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The Value Guru Rewards the Shortcut Chef

Your "Buy-Some-Make-Some" Ideas Could Make you a Winner RotisserieChicken I truly enjoy cooking and I get a decent meal on the table pretty quickly most nights of the week, but I'm not too proud to take shortcuts when my time is especially valuable. And, while going the buy-some/make-some route usually-not always!-costs a bit more than completely homemade, it is still a money saver compared to dining out. So, there are plenty of times when I pick up a rotisserie chicken or pre-cut veggies from the salad bar to help me save time in the kitchen by omitting a few steps in a recipe. What about you? Tell us your tip for using an item from our Prepared Foods department to cut your cooking time and get a meal on the table PDQ. You might win a $100 Whole Foods Market® gift card just in time to help make your holiday meals a little easier, whether you order a complete prepared feast or buy-some/make-some-perhaps starting with a cooked turkey. We'll draw a winner at random from all the tips we receive by the deadline of November 3rd. Remember, if you haven't already, sign up for The Whole Deal e-newsletter. You'll hear from us a few times each month about in-store specials and money-saving tips…and future contests, too. Hope you enjoyed "value contest month" on our blog during October. Tune in to our Facebook and Twitter feeds for more weekly contests throughout the holidays.

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178 comments

Comments

miles morita says …

Whole foods ready made selection couldn't make it easier! on the way home from work, we run by fill a box with tofu, cheeses, olives, and a variety of fresh cut veggies. I also grab some of the warm ready made, rice, sides etc... Grab a pack of tortillas, a couple bottles of wine, we work hard :) and were done. We do this as our gourmet taco tuesdays to enjoy time with friends during the week and no one slaves in the kitchen. A little blue cheese in a taco... amazing. Everyone loves the variety (we've come up with some amazing combos, cous-cous, cucumber, feta tacos... you get the picture) something for everyone!!! Love it! Thanks!

miles morita says …

BTW -I posted the taco info but,,, doesn't stop there! in addition to tacos - we do the same with pasta and your flat breads. When everything is cut or prepared we just boil pasta and add a variety of prepared items toss with olive oil or take a flatbread and dump (literally) a variety of items on top - drizzle the olive oil and fresh herbs toss it in the oven... How gourmet! - a few olives, salami and a glass of wine... Mario Batalli better watch his back! we've become quite good at a this!

Ronda Arnold says …

When I decide to make anything stuffed, as in peppers, or shells, Etc. /I double my stuffing and freeze the other half for a quick dinner fix at a later date or unexpected quests.

AARON RICHARD says …

My wife and I get together on Sunday, go through all the grocery store flyers to see what's on sale and put together our menus for the week. Then we spend Sunday afternoon doing all the shopping so it cuts down on the number of mid-week shopping trips. Also, if I know that dinner is going to be a little more involved, I get up a few minutes early and do the tedious prep work before I go to work and put it all the fridge. Then after work is mostly cooking and eating!

NIcole says …

I loooove homeads pizza; I make the sauce and slice the toppings, but buy the prepared multi-grain pizza dough. So yummy!

jessie says …

LASAGNA!!! Lasagna always makes for a romantic meal for two, but a whole lot of time. Since Whole Foods does it so right, why go to all the effort and have a whole pan for just two of us. Don't even get me started on DISHES!!!! AHHHH! My contribution is fresh baked bread, which I almost always have the dough in the fridge, and a nice italian salad. I'll pick up a nice bottle of wine and my husband and I have a delicious and romantic dinner in for way less than going out. With the time I save in the kitchen I can make a mixed CD and put on a little make up.

JASMINE BEDI says …

My husband and I Absolutely love Indian food but it is usually pretty time-consuming to make it from scratch every night like my mother used to. So my favorite shortcut is to just quickly cook up some chicken tenders in olive oil and then pour in the Seeds of Change Certified Organic Tikka Masala Simmer Sauce. It tastes AMAZING and I feel like I am back in Punjab, India.

julie white says …

I find that sometimes it is easier to main dish with 2 sides in the hot section ($9.99) and then I have leftovers the next day for lunch or dinner

erin says …

I buy a rotisserie chicken, take all the meat off and then divide it up into portioned baggies. put all the baggies in a dated freezer bag then into the freezer they go. grab one baggie in the morning to thaw in the refrigerator that day. come home, whip up a salad or pasta and i already have perfectly portioned cooked meat, ready to make the dish a meal.

Jennifer says …

I love to pick up a rotisserie chicken and make a casserole or just eat it with some veggies and warmbread from Whole Foods!

Emily says …

I love getting the rosemary grilled chicken breasts fresh from the deli counter. I usually buy 3 of them on the weekend and use them to make chicken salad. I add cranberries, toasted walnuts, celery, tarragon and just a touch of mayo. I've got an easy lunch for the week!

