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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

Lisa says …

I like to prep in advance, especially at Thanksgiving. I'll chop all my veggies the day before and store them in the fridge in quart containers. Even the potatoes will be chopped and covered in cold water and the whole thing goes into the fridge so the morning of, I'm ready to go!

kim says …

I buy a bunch of hamburger at once and then split it up into 1 pound chunks, put them in individual baggies, and then put them in the deep freeze for later. It is great because I just have to grab one bag for most recipes and it takes less time to thaw. Another way to cut time is to cook the meat before freezing it.

Lindsay Muldoe says …

I usually hit the prepared sides/pasta salads for short cuts. They are super tasty, and go well with any meat so easy to have people over for an impromptu dinner :)

Judy H says …

I always put extra chicken parts (legs, thighs, wings ) with minimal seasoning (Kosher salt, pepper, rosemary) in the oven when I'm roasting something. Now I have a head start and when there are left over vegetables from another meal, I can just have a heat and eat dinner.

marla hoffman says …

I have a great chicken enchallada recipe. To save time, I started using the Whole Food's rotisserie chicken which I shred by hand. I mix it with sour cream and shredded cheese, then I roll them up in whole wheat tortillas, and cover the entire thing with premade fresh salsa and more shredded cheese. My husband loves it and I don't have to spend the day cooking chicken and dicing up onions, herbs and tomatoes!

lucy s. says …

I love buying your grilled chicken breasts in the winter. I slice them down the middle and stuff with toasted pecans, dried cranberries and goat cheese, then warm in the oven for 10 minutes.

James says …

I go to the Whole Foods, stir fry and shi ka bobs section, to buy pre-cut up squash, bell peppers, onions, mushrooms, etc.. I am also a big fan of the "pre made" packs, which can have anything from veggie mix, to fajitas etc.. I also love the salad bar, hot food bar, and precut cheese you have to offer. I can almost always find what I am looking for already prepped at whole foods. Top that with a trash bowl, and getting everything out before I start, and I can cut my prep time in thirds.

Angelina says …

I always utilize the fresh and prepared foods at Whole Foods so I don't have to sacrifice on taste! When I want to cook a quick meal I will buy items like pie crust and cream of chicken soup for a pot pie or fresh lasagna noodles and gourmet pasta sauce.

Kim says …

I buy veggies from you salad bar, some fake chicken and noodle from your noodle bar and do a stir fry. This way I don't have tons of produce left with all the different veggies used in stir fry. Keep up the great job!

susie singh says …

I love saving time in the kitchen by preparing things in advance like my side dishes, freezing them, and bringing them out right before we need to eat them. It is also nice if you make dough like cookies ahead of time and freeze them so any time you want a nice fresh homemade cookie, you just pull it out and bake. :> Hope that helps others.

Jeanne Marie says …

We often buy 7-10 hazelnut cutlets when they are on sale. We store most of them in the freezer -- they thaw out perfectly. They are so good on a bun, in chili or goulash, or as a pizza topping. They are a great source of protein and yummy to boot.

Sue says …

I'm single, and cook in small portions. So, I pick up fresh chicken soup, mushroom soup, cheese sauce, Italian pasta sauce, chicken or beef bullion, or white or Pesto sauce, and pour it into ice cube trays, then when frozen I crack them into ziploc bags. For a quick meal, all I have to do is microwave a potato, or boil up some pasta or rice, and while that happens, I just pop out a few of the cubes, and either microwave them or stir them into the very hot carbs in the same pot, and dinner is served! Nothing ever goes to waste in the frig. And so many combinations I keep inventing! My freezer always has an assortment of little frozen cubes! The ice cube trays go into a dishpan of water in the sink, with a little bleach, and after they soak overnight, the trays come clean easily with a whisk of a scrub brush, same with the pot for the rice or the pasta, which literally melts away. So easy! And so much cheaper than TV dinners! (Since you make small portions you won't overeat, the carbs satisfy your hunger, and you can always make a salad to go with it. That's how I'm 5'5" and 125 lbs.) Enjoy!

