Food, Wine, Rock & Roll

Part food blog, part jam session

As the school year gets underway, I’m sure we all find ourselves growing more & more busy.  I know I do.  Because of this, I find I have less & less time to make fresh, home cooked meals.  And, if you are anything like me, the temptation to simply stop at a fast-food restaurant & grab a quick meal increases as the year progresses.  So how does one fight this temptation that, when given in to, not only effects your health but also your wallet? Easy!  I have found some excellent time-saving, pre-packaged foods (both at the grocery store & online) that are not only delicious, but are also relatively healthy & easy on the budget.

1. Tony Chachere dinner mixes: These are awesome if you like Creole food.  My favorites are the etouffe mix, the gumbo (both the dinner mix & the gumbo base mix), & the jambalaya mix.  They take anywhere from 5 minutes (the etouffe) to 30 minutes (the jambalaya) to cook.  Combine them with shrimp, andouille sausage, chicken, &/or crawfish, serve them with warm bread & butter, & you have an instant Creole dinner to serve your family.  The Tony Chachere line also has a wide variety of spices, meats, & marinades for your cooking needs.

2. Bertoli: I love pretty much everything Bertoli makes.  I use the olive oil for regular cooking, enjoy their pasta sauces, & love the frozen meals.  I especially love their frozen meals.  They are tasty and only take about ten minutes to cook.  The classic meals include a nice variety of classic pasta dishes (my favorite is the Chicken Florentine & Farfalle pasta), the Mediterranean style meals are a little lighter, & the oven bake meals are perfect when you want something bubbly and warm from the oven.  Most of these meals are perfect for two people.

3. Bear Creek Soups: As Fall approaches & the nights grow cooler, I begin to crave hearty soups & stews for dinner.  Bear Creek Soups are dry soup mixes that can be found in the soup aisle of your grocery store (usually down by the Lipton soup mix area).  They are inexpensive, quick & easy to make, & can feed lots of people (the small size serves four).  Just add water, cook for 30 minutes, & you have a delicious soup or stew that tastes home-made.  My absolute favorite is the tortilla soup which I like to serve with Mexican cheese, sour cream, avocado slices, & warmed tortillas.  If you have time, you can also mix in shredded chicken to add a bit of protein.  I also like the Creamy Potato & the Cheddar Potato; combine the two for a delicious Creamy Cheesy Potato soup that everyone will love.

4. Amy’s Kitchen: If organic & vegetarian is what you are in to, then Amy’s is the way to go.  This line has a HUGE variety of frozen meals, snacks, pizzas, burgers, international foods, deserts, breakfasts, etc.  You name it, Amy’s has it (as long as it’s vegetarian & organic).  I have enjoyed everything I have ever tried in this brand.  My favorites are the burritos, especially the bean & cheese.

5. Knorr Sides: This used to be the Lipton Rice/Pasta Sides.  These take less than ten minutes to cook &, when combined with a protein, make a great, quick meal sure to make the whole family happy.  I really like to brown hamburger meat & combine it with the Mushroom rice for an instant rice casserole.

6. Comfort Foods/Desert Gardens: I first came across this brand when I was spending a summer in the mountains of New Mexico and instantly fell in love.  The line includes dip mixes, spices, salsas, soup & stew mixes, & even breads & desserts.  The Desert Garden products bring the Southwest straight into your home, while the Country Gardens line is more conventional comfort food style mixes.  I generally stick with the Desert Garden line, simply because I have a deep love for the flavors of New Mexico.  The dip mixes are great & perfect for any party or quick afternoon snack (my favorite is the green chile dip).  My favorite soups/stews are the Tortilla soup & the Green Chile stew, which packs a lot of spicy heat.  I have not been able to find this brand in stores outside of New Mexico so I order in bulk online.  They are reasonably priced & ship very quickly.

7. Mahatma Rice: Mix with your choice of protein & you have an instant dinner.  I like the red beans & rice mixed with andouille sausage or the Saffron yellow rice with chicken.

8. Freschetta: The brick oven pizzas are amazing!

These are just a few of the brands I like to use when time is short but don’t want to give in to the temptation of fast-food.  Hopefully I have given you some great ideas for feeding your self & your family when time is short but the want for healthy meals isn’t.

One Response to “Homecooking is Hard”

  1. This is a topic that’s near to my heart… Cheers!

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