What semi-prepped "convenience foods" if any do you purchase as a shortcut?

Pre-washed lettuces? minced garlic? I'll play:
pre-shredded packaged carrots, baby carrots, frozen pie crust (blushes) from TJ's or WF, frozen peas, frozen blueberries pizza dough (same sources), garlic powder (occasionally), and tubes of biscuit/cinnamon roll dough from Trader Joe's, pre-washed butter or baby romaine lettuce from the same. So my cat's out of the bag...



janixes January 8, 2012
Frozen spinach, edamame, and frozen, sliced, lotus roots to make quick lotus root chips (so good and sooooo convenient).
'Shirley,Ann November 30, 2011
Lasagna and garlic toast are life savers for those emergency days when there's no time and everyone is starving. Beware of the frozen appetizers though! They're mostly used during festive times when you're already busy cooking ip other meals and may neglect to notice if they're sufficiently cooked. We made this mistake one day and ended up with real bad stomach pains. =(
creamtea October 30, 2011
Sometimes I prepare my own "convenience foods", i.e. if I've bought extra leeks, once they are sliced, washed & spun dry I freeze them in a Ziploc bag. Extra fresh ginger I scoop with a tablespoon measure onto freezer or wax paper, quarter the scoops with a sharp knife, and freeze. Both freeze very well and are as good as fresh in soup or stir-fries.
sexyLAMBCHOPx October 29, 2011
Trader Joe's packaged pre-washed & cut leeks, recipe-ready cubed pancetta, Fage Greek yogurt, Hidden Valley Ranch Dressing, Heinz Ketchup, Near East Rice Mix, and frozen chopped organic spinach.
Sam1148 October 29, 2011
Another thing I keep on hand is the Pilsbury French bread in the tube..I have some brats in the freezer, which are 'freezer food' to me. But, then you have to have hot dog buns.
The french bread dough keeps quite a while and can be sliced before baking into 'buns', slice to length for a couple, then put a starter slice in the middle.
Same with English Muffins which can be stored in the freezer and make good hamburger buns..especially if you have chicken breasts to grind up for chicken burgers.
luvcookbooks October 29, 2011
True confessions: I love the biscuits in a tube that I get at the A and P, tomato paste from the tube, and when I was in college preferred instant Taster's Choice to brewed coffee (changed once I learned to brew coffee myself).
Luv the idea of a Sandra Lee Semi Homemade contest for the Holiday App.
Luv the idea of an app for organizing the pantry and/or the kitchen. Desperate for a personal organizer, it's on the top of my Christmas wish list.
I also buy pappadums. Heat in the microwave and the weeknight dal and rice and pickles is just like takeout but better. Add a lassi made with canned Alfonso mangoes and you are a heavier but happier cook. oxx to all of you for yr contributions.
Also, Trader Joe's declined to consider a petition to pay more for Florida tomatoes so that our tomato products would not increase our indentured footprint so much. I will not step foot in Trader Joe's until they reconsider and apologize. They are capitalizing on their image as hip and politically correct but not walking the walk. Someone else mentioned this (I got dizzy going back up the thread to find them) and I wanted to reiterate. Food52 has one hundred thousand users (I read that in an article but can't vouch for it firsthand) and probably support some small percentage of Trader Joe's entire business. Could b large if we all got behind this.
healthierkitchen October 31, 2011
It was me. I was a HUGE TJ shopper and it has been hard not to shop there, but I feel strongly about this.
luvcookbooks October 29, 2011
In Little Italy in the Bronx, I buy home made ricotta and mozzarella, sfogliatelle, rainbow cookies, biscotti, olive bread, prosciutto bread, home made prosciutto, ravioli, hand cut pasta, olive crema (I suspect pureed olives are the secret here), artichoke hearts, fried artichokes, and the best pizza ever!!!! anyone planning a trip to nyc should include a stop on Arthur Ave.
amysarah October 29, 2011
I agree, Arthur Avenue is the best. I began going there as a child when dinosaurs roamed Central Park - and it honestly isn't that different now, which is so rare (see: Little Italy in Manhattan, RIP.) Sorry, this is a bit of a tangent from the original question - but I so frequently see, e.g., Eataly hyped, which as far as I've seen, has nothing on Arthur Ave (besides convenience if in that neighborhood): it can be bustling, but not oppressively crowded; prices are usually better, and it's far more authentic to the community, less a tourist attraction. So yes, worth the trip, even if it means braving the Cross Bronx.
luvcookbooks October 29, 2011
In Little Italy in the Bronx, I buy home made ricotta and mozzarella, sfogliatelle, rainbow cookies, biscotti, olive bread, prosciutto bread, home made prosciutto, ravioli, hand cut pasta, olive crema (I suspect pureed olives are the secret here), artichoke hearts, fried artichokes, and the best pizza ever!!!! anyone planning a trip to nyc should include a stop on Arthur Ave.
