I don’t know about other countries, but in the US we have Knorr® side dishes. There are also other brands, but I’ve found these to be the cheapest — at Walmart they’re $1 each. I mostly grew up on these side dishes and those Tuna/Chicken/Hamburger Helper dinners (can’t remember the brand). And it got old. Fast.
Whilst I lived with Mimi I tried to make things last longer and have different stuff, especially since I found myself feeling burnt out on so much of the quick dinner foods. Most nights, those ‘Helper dinners were “home-cooked meals”. Before I moved in with my dad, that’s what I considered to be a home-cooked meal.
Anyway, my point is that I have experience with almost all[1. All the flavors from both companies except the newer products from the last year or two — which doesn’t really make any difference.] of the box combinations there are. I even made up some mock ones with Ramen noodles and leftovers, but I’m burnt out on Ramen.
The following combinations are like the ‘Helper versions of their originals, I guess, only cheaper[2. I think the ‘Helper products are like $3ish a box now, and it takes two to feed a family without having sides.].
I linked some because pictures help some peoples.
- Mix a can of chicken into the sides package, as well as your choice of veggies. Leftovers work great!
- Cut up leftover grilled chicken/Shake n’Bake chicken and add to the Butter or Butter & Herb pasta sides, or any Alfredo pasta side for a very tasteful experience. (Cheapest chicken Alfredo, I think.)
- They all pair greatly with peas and carrots. Mixed in, of course.
- In a container, pour in [drained] carrots. Add about a teaspoon of brown sugar. Stir, then cover. Heat in the microwave for about 20 seconds, or until hot. Stir again, then taste. If it’s sweet enough, add to a chicken- or butter-flavored rice side or a chicken- or butter-flavored pasta side. You can layer it over the top. It’s an interesting twist, like adding a teaspoon of sugar to cream corn.
- The cheddar sides taste great with bacon bits (fresh or store-bought) added to them.
- Canned tuna (though I prefer the pouch) or canned chicken also goes great with the sides.
- Fry bologna on the stove. Slice into small pieces and add to the beef/stroganoff sides. Yum.
- Cut up a leftover pizza. Add to the Cheesy Cheddar side — add it once the pasta is already made and no longer watery. You don’t want the bread to be soggy. Also works well with Cheesy Bacon Macaroni.
- The chicken and butter sides taste good with mashed potatoes mixed in. Like really good.
- You must think I’m weird.
- Add oven fries to the Cheesy Cheddar. Like, cut them up and mix them in right before you take it off the stove.
- Chicken nuggets + Alfredo sides = Crunchy Chicken Alfredo. (Yum.)
Basically, just open your pantry/fridge and start adding stuff. You’ll make weird combinations with fries and pizza and mashed potatoes.
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Some of these sound pretty good! A favorite of mine is adding extra bacon bits or leftover chicken to boxed macaroni. Or I might cook up two of those Knorr pasta bags (or the store knock-off brand) as a dinner.
Ah, I forgot the two package combination! I can’t remember what it was, but the rice and pasta sides combined in certain combinations taste like other things. Oh well.