Homemade doesn’t mean you have to make everything from scratch! I’m committed to getting a home-cooked meal on the table 5-7 nights a week, but I take some help from the store when I can to simplify my meal prep and get dinner on the table faster. Homemade-ish is a term I coined for when you cook something but incorporate store-bought prepared foods into your recipe.
When it comes to choosing ingredients for my homemade-ish meal ideas, I not only look for convenience, but also the opportunity to be creative and inventive with the prepared ingredients from the grocery store. Some of my favorite store-bought recipe helpers include:
Salads in a bag
Salad kits are a plant-based mama’s best friend. You can change these up a dozen different ways into more than just salads. (Check out these ideas for inspiration.)
Sauces and dips
These make for easy meals, such as wraps, entrees and more.
When you don’t have time to make them from scratch, a can of beans is a quick and easy protein option, plus they add texture and heartiness to any meal.
Pre-washed and cut veggies
The time saved with these meal helpers and are worth the extra cost if you’re only using them every once in a while.
The homemade-ish meal ideas are limitless once you start thinking outside of the salad kit, can of beans, salad dressing…or whatever store-bought prepared ingredient you’re using in your recipe. Below are a few ideas to inspire you.
Use an ethnic salad kit, such as Trader Joe’s Southwest Chopped Salad or Sesame Crunch Chopped Salad and add a can of drained and rinsed beans or chopped, baked tofu (depending on the flavor profile). Scoop over rice or sesame noodles, and top with your favorite toppings, such as salsa, chopped avocado, peanuts, nori strips, etc. to match the flavors in your bowl.
Wraps and Sandwiches
Baked Tofu Lettuce Wraps
Cube a package of baked tofu with an Asian inspired slaw or salad kit. Serve with romaine leaves, lime wedges, cilantro, peanuts and a homemade peanut sauce (mixing 1 part peanut butter with 1 part rice vinegar and soy sauce).
Combine an Asian salad kit and shelled, cooked edamame. Spread on rice paper and roll!
Buffalo Hummus Chickpea and Cauliflower Wraps
Let the abundance of hummus flavors inspire a new wrap. The new Buffalo Hummus at Trader Joe’s is tasty when tossed with chickpeas and roasted cauliflower. Layer on tortillas, along with chopped romaine, shredded carrots, chopped celery and dairy-free ranch.
Squash Noodles with Bruschetta and Olive Tapenade
Tapenades and sauces such as pesto and bruschetta are a quick homemade-ish meal with spiralized yellow squash or zucchini (or buy pre-spiralized from the store).
Slice a roll of prepared polenta. Layer into a lasagna pan and top with traditional lasagna ingredients, such as Beyond Meat Italian sausage, Kite Hill ricotta, spinach, artichoke hearts, canned tomatoes and marinara sauce. Bake for 20-30 minutes until heated through.
White Bean Salad Pizza
Roll out a premade whole wheat pizza dough and spread with one tablespoon of olive oil, three cloves of thinly sliced garlic and a pinch of salt. Bake at 400℉ for 10 minutes. Combine your favorite salad kit along with a can of white beans (drained and rinsed). Top the pizza with the salad combo. Slice and serve!
Yellow Curry Salad Pizza
Cube a block of tofu and toss with your favorite curry sauce. Roll out a premade whole wheat pizza dough and spread with more sauce. Bake at 400 for 10 minutes. Combine a salad kit, such as the Trader Joe’s Yellow Curry Chopped Salad Kit but omit the dressing and toss in 2-4 tablespoons of the yellow curry sauce instead. Spread on top of the pizza and slice!
Greek Pita Pizzas
Spread a store-bought garlic sauce across a whole pita. Add a spoonful or two of prepared tabbouleh on top, along with 1-2 frozen falafels (that have been cooked and chopped).
Get more homemade-ish meal ideas in the video below and tell me in the comments which one is your favorite.