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Your "go to" convenience food is.....

iL Divo Jun 2, 2008 10:12 PM

Mine is probably your typical boxed cake mix. I store several in the pantry, all flavors, some probably not even made any longer, odd flavors etc. My favorite is Orange Supreme due to husbands favorite cake being Orange Dreamsicle Cream cake with like frosting. But with other cake mixes, I make several things out of them and then think they're pretty versatile.
Cookies/cupcakes/cakes/quick breads/breads. I have even added a tablespoon or two to crepes I've made or added same amount to add flavor to other things, even sweeten up sauces for over fruit like with sour cream or cream cheese.

Do you have a go to convenience food that you always find yourself reaching in the pantry for? What is it and what do you do with it?

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  1. fromagina RE: iL Divo Jun 2, 2008 10:30 PM

    Even persons who love cooking from basic fresh ingredients have those days when chopping and slicing and blending and simmering just don't appeal but the mouth still wants good flavors. My shortcut to some pretty tasty quick meals comes in a little can with a green label: Herdez Salsa Verde; a tomatillo and chile sauce that can shortcut me to decent guacamole, chile verde, salsas, and any number of spicy Mexican or SE Asian quick dishes. It even makes an acceptable base for a Thai green curry.

    7 Replies
    1. re: fromagina
      gordeaux RE: fromagina Jun 3, 2008 06:38 AM

      I do the herdez verde too, but only in winter when tomatoes are worthless.
      Some of my go tos:
      Jarred Ginger paste
      Jarred Chile garlic sauce
      Cilantro Chutney
      Maesri Curry pastes
      Pre-fried Extra firm tofu from the Asian mkts. Who has time to dry, and then fry tofu during the week?

      1. re: gordeaux
        fromagina RE: gordeaux Jun 3, 2008 08:16 AM

        Sounds like your "hasty cooking" is pretty tasty!

        1. re: fromagina
          gordeaux RE: fromagina Jun 3, 2008 11:43 AM

          Maesri red or green curry, a can o' coconut milk, and a few throw ins...
          Better Thai curry than most of your town's Thai restaurants in 30 minutes, anyone?

          And what's quicker than a good stir fry with real ginger, chile garlic, and sesame oil/oyster sauce, and a little ponzu? I can put most chinese food takeout to shame for about 1/8 the price.

      2. re: fromagina
        iL Divo RE: fromagina Jun 3, 2008 07:43 AM

        the times I've seen that in the market too has been often but just never picked up any of it, hum, herdez, I will try it. yesterday Nigella used a tomato garlic paste in a jar for her morroccan meal but never heard of it so don't know what it is so can't pick it up for later use, oh well.

        1. re: iL Divo
          fromagina RE: iL Divo Jun 3, 2008 08:16 AM

          Was it a harissa sauce?

          1. re: fromagina
            Passadumkeg RE: fromagina Jun 3, 2008 09:46 AM

            A Morrocan red chile paste.

            1. re: fromagina
              iL Divo RE: fromagina Jun 3, 2008 05:52 PM

              http://www.astray.com/recipes/?show=H..., this looks like it's makeable, thanks for the word "fromaquina" I never heard her say the word and I even played it back and few times and still didn't get it.

        2. jeni1002 RE: iL Divo Jun 3, 2008 02:58 AM

          Canned beans (depending on the night - garbanzos, pinto, red kidney) - typically thrown on top of a salad for lazy work nights.

          10 Replies
          1. re: jeni1002
            mrbozo RE: jeni1002 Jun 3, 2008 04:44 AM

            Beans for me too. Canned chickpeas and fava beans drained and rinsed mixed with a chopped roasted red pepper from a jar, minced green, and a glug of EVOO. Valentina hot sauce on the side..

            1. re: jeni1002
              flavrmeistr RE: jeni1002 Jun 3, 2008 11:37 AM

              Me, too. B&M beans with mustard and kielbasa. Also avocado, garbanzos and chopped onion with a little olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Or maybe a bowl of cereal in the event of a total lame-out.

              1. re: flavrmeistr
                Catskillgirl RE: flavrmeistr Jun 3, 2008 12:43 PM

                Hahaha - I keep a box of Cheerios in the cupboard for those "lame-out" times! I almost never eat cold cereal, but in a culinary emergency they do just fine.