luvcookbooks October 29, 2011
I try to buy convenience foods at the farmer's market. Bread (I would like to always bake my own, my mom does, but the day job keeps getting in my way), garlic powder, pickled eggplant, garlic pesto, roasted pureed garlic, kim chee. At the grocery store, I buy pre sliced mushrooms some times (to be thoroughly cooked before eating), canned diced tomatoes in juice, all kinds of canned beans (for some crazy reason they taste better to us than dried beans we cook ourselves), frozen peas, frozen corn, frozen edamame,
frozen fruit, frozen puff pastry, frozen phyllo, refrigerator case hummus. At the Asian store I buy rice cakes wrapped in ?banana leaves to steam at home, dumpling skins, kim chee. At the halal store next door I buy samosas ready to eat, flatbreads, esp paratha.
luvcookbooks October 29, 2011
pierino, two or three weeks ago, a patient came in saying "Things have not been so good since I last saw you". It turned out that he had had salmonella bacteremia with aortitis (translates salmonella infection in the blood stream that lodged in the aorta and caused a localized infection in the large blood vessel that emerges from the left ventricle) leading to an aortic aneurysm (ballooning of the weakened walls of the infected segment of the aorta) causing him to go directly from the imaging center to the operating room.

Miss P. October 29, 2011
Things I always have in my pantry and buy on a regular basis: canned tomatos, tortillas and tortilla chips, jam and pickles... mostly everything else I make. But occasionally I do buy the odd jar of "fill-in-the-blank."
marketpublique October 29, 2011
A lot of the above (San Marzano tomatoes, pasta, canned beans, frozen peas), plus:
Smoked oysters, Frontera salsa, Kombucha & roasted bell peppers in oil.
Also, sometimes jam from the farmers market, bread and other artisanal things that will always be better than mine and worth the money, when I have a craving.
Sam1148 October 29, 2011
One thing that freezes really well is Girl Scout Thin Mint cookies.


The "back to nature" fudge mint cookie is almost an exact replica. Whole Foods stocks them year round.
creamtea October 30, 2011
wow, this is a revelation Sam1148. There are never enough Thin Mint cookies.
calendargirl October 29, 2011
I love this thread! My larder has Spanish tuna (Ortiz) packed in oil, canned salmon, tinned mackerel and sardines, artichoke hearts (marinated and frozen), boxed broth/stock, canned chilies, olives (black & green), including the sliced and pitted black ones, frozen lemon juice (Minute Maid - it is wonderful), lots of raw nuts in the freezer (almonds, slivered, sliced and whole; walnuts; pecans; pignoli; pistachios, etc. They keep for ages when frozen and won't become rancid. One thing that freezes really well is Girl Scout Thin Mint cookies. Buy a box or two for the freezer and stash them way in the back! Haul them out to serve with Merrill's Best Lime Ice Cream. The bottled tomato sauce in my cupboard is Rao's Marinara. The frozen brown rice you all talk about is a revelation to me, though I do have TJ's frozen gyoza, frozen veggies. Thanks for all the fine tips!
Sam1148 October 28, 2011
I think most of us learned to cook using semi-made convenience foods..instead of making pie dough using frozen dough in a quiche or a pie, or using Lipton onion soup mix for a roast..etc..etc.
The very first thing I cooked on the stove was a french onion soup using canned beef consomme.
Using semi made stuff gave us the confidence to expand.
mrslarkin October 28, 2011
I think we are all making Sandra Lee very proud! ;) Went to the store this morning to buy just a gallon of milk. Came home with 3 bags of shredded cheese (on sale), tortillas, buttermilk (because I remembered that I always forget to buy it), and duck fat (because it was calling my name). And I forgot the milk.
creamtea October 28, 2011
Of course you did. We always have to forget one thing when grocery shopping. So we can go back and buy a whole slew of yummy interesting new things we didn't intend to get.
jenmmcd October 27, 2011
Love this thread and am fascinated by the answers! Let me start by saying that I have a 2- and 4-year-old, so that totally impacts things, but I always have the following on hand: 4-cheese tortellini from Costco (really amazing), chicken apple sausages, Boca burgers, and jars of the only bottled tomato sauce I will eat: the White Linen by Victoria marinara (only ingredients are tomatoes, evoo, basil, and onions). I hope I can live with the shame!
healthierkitchen October 27, 2011
What a fascinating thread! I'm with all of you who noted how different each cook's idea of convenience food is. While I will, on occasion, make all of these things fresh, I keep canned and jarred artichoke hearts, beans, tuna and salmon, chiles, as well as tomato products (crushed, whole San Marzano, passata/puree), dried pasta, soba, udon, boxed stock, frozen peas, spinach, edamame, fruit for smoothies for my daughter, nut butters, and frozen brown rice. Like many of you, I find the occasional rotisserite chicken useful: burritos, faux mu shu, etc. I am of the hurricane preparedness school of pantry stocking, and though I am learning to can more myself (thanks Mrs. Wheelbarrow!) until I can produce a larder such as hers, I buy some convenience food.

