When I was a child, it seemed like a lot of our food came from packets, boxes and cans. My parents were health conscious for the era, and we usually had the healthier versions, but it didn't dawn on me until adulthood that chicken pot pie didn't always come in individual aluminum pans from the freezer. A chicken pot pie can be time consuming, but certain things, like hot chocolate, are easy!
Here are four of my favorite childhood foods that just happened to come out of a box, and how to make them from scratch now that we're all grown-ups.
I'm not sure it doesn't actually take longer to heat water, then empty the hot chocolate packet into a mug, and add the marshmallows of your choice at the end. My mother didn't skimp on the fluffy, sweet addition essential to any cup of hot chocolate. Yes, some of the packets come with marshmallows, but some of us preferred one large one, while others were only happy with several smaller marshmallows. My parents were all about respecting our individuality.
→ Make It Yourself: Snuggle In: 10 Hot Chocolate Recipes
We ate a lot of (lower sodium!) canned soup, even though my mother demonstrated on a regular basis how easy it was to throw together a vegetable soup, with leftover vegetables from the fridge, a little chicken stock and some crushed tomatoes. I only use canned soup occasionally, when nothing else will do.
I also enjoyed an awful lot of frozen pizzas, something I can't remember buying for my children, because it's so easy for them to put them together themselves.
In our family, when we eat frozen food, it's usually something we've made ourselves and saved for a later date. I do wonder if I'm depriving my children — just a little — because I'm failing to introduce them to the great pleasure of a crisp freezer pizza, the kind with the mildly spicy, tiny square pieces of pepperoni, "fresh" from the oven.
And the aforementioned pot pies? How I used to love them. We each had our choice of chicken or vegetable. When my mother turned my pie onto my plate, and steam rose from the piping hot filling, my stomach growled in happy anticipation. In truth, I never make chicken pot pie, even though I love it, because it's a lot of trouble for me. Maybe I should reconsider the freezer section at the grocery store next time I'm there.
Are there any packaged foods you enjoy, simply because they're too labor intensive to make? And do you remember those pizzas with the tiny square pepperoni? Yum.
(Image credits: Megan Gordon)