                1. re: Catskillgirl
                  jeni1002 RE: Catskillgirl Jun 3, 2008 01:08 PM

                  Same here: although I do eat it for breakfast as well, emergency cereal is always on my counter :) (multiple kinds in order to accommodate spur-of-the-moment combinations).

                  Edited to add: Also, TJ's frozen spinach lasagna, tuna & salmon pouches, TJ's smoked trout and miso soup. DH is also known to store various types of Asian soups in the same pantry.

                  1. re: Catskillgirl
                    juliasqueezer RE: Catskillgirl Jun 3, 2008 03:28 PM

                    Not as lame as Cheerios (kidding! I kid!) but my favorite in-a-pinch go-to food is Black Pepper and Olive Oil Triscuits (divine!) with a schmear of plain whipped cream cheese. There's just something about the combination of textures and salty/peppery with cream cheese.

                    1. re: Catskillgirl
                      beelzebozo RE: Catskillgirl Jun 3, 2008 05:35 PM

                      i eat cold cereal all the time. probably more than anything else.

                      peanut butter crunch is a current favorite, alongside go lean crunch.

                      1. re: beelzebozo
                        cakesncookies RE: beelzebozo Jun 15, 2008 05:33 PM

                        I also eat cereal and lots of it too. I also eat peanut butter out of the jar frequently

                  2. re: jeni1002
                    cakesncookies RE: jeni1002 Jun 15, 2008 05:32 PM

                    Beans for me too. This may sound gross, but I just rinse the beans from the can and eat them cold.

                    1. re: cakesncookies
                      Val RE: cakesncookies Jun 16, 2008 05:30 PM

                      I don't eat them from a can BUT I love canned black beans drained in GoodHealthGourmet's Black Bean Dip...it is SO great! You can easily sub kidney beans or pinto beans if you don't have enough black beans.

                      1. re: cakesncookies
                        TSQ75 RE: cakesncookies Jun 17, 2008 06:06 AM

                        well, its not much different than rinsing them off and chucking them straight into a salad or salsa. :)

                    2. Davwud RE: iL Divo Jun 3, 2008 04:48 AM

                      From the Campbell's website. Beef Taco Skillet.

                      In a skillet, brown a pound of ground beef. Add onion and sautee. Add a can of tomato soup, can of water and a can of salsa. Add some cheese. Add some cut up flour tortillas. Top with remaining cheese.

                      It's quick, easy and more importantly, it's pretty tasty.
                      I add some Tone's Chipotle seasoning to mine.



                      1. Passadumkeg RE: iL Divo Jun 3, 2008 04:57 AM

                        Gimme a large can of chopped green chile, a can of pintos and a can of hominy and I can do wonders. A can of chopped clams, a jar of white clam sauce and some pasta, ditto. I keep both in the cupboard at camp*, in case we want to stay longer or I get kicked out of the house (beats the dog house).

                        * Camp is the Maine generic for lakeside cabin. Cottage is a rich person's summer house. Martha Stewart has Edsel Ford's old cottage in Seal Harbor.

                        1. e
                          EdwardAdams RE: iL Divo Jun 3, 2008 08:49 AM

                          My current favorites are the Archer Farms risottos, mushroom or red pepper. Easy and good with whatever is grilled up on the barbecue.

                          1. l
                            laliz RE: iL Divo Jun 3, 2008 09:47 AM

                            Pudding mixes (never instant) i.e. cooked pudding
                            Soup mixes
                            Canned soup
                            Canned beans
                            Jarred pasta sauce
                            TJs pesto
                            Whipped cream in a can (never cool whip)

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: laliz
                              iL Divo RE: laliz Jun 3, 2008 05:54 PM

                              LaLiz, you got what I was talking about here. I recognize your name from another foodie site I think, or I'm off my rocker which is entirely possible too ;)

                            2. Peg RE: iL Divo Jun 3, 2008 12:48 PM

                              What does 'go to' mean in this context?
                              I've tried to Google it with no luck.

                              3 Replies
                              1. re: Peg
                                alanbarnes RE: Peg Jun 3, 2008 01:28 PM

                                It's a sports neologism that has entered mainstream American English since the turn of the century. In 2000, American Heritage's Fourth Unabridged noted its use as referring to a player on an athletic team who is relied upon to make important plays, eg, "the team's go-to receiver." But in 2004, Merriam-Webster's 11th Collegiate edition noted use beyond the context of sports, noting that the term refers to someone "relied on for expert knowledge or skill," for example "the company's go-to guy."

