From shopping to storage: The kitchen hacks to make mealtime easier this summer

Brigit of New World.
Photo credit: New World

With many of us back at work and the kids heading back to school, we want to spend these lush long summer evenings playing a spot of backyard cricket or jumping in the pool. The last thing any of us feel like doing is wasting time figuring out what to cook for dinner.

To start 2024 as we mean to go on, we turned to our friends at New World for some innovative shopping hacks to make our meal prep and dinner time routines more streamlined this summer – all while saving a few dollars where we can.

A few extra minutes spent on the pre-shop plan, and you'll leave yourself more time to get down to the beach for a pre-dinner dip.

Make a plan

The first step is to consider switching up your shopping approach.  Wandering the aisles and throwing random bits into the trolley is the enemy of both your wallet and wastage.

Perhaps 2024 is the year to embrace online shopping? Making the switch means you can keep an eye on the cost your cart is racking up before checkout, saving you from spending extra dollars on things you don't really need.  For those extra-busy weeks, use the Shoppable meal planner tool New World shoppable planner: where you can select up to six recipes, choosing the recipes and ingredients you like, and get everything you need for the week delivered to your door – no subscription needed. And it doesn’t stop at meal prep, you can even add your loo paper and cat food to the weekly planner.

If cruising the aisles is one of your favourite weekly pastimes, at least make sure you go in with a plan. Use the New World website to find your current mailer so you can make sure you're across that week's specials. Then use the Quick and Easy recipe guide to find simple recipes that all take 35 minutes or less to cook.

Our favourite? This 20-minute stir fry sweet chilli chicken, because we can sub in whatever vegetables are in season. Primo.

"Our recipes match what’s on promotion so it’s a great way to get some inspiration – but also know that you are getting a good deal, especially on your protein," says Foodstuffs North Island Head of Produce and Butchery Brigit Corson.

Photo credit: New World

Make a seasonal switch

If you haven't already embraced seasonal shopping, it should be one of your New Year's resolutions.

"When supply peaks, the prices drop and shoppers should look for these cues in store," says Corson. "The produce will be plentiful and piled high at the front of the department.”

Happily, summer means more supply in the produce department with stone fruit, berries, avocados, melons, sweetcorn, berries and leafy greens all in plentiful supply – and apples and kumara set to make a joyful return. 

"It’s so great to have more normal supply. The East Coast growers from Gisborne and Hawke's Bay would love our support on eating their stone fruit and apples," says Corson.

"Corn is always a goodie on the BBQ. Pumpkin is back and at good prices. And finally, a new kumara crop will start being harvested in a few weeks. After the crop was wiped out by Cyclone Gabrielle, our Dargaville growers can’t wait to get this kiwi favourite back to the table again."

If you need some guidance on what's in season speak to your local, instore produce manager for expert advice, they have all the ins and outs on what's great value, in season and even what’s coming in next week!

And if you always grab the same top-shelf items, consider switching up your pantry staples. New World own brands Pams and Pams Finest offer cheaper alternatives packed with just much flavour.

Maximise storage

When you get home from the supermarket, it's important to maximise your storage – and no we're not talking about your phone. Levelling up the way you prepare, and store produce in your fridge will not only prolong its freshness and minimise food waste, but also help cut down on cooking time.

This might mean moving the fruit bowl from the table to the fridge, especially with these soaring summer temperatures.  "The best cost saving tip is to ensure you keep your produce refrigerated so it keeps longer and you can eat it all," says Corson. "A stir-fry veggie bowl or cauliflower risotto or fried rice  (where you blitz the cauliflower in your food processor) is a great way of using up some of produce that is looking a bit past its best – and no food waste means you are getting value for every dollar you spend."

If you find your salad leaves and carrots tend to look a little limp after a few days, store each in an airtight container in the fridge lined with paper towels – the kitchen roll will absorb any extra moisture. Head to the Tips and Tricks page to find out more handy storage tips and tricks.

Corson also recommends saving time on those busy time-crunch evenings by embracing simple recipes, like her favourite two-step chicken salad.

"To save time when I get home, I buy a bagged salad so it's just a 'tip into a bowl' exercise. This year we have some fantastic new seasonal ranges to zhuzh up the salad bowl. These ranges have dressings such as green goddess, micro greens and some herbs like mint on board, so they can be eaten by themselves – or you can add more ingredients for a sensational effort-free salad”.

"I then cook up some chicken kebabs and toss them in and voila – chicken salad for dinner!"

Check out more meal ideas here and don’t forget to scan your New World Clubcard with every shop to Save, Earn & Win. 

This article is created for New World