Swap these easy cooking recipes for your favorite supermarket shortcuts. You don’t have to resort to box cooking. Make your family’s favorite foods at home!
On a budget? Try some of our favorite bean recipes.
I’m no stranger to convenience foods. Or packaged snacks. I grew up in the era of Jell-O pudding and Cap’n Crunch, for goodness sake. Even so, a recent stroll through my local grocery store left me shaking my head at the sheer audacity of corporate food mongers to make us think that homemade recipes are just too hard to make at home.
Five minute roasted potatoes – too good to be true?
The real kicker for me, though? Something called Potato Jazz, a plastic tray filled with one pound of “real” potatoes that will be ready in five minutes in your microwave. Imagine a young person with no cooking experience whatsoever spotting this gem. Five minute roasted potatoes, he might think. Making roasted potatoes must be hard, he might think. And thus we have indoctrinated another person into believing that cooking real food is too much of an inconvenience.
The Handcrafted Pantry
Ready to DIY your pantry with healthier ingredients? Check out my ebook, The Handcrafted Pantry! Filled with delicious recipes for some of your favorite condiments, snacks, and toppings, it’s the guide you need to start skipping packaged products and embrace homemade.
These easy recipes make cooking a breeze
I’m no Cordon Bleu chef, but I cook from scratch (almost) nightly and nobody here is complaining. You can too. Check out some of the “food” products on offer at my local grocery store, along with homemade versions from some of my blogger friends.
Let them show you how to do homemade! Cooking recipes from scratch is almost always going to be less expensive and healthier — not to mention the fact that it generates much less packaging.
5 Easy Steps to Transform Your Pantry!
Ready to switch from store bought to homemade? Let me help you make some changes! Grab my FREE five-part guide to getting started.
Hungry Jack hashbrown potatoes contain: Idaho® potatoes (dry), salt, dextrose. Freshness preserved with sodium bisufite and bht. Contains sulfite ingredients.
Hungry Jack cheesy hashbrown potatoes contain: Idaho® potato (dry), canola oil, (preserved with citric acid and bht), salt, contains 2% or less of: cheddar cheese (cultured pasteurized milk, enzymes), nonfat dry milk, onion, maltodextrin, hydrolyzed soy protein, natural flavor, garlic, sugar, butter (cream), spice, yeast extract, disodium phosphate, extractives of annatto. Freshness preserved with sodium bisulfite and bht. Contains milk, soy and sulfite ingredients.
A one pound package costs $5, about the same as an entire 15 pound bag of fresh russet potatoes. Do the math!
Recipes to replace store bought hashbrowns:
- Homemade hashbrowns [Nourishing Minimalism]
- Homemade Frozen Hash Browns [Queen of the Red Double Wide]
- Immune-Boosting Hash Browns [Homestead Lady]
(There is no consensus on proper spelling of
hashbrown hash brown.)
Bring home these magical potatoes and you’ll also be bringing home a plastic tray that you don’t need. A Potato Jazz package has one pound of potatoes and costs about $6. An entire 15 pound bag of fresh russet potatoes costs about $5. Roast your own potatoes? Hello big savings!
Recipes to replace packaged potatoes:
- Red Potato Salad with Avocado [Attainable Sustainable]
- The Best Fried Red Potatoes [Attainable Sustainable]
- Cheesy Herb Potatoes [Live Simply]
- Homemade French Fries [Schneiderpeeps]
- Sweet Potatoes with Cinnamon and Coconut Sugar [Real Food Outlaws]
- Apple and Sweet Potato Bake [Live Simply]
- Potatoes and Onions [Schneiderpeeps]
- Oven Roasted Potatoes [Tastes of Lizzy T]
It simply is not that hard to pour a few ingredients into a bowl. And that’s about all it takes to make pancakes from scratch. This Shake ‘n Pour plastic container is meant to be used once and tossed away. Plus, you’ll pay $4-$6 for a dozen or so pancakes with this product. Cost will vary depending on the type of ingredients you choose for a homemade version — but cooking these pancake recipes at home will result it a healthier and less wasteful breakfast.
- Homemade Pancake Mix [Attainable Sustainable]
- Persimmon Pancakes [Attainable Sustainable]
- Pumpkin Pancakes [Attainable Sustainable]
- Whole Wheat Buttermilk Pancakes [Reformation Acres]
- Mulberry Sourdough Pancakes [Real Food Outlaws]
- Einkorn Flour Pancakes [Healthy Roots, Happy Soul]
- Soaked Pumpkin Pancakes [Real Food Outlaws]
- Gluten Free Pancakes with Salmon and Egg [Strands of my Life]
- Mango Sourdough Pancakes [Real Food Outlaws]
- Gingerbread Pancakes [Live Simply]
- Pumpkin Pie Coconut Flour Pancakes [Real Food Outlaws]
- Blueberry Crunch Sourdough Pancakes [Homestead Lady]
Do you quote the “l’eggo my eggo” waffle advertisements as you lift a hot, ready-made waffle out of the toaster? What if I told you that homemade waffles are not hard to make? And you can freeze them yourself for a fast breakfast??
