Wednesday, February 27, 2008

My Favorite Convenience Foods--Revised

As the mother of three children under two, I (Betsy) must depend on convenience foods. I'll probably always have Little-House-on-the-Prairie-nostalgia. I know, I know...if I'd actually lived in that little sod house on the prairie, no doubt I'd be championing lots of modern inventions (indoor plumbing, central heat, and electric/gas ovens and stoves anyone?). Given my Prairie ideals such as homemade food, it's been hard to come to grips with my true need for convenience these days, but there are some products that are winners in my book. These don't sacrifice much, if any, of the original nutrients, are true time/energy savers, and generally are reasonably cost-effective. The list is in no particular order.

  1. Frozen veggies and sometimes fruits (like blueberries)
  2. Tuna/Salmon in pouches, not cans (especially the salmon that's already been skinned and boned!)
  3. Boneless, skinless meat products (pork loins, chicken breasts, chicken thighs--all come in handy)
  4. Frozen rolls (Sister Schubert...mmmm)
  5. Ginger paste (a touch expensive, but great to use!! in the produce section at my store)
  6. Wanton wrappers (who needs these? Those with hubbies longing for their time spent in China during college. Ever made wanton wrappers from scratch? Don't.)
  7. Crackers (ever tried making your own? A disappointment.)
  8. Canned chicken broth (I do make my own periodically when I happen to have a chicken carcass left over from a roasted chicken, but in general this is something I buy with no qualms that it's both more expensive, less tasty, and less healthy--sodium-wise at least--than my homemade. Sometimes, you just gotta have it!)
  9. Mac-n-cheese. (What toddler home would be complete without a few boxes stashed away? We even had "mac-n-cheese Friday" for a while. mmmmm...that processed cheese taste. Yes, it bears no resemblance to the homemade variety, but who doesn't love it?)
  10. Diced canned tomatoes (and other canned tomato products). (I still don't understand the benefit to buying whole canned tomatoes and cutting them up yourself. And I never cut up fresh tomatoes for sauces--just dump in that can! We buy these by the caseload at Sam's.)
  11. Salad dressing. (While I do make some of my own vinaigrettes, I see no need to make Ranch when Hidden Valley Ranch lurks on the shelf at my local Kroger....)
  12. Hot dogs. (sigh) We love hot dogs in this house.
  13. Canned fruit in juice. (A true time saver in this house since I would have to cook some fresh fruit still for my twins to be able to eat it. Applesauce also falls into this category.)
  14. Just-add-water pancake mix. (This is great when you're out of everything! You can always make pancakes.)
  15. Bread products other than bread: bagels, pita bread, English muffins, tortillas, etc. (I have recipes for all of these, but no time to dabble in experimentation for those quick breakfasts and lunches!)
  16. Canned pumpkin (For some reason, all three of my kids are addicted to pumpkin. We make pumpkin pancakes, pumpkin muffins,...even mix it into plain yogurt or make yogurt smoothies with it!)
  17. Pre-made pie crusts (Pillsbury's are the best--why make your own?!)
  18. Canned beans (black, great northern, pintos, .... Just rinse them so you can lower the sodium. My kids love 'em straight from the can, too!)
  19. Bread crumbs (I've actually made my own before, but it's hard to beat the convenience pre-made bread crumbs offer: a quick coating for fish or chicken....)
  20. Bottled lemon juice

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