11 Smart Supermarket Picks for a Busy Week

Shopping for your week's groceries is always a puzzle. How do you get everything you need in one shot and avoid midweek runs for forgotten items?

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Going to the grocery store with a plan makes for a smooth, carefree experience. Without a guide, you can easily become flustered and buy items you don't even need. Fill up your grocery cart with smart picks that can be purchased prewashed or precut, or are quick-cooking by nature.

Prewashed Greens

Washing heads of lettuce or bags of greens and then drying them to completion can be a drag. Purchasing prewashed greens will save you time when making a salad for lunch or dinner, whether it's asimple starter salad or a hearty, meal-sizedBuffalo Chicken Salad. Also, zero in on quick-cooking and healthy spinach that's been prewashed. Add it to eggs for a hearty omelet or frittata, bring it into a salad, blend it intohomemade pesto or saute it for a simple, flavorful side dish.

Precut Produce from the Salad Bar

The salad bar at the market offers a great variety of prewashed and precut produce, far more than the carrots and celery that you may see in your produce section. Look for hearts of palm, broccoli florets, beets, artichoke hearts and corn that can be added to an easy salad or quickly tossed into tomato sauce.

Quality Cheese

If the French can feast on a baguette and a slice of Brie for dinner, so can you. There is something decadent yet simple about a dinner of great bread and great cheese. Add a side salad and you have a fast, luxurious dinner.

Good Bread

Having artisanal bread in your kitchen this week will save you. Your quick sandwich turns into something heartier; your leftover vegetable side turns into a sophisticated bruschetta — all in a matter of minutes. If it's summertime, just layer a couple of tomato slices on some toast and sprinkle with sea salt for a perfect, seasonal lunch.

Deli Meats

In the same vein as the cheese, a variety of deli meats, like salami, good turkey or roast beef, can come to the rescue for hearty sandwiches and more. The more flavorful your ingredients, the happier you'll be when you assemble your meal quickly.

Ready-to-Go Rotisserie Chicken

Think of those moist, plump and perfectly cooked chickens you see rotating to no end at the grocery store as an amazing addition to your fridge this week. Pick one up to jump-start meals in a pinch: Shred it for chicken salad or stir it into a simple and spicy soup.

Quick-Cooking Seafood

Because fish takes no time to cook, it is a rescue item this week. Remember it doesn't last long in the fridge, so buy one type and cook it Monday night. If your family likes scallops, pick those up for a quick seafood dinner — they cook in just 1 minute per side.

Fast Beef Options

Strip steaks and skirt steaks are the ideal cuts for you this week, because they will cook up quickly. Drop steak in a zip-top bag with some olive oil, citrus, garlic and herbs, and marinate it while you're at work. At dinnertime, drop it on a preheated grill pan for just a few minutes per side, let it rest, then slice and serve.

Speedy Chicken Tenders

Chicken tenders are a great solution this week, because their small size gets them from oven to table fast. They're also a great item to buy on sale in bulk and store in your freezer. Coat them with buttermilk and breadcrumbs for crunchy homemade chicken tenders.

Sliced Bacon

A staple for breakfast, sliced bacon (and turkey bacon) can come in handy this week for lunch and dinner. Bacon does fine cooked in the microwave (fast and little cleanup); in just minutes you can have a delicious BLT sandwich or cobb salad. Or cook it in a skillet and toss it with veggies or spaghetti to give an Italian meal a salty, smoky edge.

Instant Rice

No judgments here! We admit to buying packages of 90-second microwavable brown rice for last-minute, healthy meal preparations. This is a brilliant way to have a no-fuss, no-fail rice component on your plate, whether for lunch or dinner. Use it to make 20-minute rice pilaf, or toss it with herbs and crumbled cheese, or lay it down as a bed for a quick stir-fry or reheated chili.

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