Recipes to replace ready-made waffles:
- Homemade Freezer Waffles [Attainable Sustainable]
- Banana Chocolate Chip Waffles [Cultured Table]
- Coconut Flour Waffles [Cultured Table]
- Carrot Cake Waffles [Cultured Table]
- The Perfect Belgian Waffle [Cultured Table]
Chicken for Sandwiches (or Meals)
Maybe (maybe) this is a better option than pressed lunch meat. But for the cost of this six-ounce package of pre-cooked chicken bits you could buy an entire chicken (conventional, not GMO free), roast it, and net three or four meals and less packaging.
Recipes to replace packaged chicken:
- Roasted Chicken [Nourishing Minimalism]
- How to Roast a Chicken [Live Simply]
- Herb Roasted Chicken with Vegetables [Real Food Outlaws]
- Roasted Veggie Chicken Bake [Conveying Awareness with Jessica David]
- Solar Oven Chicken Dinner [Homestead Lady]
- Baked Sheet Pan Lemon Chicken [Cultured Table]
Oh Rice-a-Roni. The San Francisco treat. Couldn’t you have just stuck with the cardboard box? Do we really need more cups-o-food in our world?? Admittedly, there is a bit of a learning curve to cooking rice just right, but bulk rice is an inexpensive addition to your pantry — unlike these silly conveniences that cost more than $2 a pop. Not to mention the trash generated.
Recipes to replace instant rice:
- Spanish Rice [Attainable Sustainable]
- Sausage and Mushroom Risotto [Attainable Sustainable]
- Shrimp & Pea Risotto [Cultured Table]
Hot Oatmeal or Porridge for Breakfast
Everybody loves the Quaker Oats guy, but recently he seems to have lost his way. Sure, he’s still offering quasi-wholesome food for people who eat grains, but individual serving cups? Really? The basic recipe for cooking porridge is oats + water. Flavors optional. He’s added convenience to a food that’s already pretty darned convenient.
Recipes to replace instant oats:
- Five-Minute Oatmeal in a Jar [Attainable Sustainable]
- Soaked Oatmeal [Live Simply]
- Baked Apple Cinnamon Oatmeal [Healthy Roots, Happy Soul]
- Peach Pie Crockpot Oatmeal [Real Food Outlaws]
- Stovetop Cinnamon Maple Oatmeal [Attainable Sustainable]
- Berry Oatmeal Breakfast Cookies [Untrained Housewife]
- Cherry Pie Crockpot Oatmeal [Real Food Outlaws]
- Creamy Oatmeal (Soaked) [Recipes to Nourish]
- Apple Pie Crockpot Oatmeal [Real Food Outlaws]
- Pumpkin Pie Crockpot Oatmeal [Real Food Outlaws]
- Tropical Baked Oatmeal [Homestead Lady]
Macaroni and Cheese
Macaroni and cheese in a box isn’t hard to make, but Kraft felt the need to get in on the cup-o-food action. I say we should take our cue from Stephanie Stiavetti and Garrett McCord, authors of Melt: The Art of Macaroni and Cheese. We can cook it at home. It’s easy and it will taste better.
Recipes to replace boxed mac and cheese:
- Homemade Cheese Sauce [Untrained Housewife]
- Baked Macaroni and Cheese [The Culinary Life]
- Spaghetti Squash Mac and Cheese Bites [Untrained Housewife]
- Gruyère and Emmentaler Macaroni and Cheese Casserole [The Culinary Life]
Homemade Pizza Crust
Pizza is surely one of the most beloved foods in the whole entire world, no? We can get it fresh from restaurants and cafes, as takeout fare, from the frozen food section, and now, from the Pillsbury Doughboy. But there’s no need to settle when it comes to pizza dough. Cooking your own is simple with these recipes. Really.
Recipes to replace canned pizza dough:
Breading and Breadcrumbs
You know, you can buy a cardboard can of bread crumbs at the store and dredge your chicken, pork, fish, or veggies in it. But Kraft decided it would be an even better idea to provide consumers with a plastic bag, pre-filled with a breading mix for cooking breaded recipes. Let me assure you: You don’t need no stinkin’ mix. Make your own breadcrumbs or breading mix. Easy, peasy.
Recipes to replace pre-made breadcrumbs:
- 30-Second Sprouted Breadcrumbs [Scratch Mommy]
- Homemade Breadcrumbs [The Browning Homestead at Red Fox Farm]
Bottled water is the second largest commercial beverage category by volume in the United States. But you know. It’s kinda boring. So we should totally add ingredients like Potassium Citrate, Acesulfame Potassium, Polysorbate 60, Red 40, Potassium Benzoate and Potassium Sorbate to make it taste better, dontcha think?? (What is wrong with us??)
Recipes to replace fake water flavors:
This post was originally published on 12/13/2013; it has been updated.