The cost of fast food restaurants, take-out restaurants, and pizza delivery is soaring. And that cost isn't just to your wallet: it takes its toll on your health and waistline, too. These heavily processed foods are full of fat, sodium, and artificial ingredients. But you just don't have time to cook in your own kitchen. Or do you?
Yes, you do. Cooking at home is no longer the laborious process it was just a generation ago. Everyone wants to spend less time in the kitchen. Just start with a few convenience foods and add fresh foods and your own special touch to create super quick and easy meals that anyone can make. And with just a little more effort, you can make your own convenience foods that are healthier than the versions you'll find in your local grocery store.
Convenience foods are defined as those that combine more than one ingredient. They can range from a brownie mix to a pasta sauce to a frozen vegetable combination. Some of these foods can be less expensive than the individual parts, while some cost more. For instance, cake mix is cheaper than buying all the dry ingredients to make a cake from scratch, but refrigerated premade biscuits will almost always cost more than the homemade variety. You must decide which virtue is more important: saving time or saving money.
Many people object to these processed ingredients for health reasons. There are a few ways around the high-sodium, high-fat traps. Look for products that are labeled low sodium and low in fat; almost every convenience product has a healthier counterpart. Or make the convenience foods yourself and control the ingredients that you cook with.
Yes, there are homemade alternatives for everything from crescent rolls to soups to cake mixes. If you find that you use one of these foods frequently, take a little bit of time every few weeks to make a large batch of the Almost Homemade recipe. Then making these recipes will be even easier than using the commercial brands because you won't have to make a run to the grocery store!
Start right now by picking a few items you already have in your pantry, fridge, or freezer and whipping up some easy, delicious, inexpensive, and healthy meals in minutes. It's really almost homemade.
This book has a slightly different format than other Everything® cookbooks. Instead of dividing the recipes into breads, entrees, desserts, salads, and so forth, each chapter focuses on one convenience food and builds recipes on that food. If you're looking for an easy dessert recipe, browse through Start with Sweet Baking Mixes. If you want to make an entrée, look in Start with Canned Beans or Start with Precooked Chicken.
And you'll find some surprises too. There's a meatloaf recipe in Start with Canned Soup, and enchiladas and a rich beef soup that use pasta sauce as a base. Browse through the book and make notes of the recipes you want to try.