"Discover Cooking, Discuss Life."

Go Back   Discuss Cooking - Cooking Forums > General Cooking Information > Menu Planning > Today's Menu
Click Here to Login
Reply
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
 
Old 11-04-2006, 01:51 PM   #1
Senior Chef
 
Join Date: Sep 2006
Location: Outside of Memphis, TN
Posts: 339
Send a message via Yahoo to FraidKnot
Boxed Mixes (convenience food) - how do you feel about them?

I'm referring to boxed mixes such as for rice, pasta, potatoes, etc. I'm not a big fan of prepared mixes. I will say I like Zatarain's (Jambalaya, Red Beans & Rice for example). I've cooked these items from scratch and they take a ton of ingredients and lots of prep work. Zatarain's mixes actually taste good (although as with anything along these lines the sodium content is too high).

I tend to draw the line at trying any boxed mix which contains powdered cheese (shudder). My mom didn't like to cook but she didn't subject us to Kraft Macaroni & Cheese. (Granted, she used Velveeta but it still beat powdered cheese by a mile IMHO.)

I make au gratin potatoes or scalloped potatoes from scratch. Same thing with mashed potatoes. There's just something funky about dehydrated potato flakes. I can make my own broccoli & cheese rice without buying a packet or a box. The price of broccoli where I live has been outrageous the last couple of years but frozen florets (not the block of chopped broccoli) can often be had, two 16 oz. bags for a dollar and they work just fine in a rice dish that has to simmer 20 minutes anyway.

What say you?

__________________

FraidKnot is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-04-2006, 02:18 PM   #2
Head Chef
 
lulu's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2006
Location: England
Posts: 2,039
I hate pre-prepared, boxed meals/food, full stop. I notice that I always feel slow and overloaded and yet hungry after eating it. As my mother has got older and cooks less she relies on it and we bicker about that because I think it correlates with her bouts of ill health. I loved "Smashed" potato when I was a kid, but its the real thing or nothing for me nowadays. I consider take outs a huge concesion to my regime, and the occasional pudding,but boxed meals or sides, NO WAY!

edited to add: I do use canned consomme and the occasioanal thing, so I guess I am more mouth than trousers, but I do TRY and stick to cooking from scratch most of the time.
__________________

__________________
In omnibus amor et iustum
lulu is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-04-2006, 02:27 PM   #3
Chef Extraordinaire
 
mudbug's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2004
Location: NoVA, beyond the Beltway
Posts: 11,166
Fraidy, I say they're OK. I like the convenience, frankly. Some days there's been just too much going on to do otherwise.

I use Zatarain's fairly regularly when I need to use up leftover bits and pieces of pork, chicken, or beef.

I'm with you on the potatoes, thing, though. Taters seems to be so cheap and the prep work so minimal that it's silly not to make your own. Although some folks like to have the box of potato flakes around for thickening soups and sauces and whatnot.

Yeah, powdered cheese is kind of skanky, but so what? We all have skanky nights in the kitchen and it's nothing to be ashamed of.

I say whatever works for you is what you should do. Those who have the time to do every little bit from scratch are fine people but with more time than I have every night.
__________________
Kool Aid - Think before you drink.
mudbug is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-04-2006, 02:36 PM   #4
Master Chef
 
Join Date: Mar 2006
Location: Culpeper, VA
Posts: 5,803
I have to admit that I am a BIG Zatarains fan. No, I'm not using it constantly, but it tastes fresh, is never too salty, & is a great way to toss together a quick meal. Adding some cooked chicken thighs, andouille sausage, & fresh okra to either the Gumbo or Jambalaya mixes yields a wonderful one-pot meal; the yellow rice is a nice base for a sauteed seafood mix; the rice & bean mixes go wonderfully with plain roasted chicken; and the new French Market Vegetable mix makes a terrific base for scampi or any type of meat or fish stew.

As far as other brands, I've definitely slacked off. Once in a blue moon I'll buy a "Spanish Rice" mix or a packet of pasta mix in a pinch, but those times are far & few between. As far as the potato mixes, I tried one once, many years ago, & just didn't find it good enough to try again.

