Guilt-Free Cooking

Guilt-Free CookingI’m the first one to advocate cooking from scratch. It tastes better and it’s better for you, but there’s something to be said for convenience too. There are days when I am simply too tired to cook from scratch, so I cheat. I call it my guilt-free cooking.

When I’ve been working all day–especially outside, where I’m apt to be dirty, sweaty, and sore from heavy lifting, I will reach for prepared foods. Not ready made meals–unless they’re the frozen meals I made during some down time, but food that I deem satisfactory enough to make into a meal or as an accompaniment to a meal.


These are some of my go-to, in-a-pinch meals.

Fajita meat: I buy the family pack of John Soules Fajita meat. The nice thing about this product is that you can cook it up quickly even from its frozen state. While a pale contender to my fajita meat (I make great fajitas!), it serves in a pinch.

Strangely enough, I use it most often as breakfast meat. Greg generally likes some sort of meat with his breakfast and this one is easy to have on hand.

Egg Rolls: Greg makes the best egg rolls I’ve ever had, but getting him to cook is like asking Congress to agree on anything. I buy a big package of egg rolls from Costco. They’re better than the egg rolls from our favorite Chinese restaurant. Nowhere near as good as Greg’s egg rolls, but for a quick snack, they’re fine.

Corndogs: Talk about easy. Another product from Costco. These are actually quite good. The breading is thick and sweetened with a touch of honey, a good complement to mustard and ketchup. Perfect for a light lunch or a snack.

Pizza: I guess everyone keeps a frozen pizza around. Greg makes a to-die-for thick pan pizza, but again, remember Greg = Congress. He has to be in the mood to cook. I keep a couple of pizzas in the freezer for those nights when I just want something fast, and I don’t want to go out.

Canned Soup: I make 90% of my soup from scratch. Had I known it was so easy to make I would’ve started years ago. Sometimes though there’s no time to make soup, and if I’m the one who gets sick I sure as heck won’t be cooking. Canned soup is pretty yucky by comparison but if you’re sick you have no taste buds anyway, so you might as well have some on hand.

Canned Ravioli (or other canned pasta): I really dislike this stuff, but Greg likes it–cold no less! I keep some on hand for days when I’m not home and he’s prowling the pantry.

So what about you? Do you keep any prepared food in your freezer or pantry?




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  1. I have lots of canned soup and pasta (as well as vegetables and sauces). I also like the frozen “stir fry” meals (like from Bird’s Eye). But they sit on the shelf (or in the freezer) for quite awhile, which is why I don’t have anything fresh. It would just go to waste. Of course, if Hubby retires sooner rather than later (which we’re hoping doesn’t happen but could), we’ll have to change our eating habits. Then maybe the fresh stuff will get eaten before it goes bad.

    • Stacy: Ooh, he might retire? If he wants to retire, I can tell you honestly, it’s a great way of life. We scrimped and saved for decades just so we could retire early. I highly recommend it if you can swing it.

      re: cooking
      Believe me, once you get into the habit of cooking it’s kind of fun, especially if he helps. It’s definitely better for you.

  2. Joy Federigo

    Well, I’m a chemical watcher, especially in packaged meats and cold cuts. However, I do like to keep a package of hot dogs in the freezer, as few preservatives as possible, for Hot Dogs and Pork and Beans or just a good dog with lots of good mustard and sauerkraut. Also, keep some Rosemary crested ham, no preservatives, from Trader Joe’s for quick pile on a good cracker with good mustard and tomatoes and mayo. I could keep piling on I’m sure. Swanson organic chicken soup in large carton, frozen spinach in freezer and lots of onions in a quick chicken soup when I’m feeling weary. Large batch of gluten free pancake mix made and stored in glass jar in fridge for quick pancake for any topping. Even waffle it for quick use.

  3. Jenny Schwartz

    It’s winter time here, so I tend to have some meat pies in the fridge, usually chicken and vegetable. Temptingly easy just to stick them in the oven to heat. And if I balance them with a healthy soup at another meal, I don’t feel so bad about relying on them for lazy days.

    • Jenny: I’m willing to bet the meat pies you have there are better than the ones I see here. All I ever see is chicken pot pie which looks unappetizing. I do love samosas though. One of these days I’m going to find a good recipe to make them at home.

  4. We have an average amount of prepared food. With the young ones, chicken nuggets are essential to keep handy, along with frozen fries. Sometimes we get lazy and don’t want to really cook, so we’ll do an appetizer night where we might get some egg rolls or mini beef burritos and incorporate them into a meal somehow. We did a lot more last year with prepared food adjusting to hubby’s commute and the heat, this year we’ve done better cooking things as we have been more prepared for both the heat and the commute.


    • Betty: That is so smart to keep finger foods for the grandkids. They don’t eat a lot anyway so it pays to cook only what you need.

      re: appetizer night
      I am a pushover for appetizer night. We don’t do it often, but I love putting together a mishmash of finger foods.

  5. Angela Brown

    I often leaned on the excuse of being a single mom too busy working and mothering to cook from scratch. So I used prepared meals quite a bit a few years back. But I’ve been using things like your guilt-free cooking ideas to help prepare my daughter for taking care of herself when she gets out on her own.

    • Angela: It goes by so fast, doesn’t it? I remember when D was just a little bitty thing and now she looks so grown up.

      I regret not paying more attention to my mom when it came to cooking. It came back to haunt me. LOL!

  6. I’m not ashamed to admit I keep a pack of frozen spicy black bean burgers in the freezer for me (Morning Star Farms brand, if anyone wants to try them; they’re pretty good.) I can microwave them in a few minutes and have a fairly healthy lunch. I’ll also buy packaged salad kits so I can have fresh spinach, which no one else but me like.

    I buy rotisserie chicken because it’s cheaper and quicker than making it myself, and freeze the leftover meat to use when I make a Chipotle burrito bowl knockoff with black beans and rice.

    • Lynn: The rotisserie chickens from Costco are incredibly cheap. I can’t even come close to cooking it myself. It’s versatile too.

      I admit to keeping canned refried beans. Yes, it’s cheaper to make my own from scratch, but even with the pressure cooker it still time consuming to make refried beans.

      re: spinach
      I love spinach. We polish off a whole bag in one sitting.

  7. Two thoughts, Ref pizzas, I love them. Bernadette does too with one huge caveat. She cannot stand tomato. Have you ever tried buying pizza’s without tomato? They’re out there but as rare as dragon’s teeth. My go to convenience food is Heinz baked beans. I love them cold, too. But my favourite method is soaking toast in good extra virgin olive oil prior to putting on the heated beans and then lashings of coarse ground black pepper.

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