Whole Story

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The Value Guru Takes a Few Shortcuts

By Susannah Simone, July 6, 2009  |  Meet the Blogger  |  More Posts by Susannah Simone
Summer's outdoor activities often mean I return home exhausted and hungry in the way that one's brain doesn't function well enough to put a complete meal together from scratch. This is when I grant myself full permission to take urban shortcuts vs. the scenic route, so to speak, in the kitchen. Pizza For me, taking a shortcut doesn't mean splurging on a completely prepared dinner, frozen or otherwise. It means buy some, make some, starting with an affordable, yet convenient packaged or prepared food. Then I add to it so it goes further and hopefully becomes a more nutritious rounded meal in the process. I usually have these basic starters on hand so I don't fall for ordering a pizza for delivery. Frozen Cheese Pizza Transformation ideas: canned artichoke hearts, olives, tuna & hardboiled egg (I discovered this on menus in Malta), pineapple & ham, small cubes of packaged baked tofu, anchovies, bell pepper or mushroom slices, leftover chicken tossed in BBQ sauce, browned ground meat, slices of pre-cooked sausage. Or my favorite is to brown crumbled tempeh with garlic, sage and fennel seed to make a veggie Italian sausage topping. Mac n CheeseBoxed Mac & Cheese or Rice Pilaf Transformation ideas: frozen peas or broccoli or shelled edamame, canned tuna or salmon (of course!), peppers, sausage, kidney beans, bits of ham or smoked turkey, small cooked shrimp or scallops. Canned or Boxed or Deli-made Soup Transformation ideas: wontons or potstickers, cheese toast on top, frozen or fresh corn or other veggies, diced tomatoes, curry powder, chili powder, chipotle, chick peas, cooked rice or another whole grain, pasta, leftover meat, tofu cubes, tortilla chips, crumbled feta or goat cheese. Frozen Chicken or Fish Nuggets Transformation ideas: sandwiches with lettuce and tomato and mayo, soft tacos with shredded cabbage and salsa, over a big green salad with Caesar dressing, tossed with bell pepper in sweet n' sour sauce (jarred pad thai sauce mixed with vinegar works) over rice. Canned or Deli-made Chili Transformation ideas: fresh tomato or onion or peppers, corn, wrapped in flour tortillas with refried beans and salsa. The best-and not always for "emergencies"-is ladled over tortilla chips or corn chips and topped with shredded cheese and chopped onions. Yeah, I know this value concept is nothing new, but I thought if I put it out there, some folks would step up to the plate, so to speak, and provide their own tried and true takes on it. What say you?
Category: Value - Whole Deal

 

