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Old 12-15-2005, 10:52 AM   #31
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Neat site, and huge! Somebody on another board pointed me here, adn I thought I'd comment on those Vigo rice packets that somebody posted about early in the thread:

They taste pretty good, but are <RonWhite>Loooooooooooooooaded</RonWhite> with salt. The jambalaya packet makes an acceptable version, but I would probably be most likely to take it backpacking with me rather than eating it at home. Yellow rice is less salty, and makes a good accompaniment to grilled chicken, etc.

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Old 12-15-2005, 12:16 PM   #32
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well, a lot of those flavor packets contain "thickener" for the sauces...gluten and soy etc. They are not just spices. But a hamburger stoganoff is easy enough to make with hamburger, onion soup mix, some sliced mushrooms and a pt of sour cream. Many of the pasta ones can be made with hamburger, a jar of classico, ready cook lazagna and shredded mozzarellla.

Frankly I can't imagine the freezer ready ones (meat veg n all) tasting worth my $$$ when I can have fresh meat and vegetables stir fried over rice quickly. One can precook a lot of rice, freeze in small containers and nuke up when ready. That may save some time if 20 min is too long.

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Old 12-27-2005, 05:49 PM   #33
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When my fiance and I first opened a box of hamburger helper we did everything by the box, and the convenience was just so tempting that we must have tried every variety multiple times before coming to our conclusion: there had to be a better way to cook these meals without the tomato (I'm allergic) and the sodium. Just stay away from the seasoning packages. You're much better off using your own spices anyway, to suit your own tastes at least. A lot of sodium sneaks in with cheap quality ground beef as well, so dont cut corners in that department, look for lean meat. Also a trick that we like to utilize in many recipes, is substituting broth for water when cooking rice and pasta, in order to not have to add more seasoning later.
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Old 12-27-2005, 06:08 PM   #34
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Hi GB, when I lived overseas there really wasn't much in the pre-prepared foods aisle at the supermarket, and I worked full time with three little girls. I used to come home and drop my bags and go straight into the kitchen and try to get dinner on the table as quickly as possible. I made up some dishes that could maybe work for you....I really liked purrfectlydivine's idea for making a "hamburger helper" mix!

My ideas are not original - I see variations all over this post!

Essentially, I'd brown mince meat (steak mince usually (hamburger)), add seasonings (worcestershire sauce, beef broth, salt, pepper, garlic -- whatever strikes your fancy), frozen veggies, raw rice and liquid, then leave to simmer for 1/2 hour or so. My mom calls dishes like this "Hot Pot". They are filling, quick and cheap and can be done in one pot.

This works nicely with chicken: brown the chicken as you would the minced meat, then, throw in some rice, garlic powder maybe (fresh is nicer of course, but to save time I guess you'd use the packaged stuff....), a packet of Goya chicken boullion & water, or some nice pre-packaged chicken broth, frozen broccoli florets......and Bob's your uncle, you have a nice meal.

I cooked for my girls right from the get-go - pre-packaged baby foods were prohibitively expensive. I'd do a squash or something in one pot, then mash it. They ate very very well.

Good Luck finding the right 'mix' for you - even today I'm still working full time, the girls are 21, 19 and 17 and my husband comes in starving every night and it's still a challenge - although these days they do pitch in.
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Old 12-27-2005, 10:44 PM   #35
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Originally Posted by dgail620
Thank you for the recipes! Do you by chance have one for Cheeseburger Macaroni? On the rate occasion I use HH, that is my fav.
Sorry I didn't see the replies before this. For cheeseburger macaroni, I looked at the chili mac, which called for 1/2 cup uncooked macaroni and 1 cup of water and would add the those to the browned and drained meat and the "mix". I would add a can of cheddar cheese soup thinned with milk or water to sauce consistency and see how it tastes. You might want to add a little tomato sauce also. Hope this helps.
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Old 12-28-2005, 04:16 AM   #36
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I don't understand WHY so many packaged foods contain such a vast amount of salt. I bought a couple of those New Orleans type foods and they were so salty we couldn't eat them. My gd had told me she cooked them and liked it. I don't think that much salt is required to preserve the ingredients. It really worries me that so many of our young people may be overdoing it with those products.
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Old 12-30-2005, 10:57 AM   #37
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I've been told by friends that it is indeed the preservative effect. It can stand on shelves for lifetimes with the salt.

I get sick from the chemical taste of such things, but that's just me (well, and the rest of my family.) Oh, my husband and I can hardly stand anything out of can or box. It hides the true taste of the food. There must be a reason good restaurants use fresh ingredients.
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Old 01-03-2006, 11:07 AM   #38
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My favorite seasonings

It's nice to be able to put the ingredients you/family like when you do it yourself and avoid any preservatives, etc. Many of the prepared packets contain MSG. I use herbs (fresh & dry) like garlic, black pepper, some salt, onion, thyme, cumin, sage, paprika (when I want some color.) I adjust the spices according to the dish I'm making.

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