I'm not a big fan of processed foods, but do admit that I do enjoy Zatarains' products. When I use them, I just consider it a slightly healthier "fast food" - lol!!!!
BreezyCooking is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-04-2006, 02:43 PM   #5
Executive Chef
 
Join Date: Nov 2004
Location: USA,Florida
Posts: 3,835
I don't use many processed foods, HOWEVER, they are good in a pinch. I'm not a purist and sometimes I want something I'm not willing to spend hours making.
__________________
Be an organ donor; give your heart to Jesus.
Exercise daily; walk with the Lord.
licia is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-04-2006, 03:11 PM   #6
Senior Chef
 
Join Date: Sep 2006
Location: Outside of Memphis, TN
Posts: 339
Send a message via Yahoo to FraidKnot
Quote:
Originally Posted by licia
I don't use many processed foods, HOWEVER, they are good in a pinch. I'm not a purist and sometimes I want something I'm not willing to spend hours making.
No joke! If you've ever made Paul Prudhomme's Red Beans & Rice from scratch you appreciate the convenience of Zatarain's all the more! The ingredients list is something like (without my getting out the cookbook to check) 28 items! And the prep time, sheesh!

Fraidy
FraidKnot is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-04-2006, 03:13 PM   #7
Chef Extraordinaire
 
mudbug's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2004
Location: NoVA, beyond the Beltway
Posts: 11,166
jeez, Fraidy - I'd have to put red beans and rice in the Easy category in my house. Throw a bunch of stuff into a pot and walk away and watch a football game or something. Stir at halftime.

I'll try to dig up my recipe for you if you want.
__________________
Kool Aid - Think before you drink.
mudbug is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-04-2006, 03:20 PM   #8
Master Chef
 
Join Date: Mar 2006
Location: Culpeper, VA
Posts: 5,803
FraidKnot - I COMPLETELY agree with you!!! (And Mudbug - yes I HAVE - quite frequently made authentic from scratch beans & rice dishes.)

But you know - I have 7 horses, 4 dogs (3 of which are old & incontinent), 5 cats (again several of which are old & on their way out), an attention-demanding cockatoo, & a tank of fish to take care of. Not to mention household duties & a husband whose evening arrival time can be anywhere within a 4-hour range.

It's far far easier for me to dump a box of Zatarains into a pot for 20-25 minutes & be done with it than go thru the regular business. I'm not at all saying that Zatarains compares to the "by scratch" method - but for some of us it really does make a nice meal when we need one in a minute.

To each his own. : )
BreezyCooking is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-04-2006, 03:23 PM   #9
Chef Extraordinaire
 
mudbug's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2004
Location: NoVA, beyond the Beltway
Posts: 11,166
Oh, absolutely, Breezy. I usually make from-scratch beans and rice on a weekend, when I've got the time to stir. As I said, I use Zat's a lot (during the week). And to repeat something I also said - those who have the time to do it all from scratch don't have the issues you identified.
__________________
Kool Aid - Think before you drink.
mudbug is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-04-2006, 06:06 PM   #10
Head Chef
 
skilletlicker's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2005
Location: Memphis, TN
Posts: 1,977
Quote:
Originally Posted by lulu
I hate pre-prepared, boxed meals/food, full stop. I notice that I always feel slow and overloaded and yet hungry after eating it. As my mother has got older and cooks less she relies on it and we bicker about that because I think it correlates with her bouts of ill health. I loved "Smashed" potato when I was a kid, but its the real thing or nothing for me nowadays. I consider take outs a huge concesion to my regime, and the occasional pudding,but boxed meals or sides, NO WAY!

edited to add: I do use canned consomme and the occasioanal thing, so I guess I am more mouth than trousers, but I do TRY and stick to cooking from scratch most of the time.
My view is pretty close to Lulu's. I'm a little puzzled by the references to red beans and rice. Granted it takes a little time if you start with dried beans but it is really a simple meal made on wash day using Sunday's ham bone. It might get a little time consuming if you made tasso or andouille specifically for this dish, but that would be kind of like making cheddar for mac and cheese.

I enjoyed the "more mouth than trousers" phrase. I'm guessing it is the British equivalent to "big hat, no cattle."

I have some dehydrated cheese that I intend to use in cheese crackers so I'm not really a purist either.
__________________
“Bad men need nothing more to compass their ends, than that good men should look on and do nothing.” John Stuart Mill, 1867.
skilletlicker is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-04-2006, 06:11 PM   #11
Executive Chef
 
Join Date: Nov 2004
Location: Scotland
Posts: 2,977
I don't use packet foods. I DO use some tinned soups - and sauces like HP, Dijon mustard etc... but that's about the extent of it.
Ishbel is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-04-2006, 06:47 PM   #12
Master Chef
 
Constance's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2004
Location: Southern Illiniois
Posts: 8,175
It's amazing how time and age can change things. When my children were little, I made everything from scratch, except for a few cakes that started with a mix. I thought I'd NEVER feed my family a canned bisquit.