                                1. re: alanbarnes
                                  iL Divo RE: alanbarnes Jun 3, 2008 05:44 PM

                                  Alan you get a round of applause. Very good. Honestly, I never thought anyone would not understand my verbiage, my bad and forgive me please.

                                  Now, a lot of you folks are going to "what your favorite thing is to grab in a pinch for a quick bite] if I'm reading many of these right. My idea was about your pantry picks to use when stretching or creating or using to update or even change something that can maybe turn one thing, [ie. Campbells cream of mushroom soup] from only using it for the standard green bean casserole to something all together different and incredible.

                                2. re: Peg
                                  iL Divo RE: Peg Jun 3, 2008 05:46 PM

                                  Peg, when I walk in the door after a hard or arduous day of work, and I am famished, my go to snack [which is off topic of this thread and I think I've confused many] is peanut butter spread on high fiber bread, sit and eat quick.

                                3. ajs228 RE: iL Divo Jun 3, 2008 12:59 PM

                                  Totinos Frozen Pizzas. One whole pizza hits the spot, with no left-overs.

                                  1. QueenPeach RE: iL Divo Jun 3, 2008 01:03 PM

                                    SPAM with Ramen. Delicious.

                                    1. TSQ75 RE: iL Divo Jun 3, 2008 01:14 PM

                                      boxed rice pilaf...every time

                                      1. alanbarnes RE: iL Divo Jun 3, 2008 01:31 PM

                                        Second the curry paste as a quick way to put a good meal on the table quick, especially when used in conjunction with UHT coconut cream.

                                        But the ultimate convenience food in our house is Trader Joe's frozen potstickers. Freezer to plate in 7 minutes, and everybody loves 'em.

                                        5 Replies
                                        1. re: alanbarnes
                                          lulubelle RE: alanbarnes Jun 4, 2008 01:41 AM

                                          toss them in chicken broth and you have wonton-ish soup in an instant.

                                          1. re: lulubelle
                                            alkapal RE: lulubelle Jun 4, 2008 03:08 AM

                                            do you zap them and then put in the broth, or just cook them in the broth? how long?

                                            1. re: alkapal
                                              lulubelle RE: alkapal Jun 4, 2008 11:05 PM

                                              heat the broth and when it is close to boiling turn it down to a simmer and toss in however many you want. They cook in 4-5 minutes.

                                              1. re: lulubelle
                                                alkapal RE: lulubelle Jun 5, 2008 05:16 AM

                                                thanks. i'd tried it before, but wasn't thrilled with the results (dumpling texture, iirc). i'll try it again, as i have some dumplings in the freezer.

                                                1. re: alkapal
                                                  lulubelle RE: alkapal Jun 5, 2008 11:10 PM

                                                  It's certainly not fine cuisine, but it's pretty tasty. Sometimes I toss in some chive or chopped up green onions for a little color and texture.

                                        2. p
                                          Panini Guy RE: iL Divo Jun 3, 2008 02:27 PM

                                          On nights when I'm totally spent and it's getting too late to cook, I'll grab a bag of whatever curry boil-in-bag dish I have in the cupboard. Those things are handy. A light dinner in about two minutes. Haven't found that brand really makes much of a difference, although I stay away from the ones with paneer. Just doesn't microwave right. Usually at that point it's too much to even cook rice, so I'll just take some pita or flatbread with it along with a couple spoonfuls of lime pickle.

                                          If I can muster 10 minutes of energy, there's always a bag of frozen shrimp and some cocktail sauce on hand. That or scraping together bits and pieces of leftovers for an omelet.

                                          3 Replies
                                          1. re: Panini Guy
                                            diablo RE: Panini Guy Jun 3, 2008 03:17 PM

                                            Yes, PG. Always with the frozen shrimp as well. That and some boiled pasta with a spicy red or scampi sauce and bread, bagged salad and I'm done.

                                            Burgers, too. Loves me some burgers.

                                            1. re: Panini Guy
                                              howboy RE: Panini Guy Jun 3, 2008 05:30 PM

                                              TJ's has a Tuna Curry that's really tasty and I think it's like $1.49.

