I would like to share with you a few ideas I have for adding flavor to boxed meals without adding sodium. The sodium content of these is amazingly high. I try not to feed these to my family very often, but they are better than buying fast food for five of us. I will do it in a pinch.
The best thing to add to any meal is an onion. I can purchase these for $0.49 lbs at Sprouts. So I am only adding $0.49 extra cost to my meal. I usually use ½ or 1 onion chopped and sautéed . This adds not only lots of flavor but around a ½ to 1 pound of food to the meal. The kids don’t even know it is in there, since most boxed meals have onion powder. Adding onion ramps up the flavor and increases the vegetables for the meal. My kids don't do veggies so I have sneak them in when ever I can.
I also like to add carrots, especially to higher sodium meals. This will help decrease the salty taste in a meal. I will add around 1 or 2 peeled and either shredded, pureed or finely chopped . This is around ¼ to a ½ cup of carrots. What a sneaky way to enter extra veggies into the kids meals and they don’t even know. I like to add carrots to Sloppy Joes too. We just need a little more to make it stretch to feed all of us.
Corn is the next best thing to add to a meal. I find it goes well especially with Mexican dishes. I try to buy frozen when I can. Otherwise just open a can and pour it in. I like the cream style corn with the Asian Rice a Roni. Use the water from the can for the water to add to the dish. This will add just a little more flavor than just regular water. I will also save the water from the corn and use this for soups later.
Try adding peas to a meal. If you or your kids don’t like the taste of peas, try pureeing them and add that to the meal. You won’t see them or taste them either. I like to add peas to fried rice and canned soups.
Beans can be added for extra protein to any dish. I like black beans for Mexican dishes. Sometimes I will add both corn and black beans to help stretch a meal.
Try adding a little of two or three of the above mentioned vegetables to each meal to see what you can come up with and not change the taste too much. This is a fun experiment to try with your family. Try other vegetables you like to see what other combinations you can come up with. Look at the box and see what dehydrated veggies are already in there and add the real thing. This is a great way to stretch a meal for just a few pennies per meal.
Amy is married to a great husband and is the mom of three wonderful children. Two of which are her own, a boy and a girl, and a stepson. Her goal is trying to feed the family and all necessary needs including diapers for $60 a week. Stop by her blog Pounds4Pennies to watch her on her journey for frugal finds.