That said, I stopped shopping at Trader Joes in July after hearing some reps of the Immokalee farm workers speak at a food policy conference and after reading Barry Estabrook's Tomatoland (any one else read this?). As a result, I've lost a few of my favorite convenience foods and have had to work a bit harder. I still haven't found another place to get frozen brown rice and I really like their canned pumpkin puree and boxed pumkin bread mix this time of year.

Bevi October 27, 2011
Apologies Sam - I posted the same recipe - uh duh. Anyway, we call it Shocking Pink on our turf!
Bevi October 27, 2011
Sam - I am totally in your corner on serving the jellied cranberry sauce with ridges. I make a walnut pesto asiago filling and actually make cranberry sauce sandwiches. They are delicious. Sometimes i sub cream cheese. At out table for The Bird, we always serve Susan Stamberg's Shocking Pink: http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=844268
We did not serve it one year, and complaints were endless.
Sam1148 October 27, 2011
I'm going to repost here for thanksgiving. Holiday stuff. Cranberry sauce.

Make a couple of 'high class'. cranberry sauce. NPR has a great onehttp://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=4176014

But do not forget to include a can of Cranberry sauce for T-day. It MUST have the ridges from the can..and the Jello type texture..but the ridges make me smile and takes me back to home and comfort.
drbabs October 27, 2011
So true! I love cranberries and make tons of homemade cranberry sauce every year--I even keep fresh cranberries in the freezer so I can have cranberry sauce with roast chicken all year round--but nothing brings back my childhood like that jellied cranberry sauce (no whole berries) that plops out of the can and you slice onto your plate.
boulangere October 28, 2011
Yes! Mama Stamberg's!
Anitalectric October 26, 2011
My guilty pleasure is a box of frozen vada (vegetarian, chickpea-flour-based balls) from the Indian grocery. For a quick dinner, I put them in marinara and eat them over spaghetti like meatballs. So cheap at $2 a box.
Sam1148 October 26, 2011
Oh...those and Naan bread frozen from the Indian grocery. Naan is difficult to replicate and the frozen product is good. I brush with some clarified butter and grill it to warm up it. Great to keep on hand in the freezer.
SKK October 26, 2011
This question should be included in the Food52 Holiday iPad app! Something like - "What semi-prepped convenience foods do you purchase for the holidays?" Creamtea could phrase it better, and you get the idea.
sdebrango October 26, 2011
I agree, it would make a great app. You know some people actually do pantry organization and advise on what to stock for a fee!
Sam1148 October 27, 2011
One thing I think should be on every thanksgiving table is "green been casserole" with frozen green beans, creme of mushroom soup, and canned fried onions.

For cranberry sauce..go wild..and make some fancy ones...but include the canned cranberry sauce...It MUST have the ridges..plopped out of the can and sliced.
creamtea October 27, 2011
Thanks SKK! Interesting, sdebrango, about the "pantry organization". Would be interesting to have some sort of basic classifications on the I-pad app...
drbabs October 26, 2011
Wow, look what y'all did while I was out! How fun is this?! I thought of more. Triscuits. Trader Joe's seeded corn crackers. Multi-grain bread. Extra bagels (we buy them fresh) in the freezer. All Bran cereal. (Yes, I know it has HFCS in it, but it makes the best bran muffins....) I have powdered espresso in the freezer for baking also, but I confess to never having used it as coffee. And my guilty pleasure: Coke Zero. (Don't hate on me, y'all.)
sdebrango October 26, 2011
coke zero with lemon, I agree don't drink it often but I do enjoy!!
amysarah October 26, 2011
I don't think anyone has mentioned this one yet, but in the spirit of the season - canned pumpkin puree. For pie, quick bread, flan. I know some people say fresh is better, but in my experience, not so much...and not nearly as likely to happen very often if I have to wrestle a pumpkin into submission before I even start making the pie.
sdebrango October 26, 2011
Totally agree with that, wrestling a pumpkin is not my idea of fun. I have a date with the can opener for Thanksgiving. Good one amysarah!
boulangere October 27, 2011
Oh, totally!
creamtea October 27, 2011
Definitely, canned pumpkin. And the recipe on the can is my go-to.
creamtea October 26, 2011
Trader Joe's chocolate-covered ice cream bonbons. But I would never serve them to company. Because they are usually gone by the time the company comes.
breakbread October 26, 2011
Despite my full freezer, canned tomatoes and applesauce and quest for seasonal/local whenever possible, I'm with you all with most of the postings. In addition, my newest craze comes from the Ikea food section. Potato gratins, rosti (potato pancakes), broccoli/potato timbales, salmon paste in tube, herring, anchovies, chocolate and lingonberry jams. The potato-thingys are great with fresh eggs in morning or for brunch.
