Fast-Cooking Tip No. 5: Add Some Store-Prepared Gourmet Items
Save time in the kitchen -- while cranking up the fancy factor -- by buying a few key gourmet items often prepared at Whole Foods Market and similar upscale markets. Look for items like:
- Freshly assembled avocado-mango salsa (great for gourmet style quesadillas, tacos, meat entrees, and more).
- Roasted vegetables (great for sandwiches, vegetarian quesadillas and tacos, and more).
- Grilled salmon and chicken breast (great for pasta dishes, main dish salads, Mexican-style entrees, and more).
Fast-Cooking Tip No. 6: Whip Up a Stove-Top Meal
Even on a hot evening, some of us are willing to spend five minutes over the stove if it means a freshly made meal. Armed with a nonstick frying pan, you can quickly whip up:
- Grilled sandwiches (you could also use a panini press)
- Fried rice (if the rice is already cooked)
- BLT sandwich (while the turkey bacon is cooking, toast the bread and slice the tomato)
- Fajitas take 5 minutes to make if you buy your meat already cut into small pieces and use bottled fajita sauce.
- Sloppy Joes
Fast-Cooking Tip No. 7: Make a Microwave Meals in Minutes
Three of my favorite microwave meals:
- Make mealtime nachos by layering multigrain tortilla chips, canned vegetarian refried beans or black beans, shredded reduced-fat cheese, chopped green onions and tomatoes, and grilled or roasted chicken breast (if desired) on a microwave-safe plate and cooking on HIGH for a minute or two.
- Make a burrito to order by filling a whole-grain flour tortilla with your fillings of choice, wrapping up into a burrito shape, and microwaving for a minute or two.
- A baked potato bar is easy to assemble. Pierce each potato a couple of times with a fork and microwave on HIGH until cooked throughout. Meanwhile, get your toppings ready (shredded reduced-fat cheese, fat-free sour cream, chopped chives or green onions, and/or turkey bacon bits.) Your favorite canned chili makes a good topping, too; just nuke it in a microwave-safe bowl.
Fast-Cooking Tip No. 8: Use Low-Fuss Veggies and Beans
These veggies are easy to use in recipes because they require minimal preparation:
- Bags of baby carrots
- Asparagus spears (just trim off the ends and they're ready to cook whole)
- Bags of washed spinach leaves
- Potatoes and sweet potatoes (just pierce each a couple of times and microwave)
- Cherry and grape tomatoes
- Canned tomatoes (for some recipes, you'll want the ones with seasonings added)
- Canned beans (just rinse them and add to recipes)
- Bags of precut broccoli and cauliflower florets