Deana B. says …

I buy already prepared side dishes sometimes if I have a complicated main dish item. It helps to save me time to focus on other things. I'll even buy a prepared salad put together from items in the salad bar because there are so many great, healthy choices.

Jane Butchko says …

Shopping at a store that is one stop shopping. I live two hours from a Whole Foods Market, but I do have a local store that is not too shabby. They have beer, too.(an oddity in PA)I did visit the store in North Wales, PA and did not want to leave. The staff was more than friendly and the selection superb! Please come to Wilkes-Barre or Scranton and please carry alcohol! Ok, I also, simply, keep my kitchen neat and clean, organized. It really helps to clean as you go, when cooking. By the time my dish is done, my kitchen is back in order and ready to go another round.

Barbara N says …

I love cuban sandwiches so much, but to make them a little healthier, I use Whole Foods' In House Turkey, along with ham and swiss. So delicious! I grab a ciabatta bread from the bakery department, add a pickle and some mustard, grill it up and it's soooooooooo good!

Elise Ray says …

I make grilled cheese with seeduction bread from the bakery & pair it with your one of your vegetarian delicious soups

Carin says …

I like to strip the meat off of a ROTISSERIE CHICKEN, cut it into smaller pieces and freeze it. I can pull out the amount I need and quickly make a meal because I only have to re-heat it. Tacos, salads, sandwiches, stir-fry (using WF's frozen brown rice and also a veggie mixture), add to soups, or over rice or pasta topped with a prepared sauce....

Kristen Trahan says …

Never throw out your celery leaves and hearts! That's where all the flavor is. The inner ribs are more tender and a bit less fibrous. They have a nice balance of sweet and bitter. A bonus in using the leaves is that you can use them in place of an herb. That way, you don't really have to buy a huge bunch of, say, parsley just for one recipe. Save these parts to use as the aromatics for your stocks, soups, stews, sauces, and marinades. They are great to use in chopped and pickled salads as well as chicken and tuna salads. You know what they say: waste not, want not.

Food Makes Fun Fuel says …

I think no one can complain when there's a great big seeduction loaf on the table, and right there are plenty of healthy whole grains and seeds for the family!

Cindy says …

My biggest shortcut is rotisserie chicken. I use it anytime I am in a time crunch. I make chicken tortilla soup with it, quesadillas,enchilladas, chicken salad (a la Sonoma style), and sometimes just serve it sliced with a side of potatoes, a vegetable and a salad. At the end I save the carcass and freeze it to make stock at a later time. Our WF sells smoked rotisserie chicken in addition to the classic, BBQ and other flavors. I use the smoked in my pumpkin soup. It is a creamy pumpkin soup, but I put a bit of shredded smoked chicken in the center of the bowl before I serve it and add a drizzle of honey and goat cheese. Delicious!

Bernice Dickey says …

I usually buy enough meat or fish to last the week and add my own sides everyday to keep the menu fresh There's only two of us so the food goes far!

Alyson Paige Warren says …

I am a terrible cook, busy teacher and a vegetarian. Whole Foods prepackaged items let even a selective, time-crunched danger in the kitchen like me pull off a yummy meal. Pre-cut fruits and veggies make for lovely salads, and the wide selection of sides at the deli counter are delicious and nutricious. Add a delectable Whole Foods soup to one of their ready to go fresh breads and you have a meal that warms body and soul - without animal products, hours in the kitchen or setting off the fire alarm!

Kathy Watson says …

Sometimes instead of making pizza dough from scratch, we pick up the pre-made pizza dough in the prepared foods section. Then the sky is the limit to fresh veggies and cheese to add to make a complete meal.

Winnie says …

There are these chicken breasts that are stuffed with Spinach and some white stuff (I make it sound appetizing, I know... ;)...) that is just delicious - it allows me to make the sides and other items, while only having to bake (but not otherwise prepare) and later enjoy a flavorful main entree. And I also always, always stop in the bread department for some Challah, which they're always happy to slice (though it isn't there everyday...).

