Essential Shortcut Foods Checklist

When dinner needs to be on the table in a flash, use these time-saving ingredients to create delicious, well-rounded meals

Illustration of fruits and vegetables (55)
  • Rotisserie chicken.

    Swing by the grocery store and pick up a freshly-cooked chicken, then use the meat in a wide variety of meals—salads, pastas, sandwiches, and more.

  • Couscous.

    This grain is incredibly quick and easy to prepare—stir into hot or boiling water and let steam for 5 minutes, then fluff with a fork before serving. You can easily dress it up by stirring in chopped scallions, lemon zest, or various spices.

  • Canned tomatoes.

    Whether whole, crushed, or chopped, canned tomatoes are an instant way to create pasta sauces and soups and provide a great base for chilies and stews.

  • Refrigerated pizza dough.

    Quickly whip up pizza, flatbreads, and calzones with store-bought dough.

  • Frozen cooked shrimp.

    Toss pre-cooked shrimp into salads for delicious, no-cook meals in just minutes.

  • Canned beans.

    Legumes are nutritional powerhouses that deliver tons of fiber and protein for very little money. They make filling additions to salads and soups and can be easily dressed up as quick side dishes.

  • Frozen vegetables.

    Frozen vegetables and fruits can actually be more nutritious than fresh, since they're packaged immediately after harvesting and the nutrients stay at their peak. Vegetables typically last for about eight months unopened in the freezer. Add to casseroles, stews, soups, and stir-fries or use them to top fresh salads.

  • Canned fish.

    Keep canned tuna and salmon in your pantry to instantly give any meal a protein boost. Add tuna to salads or use it in sandwiches; top pasta with salmon or make salmon burgers or cakes.

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