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!
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.
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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.
Cooking with ingredients is easy.
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 from scratch is almost always going to be less expensive and healthier — not to mention the fact that it generates much less packaging.
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 hashbrowns, home fry style [My Kids Eat Squid]
- Sweet Potato, Sausage, Spinach Hash [Homegrown and Healthy]
- 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]
- 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]
- Hasselback Potatoes [My Kids Eat Squid]
- 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 you can bet they’ll be healthier and less wasteful.
Recipes to replace ready-made pancakes:
- Homemade Pancake Mix [Attainable Sustainable]
- Whole Wheat Buttermilk Pancakes [Reformation Acres]
- Basic Pancakes [The First Year Blog]
- Mulberry Sourdough Pancakes [Real Food Outlaws]
- Lemon Flax Pancakes [My Healthy Green Family]
- Einkorn Flour Pancakes [Healthy Roots, Happy Soul]
- Banana Pancakes [jarOhoney]
- Homemade Freezer Waffles [Attainable Sustainable]
- Soaked Pumpkin Pancakes [Real Food Outlaws]
- Fruit Stuffed Crepes [Homegrown and Healthy]
- Gluten Free Pancakes with Salmon and Egg [Strands of my Life]
- Mango Sourdough Pancakes [Real Food Outlaws]
- Grain Free Pumpkin Pancakes [Food Your Body Will Thank You For]
- Gingerbread Pancakes [Live Simply]
- Pumpkin Pie Coconut Flour Pancakes [Real Food Outlaws]
- Gluten Free Buckwheat Pancakes [Economies of Kale]
- Grain Free Chocolate Chip Buttermilk Pancakes [Homegrown and Healthy]
- Blueberry Crunch Sourdough Pancakes [Homestead Lady]
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]
- Chicken in the Oven [Paleo Gone Sassy]
- Paper Bag Chicken Strips [My Kids Eat Squid]
- Roasted Veggie Chicken Bake [Conveying Awareness with Jessica David]
- Solar Oven Chicken Dinner [Homestead Lady]
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]
- Mexican Rice [My Kids Eat Squid]
- Fried Rice [My Kids Eat Squid]
- Moroccan Rice [My Kids Eat Squid]
- Indian Spiced Rice [jarOhoney]
- Chicken and Rice Casserole [We Got Real]
- Green Rice [My Kids Eat Squid]
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 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]
- Soaked Oatmeal [We Got Real]
- 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]
- Chia Blueberry Porridge [Common Sense Homesteading]
- 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 make it at home. It will be better.
Recipes to replace boxed mac and cheese:
- Easy Stovetop Mac and Cheese [We Got Real]
- Homemade Cheese Sauce [Untrained Housewife]
- Baked Macaroni and Cheese [The Culinary Life]
- Turkey Mac and Cheeselets [The Culinary Life]
- Spaghetti Squash Mac and Cheese Bites [Untrained Housewife]
- Paleo Macaroni and Cheese [Paleo Gone Sassy]
- Mac ‘n Cheese from Zingerman’s Roadhouse [My Kids Eat Squid]
- 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. Making your own is simple. Really.
Recipes to replace canned pizza dough:
- Freezer Pizza Doughs [Attainable Sustainable]
- No Knead Sourdough Pizza [Grow Forage Cook Ferment]
- Easy, Delicious Homemade Pizza [We Got Real]
- Homemade Pizza Dough [Five Little Homesteaders]
- Gluten Free Buckwheat Pizza Dough [Economies of Kale]
- Painless Pizza Crust [Homegrown and Healthy]
Breading and Breadcrumbs
You know, you can buy a 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.
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]
- Italian Style Breadcrumbs [Frugal Recipes]
- Paleo “Bread” crumbs [Fast Paleo]
- Ridiculous Supermarket Products You Can Make at Home
- Supermarket Products You Can Make at Home, Holiday Version
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:
- Lemon Flavored Water [Economies of Kale]
- Herbal Water [Mama Rosemary]
- Orange Water [Colourful Palate]
- Raspberry Lime Water [Mommy & the Monsters]
- Cucumber Lime Water [Ancestral Chef]
This post was originally published on 12/13/2013. Updated 2/13/2018.
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