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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

Lawrence Pray III says …

Every Sunday I prepare my dinners for the week. I steam brocolli & cauliflower and mix in some quinoa. I store it in my fridge in 12 individual servings for my family of 3. Every 3 -4 weeks I buy about 20 pounds of Mary's boneless skinless breasts, butterfly them and individually freeze them. So 4 out of the 5 weekdays I come home from work & all I have to do is microwave the mixed veggies & quinoa and quickly season and grill the chicken. I prepare my breafasts for the week the same way. On Sunday I cook up a bunch of quinoa & seperate it into individual servings. I top it with organic rasberries, organic blueberries & a handful of organic walnuts. I can get all of this prep work done in about three hours and it makes my busy workweek much more manageable! The one day a week I don't have a dinner planned we are at whole foods here in las Vegas eating our dinner. Everything they make here is amazing! It makes it nice when you live just a few blocks away! Thanks Whole Foods!

Cady says …

I get my sides already made to save time.

Kathryn says …

I take the salad bar tofu or the vegan popcorn chicken from the case and throw it into a stir fry - saves the time and mess of pressing and marinating fresh tofu to get that extra firm texture.

Serah says …

On Sundays, we'll grill up a bunch of chicken or cook up a bunch of ground beef and freeze it for upcoming meals. It saves so much time to be able to pull a bag of frozen, chopped up chicken from the freezer in the morning for dinner that night. With a full-time job and family, the little timesavers really add up!

Ashley says …

I live alone so the prepared meal section of Whole Foods is a life saver for me. I work a lot and do not get home until sometimes 10 or 11 at night. I tend to get the meals from whole foods that are fully prepared, with the main dish, a side and a salad. I then split that up and either freeze some or put it into the fridge divided. This way, there is little to no prep involved, all i have to do is heat it up. For 14.95, I am able to get two to three meals for myself, an excellent money saver, and super delicious and easy!

Jay says …

Quick cooking grains- couscous or quinoa of any hue. Cooking extra batches of rice and other grains and freezing them is really helpful for when we are rushed to put dinner on the table. Having these to serve with a stirfry or other quick meal is great....also lovely to toss into a quick soup, either homemade or pre-prepared.

Mary says …

I agree with Vanessa Cosenza - Cooking? what’s that – I like to pick up things from the prepard foods department. If I have some leftover meat, I will pick up some side dishes.

Cheryl Flynn says …

I buy the flavored packaged Chicken Sausages in the meat aisle. They are already pre-cooked. Just heat and serve. I will usually cut up some zucchini, peppers, onion, and whatever else I have on hand. Drizzle with Olive Oil, Salt and Pepper, roast on 425 for about 15 minutes. In the meantime, I boil up some pasta...saute up the sausage. When the pasta is done, the veggies should be done, toss together with rounds of the sausage. Top with some fresh parm cheese...yummy! and fast!

Amy Perry says …

The crock-pot is heaven sent for this busy mother of four! How easy is it to have very little prep time, throw everything together in the morning and come home after sports practice with the kids and have everything ready after a hard day? Buy some pre made sides from Whole Foods and you have a healthy dinner with not a lot of time taken away from your family! And clean up time is practically nothing!

Jackie says …

Quick Mediterranean Pasta: 1 Whole Foods rotiserie chicken de-boned 1/2 cup calamata olives from the olive bar sliced 1 cup frozen artichoke hearts chopped 2 cloves garlic minced In a large skillet, saute' the garlic, olives and artichokes in 3 tbs olive oil Add the chicken and toss. Add 6 oz. of feta cheese and stir until melted. Add 1/4 cup heavy cream or half and half and stir. Add 2 tbs oregano and salt and pepper to taste. Let simmer. Serve over pasta.

Maria Qualtieri says …

I love homemade soups, especially chicken and rice. To save time, I cook celey, carrots and onions in the microwave for a few minutes so veggies cook on in the inside and not all the way through the outside, then they are easy to chop. I sautee them in a little olive oil, add hand shredded rotissere chicken and 360 chicken broth and rice that I got from prepared foods bar and cook about 15 mins. Top off the end with fresh chopped parsely and parmesean cheese. No one can tell it took less than 30 minutes to make a homemade chicken soup.

Nancy Reid says …

I like to make a vegetable soup for those leftover veggies using a store bought low salt vegetable broth. Saute some onion and garlic, pour in the broth and add those leftover veggies with a pinch of basil and some parsley and you have a wholesome low calories, bone warming soup.