                                              1. re: Panini Guy
                                                gordeaux RE: Panini Guy Jun 3, 2008 05:36 PM

                                                Pan guy -

                                                Can you lead me to a good brand/dish with these?
                                                I bought a good handful of ones to try on my last excursion to an ind mkt. So far, none have been really good. I made some chicken boti last night, and I'm having a paneer makhni from a box to go along with it tonight. Last night it was an aloo mutter. Basically it was just meh. I tossed the leftovers (which is rare for me to do with Indian Food) PLease hook me up with some brands/dishes that are ok. I love the concept, but so far, they've just been 'meh.'

                                              2. Sam Fujisaka RE: iL Divo Jun 3, 2008 03:54 PM

                                                Can of Antioquia beans, can of corn, diced red onion, diced tomato, chopped chives or cilantro, lots of chile powder or flakes; nuke; serve with tortillas or over rice.

                                                Drained can of water-packed tuna topped with soy sauce, lemon juice, hot sauce; eaten cold with hot (can be nuked left-over) rice.

                                                Japanese pickled vegetables (quick or purchased) or ume and hot rice.

                                                Instant noodles--topped with mixed quick cooking vegetables (e.g., sliced young green beans, snow peas, sliced green onions, napa) briefly simmered in just a bit of seasoned liquid (some combo of chile powder, oyster sauce, hoisin, soy sauce, dash of the soup mix) until liquid largely evaporates and/or is incorporated into the veggies.

                                                2 Replies
                                                1. re: Sam Fujisaka
                                                  PrincessBakesALot RE: Sam Fujisaka Jun 3, 2008 08:03 PM

                                                  I stir-fry a bag of cole slaw mix (shredded cabbage and carrots) to throw on my instant noodles, add soy sauce, garlic and ginger and I've got dinner. If I've got more time, I'll throw in some shrimp or chicken.

                                                  1. re: PrincessBakesALot
                                                    alkapal RE: PrincessBakesALot Jun 4, 2008 03:10 AM

                                                    very cool idea, princess!

                                                2. c
                                                  cimui RE: iL Divo Jun 3, 2008 04:10 PM

                                                  spaghetti / pasta sauce. i know it's so much better homemade, but nothing beats the convenience of the jarred stuff for everything from pizza to short rib baste to soup base.

                                                  1. p
                                                    piccola RE: iL Divo Jun 3, 2008 06:05 PM

                                                    During the week, pretty much all I eat is a combination of convenience foods. I love:

                                                    Powdered veggie stock
                                                    Canned beans
                                                    Frozen mixed veggies
                                                    Jarred salsa
                                                    Jarred kimchee
                                                    Bottled lime juice
                                                    Frozen veggie burgers

                                                    And sometimes, canned or vacu-packed Indian food (TJ's makes good ones).

                                                    1. ipsedixit RE: iL Divo Jun 3, 2008 08:09 PM

                                                      canned tuna or salmon.

                                                      Just mix in some evoo and basalmic vinegar and I'm good to go

                                                      Of course there's cereal, and the flavor recently has been Honey Bunches of Oats

                                                      1. Emme RE: iL Divo Jun 4, 2008 12:42 AM

                                                        Shirataki noodles... they're a great base for simple and complex dishes.

                                                        1. s
                                                          Sharuf RE: iL Divo Jun 4, 2008 02:09 AM

                                                          In the freezer is my amazing collection of sausages. White ones, hot ones, ballparks, Italian, bangers, chorizo, lil' smokies, and more... Make a selection, find something to go with it and there you are.

                                                          1. lulubelle RE: iL Divo Jun 4, 2008 02:52 AM

                                                            I use almost no convenience foods; where I live they have to be shipped in and are far too expensive to use on a regular. (plus I have a full time cook) I do buy the Classico jarred pesto and hoard it though, because it make a great quick pizza topping.

                                                            1. iL Divo RE: iL Divo Jun 4, 2008 07:33 AM

                                                              I'm going to try this again. A lot of you folks are going to "what your favorite thing is to grab in a pinch for a quick bite] if I'm reading many of these right. My idea was about your pantry picks to use when stretching or creating or using to update or even change something that can maybe turn one thing, [ie. Campbells cream of mushroom soup] from only using it for the standard green bean casserole to something all together different and incredible.

