In a perfect world, a homemade meal would be something to get excited over, not intimidated by. The thing is, between work, kids, and a to-do list longer than Santa’s naughty and nice lists combined, standing over a hot stove for longer than 20 minutes doesn’t seem like an attractive way to spend an evening. With a little help from some of your favorite supermarket brands, that can all change.
Following an easy recipe on the back of the package of your favorite pantry staple is a great way for you to get a helping hand, and end up with something delicious. Kellogg’s changed the game when they printed the recipe for Rice Krispies Treats on the back of their Rice Krispies cereal boxes. They got the idea from Mildred Day, a Campfire Girls counselor and Kellogg’s employee, who created the recipe to help her Campfire Girls raise money. Kellogg's executives noticed the popularity of Day’s recipe — which was printed in the Campfire Girls’ cookbook in 1939 — and added it to the back of the box in 1941. They trademarked the Rice Krispies Treats name and the rest is cereal-box history. The idea made sense for price-conscious shoppers who were looking for a homemade dessert treat that they felt good about serving their family.
The beauty of a back-of-the-box recipe is that you get the satisfaction of cooking something at home without investing all the time it might take to do it from scratch. You’re still pulling it together, but in half the time. Food Network’s Sandra Lee has made a career out of box and bag shortcuts, and you can get in on the action, too.
Another benefit of the brand-name recipe is that you can take advantage of a good supermarket sale. Instead of stockpiling your cabinets with foods you have no specific plan for, turn the box over for some inspiration. After all, if it weren’t for the recipe on the French fried onions can, would you really know what to do with them? Campbell’s practically invented the soup-as-sauce technique by suggesting it with a recipe printed on their label. The brand has released over a dozen cookbooks full of recipes in which a can of soup is the thing that ties it all together.
Instead of avoiding the center aisles of the supermarket, embrace them with some of these easy and delicious back-of-the-box recipes.
Crispy Fried Chicken
Pancake mix is not just for breakfast, and that was proven when Aunt Jemima decided to whip up a batch of fried chicken using pancake mix. Use the buttermilk-flavored mix and tell guests they’re getting buttermilk-battered fried chicken for a meal they would swear you took all day to make.
Pillsbury has celebrated the inventive home cook with their Bake-Off for over 40 years. The contest asks consumers to come up their own recipes using Pillsbury products and rewards one lucky winner with $1 million, a new kitchen, and his or her recipe featured on the Pillsbury website and products. The recipe has to be as good as this one, though. Plastered on the back of a biscuit can for years now, this recipe makes it possible to transform breakfast bread into a pull-apart treat that everyone will love.
This article was originally published December 22, 2014.