Getting a healthy meal on the table can be a big hurdle, especially on weeknights. Luckily, there are a few grocery store hacks that can help you eat at home in less time! It’s all about using simple shortcuts you may have overlooked. Here are a few of my staples that help speed up dinner prep:
Go for the chicken and/or tuna packed in water and you’re looking at a product comparable to the fresh stuff, as the protein, fat, and calories are the same. These will last in your pantry for a LONG time, which means less waste as it won’t go bad in a week or get freezer burn. These cans are cheap and since they keep so long you can stock up whenever there is a sale. While you’ll want fresh chicken or tuna when eating it alone, the canned stuff is perfect for recipes that use them as an ingredient. My favorite ways to use these are:
Chicken or tuna salad (mix with plain yogurt for a slimmed down version)
For (well) under $10 you can walk in the door with an entire chicken that’s already cooked and seasoned. Whether you’re flying solo, or figuring out dinner for a family of 4, you will be set for multiple meals and a lot of versatility! Chicken is a great source of protein, low in fat, and full of flavor, but cooking it or thawing and preparing it takes up a lot of time. This quick grab-and-go item from any grocery store is cheap and easy to work with.
Need ideas? Check out this post from Greatist.com for 24 easy meal ideas!
Canned and Frozen Veggies
Fresh in-season veggies pack a lot of flavor along with nutrients, but don’t pass the canned and frozen sections for your veggies just yet. When picked and packed at their freshest, canned and frozen veggies hold as many or even more nutrients than their fresh counterparts. Nutritional value aside, I recommend the canned and frozen veggies for two main reasons: they won’t go bad when you run out of time to cut them up and use them in a week, and they are a super quick addition to up your family’s veggie quota for the day.
When making one pot meals, casseroles, or using your slow cooker, dump in frozen veggies without thawing and let the cook time take care of it. Make a quick salad a powerhouse with canned veggies and have dinner on the table in under 15 minutes.
Pre-Boiled Eggs/Pre-Cut Veggies
Eggs are cheap and a healthy addition to your diet with only 70 calories, 13 essential vitamins and minerals, along with 6g of high-quality protein in just a single egg. They are easy to take with you, eat on the go, and make for an energizing afternoon snack. While I realize I could make a dozen at the start of my week and use how I see fit (snack on it’s own, or addition to a simple salad), I have yet to do that. Have you? If you enjoy eggs, go ahead and buy the pre-boiled (and often pre-peeled) eggs next time you see them.
Same goes for fresh veggies. Yes, they do cost a bit more, and you could cut them on your own, but how many times have you tossed produce because the time to wash and cut everything ran out. Not exactly a money saver if you ask me. With pre-cut veggies – baby carrots, celery, peppers – you have a quick and easy snack or lunch/dinner addition that you can grab out of the fridge, ready to eat.
The salad bar is a great way to add more veggies to your weeknights without shopping forever or spending precious time cutting everything up. Make a big salad for the entire family for that night, or grab a few ingredients to use throughout the week. The salad bar is perfect for when it’s just you or you and your spouse; you don’t waste money on a bag of carrots when you just need them for a salad, and it’s ready to eat when you are. Get a few smaller containers if you have picky eaters and quickly make separate salads and keep everyone happy!
What are your best grocery store hacks?