Grocery stores abound with convenience products you can feel good about. Combine them with a few fresh ingredients for speedy, impressive mains that don't let on just how easy they are to make.
Credit: Photo: Jennifer Causey

Shortcuts: Feta-Quinoa Cakes with Spinach

Precooked Quinoa
Rinsed, drained, cooked, and fluffed; all you need to do is reheat. Keep on hand when you need a last-minute whole-grain starch.

Frozen Green Peas
Sweet, fresh-tasting peas make any dish more vibrant. Always keep a bag in your freezer.

Feta Crumbles
Good-quality crumbled feta will save you from messy work. It's also great for sprinkling over salads or steamed vegetables.

Credit: Photo: Jennifer Causey

Shortcuts: Curried Lentil-and-Vegetable Stew

Prechopped Onion
Shed no tears with this refrigerated produce item. One 8-ounce package equals a little more than a cup.

Precooked Steamed Lentils
Available in vacuum-sealed packages, this protein- and fiber-rich pulse is a time-saving topper or stir-in.

Unsalted Vegetable Stock
Packaged stocks and broths ued to be serious sodium offenders. Now tasty unsalted or low-sodium versions let you control the seasoning.

Credit: Photo: Jennifer Causey

Shortcuts: Tuna-and-Pickled-Vegetable Pita Pockets

Microwave-in-Bag Haricots Verts
No water needed: Throw the entire package into the microwave for crisp-tender green beans in about three minutes.

Pickled Vegetable Salad
Usually marinated overnight, this blend of cauliflower, onions, and peppers packs a ton of flavor. Find it on the olive bar.

Not just for snacking! Hummus is a great alternative to mayonnaise for a sandwich spread.

Credit: Photo: Jennifer Causey

Shortcuts: Crunchy Sesame-Ginger Chicken Salad

Rotisserie Chicken
Look for a plain rotisserie chicken or one with a neutral flavor (like lemon and herb) that won't clash with other ingredients).

Frozen Edamame
Like peas, these precooked soybeans need only a minute or two to cook and add a pop of green to any dish.

Fresh Ginger Paste
A squeeze is all you need for a hit of spicy flavor. Look for this time-saver in tubes near the herbs.

Credit: Photo: Jennifer Causey

Shortcuts: Egg Foo Yong with Mushroom Sauce

Broccoli Slaw
Washed and julienned, this heartier version of cabbage slaw can be sautéed, folded into batters, or simply dressed.

Presliced Mushrooms
Cleaned and sliced mushrooms save valuable prep time on busy nights.

Precooked Brown Rice
Microwave or reheat on the stove for 90 seconds and save about 45 minutes. The math couldn't be better.

Credit: Photo: Jennifer Causey

Shortcuts: Sheet Pan Steak Fajitas

Fajita Steak
Thinly sliced flank steak is ready for the skillet, the broiler, the grill, or the wok.

Presliced Bell Peppers
Use for hoagies or sautés, or whiz up in the food processor as a base for salsa or relish.

Corn Tortillas
We call these convenient because they keep well, warm quickly, and can turn just about anything into a meal.

Credit: Photo: Jennifer Causey