favorite brand.
1| Roll dough into an 11-inch circle; fill with sautéed veggies. Fold dough toward center. Bake a savory galette.
2| Use dough to top individual or casserole-style potpies.
3| Divide dough; roll into small circles. Fill with cooked meat, beans, cheese. Fold, crimp, bake; empanadas.
4| Bake in mini muffin cups, and fill with crab or shrimp salad for appetizers.
5| Wrap seasoned chicken or fish, and bake for an en croûte entrée.
8 of 11Photo: Romulo Yanes
Shortcut Chicken Salad: Rotisserie Chicken
When you purchase a rotisserie chicken, look for a just-done bird. Most stores follow a schedule, and packages are marked with the time the chickens came off the spit. Stick with the original, unflavored version, as it's the most versatile.