Craving Convenience

I write often about how I make all sorts of things myself: bread, yogurt, sweet potato fries, chocolate syrup, cheese crackers, etc.  I spend half of my life in the kitchen it seems.

The truth, though, is that I get tired.  Tired of cooking, tired of thinking up what to cook, tired of not being able to cook what I want, tired of having to cook and not being able to run to Chipotle.

Sometimes, I just want something fast, cheap, and easy.  Something I do NOT have to think about.

Seeing as my three qualifications are fast, cheap, and easy, take-out is pretty much ruled out.  Take-out here in Germany is incredibly slow, not exactly cheap, and rarely any good.

I realize that’s a rather pessimistic attitude, but I don’t live in Berlin where they actually have decent Mexican food.  And, for the record, no one in our family is all that crazy about German food.

Oh and the “easy” part of my trio of wishes?  Well, that’s wholly dependent on whether the employee feels like working.  Or understanding me.

So, forget take-out.

I hate to say it, but I miss boxed mixes.  I’m all about cooking from scratch.  I love it.  I love how it tastes.  But, cooking every night of the week (except for leftover nights, hallelujah), it gets old.  Really, really, old.

My creativity runs dry, and I just want to go for the nearest box of mac ‘n cheese.  Only there aren’t any boxes of mac ‘n cheese.  Or any other kind of boxed dinner for that matter.

When I stumbled upon Homemade Hamburger Helper on Pinterest, I almost went bonkers.  In a good way.  That’s totally possible.  I promise.

If you know me, you’d be sure hell would freeze over before I’d have a box of Hamburger Helper in my house.  Either that or it would be there because it made me money after coupons at the grocery store.  In that case, the box would rest temporarily before being donated to a food bank.

Someone did send me a box of the Hamburger Helper naturals once.  It was okay.  Not my first choice for dinner, but again, it’s all about THE BOX.

And now Chickens in the Road has demystified what’s in said HH box, and given us all oodles of recipes to try for fast, cheap, easy weeknight dinners.   For full instructions, ingredients, and variations, click here.

For my initiation into the world of homemade HH, I tried the Cheeseburger Macaroni.  It seemed the simplest.

Ingredients…

I used less than 1lb ground beef (200g if you care), because we aren’t big beef eaters.  Next time I’ll use even less.  We like the pasta more than the meat.

My cheese comes sliced so I have to “shred” it myself.

I found cornstarch at Lidl (speisestarke), and whipped up the “sauce packet.”

Sauce mix – nothing artificial here.

Though the recipe calls for 1 1/2 cups dried pasta, I always add more.  I have four mouths to feed plus I really like having leftovers for lunch.  I’m weird, and that’s okay.  I used 2 cups, and it worked well.  Just a thought though.. you might not be able to use 2 cups of pasta if you use the full 1 lb ground beef.

I started with 1 1/2 cups, but ended up throwing in an extra 1/2 cup.

It made two adult servings, two little boy servings, and one serving for my lunch the next day.

Dinner! And lunch the next day…

The whole thing (including photographs, mixing up the “sauce packet”, and pulverizing my cheddar cheese to bits) took only 35 minutes.  If I did some prep work and kept a half a dozen of these “boxes” in my pantry, I’m sure I could get it down to 20-ish minutes.

Now, that’s some good news.

What’s even better is I had time to whip up a salad while the pasta was cooking.  Could it get any better?

Yes.  Yes, it could.

Everyone liked it (!).

I’ll definitely be making some convenient homemade Hamburger Helper “boxes” to add to my dinner menu rotation.  What about you?  Any convenience foods you make from scratch at home?

2 thoughts on “Craving Convenience

  1. Pingback: Make Ahead Meals for Small Freezers « Thrifty Travel Mama

  2. Pingback: Make Ahead Meals for Small Freezers – The Update! « Thrifty Travel Mama

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