Ever heard that conventional wisdom that while grocery shopping, one should “shop the perimeter”? The idea being that the most nutrient-dense foods — fruits, vegetables, protein — are stocked in the outer aisles, while processed foods — chips, crackers, cookies — are likely located closer to the middle.
Though I agree with that sentiment on a general basis, I also gotta tell you: there are some real gems hiding in those inner aisles of processed glory. Nutritionally, not so much, but if we’re talking the sheer tasty joy of food innovation — not to mention convenience — then hear me out. I’ve rounded up five of my favorite meal hacks for you, your kiddos and then you, again.
You know those nights (or mornings, for that matter) when you want, like, a giant fluffy cake? But are in absolutely no mood to make or go buy one? Well. Get out your mug, a spoon and your microwave, because it’s about to go down. Here’s what you do: add water, milk or even coffee to the dry mix, zap it for about a minute, and OMG. Total OMG. My favorite thing about these “cakes” is that they’re individually portioned — probably better than going to town with a fork and a Costco sheet cake. Choose from a range of flavors, including chocolate, strawberry shortcake and confetti cake.
Pizza. I mean, there’s something pretty perfect about it. (Why is that? Perhaps a biological appreciation for the satisfaction of melted cheese on bread?) Though ordering a pizza takes about 10 seconds, I’ve discovered an even quicker path to bliss: pizza bagels. With seasoning baked right in — think paprika, chili pepper and garlic powder — just slap some mozzarella on that puppy, hit it under the broiler for a few, and you’ve got a single-serving pizza that your kiddos will love.
I’m pretty sure I ate instant oatmeal every single morning as a kid, and without a doubt, it has a special place in my heart. The problem now, though, is that the conventional instant varieties don’t fill me up. (Which leads me to my employer’s break room to inhale leftover pastries.) So, I was pretty stoked to come across this protein instant oatmeal with 10 grams of gut-filling protein in one packet. Available in Banana Nut and Cranberry Almond, oatmeal is now my breakfast once again.
Am I seriously spending a single second of my life celebrating the beauty of rice cakes? For sure. If you assume rice cakes are stale, tasteless wastes of grocery aisle space, give these guys a whirl. Apple cinnamon, caramel corn, butter popcorn and tomato basil are just a few of the pretty awesome flavors to dress up with peanut butter, jam, cream cheese, you name it. (My little guy loves to get creative — honey on apple cinnamon is a yes.)
Every Saturday morning, my son requests these for breakfast. One time, we ran out, and I had to resort to Bisquik. It didn’t go well. He loves these Kodiak pancakes. I don’t feel terrible giving them to him, because they’re packed with protein and made with 100 percent whole grains. We like the original flavor, but definitely sample the chocolate, cinnamon oat and peanut butter, too.