Updated: 08/17/2012 4:05 PM
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Home Prepared Convenience Foods
Cooking instructor, Donna Nowicki, prepared food in advance at home for years instead of buying the convenience foods in the grocery store. Just by setting aside a couple of hours on a day you have time to prepare these ahead of time, you can save a lot of money and eat healthier too.
All of the recipes are designed to be quick, convenient, healthier than their store-bought counterparts and much more economical!
Whip up several batches of each item below. Label them and store in a cool, dry cabinet. Throughout the month, simply grab a pre-made bag and you can prepare a quick meal or snack at a fraction of convenience food prices!
Be sure to check out the tips in italics, for even more savings!
INSTANT OATMEAL PACKETS
3 cups quick oats (store brand is cheaper and tastes no different than name brand. To further save, purchase oats in bulk at Cub or the health food store.)
8 plastic sandwich bags (cheap store brand. When finished using item, rewash and re-use rather than throw out.)
Put ½ cup oats in a blender and whirl at high speed until powdery; reserve in a small bowl and repeat procedure with an additional ½ cup of oats. If using a food processor, powder the 1 cup of oats all at once. Into each sandwich bag put ¼ cup unpowdered oats, 2 tablespoons powdered oats and ¼ teaspoon salt. Fold and seal with tape. Store packets in a box or airtight container.
To serve: empty packet into a bowl. Add ¾ cup boiling water; stir and let stand for 2 minutes. For thicker oatmeal, use less water; for thinner, use more water.
To each packet add 1 tablespoon sugar, ¼ teaspoon cinnamon and 2 tablespoons chopped dried apples.(cinnamon purchased in bulk at health food store is much cheaper than those tiny little bottles. Making your own dried apples is cheaper but a little more time-consuming)
To each packet add 1 tablespoon sugar.
To each packet add 1 tablespoon sugar, ¼ teaspoon cinnamon and a scant 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg.
OATMEAL WITH RAISINS AND BROWN SUGAR
To each packet add 1 tablespoon packet brown sugar and 1 tablespoon raisins. (warehouse club bulk raisins are usually cheaper than grocery store prices.)
WHEAT GERM OATMEAL
To teach packet add 2 tablespoons any kind of wheat germ.
Chicken and Rice Casserole in a Mug
Recipe courtesy of Daphne Hartwig
1/3 cup instant rice (store brand)
1 teaspoon dried celery flakes (health food store bulk purchase is usually cheapest)
¼ teaspoon dried onion flakes (health food store bulk purchase is usually cheapest)
1 teaspoon dried chives (health food store bulk purchase is usually cheapest)
1 (4 ½ oz.) can chunk chicken (store brand is fine for this recipe)
In a small bowl, combine all ingredients, except the can of chicken. Mix well and place in a sandwich size zip-top bag and seal. Place can of chicken in mug and top with filled bag. Make sure the mug holds a volume of 1 ½ cups.
Chicken and Rice Casserole directions
Chicken and Rice Casserole Mix
½ cups water
1 tablespoon butter
2 tablespoons shredded cheddar cheese (warehouse club prices are usually cheapest)
Place chicken and rice casserole mix from bag into mug. Add drained chicken from can to ingredients in mug.
In a small saucepan, place water and butter. Bring to a boil and pour over ingredients in mug. Mix well and let stand for 5 to 8 minutes. Top with shredded cheddar cheese and heat in microwave until cheese is melted.
Homemade Hamburger Help Chili Mac Mix
Recipe adapted from Daphne Hartwig
2 cups nonfat dry milk (buy at health food store in bulk or warehouse club. DON’T succumb to the grocery store prices for this item!)
1 cup corn starch (health food store bulk purchase is usually cheapest)
¼ cup beef bouillon powder
2 Tblsp onion flakes (health food store bulk purchase is usually cheapest)
1 tsp dried basil (health food store bulk purchase is usually cheapest)
1 tsp dried thyme (health food store bulk purchase is usually cheapest)
1 tsp black pepper
2 T dried parsley (health food store bulk purchase is usually cheapest)
1 T garlic powder (health food store bulk purchase is usually cheapest)
Measure all ingredients into a food processor and blend thoroughly. Measure ½ cup mix and 1 tablespoon chili powder into a small Ziploc baggie and seal. Place 1 ½ cups of uncooked small elbow macaroni into another Ziploc baggie and seal. In a regular brown lunch bag place the ½ cup mix, elbow macaroni, and 1 (29 oz.) can of tomato sauce; seal and store in cool, dry cabinet. Repeat process until all mix is used.
When ready to make chili mac, remove one bag from the cabinet. Brown 1 pound ground beef or turkey and ½ cup chopped onion in a skillet; drain. Add the basic mix bag, 1 ¾ cups of hot water and tomato sauce to the skillet; stir to combine. Add ground beef and the elbow macaroni. Heat to boiling. Be careful! This is a thick sauce and bubbles a lot when on high heat so heat just to boiling and then reduce heat to low simmer and cover. Cook approximately 20 minutes or until macaroni is cooked.
ADDITIONAL TIME-SAVER TIP
On a day when you have time, brown a few pounds of ground beef and chopped onion, drain and measure into small freezer bags in one-pound portions. Label and place in freezer. Remove one baggie and place in fridge the day you’re planning to make Chili Mac. Skip the browning meat process and simply add the contents of the pre-cooked meat baggie to the skillet when you add the uncooked macaroni.
Cake Mix in a Mug
1 white cake mix (I admit…technically this is not from scratch but it’s a really fun and tasty recipe. Cheapest cake mix is fine. Check the damaged food isle of your grocery store. Many times I find a boxed mix with the corner smashed for half the price but the inside package is no different than the one off the shelf. You can make your own from-scratch cake mix if you like to stretch this even further.)
1 ( 4 serving size) instant pudding mix , any flavor (I like pistachio) (store brand is cheapest.)
Blend ingredients well until completely mixed. Measure ½ cups dry mix into ziploc bags and seal.
In a separate Ziploc baggie combine the following ingredients:
1/3 cup powdered sugar
1 ½ tsp baking cocoa powder (health food store bulk purchase is usually cheapest)
Place one cake mix baggie and one glaze mix baggie into a brown paper lunch bag. Seal and attach the following directions (print out a bunch of directions and cut and staple one to each bag).
Grease or spray coffee mug with cooking spray. Empty Cake Mix into mug and add 1 egg white, 1 tablespoon oil & 1 tablespoon water. Blend with fork until smooth. Place in microwave and cook on high for 2 minutes.
While cake is cooking add 1½ tsp water to glaze mix in baggie. Close and gently rub baggie until glaze is smooth. When cake is done, remove from microwave, cut a small hole in the corner of glaze packet and apply glaze to your mug cake.
Eat while warm!
ADDITIONAL TIME-SAVER TIP
Make use two boxes of white cake mix and a few boxes of different pudding mixes and make up several bags of cake mix and glaze mix to keep stored in the cabinet. Whenever a family member wants something sweet, all they have to do is pick a bag and microwave a quick treat! This is also great in summer when you don’t want to turn on the oven but want a quick dessert!