Sam1148 October 26, 2011
Too many shortcuts to list. I'll get a bag of southern cut hash brown (the cube kind) which are quick and easy to fry up for breakfast on the weekend. (I fry in duck fat tho). Sometimes frozen pie dough for quiche, and frozen dimsum pot stickers. Frozen veggies like peas and green beans are often better than what's available fresh in off season.
When very lazy, the Pubilx will sell raw fresh made pizza dough which is a time saver if you ask at the bakery counter. When I go camping, the uncle bens 90 second rice is good boil/bag (only the spanish style, the other flavors are bad IMHO). Speaking of camping SPAM. Horrible for you health wise but easy to pack and fry up instead of bacon. While I make most salad dressing on the fly on demand. Blue cheese isn't something I keep on hand--so jarred blue cheese dressing for veggie dipping. It keeps well and isn't quite as spectacular as making it yourself it lasts longer in the 'fridge it's just fine for a daily driver dressing if you find a good brand that's stored in the cooler section of the supermarket--not the bottled stuff.
aargersi October 27, 2011
have you seen the SPAM singles? On the package it says "rip and tear your way to crazy tasty town" - HILARIOUS!
creamtea October 26, 2011
Refrigerated Santa Barbara or San Pedro's Original salsa (when I can get it) are always in my fridge to go with eggs. Homemade is of course better, but... Also many have cited frozen or marinated artichokes, which I also usually have. Hearts of palm. Jarred Paisana spaghetti sauce is really quite good- a holdover from when one of the kids didn't like my sauce. Maybe she would eat it now...
dymnyno October 26, 2011
Rotisserie chicken from Sunshine Market to make tacos, soup or salads for last minute lunches has saved my patootie many times. I also stash a few frozen pie/tart crusts in my freezer. Lately I have been buying pizza dough from Tra Vigne ...they make great dough and save me the mess. I don't buy prepackaged spinach or lettuce. I am too afraid of what bad thing is in those packages (like death).
hobbybaker October 26, 2011
Frozen berries (I use them in too many things to list and my dogs get a handful in their food each day), precut veggies, sometimes frozen pie crusts and guacamole. However, the purchased guac always disappoints me, so I'm not sure why I still buy it. Oh, and we're in West Texas where there's a chain called Spec's; they have an amazing taco skillet sauce that I cannot resist. Being in West Texas, we eat tortillas several times per week and I always buy them rather than make them myself. They're made fresh daily down here and you can't beat 'em!
garlic&lemon October 26, 2011
Great question and great answers! I immediately thought of corn tortillas from the local tortilleria (better than I can do at home and ground from corn, not made with meal). I like to think that we have very few prepared foods because of a family member's sensitivity to some additives. But as others have pointed out, all KINDS of things qualify as convenience. I suppose it includes the lovely artisinal bread that I do not have the time or the oven to make, spices, phyllo, dried pasta, fresh pasta, Asian noodles, broth, frozen artichokes, marinated artichokes, condiments (I'm still looking for lemon grass paste in a tube to go with the tomato paste in a tube and the anchovy paste in a tube). Do flavored vinegars count? What about flours? Quick-cooking tapioca to thicken pies and cobblers? Chocolate?
creamtea October 26, 2011
No, chocolate is a staple ;)
EatArt October 26, 2011
oh, yeah.... and precleaned calamari!
EatArt October 26, 2011
peeled whole garlic, pureed fresh frozen herbs, puff pastry, organic stocks, Amy's Chunky Tomato Bisque, black bean powder, carton of fresh egg whites, Roses Lime Cordial, chili paste, triple washed spinach, Mrs. T's Perogies, frozen salmon burgers, pre-grated/shaved parmesan, preshredded mozzarella, pre-crumbled blue and feta, buttermilk powder (when I can find it), pizza dough, tortillas --- does bread count? :)
creamtea October 26, 2011
EatArt, I have never seen black bean powder. Where do you buy it and how do you use it? We love anything beany.
sdebrango October 26, 2011
I love this discussion, and boulangere I totally agree about medagia d'oro I always have a jar around. I learned to keep the jar in a ziplock bag because if you don't use it often it can get very hard. I have been known to have a cup or two myself sometimes. Everyone here has really brought so much to the table and creamtea has asked such a great question. This is great fun!
