09 June 2011

When You Were Young

I used to hate when Mom put extra noodles in the Hamburger Helper. I understand why she did it—when we were kids, my brother and I knew how to eat; we could put away two boxes of the stuff between us. Feeding just yourself is expensive—feeding kids even more so. Unfortunately, she just added noodles without compensating for how thin the sauce would be spread afterward, so we were always disappointed with this version of our favorite food.

Adding noodles, however, does save some money per serving, even if you're just using the off-brand (Kitchen Creations!) like myself. So, here is how I make my meal in a box taste just as good as the original.
  • Extra meat.
    This one may sound a little silly. Why buy more meat when it's already the most expensive part of the dish? My reasoning is this: most packages of ground chuck (when you're not getting the stuff that comes in tubes) don't have exactly one pound of meat. Instead of searching for the package closest to one pound or under, I look for the package that has 1.21 pounds, 1.36 pounds. This gives you a little more meat to play with, so your extra noodles don't overwhelm the burger, and you're not paying too much extra.
  • Spices.
    This may seem self-explanatory, but my mom forgot to add extra spice every time. The simplest solution is to add salt and whatever spice is most abundant in the recipe. Garlic salt and seasoning salt also work really well. I also like to at a little cayenne pepper.
  • Water and butter.
    When I use most meal helpers, I tend to replace the milk with water and butter. This was not originally because it brought down the price. I started making recipes this way because the milk in my fridge was bad, and I didn't want to run to the store for more. Instead I added two tbsp. butter and replaced the milk with water. I haven't had anything taste terribly so far, so I'll continue to do this until I create something too foul for consumption.
  • Noodles.
    I try not to add more than enough to make two extra servings. Otherwise, the flavor becomes too thin, which is the reason why I hated when Mom added noodles in the first place. Also, when you're boiling the noodles, add a little of the flavoring packet to the water as well as your salt. That way, just like with the noodles in the original, your new noodles have picked up some of the flavor from the sauce.
So that's how I help my meal helper go further while still tasting great. What ways do you make prepackaged food go further than the maker intended?

No comments:

Post a Comment