Carolyn Wegner says …

A short-cut, easy and satisfying meal is achieved with Pacific Organic Roasted Red Pepper and Tomato Soup with a dollup or two of sour cream and sliced black olives floating on the soup as pictured on the box. YUM!! I complement the soup with grilled cheese sandwiches. I baked the Honey Walnut Pumpkin Bread today (10/28) and it is absolutely delicious. I plan to serve it, spread with a little coconut oil by NOW. Bon Appetit and Happy Snow Day!!

screwdestiny says …

Rotisserie chickens are definitely a favorite. I've used them to make tasty salads (chicken and pistachios and oranges--yum!) as well as shredding up teh meat and using it in sandwiches. I'll also grab pre-chopped fruit once in a while if it's something like a pineapple and I know I only need a little bit for a recipe.

john says …

For Baking: when you decide on what you're baking and are going to really be pressed for time, pre measure dry ingredients in plastic baggies, and liquids in those plstic containers we take home foods in. After use just toss EVERYTHING away and zero cleanup!

Jeff Lue says …

Always prepare the ingredients the night before so when it comes to cooking the main entree I'm ready to go! No need to look for stuff, it's all set.

susan says …

love your prepared pasta salads, especially the ones with artichoke- those are way too time-consuming for me make on my own!

Caroline says …

Without a doubt, it's the already cut veggies. For small amounts of expensive ingredients, it's the most economical way.

Charissa Dupres says …

I am a mother of two who is always on the go, I live on my quick but healthy meals during the week. I usually will shop at Whole Foods on a Saturday and go home and chop up the veggies for the week and the meats I buy will be divided for different meals. I do this because I can throw simple things together to make a healthy meal, and sometimes the left overs from one meal can be made into another meal with few added ingredients very easily. If for some reason I can't make it home in time, picking up a rotisserie chicken with some salad from Whole foods does the trick. The kids enjoy it, it's healthy and economical.

JENNIFER HARRIS says …

The biggest shortcut I have is great planning ahead. I always make my list around this time, so I can get the things I need when they are on sale. Next, me and the kids do prep work the night before, cutting up veggies, making desserts and having a blast spending time together!! Then on Thanksgiving Day (or any other big day) all we have to do is get up and put everything on to cook and viola! Dinner is always ready on time! 3:00 p.m.

Jacque Bryant says …

For geting to the table quickly, i like to pick out some prepared side dishes to finish the meal off. This gives me time to just do the main dish. Then all i do is quickly heat the side dishes if needed.

angie says …

I always get my Thanksgiving meal from you guys...well the food you don't cook it! LOL That said, the heat and serve rolls, macaroni and cheese off your hot bar, and pre-crumbed bread crumbs from your bakery area always save me a lot of time and no one knows I did not make the goodies!

scott says …

I always by your ready-made pumpkin pies and the soy whip. Everyone LOVES my pie! hahahaha Makes the end of the Thanksgiving meal so good!

Cheryl Miller says …

I do a lot of cooking and I enjoy it. I will often spend one day off making several things for the week to save my time on busy days. However, on days where my husband and I are home together, I often bring home quarts of yummy soups from whole foods for lunch or dinner. That way I don't feel like I'm in the kitchen all day cooking three meals.

Maggie says …

I love the precut veggies. I buy a colorful combination and add olive oil and some sliced garlic and roast in the oven. I especially like the precut acorn & butternut squash as those take a long time to cut. Being able to buy just the right amount of precut red, yellow and green peppers saves a lot of waste. A drizzle of pesto from the condiment bar adds great flavor to finish the veggies.

Sarah G says …

On a busy weekend, I will grab some hamburger patties from the meat department. They are fast and easy to fry, since they are already prepared - and, it's much healthier (and cheaper!) than going out to eat. I cook some kale and rice. And, voila, I have a terrific dinner. Sometimes, if I want to splurge, we will get some sushi to supplement our meal.

Jamie Ervin says …

I short cut by purchasing ready to eat desserts and breads from the bakery... the chocolate pastries are too die for and make an excellent addition to any brunch!

