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You’re running late from work, and the temptation to grab prepared food on the way home is huge — rotisserie chicken is good for you, right? And at many groceries it costs no more than a chicken you cook yourself. So you can use some of those virtuous points up on a side of mac and cheese! Not so fast….

If you’re taking the food straight home, just get the chicken. When you get home, pull some frozen vegetables out of the freezer and pop them in the microwave for a few minutes.

You’ll get a better-tasting, better-texture side dish than whatever was sitting under the lamps or in a heated dish at the store, and it cooks as quickly as you can kick off your shoes and set down your things. (Bonus: start the vegetables before you get your coat off and take that couple of minutes to hang your coat up and set down your other things in some order.) And don’t feel bad about throwing a little butter on there, too, and a dash of seasoning.

Better living through refrigeration: This image is a detail from a mid-century ad for a company that makes insulating products used in industry. It didn’t sell frozen food themselves, but during this period, as the economy expanded and new technologies were changing our daily lives, it wanted to showcase its usually hidden contribution. See it full size.

Do you eat a lot of chicken and vegetables? What quick tricks do you use to keep them interesting?

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