budget talk

Some Convenience Foods Are Worth The Price

It’s that time of year again when the days start to get shorter. I don’t know about you, but during the summer I always feel like I have plenty of time to tackle everything on my to do list, but once fall rolls around I start wishing some days had an extra hour or so.

For us budget conscious cooks we’re often torn between purchasing more convenience type foods that will give us some extra time, or making everything from scratch.

But do you have to feel guilty if you spend a few extra dollars heading to the salad bar at the supermarket rather than putting together your own at home? I think you have to look at each situation as it arises. And now and then we all have emergency situations.

Here are a few other foods I’ve found ideal for those days when nothing goes right but dinner still needs to be made.

A bag of shredded coleslaw, especially the type with shredded carrots. A quick and easy side dish. If I have some in the fridge, I’ll put a homemade peanut and soy dressing with it. I also like the broccoli slaw that goes great with blue cheesing dressing and chopped roasted walnuts. It pairs ideally with chops, burgers or veggie burgers.

Frozen Burgers and Meatballs
Speaking of burgers, I always make sure I have a packet of turkey burgers and veggie burgers or meatballs stored in the freezer, plus some hamburger buns.

Mixed Veggies
A couple of bags of mixed vegetables, like baby corn, broccoli, sliced red pepper, perfect for a quick stir-fry

Frozen Pastry
Phyllo and puff pastry dough. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a recipe for Phyllo dough and I can’t imagine spending an hour or so making puff pastry when you can get a package of both these items for less than $4. Perfect for a speedy pot pie.

Pizza Crust
I always have every good intention of making my own, but whenever I pass the pasta aisle I see the prepackaged ones on the top shelf and can’t seem to leave the store without one.

Salad Dressings
I’m switching over to making my own, but I do keep one or two on hand for those just in case days. Not so much for salads, but types like Italian or vinaigrette dressings are great for a quick marinade for chicken or fish. The taste will make everyone think you spent hours on the recipe.

Frozen Potatoes
I usually make my own oven fries, but once again, keep prepackaged ones on hand for those just in case days.

Chicken Breasts
Look for the type that doesn’t have to be defrosted before you put them in the oven. They can be pulled out of the freezer and on the table in less than 30 minutes.

Frozen Fish
Some type of packaged frozen fish, quick to defrost and cook and really versatile. One of my favorites is fish tacos.

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