by Sheela Prakash
From pre-peeled fruit to fully-prepared meals, there’s no shortage of supermarket shortcuts. And their appeal is easy to understand: They all promise to help you make light work of dinner — or breakfast or lunch. However, not all supermarket shortcuts are created equal. Many are filled with excess salt, sugar, preservatives, and more.
Luckily, we’ve done the hard work for you. Here are 5 supermarket shortcuts that are wholesome and delicious.
1. Pre-Washed Baby Spinach, Arugula or Kale
My refrigerator is never without a clamshell of baby spinach or arugula. Keeping one on hand means I have no excuses to add something green to my plate. I’ll wilt a couple of handfuls of baby spinach into my scrambled eggs or toss arugula with lemon juice and olive oil for an instant salad to go with just about anything.
Lately, I’ve also become a big fan of baby kale. It saves me from stripping the leaves from the stems of the larger bunches and washing them. And it’s more tender than full-sized leaves, so it can be sauteed quickly or even tucked into sandwiches.
2. Frozen Pre-Cooked Brown Rice
Brown rice is a nutty whole grain that’s packed with fiber and nutrients. It’s a perfect base for grain bowls, as a side to proteins like fish and chicken, under stir-frys, and more. But it takes awhile to cook. While you can steam a pot of white rice in about 15 minutes, brown rice requires at least a solid 45 minutes to become tender.
Save that time by picking up frozen pre-cooked brown rice. It’s just as nutritious and simply needs to be reheated in the microwave. Trader Joe’s has a great organic option.
3. Canned Beans
While I appreciate the slow and steady act of cooking dried beans, canned beans save the day 99% of the time. I keep a collection of my favorites — chickpeas, white beans, and black beans — stocked at all times and I highly suggest you do the same. All varieties of beans are healthy choices, so simply reach for your favorites.
Drain and rinse them, then toss into soups, salads, and more. I particularly love using canned chickpeas to make my own quick homemade hummus. Also, I don’t typically worry about choosing low-sodium canned beans over regular canned beans. Since you should be draining and rinsing just about any canned beans well before using them, you’ll wash off the excess salt.
4. Peeled and Cubed Butternut Squash
I’ve always loved naturally sweet butternut squash, but I rarely cooked it at home because I feared losing a finger in the process. The winter squash is dangerously hard to cut into!
Recently, I started buying peeled and cubed butternut squash at the grocery store and I’ve never looked back. I’ve been roasting the cubes weekly as a simple side dish, salad addition, or even to blend into smoothies.
5. Frozen Shrimp
I used to think buying my seafood from the fish counter at the grocery store was always the best choice. However, that’s actually not the case. Most of the shrimp being sold at your fish counter is previously frozen. It sits there all day, fully thawed, until you buy it and take it home to cook at night or the next day, which means it’s really not all that fresh.
You’re better off buying the bags of frozen shrimp. Choose wild-caught shrimp over farmed, if possible and make sure the shrimp is farmed sustainably and responsibly. This way, you’ll always have a quick shrimp dinner, filled with protein and healthy fats, within reach.