15 Comments

Comments

HOlly says ...
Whole Foods is great. I really like the produce and teh roasted turkey the best. Most of the ideas sound good for shortcuts, however, there is nothing "healthy" in ramen soup mix- it is mostly salt and starch. Anyone who is interested in being healthy will not eat it. Try some brown rice (they have it in boil in the bag now) or couscous. Ramen? Never!
07/08/2009 3:43:38 PM CDT
Katie says ...
One of our favorite 'holy crap it's dinnertime and no one wants to cook anything or go shopping' meals is a great Spicy Peanut and Kale pasta recipe I found a while back in 'The Garden of Vegan'. It sounds weird (I was dubious myself), but is seriously out-of-this-world-great - so bear with me for the following horribly written out recipe : - Cook half a bag of pasta (or whatever you've got - rice, quinoa, etc.) - Pour half a big bottle of tomato juice (not sauce -- JUICE) in a pot with an entire bunch of kale (or whatever leftover greens you have), add a few spoons of peanut butter and a few squirts of garlic chili sauce. - Simmer until your greens are wilted - Pour over your drained pasta and voila - gorgeousness on a dish with a little kick and a lotta' greens in under 10 minutes.
07/08/2009 5:05:34 PM CDT
Carol says ...
One of my favorite quickie shortcuts is to take a package of ramen noodle mix and add snow peas, tofu, onions, peas, mushrooms, etc. It makes a great tasting quick, health soup.
07/08/2009 3:08:41 PM CDT
Sharon says ...
Whole Foods: The DisneyWorld of grocery stores! I shop at your Orlando store about once a month. It's a real treat.
07/08/2009 6:52:27 AM CDT
Hannah says ...
i love you Whole Foods!!! you are my favourite shopping place in the whole wide world. i'm 15, and i used to go to Whole Foods all the time when my family and i lived near one. i have had some pretty good times and great memories w/ Whole Foods' stores. in particular, i remember having the delicious turkey dinner w/ those little cups of mashed potatoes. God, those mashed potatoes were so yummyyy :)) my family and i eat organically and now when i'm in the regular grocery shop, i never think once about even considering going to the regular sections with all the pasturisd and chemical-containing foods, ~~always to the health-food section!! i will strictly only buy organically, and locally, if at all possible. haha, my mum and dad really raised me well, i'm really healthy :) i love Whole Foods !!!!!!!!!!! thanks for so many wonderful times
07/07/2009 4:41:08 PM CDT
Jane says ...
My favorite "go to" meal is Pasta and Broccoli. Chop broccoli in small pieces, chop as much garlic as you like, add olive oil to pan, saute garlic till it colors, add some red pepper flakes (optional)and broccoli, add some chicken broth, simmer till broccoli is done. Drain pasta, add to broccoli mixture, grate Parmesan over all and EAT.
07/08/2009 5:56:28 PM CDT
Tamia says ...
I cannot wait to make our first 'homemade' pizza from scratch with my teenage girls! (it should be fun and we can make it healthy too)
07/09/2009 11:19:08 AM CDT
Gracie says ...
I love the shortcuts! Thanks for the ideas!
07/10/2009 4:33:02 PM CDT
MARY DYE says ...
THIS is a real service...thanks! I know parents of young, eternally energetic kids, like my daughters, will find this info useful! MLD
07/12/2009 1:11:24 PM CDT
Linda says ...
Definitely as a busy working parent does it make sense to "recreate" dinner. Menus can easily look more "restaurant like" and have appeal even to fussy eaters. An idea a friend of mine brought over when she visited that was a smash hit was combining a bag of prewashed salad greens adding some grape tomatoes, golden raisins, packaged grilled chicken, and raspberry vinagrette. Very tasty and very inspiring to stay on the salad track long after the visit was over. Salad kits are nice and VERY convenient but it's nicer to put a personal/creative/inventive spin on salad because it can easily become boring having the same ingredients all the time. It's easy to be creative too if you use similar ingredients like your favorite salads you would pay almost ten dollars for a single serving and bring your salad to work for lunch. While for a few dollars more preparing yourself, you can have salad for several people (side salad) if you are preparing a meal to entertain, or two or three salads if the salad is the meal. Just remember to include some good tasty bread.
07/13/2009 8:12:46 AM CDT
Morgan says ...
My favorite thing to do with canned chili is to boil some spiral pasta and make a casserole by layering the pasta with the chili and cheese. If you toss in some tasty veggies, top with breadcrumbs, and bake for a little while you'll have a hearty meal with leftovers for lunch!
07/14/2009 12:05:27 PM CDT
Kathy says ...
This is along the same lines, but I will frequently TAKE AWAY from foods I buy! For instance, just a little while ago I took a bag of frozen chicken, pasta, and veggies that I bought on sale (normally very expensive!) that contains one of those sauce pouches (this one was a cream sauce). As I'm trying to watch my sodium, and eat low-fat, I discarded the pouch, and otherwise prepared the ingredients in a skillet as directed, adding a little roasted red pepper viaigrette (much healthier, I think!) to it. Delish! I also could have just squeezed some garlic paste and a little EVOO into the pan, instead of the viaigrette, and that would have been great too -- many additions are possible! I also just wanted to mention that just by adding fresh and frozen-fresh ingredients to packaged foods, as Susannah is writing about, will cut the sodium content of the dish you're preparing dramatically!
07/29/2009 2:52:19 PM CDT
Kyla says ...
Our favorite "busy" meal is "sloppy chips". Take leftover beans or canned beans (any kind), add enchilada sauce (or make your own (Emeril's has a fabulous one on the web), a bag of frozen corn (or scrape corn stalks you have yet to eat that are going bad), add some cheese (optional) and any other veggies you might have that sound good. Serve as is, or our favorite way.. over tortilla chips. Nice lettuce & tomato salad on the side and you have a healthy-ish, yummy meal!
07/30/2009 4:07:07 PM CDT
Janet Vance says ...
WOW,I thought I was creative, but you reframed my kitchen! It's so amazing how looking at the same ingredients a different way makes it more exciting to serve & eat. Thanks so much :)
07/29/2009 4:54:28 PM CDT
Mireya says ...
With havin so much written content do you ever run into any problems of plagorism or copyright infringement? My site has a lot of completely unique content I've either written myself or outsourced but it seems a lot of it is popping it up all over the web without my permission. Do you know any methods to help stop content from being stolen? I'd really appreciate it.
04/18/2013 12:12:01 PM CDT