There’s nothing wrong with Semi-Homemade
That’s right. I said it. I have no problems with using shortcuts (like jar marinara sauce) to make my weeknights easier while still providing a home cooked meal to my family.
Not everyone can make their dinners 100% home made and organic every night. Not only is that time consuming, but it can also be expensive.
So, instead, I pick and choose what I feel makes sense to be organic, homemade, etc. Some things are so quick and easy that it doesn’t make sense not to be homemade. Some are so time consuming, that it is near impossible to do on a working mom’s schedule.
So, where do I take my shortcuts? Here’s my go to items that I have no qualms with using for quick weeknight helpers:
- Better than Bouillon Base
This is my favorite flavor additive lately. It’s 10x better than those dried up bouillon cubes with less sodium to boot. It will make any weeknight soup taste like you made the base from scratch. If you have a soup our stew, just add 1 tbl of this base to it and it’ll give it the depth of something that’s been cooking all day. I also use it in my sauces and gravys.
- Jar Pasta Sauces
Yep, I use them. As easy as my mom’s 20 minute quick spaghetti is, there are times when I don’t have any meat defrosted, so jar sauce and frozen meatballs it is! If I’m lucky, I will have a batch of my Italian Sausage Meatballs in the freezer, but not always.
- Frozen Armanino Meatballs
Yep, I will buy frozen meatballs. I prefer this brand to the others, but it’s not as easy to find (only Lucky’s here in the SF Bay area sells them as far as I know).
- Pesto Sauce
I’ll buy a big jar of Pesto sauce from Costco and use it to enhance things like baked chicken, pasta sauces, soups, etc.
- Canned Beans
I don’t always have time to soak and cook beans for hours, so I have several cans of Kidney, Pinto and Black beans on hand. Great for adding to soups or as a side.
- Canned Diced Tomatoes
This is a must. I usually buy different types of diced tomatoes like Basil & Garlic or Diced Green Chilis. They are a great way to enhance a meal that calls for tomatoes.
- Knorr Sides Chicken Noodles
Ok, this is something that really shouldn’t be on my list, but I just throw some cooked chicken and some frozen veggies and it’s a 10 minute meal. So simple and easy, I have this on hand most of the time, although I save it for true time emergencies.
- Campbell’s Cream of Mushroom Soup
I know I know! But, I grew up on using Campbell’s soups in many of the dishes my mom made. Now it is comfort food, and it is easy to make a quick meal with it. I don’t always use it, but you will see it scattered in some of my recipes.
- Frozen mixed vegetables
Not horrible, but definitely not fresh/organic. I do use the frozen vegetables when I have no time to wash and cut up vegetables, or when I haven’t had time to go to the grocery store.
- Herb Paste: Cilantro, Dill, Parsley
These are great when your fresh herbs are not sprouting or when you just didn’t know you needed fresh cilantro or dill. Beware if you have food allergies, because I believe there maybe wheat in them.
Recipes using Shortcuts
Here are a handful of the recipes I have posted so far that use one or more of the above shortcuts. As you can see, most of them are 20-30 minutes from start to finish.
- Quick Vegetable Meatball Soup
- Pesto Oven Fried Chicken
- Penne with Sausage & Peppers
- Cherri’s Tuna on Toast
- Pesto Pasta Salad
So, that’s it. My dirty secret is out! I do take shortcuts.
What about you? What are your favorite shortcuts?