Elyse Eisenberg says …

No time to make pizza dough from scratch? Buy the WFM Garlic Tandoori Naan and make a quick and easy Naan pizza on the grill. Check out the recipe here: http://creativedelites.com/2009/07/14/hello-world/

Emma says …

We are a small family and cannot eat the whole rotisserie chicken at once. So we eat the parts we each like for the first meal and the rest(minus the skin) we put into a pot with vegetables to make a quick soup. We save a lot of time by not having to clean and prepare a raw chicken, not to mention the energy saved by not having to roast the first meal or boil the soup for very long.

Jen C. says …

I am huge fan of WF prep foods. Of course, the rotissiere chicken is one of the best short-cuts. I get one on shopping day & some prepared sides (the roasted brussel sprouts & mac n cheese are a big favorite) and we have that for dinner. Then, I use the rest of the chicken all week - for chicken salad, in pasta - you name it. But, I also love WF for taking food to parties. I hit the deli counter for some italian meats - proscuitto, salami. Then cheese section for some fresh motz and parm reg. Then the antipasti bar - for olives, roasted peppers, marinated mushrooms - whatever looks good! The platter is always a hit. Along with a tub of brownie bites! It's great when I don't have time to bake or make a dips etc. Couldn't do it without WF. :)

amber says …

Roast 2 chickens instead of one. Cut up what you aren't going to use and freeze or refrigerate for later use. Use the bones to make more awesome stock for soup/rice/risotto etc. It takes no more time to make 2 than one. Layer the bottom of the pan with yummy veggies too eat some then and use the rest with your other meals.

Ann Dougherty says …

olive bar + herbs + fresh bread + favorite cheese I have the bakery slice the bread while I'm deciding what cheese I'm in the mood for. When I get home, I rub the bread with a garlic clove, brush it with some olive oil, then pile on the olive bar goodies, (Mmm roasted reds and artichokes!) fresh herbs, cheese and let it hang under the broiler for a few minutes. This a quick way to make a warm, wintry sandwich or leave it open face and cut into single serve portions for entertaining. (I stick to vegetables most of the time, but if I'm feeling carnivorous, the salad bar is perfect for grabbing some chicken to go on top, too!)

Denice Hageli says …

If I am in need of a quick meal, I turn to soup. It is healthy, tastful, and easy. However, all the chopping,washing,peeling of the vegetables can be a pain. Instead I just open a jar of good quality mild salsa and add it to chicken stock. It is a great, quick foundation for many soups. It already has the mirepoix plus a nice small amount of heat.

Kelly ODaniels says …

So my future husband actually eats your prepared food almost everyday, as he is blessed to work right by your Town and Country Store in St. Louis. By eating a comparatively light lunch -think burger and fries if it wasn't for whole foods- he finds he is better able to maintain focus in the afternoon. He struggles with ADD as an adult and the high fiber, low sugar, nutrient dense food helps him steer clear of the sugar/carb crash and burn that a lot of prepared foods give him. I find the prepared foods the best for picking up veggies. Wholefoods prepares the best vegetable side dishes that help me put together a good meal even though I am a bit challenged when it comes to putting together enticing vegetable sides for my family.

Gina says …

I buy focaccia bread from the bakery and top it with yummy mediteranean flavors for a quick "pizza". Drizzle with olive oil and warm in the oven. Yum!

Amy says …

I buy pre-made guacamole and use it in lieu of may in wraps and on toasted bread for sandwiches. So much flavor, such healthier fats, and so much time saved!

Nancy Musgrove says …

Saturdays and Sundays I use my spare kitchen minutes to wash veggies and put them in bags to cook when I arrive home ready to cook during the week. Picking up deli foods helps supplement the cooked veggies, and I'm all set!

Tina Vassil says …

A little time planning and prepping goes a long way for me. I do my shopping on the weekend so I can take advantage of not only the regular sales, but the "weekender" sales at my local Whole Foods. I plan all my meals around the foods that are for sale. On Sunday, I spend some time washing and chopping veggies and getting them ready to go for the week. Just today I posted my weekly menu on the fridge, complete with notes such as "Monday-meatloaf and brussel sprouts-take out the chicken from the freezer for tomorrow night"...so I remember all the things I need to get done. Without this kind of planning, it would be difficult to raise two kids, work full time and be committed to healthier eating.

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