amysarah October 26, 2011
Scanning these answers, it strikes me how varied the idea of 'convenience food' is - even amongst a relatively small group, who all identify as cooks to some extent. Huge spectrum of what qualifies, from ready made pie crust to simply purchasing prepared mustard or ground spices. I'm just waiting for someone to include, say....canned frosting on one end, to grinding all his/her own flour on the other. No big point to make....just interesting how subjective the concept of 'convenience' is.
creamtea October 26, 2011
So true. I won't touch instant coffee unless forced.
boulangere October 26, 2011
You know, amysarah, I'd had the same thought. I never thought of ketchup, mustard and mayo as convenience foods, though Wiley P's homemade ketchup (http://www.food52.com/recipes/14174_spring_hill_ranch_ketchup_and_cocktail_sauce) may just get me off the bottled stuff. The same goes for dried pasta. I'm just not good enough to make my own every single time I want pasta, which is very often. So I think of those as staples, not convenience items. I guess convenience is in the eye of the cook.
boulangere October 26, 2011
Just glancing back, more things I consider staples: good (really good) canned tuna (like I'm gonna hike to the coast, catch my own, hike back, make dinner?), choke hearts (seriously? in Montana? in January?), and while we're at it, olive oil. I can't exactly press my own. In Montana. Any month of the year. So yes, convenience does have a ring of the relative to it. But bagged produce, never. That said, Medaglia d"Oro instant espresso is wonderful for baking into custards and making into ice creams. Drink it? Sure, on the few occasions I've forgotten to stop at City Brew and pick up beans, so I have to have something to propel me out the door in the morning to go over to City Brew and pick up beans. But I do so with the blinds drawn and the lights out.
creamtea October 26, 2011
Boulangere, there have been desperate times when I've run out of coffee beans...Medaglia d'oro you say?? (let's keep this between ourselves)
amysarah October 26, 2011
boulangere - exactly, staples vs. conveniences - it's all relative. I can easily buy, e.g., high quality pasta, or great ice cream, or bread - so that's where I'm going to take a short cut when time is short. Things I enjoy making become chores if I feel compelled to do them, regardless. I don't feel at all bad about not making everything from scratch - I figure it's about choosing my battles. So, for weeknight company, frozen peas get tossed in the De Cecco pasta, and I might throw together a last minute pan of brownies, but it's going to be Haagen Daz on top. Everyone wins!
boulangere October 26, 2011
Yes, she whispered to creamtea. Medaglia d'Oro Instant Espresso. To be found in the coffee aisle in the (shhhhhh instant coffee) section. A great staple/convenience product to have on hand. Even if you need to wear a disguise to make and drink it. It'll get you through a serious pinch. Glad to let it be our guilty secret.
SKK October 26, 2011
Boulangere I heard the whisper about Medaglia d'Oro Instant Espresso. It is now on my shopping list! Creamtea, what a wonderful question you have asked, opened up a lot of learning for me.
boulangere October 26, 2011
amysarah, "things I enjoy making become chores." Yes, yes, yes. None of is is a "nona" these days. We all work, inside or outside the home, and many of us will work well beyond what have been conventional retirement ages. I love to remind friends and students that there's a good reason some things were invented. The frozen meal in a bag is not one of them. But dried pasta? A no-brainer. Good canned tomatoes (SanMarzano, Cento), oh yeah. Costco's rotisserie chickens, as sam1148 suggests, certainly. If time is money, and time is always money when it's not sheer time, then certainly compress your time in a fruitful way. What an amazing thread creamtea has opened.
boulangere October 26, 2011
SKK, amysarah, creamtea, and sdebrango, sam1148, if I weren't already your fan (I guess these days we say "following" you), I'd be your fan all over again. What a magnificent discussion this has been. Thank you, creamtea!
creamtea October 27, 2011
Thanks, boulangere. I agree about the chore. Nightly dinner prep often is for me (esp. when the kids "don't like" what I've come up with....) Also must confess I knew about Medaglio for baking, but I would always brew fresh coffee anyway figuring it was better (and would brew an extra cup for me). Not useful for creams and custards, though, when you need the dry "grains".
wssmom October 26, 2011
Canned tuna. Lots of canned San Marzano tomatoes (whole). Jarred artichoke hearts. Canned black beans, kidney beans, cannellini beans. Organic lemon juice. Frozen out-of-season fruits for smoothies. And, most important, frozen limeade concentrate for mid-winter Margaritas!!
fiveandspice October 27, 2011
Margaritas!!!!!! :)
Ophelia October 26, 2011
Prewashed spinach, but not lettuce for some reason. Gluten-free baking mixes (betty crocker cookies and bob's red mill corn bread) because I don't have room to keep 4 different kinds of flour just for the infrequent baking I do for friends and the gluten-free AP flours taste funky. Canned beans, crushed tomatoes and quartered artichoke hearts. Baked tofu. Prepared thai curry pastes. Corn tortillas when I don't feel up to making my own (there's such a big difference in flavour that I'm almost not sure it's worth the 15 minutes of saved time though).
