Beyond hamburger helper
August 13, 2018 6:40 PM   Subscribe

I am on maternity leave with a 7 week old and by the time dinner rolls around I am spent. But tonight I became an alchemist and mixed a packet of harissa skillet sauce by Saffron road with ground turkey. OMG it was so easy and delicious. I want to rely more on the formula of ground turkey + sauce packet. I am far from inexperienced with prepared foods but I haven’t ever cooked with those packets before. Do you have any specific recommendations?
posted by pintapicasso to Food & Drink (16 answers total) 37 users marked this as a favorite
No, but my 3 ingredient ground turkey meal goes: Brown the turkey. Add a package of broccoli slaw. After the broccoli is cooked enough, add a package of Melissa’s ready to eat teriyaki noodles (from the refrigerated aisle). Ta da!
posted by Malla at 6:57 PM on August 13, 2018 [3 favorites]

Not a packet but a jar, but I LOVE Patak's Korma Sauce. I also add frozen vegetables (you can plop them in frozen and they thaw in the sauce while it simmers); cauliflower, green beans, and carrots are my favorite. Raisins and slivered almonds also delicious, but if you're going for simple, you could just stick to sauce and meat.
posted by gideonfrog at 7:01 PM on August 13, 2018 [2 favorites]

I like a few of Saffron Road's other simmer sauces! I see you tried the harissa. I like the Lemongrass Basil and 'Moroccan'. I also like the sauces by Frontera, specifically the Chicken Tinga and the 'Taco' sauces.
posted by rachaelfaith at 7:02 PM on August 13, 2018

I like the Maya Kaimal jarred sauces.
posted by vunder at 7:06 PM on August 13, 2018 [1 favorite]

I keep all kinds of packets around for emergency quickmeals. I really like the Frontera Grill ones (and I don't think it matters much what kind of meat you use, but if you decide to level up you can simmer chicken thighs or turkey cutlets in them as well), and the Saffron Road curries especially Tikka Masala.

And I'm not saying this is good or healthy or a thing you should do all the time, but if you have a taco salad or nacho craving: brown your turkey, and pour in some jarred queso, and then put that over chips or bag salad (with some chips if you like). You can also put it over a bag of steamer broccoli too. Steamer vegetables are my go-to partners for this whole quick meal endeavor, usually broccoli, green beans, or cauliflower.
posted by Lyn Never at 7:07 PM on August 13, 2018 [3 favorites]

Any cheapo ramen plus peanut butter plus any meat and frozen vegetables has been my go-to five minute dinner for a while now. Frozen tilapia filets are great in it but ground turkey would work as well.
posted by showbiz_liz at 7:07 PM on August 13, 2018 [1 favorite]

I used the Frontera green enchilada sauce last week. Two frozen chicken breasts, a pouch of the sauce, and four hours on high in the crockpot. The chicken was very moist and shredded really easily. It would probably work well in a skillet with ground turkey.

Oh, and I've recently decided that the little pouches of precooked rice are a perfectly good shortcut. Cooking rice isn't hard, but nuking a pouch for 90 seconds is even easier.

The chicken or turkey, a package of rice, and a can of beans or corn... throw some shredded cheese on top and it's a feast.
posted by Green Eyed Monster at 7:32 PM on August 13, 2018 [1 favorite]

Dirty Rice with either hamburger or sausage is one of our favorites. Turkey would work well. Brown the meat and add the rice + seasoning packet. Zatarain's is real rice, but there are some like Knorr that are processed and only take 7 minutes to cook the rice. Watch the sodium on these types of meals, though.
posted by soelo at 7:43 PM on August 13, 2018

McCormick Grill Mates are pretty good. I use the mesquite packet with chicken (I marinate it overnight) and it's amazeballs.
posted by littlesq at 8:23 PM on August 13, 2018

This isn't for meat, but I really like Red Fork's pasta skillet sauces. They also have several other skillet sauces for specific types of meat, and I bet pretty much any of these would be good with turkey.
posted by skycrashesdown at 9:34 PM on August 13, 2018

This is entirely how I cook. Packet or jar of something, ground/diced meat, some random veg in the back of my fridge = dinner + leftovers for lunch.

