Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Dressing up a boxed dinner

As a busy mom, I am always looking for ways to make a quick meal for my family, without going out to eat (and busting our budget). I have had great luck lately and have stocked up on "helpers" for $.75 to $1.00 each. This is a great quick, inexpensive meal for the family, but I like to dress them up for a more home made taste. (Frugal side note: Don't ever use all of the meat that they call for, it seems to overpower the "helper" - except tuna. I only use about 1 1/2 cups of cooked crumbled ground beef in Hamburger Helper and about 1 1/2 cups of cooked cubed chicken for Chicken Helper. I buy ground beef and chicken in bulk and cook it all and freeze in meal size portions).

Here are some suggestions:

  1. I love to add frozen peas after it has been brought to a boil, and before I reduce heat and cover. This is especially good with Tuna Helper Cheesy Pasta.
  2. After your "helper" is done add something on top - bread crumbs, parmesan cheese, grated cheese, french fried onions, fresh diced tomatoes, etc.
  3. Did you know you that there are also directions for cooking your "helper" in the oven. This adds a different twist and makes it into more of a casserole. Before cooking add chopped onions, chopped celery, frozen peas (thawed), frozen broccoli (thawed).
  4. There is a chicken helper meal that is a Cheesy Enchilada with Rice (I can't remember the exact name). I love to make this and then serve it in tortillas. It makes a great burrito - you could even add black beans, refried beans and/or sour cream.

You know what your family likes, so think outside the box (no pun intended) and dress up your boxed dinners!

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