                                                              4 Replies
                                                              1. re: iL Divo
                                                                flavrmeistr RE: iL Divo Jun 4, 2008 07:48 AM

                                                                Let's see here...mayonnaise...laughing cow cheese...marashcino cherries...hmmm. Nope. Can't do it.

                                                                1. re: iL Divo
                                                                  ajs228 RE: iL Divo Jun 4, 2008 08:22 AM

                                                                  It changes depending on my mood, but right now it's those little wasabi peas.

                                                                  1. re: iL Divo
                                                                    TSQ75 RE: iL Divo Jun 4, 2008 01:12 PM

                                                                    yup, they still dont get it...lol

                                                                    for me its:
                                                                    Canned tomatoes
                                                                    Canned beans
                                                                    boxed pilaf mixes
                                                                    coconut milk
                                                                    single meal cans of thai curry pastes

                                                                    1. re: iL Divo
                                                                      starlady RE: iL Divo Jun 16, 2008 02:35 PM

                                                                      Cans of beans, kidney, chickpea, whatever. Great in salads, hot dishes, turned into dip.
                                                                      My tom sauce in 1 portion sizes in my freezer,can turn into spaghetti, chili, pizza sauce, etc
                                                                      Cans of tuna, again in salads, sandwiches, wraps, hot rice dishes
                                                                      Soba noodles, cold or hot!
                                                                      Cheese all flavours, again salads (hmm summer time much?) sandwiches, topping, for use in everything!!!
                                                                      That's really all I can think of because I always have so many fresh veggies etc around...

                                                                    2. Will Owen RE: iL Divo Jun 4, 2008 02:15 PM

                                                                      Canned beans for me, too. Also canned tomatoes with green chiles - Ro-Tel is the standard, but I ain't too proud to go generic. Drain and stir into your mac & cheese, or add to browned chicken or turkey (juice and all), cover and braise. Martha White cornbread mixes in the small bags, too, but I have to bring those back from Nashville now. Just enough for my small skillet, perfect with chili.

                                                                      4 Replies
                                                                      1. re: Will Owen
                                                                        iL Divo RE: Will Owen Jun 4, 2008 04:48 PM

                                                                        once I made an appetizer for the girls/guys at work just because. I took my 5 qt. crock pot to work with bags of tortilla chips and a hot bean dip I'd done with 2 cans of each: rotel/dennisons chili con carne no beans/Gebhardts pinto beans in sauce and 2 8 oz'ers of cream cheese. Dumped all in the crock pot early in the morning so it'd be hot by the time I got to work. It honestly surprised even me. Sooo good that one manicurist asked if she could just take the crock home, give the little bit rest to her husband and bring back the clean crock the next day. I said sure, apparently she loved it...

                                                                        1. re: iL Divo
                                                                          TSQ75 RE: iL Divo Jun 4, 2008 06:48 PM

                                                                          hmmm...good office fodder indeed

                                                                          1. re: TSQ75
                                                                            iL Divo RE: TSQ75 Jun 5, 2008 11:07 AM

                                                                            may be good office fodder but at least on subject ;()

                                                                          2. re: iL Divo
                                                                            Sharuf RE: iL Divo Jun 16, 2008 04:17 AM

                                                                            Are the beans mashed (refried style) or whole?

                                                                        2. Vetter RE: iL Divo Jun 15, 2008 07:07 PM

                                                                          Isernio's spicy italian sausage and eggs. Not together. But when we're stumped and I'm lazy (I'm the cook) we rely on pork fat and heat to make a plain whatevers-in-the-fridge meal great. You can add kale/arugula/broccoli/broccoli raab and whatever hard cheese end is sitting in the fridge door and dump it on pasta and have a tasty meal.

                                                                          That, or I start having fun with eggs. Lately eggs and cottage cheese together. I love beating egg whites till they're stiff and then folding in cottage cheese and a bit of flour. Yolks or not. I usually do them like pancakes but in the interest of laziness I'm going to start browning them in the pan and finishing them in a very hot oven.