Oh, and mayonnaise.
AntoniaJames October 26, 2011
This is such a good question! I'm getting all kinds of great ideas. Thanks, everyone!! ;o)
Bonkers4Bacon October 26, 2011
My dirty little secret from the freezer is definitely Pillsbury Pie Dough. Whether it is for quiche, pies, gallettes or otherwise, people never believe its not from scratch. Not my favorite thing to admit...but I gotta give them props for this great product, very handy
Ms. T. October 27, 2011
Ha ha, great answer. Since this is true confessions, my dirty little secret is Pillsbury pizza dough. I just put a little cornmeal on the bottom and voila...not bad. That little dough boy knows what he's doing ;)
Bevi October 26, 2011
canned artichokes, organic diced tomatoes or whole tomatoes, anchovy paste, tomato paste, TJ's organic frozen fruits (berries), organic stock when I am in between roast chickens or making a refrigerator clean-out veggie stock, cans of tuna, frozen pearl onions and corn when out of season, some organic canned pumpkin, Nutella, frozen peas and spinach, phyllo dough. I can't think of other things right now - oh some organic canned beans.
fiveandspice October 26, 2011
Jarred or frozen artichoke hears. I'm an artichoke peeling disaster-show. And canned tomatoes all through the winter because I never seem to put enough by, even when I do get my act together to borrow canning equipment. I don't dry my own fruit or cure my own meats, if you consider buying those convenience/prepackaged products! And, though I try not to, we do sometimes get bagged spinach or lettuces.
mrsp October 26, 2011
Pillsbury pie crust, Better Than Bouillon, Broadcast corned beef hash. And of course: washed arugola and spinach, Hellman's mayonnaise, canned San Marzano tomatoes, and always always always prepackaged pasta.
creamtea October 26, 2011
Muir Glen tomatoes, incl. the fire roasted ones, Milano cookies (original style). trader Joe's sun-dried tomatoes in the packages are full of yum.
SoupAddict October 26, 2011
Excellent question! Once I run out of whole tomatoes that I've frozen from my garden, I'll stock up on the Pomi brand boxed tomatoes. Canned beans, greek yogurt. Lemon juice. Oh, and despite the fact that my user name implies I should always be making soup from scratch, sometimes life has other ideas about time ... I like to keep some of the Pacific brand boxed soups on hand (esp. the roasted red pepper and tomato) ... so quick and easy to jazz up with herbs or pasta or yogurt. Oh, and pasta. That's another thing I love to make from scratch, but I do keep store-bought on hand for quick meals.
creamtea October 26, 2011
I also buy boxed tomato soup, mine is from Imagine or Trader Joe's. Love it with grated Parmigiana, s.d. tomatoes, fresh tomatoes, or all of the above.
boulangere October 26, 2011
I don't use bagged lettuce, either. It has a large carbon footprint, for one thing, and as pierino correctly mentions, there have been numerous contamination outbreaks among various bagged produce. I love true baby carrots when they're in season, but the bagged little things aren't the real McCoy (I have some friends named McCoy who have a sign over their front door reading "The Real McCoys.") I usually have some canned beans just in case, and good canned tomatoes always. Good canned tuna. I think that's about it.
EmilyC October 26, 2011
I used to make a lot from scratch but I have come to rely on convenience foods, especially for weeknight cooking. Figure it's better than take-out! Here's my regular list: canned tomatoes and beans, frozen vegetables, shredded and sliced cheese, flour tortillas, pizza dough from Trader Joe's or local pizza place, canned artichoke hearts, sun-dried tomatoes packed in olive oil, cold cereal, Haagen Dazs ice cream, Pepperidge Farm bread for grilled cheese. And then my fridge is packed with way more condiments than any family of 3 needs. And I'd be lying if I didn't admit my major weakness for potato chips and oreos, but I don't allow myself to buy them on a regular basis! : )
sdebrango October 26, 2011
The list goes on, I failed to divulge the boxed stock that I always keep on hand, try to make my own but in a pinch its always good to have back up, mayo because I can't always make my own, canned tuna, artichokes marinated, frozen spinach, wow great question creamtea. Oh and I always have ground and powdered spices as I don't always grind my own.
creamtea October 26, 2011
I love your last sentence....I wasn't even thinking of ground spices as convenience food, but you are right, of course they are :)
EmilyC October 26, 2011
Yep, I failed to consider ground spices too. I have many spices (both whole and ground) on hand from a few splurges at Penzey's!
melissav October 26, 2011
Frozen peas, edamame, spinach and berries (for smoothies). Boxed broth for when I run out of stock. Canned tomatoes and beans. cans of tuna.
sexyLAMBCHOPx October 26, 2011
Pierino, in my opinion your feedback is condensending and insulting. Every feedback and answer to a question insults a cook, chef or fellow food52er. Get off your high horse.
drbabs October 26, 2011
sLC, once you get to know pierino, you'll realize that that's just his style, and he's really just concerned that we all don't make ourselves our our families sick (and maybe that we learn something in the process).