Kurtis McCurdy says …

I especially favor the anitpasti bar, for a couple reasons. One, i can give my guests a spread of tapas-like appetizers (which allows more time to cook if I happen to have it) or two, I can use the anitpasti for a light, fresh pasta (the pasta could be made the day before, cooking until about 90 percent done, completely cooled and generously oiled with extra virgin olive oil and reheated with the anitpasti come dinner time). As for an entree along with the pasta, I usually sear off a nice piece of salmon, as it takes only minutes no matter your desired temperature. If a guest happens to be more toward the well-done range and I feel rushed, I get a nice sear in the saute pan, flip it, and finish it in the oven. :)

Charity S. says …

I love picking up prepared salads or meats. It saves me time in the kitchen and cleaning up. I can use the time to relax with my family. Thanks

Caleb says …

My favorite shortcut is to grab some fresh bread and some of the prepared soups. In the time it takes to heat the soup up I can put together a quick salad and even fry an egg to put on top for a little extra protein. In under 10 minutes I've got a great meal that hits the spot come fall/winter. My favorite is the ginger/carrot!

Aislinn says …

Depending what's on sale, for instance ground beef, I will make a meat loaf for dinner that night, large meatballs for later in the week and freeze mini meatballs for wedding soup another time. I try to do this with all meals. If I am chopping veggies for soup tonight I go ahead and chop an additional amount for beef stew tomorrow. It saves me a lot of time.

Rita Greenberg says …

We are so busy during the week I try and prepare as much as I can on a Sunday for the rest of the week. I will make a chicken or chicken cutlets on Sunday along with lots of fresh vegetables which I will buy already cut up - but fresh from Whole Foods, cauliflower, broccoli, carrots, pepper, garlic, and whatever else looks fresh. I place it on a cookie sheet in bite size pieces with olive oil and sea salt and pepper and roast for 1-hour at 400 degrees.I then use several ways during the week, in omelets, on Kashi pizzas with rice and again with chicken cutlets or a roast chicken. It assures me that we are getting fresh vegetables several times a week and I only have to do the hard work once on Sunday.

Angelica says …

Picking up a rotisserie chicken is such a time saver. I cut up the meat and use them for tacos, enchiladas, or sandwiches. Any leftover meat can be added to a salad for protein or added to a quick vege stir fry - Yummy! Then I simmer the chicken bones overnight in a pot of water with onions and celery. The next morning, I have delicious chicken broth for making poached eggs. Leftover stock gets stashed in the fridge or the freezer (to be used later as a base in soups and sauces).

Heather says …

I love buying the pre-cut veggies and roast chicken. And since I know where they come from, I don't feel bad about feeding my family prepared food! Nothing like the yukky stuff with fillers and msg.

heidi holloway says …

My family of three never complains when I serve them a simple pasta or spaghetti dinner. I jazz it up with some fresh veggies and garlic, but it's my "go to" dinner when I am short on time or just not in the mood to spend time in the kitchen. 365 marinara and pasta sauces are tasty, affordable and super easy. Now here is where the shortcut chef in me steps in. The next night I use the leftover sauce to either make mini pizzas or added to vegetable broth to make a hearty stew. It is delicious, already seasoned, and most importantly a cheap easy shortcut.

Shelly Schmidt says …

I like to buy a large bag of boneless, skinless chicken breast and then cut it into bite-size pieces. I cook the chicken in olive oil with chopped onions and garlic. After cooking, I package the chicken in 1 to 2 lb. freezer bags and freeze. It is very convenient to just defrost a package and add other ingredients for a quick, delicious meal.

Jason Cureton says …

I hate cutting cantaloupe, so I love buying it precut. No bloody fingers and delicious cantaloupe; a win win!

Valerie says …

Wow, today I shopped at your Arlington Texas location for the first time. I have never been to a Whole Foods Market before. What a great experience! I LOVED seeing all of the labels that said "organic" on them. I purchased a small cup of the Butternut Crab Bisque - WOW!! - it was heavenly! Does Whole Foods share their recipes? I'd sure like to have that one! I plan to bring my husband back with me next time! THANK YOU for providing a plethora of GMO free foods/organic! Here's to better health! Valerie

Patrick Herrick says …

was looking for recipe for sonoma mock chicken salad but could not find it - what a great sustitute

Jennifer B. says …

I always grab some olives because I am always tossing them in salads or pizza to add that bite of saltiness. I also throw them along with a few other ingredients in the food processor for a quick tapanade. Also buying bags of dried beans and making them in the crockpot overnight has really helped cut down on prepping for meals. We just freeze them in portions and then defrost and use in recipes. Also making burritos and freezing them individually has helped tremendously! :)

Bepkom says …

@Kay: Thank you for your comment. Our stores are responsible for the recipes that are on the food bar. Please contact the store where you shop for nutritional information.

Kay says …

Hello, I am disappointed that you don't publish calory information about your various prepared food at salad bar. I need to watch my sugar/fat intake for health reasons. Would you please send me the information? Thank you, Kay

kgrimland says …

Love all Whole Foods salads - would like some info on incorporating into larger salads.

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