                                                                          1. missoulagrace RE: iL Divo Jun 15, 2008 08:10 PM

                                                                            Canned tomatoes. Italian plum ones are best but honestly I usually have cans of Muir Glen diced on hand.
                                                                            Pacific brand chicken broth in the resealable aseptic boxes.
                                                                            Canned minced clams. Actually, canned tuna, too.
                                                                            Big bags of frozen organic peas and "haricots verts" from Costco.
                                                                            A couple of spice mixtures from our local "whole foods" type market-- "greek spice", "pizza spice".
                                                                            And.... Bisquick. I can and do make scratch biscuits, waffles, biscuits, etc--- but sometimes I want to just add milk, bake and enjoy.

                                                                            3 Replies
                                                                            1. re: missoulagrace
                                                                              Kam7185 RE: missoulagrace Jun 16, 2008 12:25 PM

                                                                              I was too embarrassed to say it myself, but BISQUICK! Behold the bible to my comfort food cravings. You can do endless things with bisquick, great one dish suppers!!

                                                                              I also us store bought demi glace as a base for many different sauces.

                                                                              1. re: Kam7185
                                                                                missoulagrace RE: Kam7185 Jun 18, 2008 08:51 AM

                                                                                One of the ongoing disagreements my ex and I had was the great "Bisquick vs. Krusteez debate"... I grew up with Bisquick. Plus, I like that when you make pancakes, you do have to add your own egg and milk with Bisquick. With Krusteez, you just add water-- I guess it's in there already. Now, if you're camping, I'm down with "add water and go"-- no pancakes taste better than camping pancakes no matter what.

                                                                                1. re: Kam7185
                                                                                  alegramarcel RE: Kam7185 May 23, 2014 09:54 AM

                                                                                  I like TJs multigrain pancake and baking mix - very versatile and with whole grains. I make pancakes, waffles, cake, faux pot pie, cookies, etc.

                                                                              2. mrsbuffer RE: iL Divo Jun 16, 2008 04:56 PM

                                                                                canned fat free chicken broth
                                                                                usually have sausage or chicken in the fridge
                                                                                rice, barley or pasta
                                                                                good assortment of spices
                                                                                always have a good hunk of parmigiano reggiano
                                                                                always keep chick peas or kidney beans
                                                                                tuna fish

                                                                                1. t
                                                                                  Ted in Central NJ RE: iL Divo Jun 17, 2008 06:20 AM

                                                                                  For me, it is frozen salmon burgers.

                                                                                  Costco carries a very good brand of restaurant-quality burgers made from wild-caught salmon. Whenever I am short of time or just plain too tired to cook, I can pull one or two of these out of my freezer, put them into a Circulon skillet on low heat, and I have a very tasty, incredibly healthy meal in a few minutes. Served on a toasted whole wheat bun with some grainy mustard, this makes a well-balanced meal that is both quick and tasty.

                                                                                  1. puppymomma RE: iL Divo Jun 18, 2008 07:23 AM

                                                                                    canned refried beans
                                                                                    shredded cheeses
                                                                                    Bumble Bee foil pack salmon
                                                                                    Cheerios (while I cook I snack - I'm bad)
                                                                                    Jellies instead of fresh fruit
                                                                                    Kraft Mac and Cheese


                                                                                    1. r
                                                                                      RGC1982 RE: iL Divo Jun 18, 2008 12:19 PM

                                                                                      Rice a Roni. DH doesn't eat too many veggies, and sometimes I am just at a loss as to what to serve him while my daughter and I are enjoying our fresh brocolli and salads as side dishes. If I don't have too much time to plan, this is perfect for him. Use the low sodium kind if you can find it.

                                                                                      1. alkapal RE: iL Divo May 24, 2014 02:44 PM

                                                                                        zatarain's low-sodium jambalaya rice mix. good to toss in some cooked chicken and you have a delicious chicken and rice.

                                                                                        1. i
                                                                                          itsmejessica RE: iL Divo May 30, 2014 02:45 PM

                                                                                          Right now it is those Velveeta cheese sause packets. My 4 year old is a picky eater but will eat Velveeta shells and cheese. Yes, I have made him home made and it is a waste of time, he won't eat it.
                                                                                          So when I saw those Velveeta cheese packets for $3.19 you get 3 packets in the box, I bought it. I always have whole wheat pasta of different shapes. And the box of shells and cheese is usually 2 for $5 at my Kroger so the sauce packets are better for me.

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