SKK October 26, 2011
The other great thing about Pierino is his irreverence. It is just so great to have guys answering these questions also!
sexyLAMBCHOPx October 26, 2011
When your called out and embarressed you may feel the same. God Speed, ya'll.
aargersi October 26, 2011
Oh dear, I think of myself as a scratch person but ... ALWAYS the tomato in every form (I am a ketchup fan and a tomato FREAK) frozen peas, artichokes and edamame. Boxes of broth for when I run out of home made. Canned beans for when I don't even have time to pressure cook. AND (no mocking!) 100 calorie cookie bags for when I want tea and cookies! I have self control issues!!! Oh and not only THAT - Weight Watcher ice cream bars! Whew - now the cat is really out of the bag.
mrslarkin October 26, 2011
creamtea, what a fun question! ok, i've got canned beans, tuna fish, canned (and boxed) tomatoes ( i love Pomi brand), frozen blueberries, frozen edamame, a lifetime supply of frozen puff pastry (which I guess I should start using, huh?), ready-to-heat lentils, canned chili (once in a while - I'm not THAT crazy), hot dogs, peanut butter, Biscoff spread, Nutella, and American cheese slices (yes, the ones individually wrapped in plastic.) There's probably more, but I'm too lazy to go look and I'm pretty sure I've shamed myself enough with the last couple items here, so I'm sticking with this.
JessicaBakes October 26, 2011
Sometimes canned beans, and almost always pre-washed lettuce.
pierino October 26, 2011
First of all, pre-washed anything is a really bad idea. There was yet another recent food poisoning outbreak linked to pre-washed lettuce from California. That moron Rachael Ray really popularized this stuff as a convenience without researching it. The washing process can actually spread e-coli and listeria. Geez, buy a damn salad spinner.
I always have a jar of Best Foods mayonnaise on hand as well as Tabasco, and Pepper Plant Original California Hot sauce from Gilroy California. But I'm working on making my own ketchup. Frozen peas are always handy to have on hand.
SKK October 26, 2011
Oh Pierino, what I love about your answers is you tell it like it is for you and there is always something to learn. Thanks for your attitude - brings a lot of excitment to the conversation!
SKK October 26, 2011
By the way, Pierino, your recipes are pretty damn good also! Nice to know you are not just a pretty face!
boulangere October 26, 2011
I couldn't do with a periodic dose of pierino.
boulangere October 26, 2011
He's kind of the masked chef who drops in out of nowhere bearing a moniker hat he swears is significant of nothing, leaving behind words of hard-won wisdom which readers may take or leave as they please. But better to take.
Niknud October 26, 2011
Whew. Glad I'm not the only one. I'll add my own list: frozen pie dough (cause I break down into a quivering lump of jello in the face of pie dough - I'm working on it, okay?). And I'm totaly with Sam on the rotisserie chicken - not all the time mind you, but every now and then they are perfect for fast enchilladas! And speaking of, when I'm feeling especially virtuous I'll make my own enchillada sauce but there's always a can of old el paso in the pantry for emergency purposes. Ditto with salsa. Ditto with hummus. My 18 month old can't get enough of hummus and I am hard pressed to keep up with his appetite! Loads of frozen veggies because they last forever and are many times better than fresh (I'm on board with AntoniaJames).
amysarah October 26, 2011
I guess it also depends on how you define 'convenience' foods. If it includes not always making ALL my own mayo, yogurt, ice cream, bread, granola, using cans of chickpeas/cannellini/black bean instead of starting with dried, not squeezing all my own OJ, etc...well then, the list would be much longer than the one I posted earlier. I do all of the above when time permits and/or mood strikes, but I'd be a lier to say I don't always have a jar of Hellman's, several tubs of Greek yogurt, cans of beans, etc. on hand. Sometimes I just want a quick, basic tuna on rye - and making the mayo just isn't the point. Call me lazy ;-)
drbabs October 26, 2011
It depends on what else is going on and how crazy my life is. I always keep marinated artichoke hearts, canned tomatoes, a can or two of chick peas, Swanson's chicken broth and frozen spinach, edamame and blueberries in the house. In a pinch (or when I'm so busy I can't think about doing much cooking), I've bought pre-washed salad greens (less frequently lately because of the risk), frozen cooked brown rice, Trader Joe's precooked lentils (Toss the rice and lentils together and warm them up and you have mujaddara in 5 minutes!). Before my husband met me, he lived on frozen stir-dry dinners (don't ask), spaghetti and jarred sauce, and canned soup, and he still likes me to keep jarred spaghetti sauce and canned soup (I draw the line on the frozen stir-fry!) in the house so he can have an easy dinner on nights when I work late or have a meeting. (I do make these things ahead from scratch but it takes less time to open a can than it does to defrost soup or sauce that is in the freezer.)