DIANA WELLS says …

Since I have a round-trip commute of 1-3/4 hours I like to do a quick and dirty weekly menue. This is not detailed, but general. Then I shop for the items I will need. When I want to eat meat I often use some of the seasoned or marinated items from the meat department and build a couple of meals around those. If it's just an omlette I've got planned I'll buy a cheese I've never tried, preferably grated,from the cheese and deli meat section with some condiments from the olive bar. Whole Foods bakery can't be equaled where I live, so a couple of bagettes are a must. As I rarely have time to prepare a dessert, I know I can count on something luscious for a special night. Typically, with the starters I get from Whole Foods, I can prepare a meal for two humans in 20-30 minutes while I feed three dogs between stirring. Since my local Whole Foods is the only place I can get a good Malbec, I try to keep a bottle for red meat dishes. And Coffee: I started going to Whole Foods because they roast their own right in the store with hot air instead of burning it along the sides of a hot drum. The rest of shopping there turned out to be a bonus!

Jennifer says …

I cook for my husband and 4 kids every night. Many times I find myself cooking things that I don't really like just to make sure that my pickiest eaters will have a healthy meal. Sometimes I just want to cook something a little more on the gourmet side so I pick up a little something special for just my husband and me. Our latest favorites are either sauteed chicken breast or salmon fillet served over one of the whole grain salads from the prepared foods counter. Served warm.

Debbie Freid says …

The rotisserie chicken or turkey breast is something that always saves me a lot of time throughout the entire week. I live alone and at first thought that a rotisserie chicken was too much for me. On the contrary. Purchase a rotisserie chicken on Sunday and have a nice chicken and rice dinner with roasted brocolli. I get the frozen brown rice (cooks in 3 minutes) and the pre-cut brocolli (through on cookie sheet with salt and pepper and roast for 9 minutes). Great dinner in less than 10 minutes. Then with the leftovers I make dinner on Monday that is a chicken burritto with the leftover chicken and rice, throw in some beans, lettuce, cheese, sour cream and salsa! Tuesday it is chicken and pasta with a can of diced tomatoes, garlic (purchased pre chopped), pine nuts and basil! It we have leftovers on Wednesday, chicken salad or green salad with chicken. On Thursday, take some store bought organic chicken stock and add the chicken with any veggies I might have and make a quick soup. It's the rotisserie chicken that keeps going and going!!!! Very economical and quick!!

Joseph Hayes says …

I always find I can spend more time focusing on the main dinner item when I can rely on Whole Foods to supply the side dish. A quick addition of rice salad or hummus as a base for a fabulous grilled fish, or edamame salad under spicy shrimp, saves more timer and trouble than it takes to drive to the store.

greenbean says …

the naked rotisserie chickens are the best! i use it to make stock, soups, salads, sandwiches and also add it to pasta. i also save time in the kitchen by prepping my food and doing most of my cooking in the AM while i'm already in there making lunch and breakfast. this helps me always have something to pack for lunch and ensures that i won't have to cook in the evening.

Christie Zizo says …

Soups for sauces! Some of the thicker soups at Whole Foods can work great as the base for a souped-up sauce in a pinch. Add a little cream as a thickener, any extra vegetables, let it similar... and mix it in with pasta, veggies, and/or meats. The other thing I love is your pine nut crusted eggplant from the hot bar. Take that and mix it up with some pasta and it's an instant Italian dinner.

Brooke S. says …

I LOVE WF rotisserie chicken! Hormone- and antibiotic-free! Happy chickens, happy diners! I buy 3 - 4 a week, and use them for everything! The $0.50 - 1 more per chicken is SO worth it for the time savings, the taste, and the ease! I throw it in the food processor with celery, onion, garlic, relish, and mayo for a TERRIFIC chicken salad! I made tons of lunches of a huge veggie salad topped with chicken and dressing. Sandwich meat. Cooked with barbecue sauce for a pulled chicken sandwich. Tossed with freshly cooked pasta, garlic olive oil, olive, suncried tomatoes, basil, and roasted zucchini. Polish "potrawka". . .cook a little flour in butter, add milk and stock and a splash of vinegar, S&P. . .add shredded chicken, and serve over rice (basmati brown, yum!) Collards, stock, dice tomatoes, spices, and piece rotisserie chicken. I cannot come up with a product that has a better value OR time savings! This one is a star at my house. . .and keeps me eating healthy all at the same time!

Jackie Smith says …

Whole Foods salad bar is great when having vegetarians or vegans over for dinner: there is always a veggie entree, and I can trust that it is delicious and high quality.

