Let’s face it. Boxed meals are God’s gift to busy people. As much as I love to cook, there are times that I just don’t have time to make meals from scratch. That doesn’t mean boxed meals can’t be kicked up a few notches and made into something that seems more homemade. There are a number of tips and tricks you can use to make boxed meals taste better.
Never Use the Microwave
Many boxed meals will state that you can prepare the meal in the microwave. Technically, you could cook your Thanksgiving turkey in the microwave, but that doesn’t mean you should. Microwaves rarely cook foods evenly and can dry out many meals. It’s highly recommend to cook boxed meals on the stove top or in the oven.
Add a Bit of Spice
Boxed meals can sometimes be a bit bland. Taste the meal as you prepare it and then raid your spice cabinet. By adding just a bit of spice, you can take away that bland flavor and make the dish taste closer to homemade. For example, add fresh cracked black pepper to beef stroganoff or cayenne pepper to the tops of biscuits for a bit of kick and color.
Incorporate Other Ingredients
One of my favorite tricks is to add additional ingredients to boxed meals. It may be a can of refried beans to a taco bake or a can of mushrooms to Hamburger Helper. Not only does this make boxed meals taste better, but it can also stretch the meal as well. Not to mention, that adding vegetables to boxed meals is a great way to add nutrition to an otherwise unhealthy dish.
Freshen Up the Flavor
Without a doubt, the best way to improve the flavor of boxed meals is to use fresh ingredients. There are a number of ways to do this. You might add fresh vegetables to a boxed pizza kit along with fresh cheese and pepperoni. Another idea is to add additional cheese to Mexican kits. You can even turn boxed side dishes into complete meals by adding meat and vegetables. I love to cook chicken fried rice from a box and add chopped chicken breast, toasted slivered almonds and chopped green onions. It’s quick, easy and tastes homemade. The sky’s the limit. Just one fresh ingredient can make a big difference. The next time you make a boxed meal, raid your refrigerator to see what would make the meal even better.