Prepackaged Meals that You Can Make Yourself

Prepackaged meals. we all try to avoid them, but actually may end up with a few in the cupboard. While they aren’t too pricy, a majority of the ingredient list is more than a little concerning. Hydrogenated this, hydrolyzed that. And the sodium content? Sheesh. Looking at the nutrition label of a popular boxed meal, and one serving of the stuff will give you 770mg of sodium. An adult’s daily intake is usually more than sufficient at 1,500mg—most of us don’t even need that much.

As always, we aim to provide you with recipes and meal idea made from locally sourced, organic ingredients, using what you already have in your pantry. In the long run, it’s less expensive and the nourishment value is much higher than in prepackaged meals.  So, if you’re in search of a way to steer clear of putting your money towards meals that come in a box and don’t last very long, here are a few that you can make yourself.

Breadsticks

This recipe is referred to as “Breadsticks,” and while it does make amazing breadsticks, it can also be used to make pizza, calzones, dinner braids, or a quick loaf of bread. If you master this simple recipe, you will never have to buy one of trans fat tubes of dough again.

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees.

Combine 1 tablespoon yeast, 1 ½ cup warm water, ½ teaspoon sugar. Let them rise and set on top of your stove; it’s getting warm, which makes for an ideal place for the yeast to get going.

Once the yeast is bubbly, add 2 tablespoons sugar, ½ teaspoon salt, and about 3 cups of flour—or a little more if needed—just enough to make a nice, soft dough. (It shouldn’t be sticking to the bowl or your hands.)

Take your ball of dough out of your mixing bowl, grease the bowl, and put the dough back in. Cover the bowl with a damp towel, and place it back on the stove.

Let it rise for ten minutes.

Now, on a floured surface, roll the dough out until it’s about ½ inch thick. With a pizza cutter, cut into 4×2-inch strips. Dip the strips into melted butter, then place them on a baking sheet. Let them rise for 15 minutes, then bake them for 12-14 minutes.

Brownies

No need to buy a mix when you’ve got cocoa powder on hand. You can make several batches of brownies for the cost of one mix.

Mix together:

  • 1 cup softened butter
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla

After those are mixed well, add:

  • 1 ½ cup flour
  • ½ cup cocoa powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt

Pour the batter into a greased and floured 13×9 pan, and bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.

For a family of four, cutting the recipe in half is just about perfect; there’s enough for dinner and for a few leftovers for the next day, and you can save the rest of the ingredients for another batch later on.

Chicken Pasta Salad

Stir together:

  • 12 oz. package bowtie pasta, cooked
  • 12 oz. package rainbow pasta, cooked
  • 6 chicken breasts (cooked and shredded or cubed)
  • 1 can crushed pineapple, lightly drained
  • 2 cups celery, finely chopped
  • 2 cups red grapes, quartered
  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 bottle coleslaw dressing

This is just what the recipe calls for. It makes a lot, so it’s perfect for when you have to serve a lot of people. Salads like this are great because you’re able to use whatever you have on had; apples instead of grapes, cucumbers instead of celery, canned chicken, more mayo if you don’t have dressing, etc. Don’t be afraid to break the rules.

Roasted Red Pepper Hummus

In a food processor, blend the following:

  • 1 can chickpeas
  • 2 heaping tablespoons tahini
  • Juice of one freshly squeezed lemon; or 2 tablespoons of the bottled kind
  • ½ teaspoons salt
  • 1 roasted red pepper (you can use a small jar of roasted red peppers)
  • 2 cloves of chopped garlic sauteed in 2 tablespoons of olive oil

Blend ingredients together for a few minutes, and serve with crackers, veggies, or use it as a sandwich spread.

Sidenote: while throwing everything into the blender makes a good hummus, mixing everything else – the tahini, lemon juice, salt, garlic, and oil — and then blending it in with the beans makes it even better.

Cheese and Broccoli Soup

In a large microwavable bowl, melt 6 tablespoons butter, then add 4 tablespoons flour and 2 teaspoons chicken bouillon; stir well.
Return to microwave for 1 minute, then whisk in 4 cups milk.
Return to microwave for 18 minutes or until thick; stop and stir every 4 minutes.
Add one jar of Cheez Wiz and stir until it melts into the soup.
Add 2 large bunches of chopped, cooked broccoli.

[via Everyday Family]