When You Should Never Use A Store-Bought Shortcut, According To Ree Drummond - Exclusive

Ree Drummond's new cookbook "The Pioneer Woman Cooks: Dinner's Ready!" doesn't shy away from using store-bought shortcuts. Refrigerated pie crusts, jarred salsa, and frozen fries all make appearances in this book, which is dedicated to quick, easy dinners that deliver a hefty portion of comfort without hours spent in the kitchen, laboring over multiple steps. The book's focus parallels Drummond's current cooking style.

In a recent exclusive Tasting Table interview, she said, "I wanted this cookbook to reflect my cooking life right now, and where I am right now is that I still love cooking [and] still love delicious food ... but I don't have the patience I used to have for long prep times and multiple steps. I wanted to give readers a nice pile of delicious recipes that are very doable and won't make them have to stay in the kitchen too long. There's a lot to do in life that doesn't involve the kitchen." 

But while Drummond is encouraging readers and fans to live their lives outside of the kitchen, she also notes that there are times when you don't ever want to use a store-bought shortcut for convenience's sake. If it means sacrificing flavor and quality, Drummond says to leave that shortcut out.

The key to store-bought shortcuts

According to Ree Drummond, "The key to using store-bought items or shortcuts is limiting them to one or two per recipe and letting the whole or from-scratch ingredients lead. The point of a store-bought shortcut is to save time, but you never want to use it at the expense of the flavor of the dish." She told us her favorite store-bought shortcuts include jarred marinara sauce, which can be used as a dipping sauce or in a broader pasta dish, as well as frozen bread dough, for use as a crust or in other baked items.

Drummond's careful and considerate use of store-bought upgrades is nothing new to those who've followed her career since the start. She has told audiences about her love for sprinkling store-bought Everything But the Bagel seasoning on her slider rolls, as well as using store-bought, jarred pesto in place of making her own. Another way she saves time in the kitchen, according to her new book? By creating batches of what she calls "fridge grabs," items and accompaniments that can add big flavor with minimal effort, such as garlic confit, refrigerator pickles, pepper relish, and — her favorite — pickled red onions.

"The Pioneer Woman Cooks: Dinner's Ready!" is now available wherever books are sold.