The Best Time To Use Store-Bought Shortcuts, According To Joanna Gaines

Creating a family dinner from scratch is certainly an accomplishment, but for most of us, there simply aren't enough hours in the day to make a completely home cooked meal every night. Even celebrities like Joanna Gaines, who is known for keeping a perfect home, doesn't have time to always cook everything herself. That's why the interior designer and co-founder of the Magnolia lifestyle brand employs store-bought items to fill in the sides of her family meals. 

In her cookbook "Magnolia Table," Gaines shares a recipe for one of her family's favorite meals, chicken enchiladas with rice and beans. On busy nights, Gaines recommends using pre-packaged Mexican rice (specifically from the Knorr brand) and canned beans so you can put your energy into making the enchiladas. Since the enchiladas are the main course, its flavors will stand out the most, so it's the important component to get right. The rice and beans don't have to be anything fancy as they are mostly there to fill out the meal, so store-bought will work just fine. 

And you can apply this approach to so many other recipes in your dinner rotation as well. Whether you're cooking for your friends, family, or even just yourself, taking advantage of store-bought items is a convenient way to add some time back into the day of a busy chef.

Store-bought makes for great sides

There are plenty of meals that can be supplemented with store-bought rice, such as Asian-inspired dishes like orange chicken or a protein bowl with salmon and grilled peppers. You can also apply Gaines' advice to pretty much any meal that includes basic sides. For example, if you want to put your time into perfectly preparing plates of pasta for dinner, your side can be a pre-packaged salad or improved store-bought garlic bread. If it's looking like a grilled cheese night, you can include good ol' canned tomato soup, while boxed mac and cheese goes great with a pot roast.

Using store-bought sides will not only help get dinner on the table faster, it will also cut down on dishes you would have used cooking everything yourself. If you want to add some oomph to your premade sides, all you have to do is sprinkle in an extra bit of seasoning. Store-bought items can even help make cooking main courses easier, like integrating canned goods into soups and stews.