Diane Spero says …

I work so I shop on the weekend. I figure out a menu for the week and make my list from the menu. This way I am never missing any ingredient. When I get home I always wash ,trim and bag all produce. It makes it easy to cook when all I do is reach into the fridge and find the cleaned produce for every meal.

Nicole F says …

I buy deli sliced turkey, chicken stock, prepared mashed potatos and a couple bags of frozen veggies. I make a quick gravy out of stock and a roux and my special blend of spices and toss in the turkey, warm up the delicous simple mashe potatos and steam frozen veggies for a quick warming thanksgiving inspired week night meal, complete with cranberry sauce.

Cynthia Gallaher says …

As soon as I walk in the back door in the evening, even before I take my coat off, I either start heating the oven or fill a pot of water and place it on high heat on the stove. This way, I can take off my coat, shuffle through the mail, gather my items to cook and have water or oven heated and ready when I am.

p says …

i buy the carrot-ginger soup, or the butternut squash soup and then add garnishes, or even toss in some vegetables to make a hearty start to dinner.

Natasha McKenzie says …

When it comes to putting together a meal for myself or for a group of friends I go straight to Whole Foods for a variety of choices, at an affordable price. At Whole Foods, I know that whatever I choose will be of the highest quality and nutritional value. Sometimes I purchase some of the new and exotic items and I am never disappointed. They always offer an array of foods in season too. I usually get chicken breasts or seafood fillets to pan saute, and they are absolutely delicious. You can't go wrong with the assortment of sides that would appeal to even the finickiest of palates. Whole Foods saves me time at a great price, without sacrificing flavor and freshness. You can't go wrong with Whole Foods.

elizabeth says …

i try to find easy ways to cook different types of food, putting things in the oven or slow cooker saves alot of time. then you can work on other things while somethings cooking.

Amie Monte says …

For a quick, tasty, and healthy dinner (that won't break the bank) I pick up small amounts of Whole Foods Prepared Salads and use these flavorful spoonfuls to perk up bigger salads made with fresh veggies, lettuce, and homegrown herbs. It's the best of both worlds because the prepared salads go a long way in flavorville but I don't have to buy pounds of the pre-made goodies to make a complete meal. Love you, Whole Foods:)

Jen says …

I will often supplement my meals with soups from the soup bar. Soups are really nutritious, but they take a lot of prep work. By buying soup at Whole Foods I can focus on my main dish.

Eliza Koehler says …

I buy meat in bulk and split it into several ziploc bags. I also marinate some of them before I freeze them to save me some time later. I also try to buy pre-cut veggies that are time consuming to prepare, like butternut squash.

Brenda H. says …

Love the vegan options in the prepared foods! I'll pick up a main course item and supplement with veggies, salad or grain at home. Love the "chicken" used in the "mock" chicken salad and stock up when the nuggets are available! They are great for stir-frys, sandwiches, soups, etc. Thanks Whole Foods for providing great vegan foods!

laura says …

I use the frozen organic brown rice and just add fresh sauteed tomatoes in garlic and olive oil, some fresh fish and your done!

Joshua Graning says …

I try to preview my menu for the week and have everything close together in my cabinet. When I get home from Whole Foods I place things that I need near each other for each dish. Because, I have the most time after shopping. To save time in buying and pre-portioning frozen vegetables. It also helps to have a section of the refrigerator for defrosting frozen meats. When I take one out I replace it with the next nights meals. Above all organization is the key!

Janece Suarez says …

It's not shameful to buy frozen/refrigerated pie dough, and I do to speed along my pie preparations. Buying pre-chopped and prepared vegetables and salad from Whole Foods goes a long way towards shortening my overall meal preparation time so I can spend more time with my family, which is what the holiday is all about! Another thing I do to save money and time later is when I am preparing veggies for cooking every day, I wash everything before peeling, etc and throw the ends and peelings into a bag in the freezer. A few times a year I pull out all of my bags and make my own broth. It saves me money, and since I can freeze it in sizes that I use, when I need broth I pull out as much as I need for the meal, so no leftover broth to deal with saves me clean up and storage time too!

Vanessa Cosenza says …

Cooking? what's that - with whole foods hotbar handy...haha A great shortcut is buying prepeeled garlic - Maybe it's just me but I find dealing with garlic such a hassle & smelly so no longer buy the heads -

Theresa says …

I chop lots of onion and celery, and freeze them. When it's time to cook, I just take out what I need for that meal.

Krista says …

I buy bagged greens. It is just so much easier and quicker than chopping, scrubbing and washing. I also use my electric pressure cooker. I throw in beans or rice (that I buy in bulk) and let it cook while I do whatever and it beeps telling me it's done, no need to watch it and I don't even need to soak the beans ahead of time. It is the ultimate time shortcut!