Now, with my physical limitations, I use quite a few boxed mixes, especially rice. Zatarains is excellent, but I also use Uncle Ben's, Rice-a-roni, and Lipton's as a base for various recipes.
My husband actually likes instant potatoes and the Betty Crocker Au Gratin and Scalloped Potato mixes. I guess his mother must have fed him a lot of them, as did mine. I can tolerate them, but do definately prefer the fresh. On the other hand, if he's doing the cooking, that's OK. And I do use the frozen hash browns for several casserole dishes.
I don't shy away from making my own sauces...white sauce is one of the first things I learned to make. But I also use a lot of canned soups for cooking sauces, for convenience, and some of them are very good. I particularly recommend Campbell's Golden Mushroom Soup...wonderful with chicken or pork.
I draw the line when it comes to Hamburger Helper. Enough said.
__________________
We get by with a little help from our friends
Constance is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-04-2006, 06:59 PM   #13
Master Chef
 
Join Date: Mar 2006
Location: Culpeper, VA
Posts: 5,803
Oops - forgot to mention that we use boxed "mashed potatoes" all the time. When I said I used a potato product years ago & didn't like it, I was talking about the sliced dehydrated potato stuff - not the flaked potato stuff.

To be honest, the flaked potato stuff is GREAT - & I use it all the time!!!
BreezyCooking is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-04-2006, 07:18 PM   #14
Executive Chef
 
Half Baked's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2006
Posts: 2,927
I've learned never to say, "never", but I really do not like the taste of chemicals in the the premade mixes or packages of anything. I tried to cheat and make a boxed cake for company but I threw it out since it tasted awful. I really could not serve it.

I use canned beef broth sometimes but I always have homemade chicken broth in the freezer. I love Campbells Chicken Noodle and Tomato soup and I have used Cream of *something* in some casserole on many occasions.

Now, after all that I have to admit that I LOVE Kraft Macaroni and Cheese. To me, Macaroni and Cheese and Kraft Macaroni and Cheese are definately different animals but I enjoy them both so much. The Blue Box is comfort food to me. Gimme that powdered cheese...mmmmm!
__________________
Jan
Please spay and neuter your pets. The Animal Rescue Site
Half Baked is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-04-2006, 08:28 PM   #15
Certified Pretend Chef
 
Andy M.'s Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2004
Location: Massachusetts
Posts: 46,519
I sometimes use Zataran's dirty rice mix and doctor it up based on their suggestions and my whims. I also make my own dirty rice based on Paul Prudhomme's recipe. Zataran's may not be as good but it ain't bad.
__________________
"If you want to make an apple pie from scratch, you must first create the universe." -Carl Sagan
Andy M. is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-04-2006, 08:34 PM   #16
Sous Chef
 
Corinne's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2005
Location: Mystic, CT - transplanted from Lancaster, PA
Posts: 596
Send a message via AIM to Corinne
I would love to be able to cook everything from scratch. I don't have the time, nor the energy. Besides, my hubby likes the potatoes in a packet or box & the Zatarain's Jambalaya mix - I just add kielbasa. It's a great meal when I need to get something for him to eat quickly. As long as he's happy with what he's eating, that's all that really matters to me. No purist here. I will take shortcuts when I need to. I have plenty of "just add water & butter" items in my cupboards. I don't do boxed mac & cheese, simply because I like my homemade stuff better. Nothing wrong with any of it & no one should feel bad for using it. If you were someone who only fixes prepared foods out of boxes & cans, you probably wouldn't be on this forum.
__________________
I'm all about the food!
Corinne is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-04-2006, 08:58 PM   #17
Master Chef
 
Join Date: Jul 2006
Location: Metro New York
Posts: 8,763
Send a message via Yahoo to ChefJune
Quote:
Originally Posted by lulu
I hate pre-prepared, boxed meals/food, full stop. I notice that I always feel slow and overloaded and yet hungry after eating it. As my mother has got older and cooks less she relies on it and we bicker about that because I think it correlates with her bouts of ill health. I loved "Smashed" potato when I was a kid, but its the real thing or nothing for me nowadays. I consider take outs a huge concesion to my regime, and the occasional pudding,but boxed meals or sides, NO WAY!

