Stock your pantry with our top 20 off-the-shelf and out of the fridge foods that make these crazy-good meals ready in minutes. And check out Part One, with our staff’s favorite tips and tricks for speedy mealtime prep.
1. Rotisserie chicken tops our list. Its versatility from salads to soups and wraps is endless. One bird yields about 3 cups shredded or chopped meat. Insert 2 forks into the meat while it’s still warm and pull apart to shred.
2. Packaged and precut lettuce and lettuce blends
3. Cubed fresh butternut squash (look for frozen or in the produce section)
4. Fully cooked bacon comes in a 2.5-oz package
5. Steam-in-bag fresh vegetables and vegetable combinations. Some can be microwaved in the bag, saving prep and cleanup time
6. Salad kits complete with greens, dressing and toppings
7. Coleslaw mixes
8. Frozen pre-chopped onions
9. Precooked microwavable pouches of brown rice, basmati, and wild rice blends
10. Refrigerated prepared mashed potatoes
11. Refrigerated fresh pasta—cooks in 2 minutes!
12. Hummus—in traditional and a variety of flavors
13. Prepared guacamole
14. Frozen vegetables—from plain, vegetables medleys, and sauced vegetables to sweet potato fries
15. Chicken cutlets save on prep time—no pounding and quick cooking
16. Pre-shredded cheeses(if you already have a block of cheese, shred it and store it in the freezer). For all but very hard cheeses, grating is easiest if the cheese is well chilled.
17. Frozen fish fillets: tilapia, cod, flounder and salmon
18. Quick pizza crusts (packaged on the shelf or in the refrigerated case) as well as pita breads, flatbreads, and tortillas
19. Dry spices and spice blends such as lemon-pepper seasoning, Montreal steak seasoning, and Cajun seasoning
20. Pitas, flatbreads and tortillas have multiple uses, from dippers and sandwiches to pizzas
Got more we should know about you’d like to add to the list? Please let us know!