AntoniaJames October 26, 2011
Artichoke hearts (marinated in jars), frozen spinach (often much better quality than what's available fresh, even here). That's about it. I suppose the vanilla yogurt and granola that I buy for Mr.T would be convenience foods, too. And I buy roti, uncooked, at the Indian grocery, for when I just don't feel like making them from scratch. ;o)
amysarah October 25, 2011
Bags of frozen peas, peeled pearl onions, edamame and artichoke hearts (from Trader Joe's). Frozen puff pastry and phyllo. Demi glace. Pre-washed bags of baby spinach. In a parallel universe, I always make my own stock; in this one I often use canned chicken or beef broth for cooking.
creamtea October 26, 2011
yes, definitely pearl onions too. They are so time consuming to parboil & peel. I use frozen peas to add to various dishes; blueberries to add to pancakes or muffins. Also frozen Asian style vegetables in winter, with added sliced red and yellow peppers and pea pods to stretch leftover roast chicken into an Asian stir fry. I don't love cooking weeknight meals (cooking on demand); each family member has either very decided preferences or specialized dietary needs, so anything I can do un-complicate it all helps.
bugbitten November 30, 2011
Interesting... I've tried using frozen pearl onions and find that there's always some paper left on them. Maybe Joe's are better. BTW, I saw a test from the Cook's Illustrated people which found that if you wash your pre- washed greens you'll actually be introducing bacteria, not washing it away!

Voted the Best Reply!

Sam1148 October 25, 2011
Rotisserie chicken. Cut it up brush with hosin sauce. Broil to crisp. Serve in flour tortillas brushed with sesame oil 'face to face in pairs' and warmed in the microwave..with more hosin sauce and chopped green onions.
Rice and some frozen 'dim sum' potsticker dumplings as side dish, or a bagged slaw with lime/ginger/garlic/olive oil. Quick and easy a 'mock peking duck'.
creamtea October 26, 2011
I love this idea!
susan G. October 25, 2011
Frozen corn and peas because my use of them is erratic, they are highly seasonal, and the amounts I need are small. Organic when I can... I think quality is better than what I'd get otherwise, most of the year. Similar logic with fruits. What I don't buy is salad fixings -- easier to buy and store in their whole forms; there is also concern about food safety. Oddly, some of the convenience foods are things I buy for a 'rainy day' but they sit in the pantry or freezer while I try valiantly to cook through my saved recipes from food52, my 360+ cookbooks, etc.
sdebrango October 25, 2011
Pre washed spinach, baby carrots, frozen blueberries and strawberries, frozen corn and peas, frozen veggie burgers.
sdebrango October 25, 2011
I was going to add something but accidentally clicked that I like my answer, sorry . Anyway I was going to say I buy the frozen blueberries and strawberries because it's hard to get fresh when they are not in season and I use them every day for breakfast in a smoothie.
SKK October 25, 2011
None, too expensive and don't have the taste. One day a week I clean, prep, make whatever I want for the week.
SKK October 25, 2011
I must sound so self-righteous and I apologize for that. Just really can't stand the taste of pre-wrapped stuff and my daughter is a baker and dessert maker. And I love to preserve food. So although we have full time jobs making from scratch is our hobby.
EmmaAlden October 26, 2011
I agree about the taste limitations of "convenience foods". One of my few exceptions is Trader Joe's Frozen Brown Rice (http://www.traderjoesfan.com/Trader_Joes/frozen_brown_rice/details/). It is a healthy and versatile base, and a simple way to cut prep time WITHOUT affecting your flavors!
boulangere October 26, 2011
SKK, I do the same. When I come home with fresh produce, I wash, dry, and wrap in paper towels to store in produce drawers, perhaps in plastic bags with the tops open. Bagged stuff is expensive in relation to its volume or weight, and the smell is downright bad. I buy whole carrots (with the tops on when I can) because I have rabbits who love them. I peel and shave them into salads for me. Fresh herbs, like parsley and cilantro, I rinse, shake dry, snip a fresh end, and keep in mason jars of cold water on my work table.
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