Tips & Techniques Cooking Shortcut Suppers

On the days when you do not have time to cook a meal from scratch, a well-stocked supermarket can provide lots of tasty, wholesome items to fill out your meal.

Rotisserie chicken: Buy enough chicken for 2 meals. On the first night, serve it accompanied with crusty bread and a simple salad. On another night, remove the skin and bones from the remaining chicken, shred the meat, and toss it with pasta and vegetables, or use it to make a chicken salad.

Cooked sausages: Keep fully cooked meat- or poultry-based sausages, such as chicken-apple, Italian and kielbasa, in the refrigerator or freezer. Panfry the sausages until heated through and lightly browned, then slice lengthwise and serve with sautéed onions and peppers on warmed hero sandwich rolls or lengths of baguette.

Marinated kabobs: Most butcher shops and supermarkets sell premarinated beef, pork and lamb skewers. Grill or broil the kabobs, then serve with warmed pita bread or quick-cooking couscous.

Frittata: Keep a supply of eggs on hand for last-minute meals. For a quick main dish, sauté cooked, chopped vegetables or meats in olive oil in a fry pan until cooked or heated through. Add whisked eggs, salt and pepper, and cook without stirring and lifting the edges to let the uncooked egg flow underneath, until almost set. Top with grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese and put under the preheated broiler until fully set and browned on top, 1 to 2 minutes. Invert the pan over a plate, cut into wedges and serve with a salad.

Quesadillas: Keep flour tortillas in the refrigerator for preparing quesadillas or tacos using cheese and leftover chicken, sausage slices or vegetables. Stock up on salsa, rice and canned refried, pinto or black beans to round out the menu.

Open-face sandwiches: Pile leftover meat or vegetables on slices of crusty bread to make open-face sandwiches. Top with slices of fresh mozzarella or provolone and broil until the cheese melts.

Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Food Made Fast Series, Simple Suppers, by Melanie Barnard (Oxmoor House, 2007).