Nora Oconnell says …

I usually save time in the kitchen by getting the hot stuff started, things that need to be boiled, steamed or baked for any length of time, then setting up my work station for the other dinner items. For example when I make chicken cutlets and mashed potatoes, I put the potatoes on to boil then prepare the chicken for frying. The potatoes and chicken are then finished around the same time. Also while the chicken is cooking, I put my salad items together so that everything is complete around the same time. I clean the dishes in between different parts of the meal. If I have a baked desert I also start that at the same time as the boiling, steaming, etc so that it will be ready and cooling while we are eating dinner.

Christine Reid says …

I use the rotisserie chicken for most of my chicken recipes. That one step saves so much time!

Alana says …

The best way my bf and I save time is that after we go grocery shopping, right when we get home, we rinse and cut all of our produce. That way, when we want to use it for a meal later on, it's already prepped and ready to go! Saves money by buying things "unpackaged," saves time, and makes for some good bonding over lettuce chopping or carrot peeling!

renee harsche says …

My 9 tray excalibur dehydrator. I spend 1 day a week dehydrating. We all know the raw diet can be time consuming and tricky. Especially when you are preparing for a family. I load up my 9 tray excalibur with bread batter, meatless meatballs, veggie burgers, crackers, granola, muffins, etc. Dehydrate for 8-24 hrs. Voila I have our meals for the week!

Zoe R. says …

Whole Foods salsa fresca is a favorite timesaver of mine! It's perfect as an addition to salads, or over fish or chicken, and I never need to worry about adding seasoning when I use it. I'll mix in veggies and beans to add nutrients. Plus it's low calorie!

Patty says …

What I try and do is alittle pre-prep work on the weekend, especially in the summer when its so hot out. I will bake (sometimes bbq) some free range chicken and pasta and make a great pasta salad (carrots, celery, fresh dill, etc). This way we can have it as a side dish, taken in a lunch, or you can make a sandwich with it. Yummy! We usually top it up with some homemade ice tea made from organic black tea!

Angela Tuell says …

We absolutely love Whole Foods! We find that the fruits and vegetables are so fresh, they last longer. When we come home from shopping, we chop and clean everything and it really saves time throughout the week!

Andrea Harrison says …

I totally love your salad bar. It's so easy to through a large salad together to compliment a good home cooked meal, and there is no chopping, washing, drying etc to deal with!

Angela says …

Plan one hour a week to wash and chop all the vegetables I just bought from your beautiful produce department. All I have to do at dinner time is grab clean vegetables and serve in a raw salad, steam, or roast. Favorite Prepared Food: handmade pizza for $8.99. We just add a fresh salad. The BEST deal around, better than ANY take out pizza joint. We never "order" pizza anymore!

Kristin Canny says …

When entertaining, I buy pre-made appetizers and spreads from the Prepared Foods department. (My favorite is the artichoke dip and tortilla chips). This way if guests come really hungry, they can have something to snack on while waiting for the main course. I don't feel so rushed to get dinner on the table and we all get time to chat pre-dinner. The bonus is everyone thinks I made all the goodies myself!

Emily says …

I`m a big advocate of freezer meals. For example, I`ll either find a day where I have a big chunk of time and go ahead and assemble a few meals (in proper portion sizes) to stick in the freezer. I also pre-chop all my vegetables for the weeks ahead. I`m a big fan of the Whole Foods Hot Bar, so I`ll often stop in and pick up a few items for sides.

Katharine says …

To make cooking in the kitchen more convenient - and faster - I often pick up a pre-cooked chicken. Perfect with some veggies the first night, on top of a salad for lunch, and then use the rest to make some hearty soup - great for a fall day like today!

bill martin says …

ok pre cut food for recipe place it in frig in mornig bring it out and start going on meal and get it done faster and one time

andrea says …

I am a HUGE fan of the rotisserie chicken. One night we have roasted chicken with fresh veggies and mashed potatoes, with the left overs I shred the chicken and make enchilada's. I can save time on two dinners with your chickens, and being a mom with very active 7 year old twins, I need to save time anywhere I can. Thank you Whole Foods for helping me keep my family eating healthy!

Mary Lynn Conejo says …

Since I principally cook Cuban foods in my home, and these require chopping onions and peppers for each dish, I put chunks of onion and pepper in my mini food processor, and grind them once a week. I put them in a glass jar in the fridge and put a tiny bit of olive oil in it. When I need my freshly cut onions and peppers for whatever dish I am cooking, they are there, and they keep quite well. By the way, I started doing this, the grinding up of the onions and peppers as my mother would not eat anything where she could find the bits of onions and peppers. It is handy for kids as well, who might not eat it if they can see it.

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