True, cooking from scratch with the freshest ingredients is a surefire way to create a delicious and nutritious meal. But then there’s dinnertime reality: Getting home from work and needing to put a meal on the table in not a lot of time. Happily, not every store-bought item that makes it easier to prep dinner is overly processed or full of suspect ingredients. Here are some shortcut foods nutrition experts say they rely on when they’re in a hurry.
Prewashed baby spinach: Keep this in the fridge (if it’s kept dry and sealed it should last close to a week) and add a handful to salads, omelets, soups, pasta, stir-fries, pizzas or just about anything else. “It’s an easy way to add some fiber, iron and vitamin A to your meal,” says Libby Mills, RDN, a spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.
Recipe: Balsamic Chicken with Baby Spinach (18 min)
Organic canned tomatoes: “I use them in my favorite dishes, from three-bean chili or zesty sloppy joes, to fresh marinara sauce,” says Angela Ginn-Meadow, RD, a spokesperson for the National Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Tomatoes have stores of vitamin C, potassium and lycopene.