Just say no!... To canned cream soups
Confession time: One of my favourite foods is Annie's White Cheddar Mac 'n Cheese... I can eat that stuff until I feel sick.
I do consider Annie's to be a much better choice than KD, but I still don't consider it "real food." So, sometime last year I decided that I just wouldn't buy it anymore. If I don't buy it, then I can't eat it. So, sadly I went many months without delicious mac 'n cheese because I was too lazy to make homemade stuff (and admittedly, I didn't think homemade would fill that cheesy desire I have quite the same way).
But then one night I decided it was going to be mac 'n cheese night and I was smart enough to make extra cheese sauce. That's when I realized I could have easy, but homemade, mac 'n cheese anytime I want with whole wheat noodles and only real ingredients... Perfect.
However, my greatest revelation of all was that by making a larger batch of bechamel sauce (white sauce), then freezing it, I could pull it out anytime and use it to make other quick and easy meals... WITHOUT HAVING TO USE CANNED CREAM SOUPS!
I'm pretty sure that most people use canned soups because they are super convenient. I'm also pretty sure that most people find the gelatinous cylinder that comes sliding out of the can at least somewhat disturbing and unnatural. What I'm not sure about is if most people realize that you can make these soups with REAL ingredients, WAY less sodium, and LOTS of good flavour... and it doesn't have to be a huge undertaking!
- 2 tbsp butter
- 2 tbsp flour
- 1 cup warm milk (you can use cold/room temp but expect it to take longer)
- Melt butter in sauce pan
- Stir in flour to form a paste (or in fancy terms, a roux)
- Gradually whisk in milk
- Continue whisking over low to medium heat until thickened
- Add other ingredients if desired
That's your basic bechamel recipe and you can add other things to create many other sauces. If I make mac 'n cheese, I add cheese, salt & pepper; if I make chicken pot pie, I add Epicure's chicken bouillon, salt, pepper, garlic, onion, and a bit of nutmeg. Because there are an unlimited variety of things you can do with a white sauce, feel free to browse through other people's recipes on the internet!
Like I mentioned above, I recommend making more than you need for a recipe. Freeze the extra in an ice cube tray, then transfer the frozen cubes into a freezer bag or container and pull them out as needed for future recipes! This makes it so easy that you have no reason not to make your own sauces.