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Dressing Up Premade Foods

June 30, 2022

Homemade foods are typically regarded as the tastiest grub out there, right? Not always! We all have our favorite packaged foods on hand in the pantry for ease and convenience, but they often taste manufactured or artificial. Did you know that using fresh ingredients, you can dress up premade foods into something healthy, scrumptious, and fast? Yes, you can!

All premade foods could use a little bit of extra flavor. Keeping lots of fresh veggies, fruits, and herbs can take any packaged food and make it exciting and different. Plus, it saves you so much more time than if you had to make every element of your dish from scratch. Let’s explore how to dress up the foods founds in the packaged aisle of the grocery store.

Why Are Premade Foods Great?

Premade packaged foods are affordable, simple, and very tasty. They also go on sale quite a bit, so it is nice to stock up and have a pantry full of ready-to-eat options. However, the foods as is can be very boring, if not flavorless. That’s where playing dress-up will come in handy!

Premade foods also save you tons of preparation time. Since almost everything is fully cooked, to begin with, it only takes minutes to add additional flavors rather than make a dish homemade. For busy, working people, you can save time and money by having a few meal options after work that are easily assembled. Once you find your favorite combinations, you will dress up premade foods multiple nights per week!

What Premade Foods Can I Dress Up?

If food comes in a package, you can dress it up! Sure, seasoned rice tastes just fine on its own from its microwavable package, but it is even better with a squeeze of lemon juice, chopped fresh herbs, and some melted butter. This is just one example of how to add lots of flavors to otherwise plain premade foods.

Other foods that can be easily dressed up are:

  • Breakfast cereal

  • Microwave oatmeal

  • Popcorn

  • Potato chips

  • Seasoned rice

  • Beans

  • Premade soups

  • Frozen pizza

  • Naan or pita bread

  • Frozen mixed vegetables

  • Cake or brownie mix

  • Chocolate

  • Hot dogs

  • Hummus

Plus many, many more! If it comes in a package from the grocery store, it can be seasoned to your liking.

How Do I Dress Up Premade Foods?

First, to start dressing up premade foods, think of flavor combinations you enjoy eating. Maybe you love maple and chocolate together, so you add a touch of cocoa powder and maple syrup to your morning oatmeal. If you’re a big fan of oregano and cheese, make some pizza bagels using plain bagels from the fridge, jarred tomato sauce, cheese, and a sprinkle of oregano. Really, there are limitless options.

Next, think about what you already have in the pantry. If you have a shelf full of food, there’s no need to go to the store for even more groceries. You might find some unique flavor combinations that you didn’t expect just from using what you have. For example, a jar of pesto can really spice up the week-old hummus that you weren’t a fan of. Combining the two makes a totally new dish with flavors you know you like!

Finally, plan ahead on your grocery shopping trip with these tips in mind. Spend a little more time in the nonperishable aisle to arrange some easy foods to make during the week. Then, be sure to visit the herbs and citrus to ensure you have everything you need for fast, affordable, and delicious meals throughout the week.

Ingredients to Keep On Hand

Premade foods always benefit from additional spices. However, before you go adding tons of salt to premade foods, check the label! Some foods are already overloaded with sodium, sometimes more than the daily recommended values. Be sure that you taste the premade food on its own before adding seasonings.

That being said, do not be shy when it comes to unsalted dried herbs and spices. They go a long way when it comes to adding lots of flavors. Keep some of these basics on hand:

  • Basil

  • Oregano

  • Cayenne pepper

  • Cumin

  • Chili powder

  • Thyme

  • Rosemary

  • Granulated onion

  • Granulated garlic

  • Salt-free Cajun seasoning

  • Italian seasoning

  • Parsley

  • Ginger

  • Low-sodium bouillon

In addition to dried spices, their fresh herb counterparts can also add a bright, fresh element to dishes. From the produce section, stock up on some of these items:

  • Lemons

  • Limes

  • Oranges

  • Garlic

  • Fresh herbs

  • Spinach

Spinach is recommended because it is a nutritional powerhouse and works well with most premade savory foods such as rice, beans, and pasta. Anytime you need a boost of vitamins, add some spinach to your premade meal!

Any of the above spices/foods can dress up a variety of packaged foods with little effort. You can save tons of money and time just by planning ahead and finding enjoyable flavor combinations!

Can I Serve Dressed Up Premade Foods at a Party?

Often, we think that if we are having a party we must go out of our way for expensive catering or complicated recipes. This is absolutely not the case! Party foods can be made from packaged foods with a little extra seasoning. No one will know the difference, they will just know that your food is delicious!

For example, you can use packaged frozen puff pastry and a jar of roasted red pepper dip to make little baked dip cups. All you have to do is cut the pastry, place it in a muffin tin, spoon some sauce over the top and bake with a little bit of cheese. You now have a fancy appetizer with only 3 packaged ingredients!

It is highly recommended to taste test any recipes before making them for a crowd. If something doesn’t work flavor-wise, you do not want to be left scrambling moments before your party starts. Stick with your favorite tried and true flavor combinations and your party food will be a hit!

Play Dress Up!

There are an infinite number of situations where dressing up premade foods is best for your wallet and clock. Busy working people can come home to a hot meal without much effort or money spent. Parties can be held with food made with little effort. Plus, you will always be stocked full of amazing ingredients just waiting to play dress-up!