edited to add: I do use canned consomme and the occasioanal thing, so I guess I am more mouth than trousers, but I do TRY and stick to cooking from scratch most of the time.
Lulu and I are pretty much on the same page here. Back in "the day" I tried a lot of those convenience boxes, and found them uniformly salty, box-tasting, etc. Most contain chemicals and other preservatives that I don't respond well to, as well. I do like Fantastic Foods Falafel and Near East's couscous combos, tho... and always keep a few on hand.. I also love Konriko's Pecan Rice!
__________________
Wine is the food that completes the meal.
ChefJune is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-04-2006, 11:32 PM   #18
Senior Chef
 
Join Date: Sep 2006
Location: Outside of Memphis, TN
Posts: 339
Send a message via Yahoo to FraidKnot
Quote:
Originally Posted by skilletlicker
My view is pretty close to Lulu's. I'm a little puzzled by the references to red beans and rice. Granted it takes a little time if you start with dried beans but it is really a simple meal made on wash day using Sunday's ham bone.
Yes,the recipe calls for dried red beans. I don't have a problem soaking and cooking beans in a stock pot. It's chopping up all that other stuff that bugs me. Also (without giving an exact recipe here) Paul's recipe calls for smoked ham hocks which I don't happen keep on hand. I've no idea why you'd assume I have a ham bone (or anything else) leftover from Sunday. Sunday is just another day to me. I don't do Monday "wash day" I'm not from Louisiana nor have I ever been there. And of course I'm not making my own Tasso or Andouille. I don't like Tasso and I can buy Andouille at the grocery store. The Jambalaya recipe calls for even more stuff. I'll just buy the Zatarain's

Fraidy
FraidKnot is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-05-2006, 02:50 AM   #19
Senior Cook
 
Join Date: Jul 2005
Location: South Australia, Australia
Posts: 186
I cant say I've ever used potato flakes or even tried Kraft Mac and Cheese even though you can get both of them in Australia. I am assuming these aren't as popular here as they are in America.

My use of convience foods depends on how busy I am. I cant get decent take-out where I live and their are only about 4 places to go out to eat at. I prefer to cook stuff from scratch and freeze it as I am usually only cooking for myself. Mind you I do use liquid stock and I am ashamed to admit I never tried making it in my life
Little Miss J is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-05-2006, 04:37 AM   #20
Head Chef
 
skilletlicker's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2005
Location: Memphis, TN
Posts: 1,977
Quote:
Originally Posted by FraidKnot
Yes,the recipe calls for dried red beans. I don't have a problem soaking and cooking beans in a stock pot. It's chopping up all that other stuff that bugs me. Also (without giving an exact recipe here) Paul's recipe calls for smoked ham hocks which I don't happen keep on hand. I've no idea why you'd assume I have a ham bone (or anything else) leftover from Sunday. Sunday is just another day to me. I don't do Monday "wash day" I'm not from Louisiana nor have I ever been there. And of course I'm not making my own Tasso or Andouille. I don't like Tasso and I can buy Andouille at the grocery store. The Jambalaya recipe calls for even more stuff. I'll just buy the Zatarain's

Fraidy
I meant no offense with the reference to wash day. I could just as easily have said lawn raking or rain-gutter cleaning day. I was just referring to the simple and humble origins of the dish.
About that ham bone. Just out of curiosity, whether it is left over from last Sunday or last Easter, what do you with it?
Here is a link to one recipe for the benefit of anyone curious. That recipe call for four of five different pork products. It seems to me, where things get confused, is in thinking that one must choose between all the ingredients listed in a particular recipe or a box from the grocery store. The problem is aggravated by the army of TV/celebrity chefs, each of whom, has to have his own unique and copyrighted, hence complicated, version of everything. Sadly, most of us don't have access to the recipes that our grandmothers or even great-grandmothers used before the dawn of the instant age.
Fraidy, I'm not trying to talk you out of Zatarains. In fact, if your objection is really to chopping the vegetables, I don't know what to say.
__________________

__________________
“Bad men need nothing more to compass their ends, than that good men should look on and do nothing.” John Stuart Mill, 1867.
skilletlicker is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off





All times are GMT -5. The time now is 02:55 AM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.8 Beta 4
Copyright ©2000 - 2020, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.
×