For Indian: I really like Patak's sauces, but the best I've ever had were something called Bombay Curry Co, which I found at the Harlem Fairway in NYC. (Have not seen them anywhere else.) I also get the Parampara curry packets to use as a marinade. Use about half as much oil as it says on the packet.

Thai: Maesri curry paste from my local Asian market. Mix a spoon or two with a can of coconut milk, cook your meat/shrimp, done.

'Murican: McCormick's GrillMates, but I let it marinate for at least overnight, which is a bit more prep-ahead than I usually manage.

Other: TastyBites makes microwave packets of seasoned rice as well as various fixin's (e.g. chana masala), mostly Indian-ish. They are what I call "white people Indian" rather than authentic, but you can't get much easier than nuking a couple packets of rice and lentils.
posted by basalganglia at 3:52 AM on August 14, 2018 [1 favorite]

Not all of these come in instant packet form but they're just as easy to add during cooking. Mix and match to suit your preferences (obviously you don't have to use all of the list; this is meant more like a "pick 3 per meal" idea list):

Soy sauce
Dash of white wine/sake
Chicken broth/stock (Better Than Bouillon is this in jar form--just add a tiny spoonful and some hot water)
Frozen veg (I tend to use the blends or just spinach)
Salt and pepper
Worcestershire sauce
Chili sauce
Ginger paste
Garlic paste
Spice or herb blends (Penzey's has a variety--taco, Fox Point, Mural of Flavor, etc...)
Sun-dried tomatoes
Dried shallots/garlic
Lemon juice
Apple sauce
A bit of cream at the end, if you're going for a bechamel-type sauce (for a thicker mix, add some flour+butter during cooking)
Kewpie mayo
posted by Sockin'inthefreeworld at 6:32 AM on August 14, 2018 [1 favorite]

Check out Yai's Thai sauces (come in jars). They are at our local organic grocer but also available online. Our favorite is the Yellow Coconut Curry. We just throw in some cubed chicken or turkey and veggies (or steam the veggies separately while the sauce/chicken warms) and simmer for a bit and serve with rice. If you want to get fancy, garnish with a bit of fresh basil and some lime wedges. Half a jar is plenty for the two of us, and we just freeze the rest. Extra time saving tip - Trader Joe's has some decent already cooked and cut up chicken that works well with this sauce. (Also, if you are really beat, Trader Joe's turkey chili with beans comes in a can and is just heat and eat.)
posted by gudrun at 8:27 AM on August 14, 2018

My wife uses a packet product for meat loaf, but I suspect an equal quantity of beef bullion powder would be as good. The other thing we use a packet for is taco filling.

The longest term all prepared food dinner is our house is spaghetti with bottled sauce and store bought meat balls. We find the refrigerated meatballs better than the frozen brands in our store.
posted by SemiSalt at 9:14 AM on August 14, 2018

There exist frozen stir fry vegetables (onion, carrot, snow peas, pepper, broccoli) + noodles. It is dead simple to cook it in a skillet with oil from its frozen state. It is fine on its own but I add some sriracha and/or soy sauce or whatever other condiments speak to me.

If you have leftover vegetables or meat then mixing them into cheap ramen noodles works well (just drain 95% of the water and toss with about a quarter of the spice package). adding Asian condiments and peanuts are a plus.
posted by mmascolino at 11:50 AM on August 14, 2018

Not the healthiest options but my kids (and the adults too) LOVED Kraft Macroni and Cheese box mix with ground turkey. Hint: do not buy the store brand, Kraft is really better.
posted by metahawk at 8:32 PM on August 14, 2018

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