Give-Away: Homemade Convenience Foods in 15 Minutes

Encouraged? Share this post...

Cookbook Review: Homemade Convenience Foods by Marcia K. Washburn, reviewed by Molly Evert

I’m running a marathon right now.  My day starts early and ends late as I homeschool our four boys, care for our baby girl, juggle football and Boy Scout schedules for all the boys, and try to keep up with the housework and cooking.  In the fall, there are often nights when we don’t sit down to eat together until 8:30.  I hate feeding my family additive-laden frozen pizza and chicken nuggets.   A trip through the drive-thru is just as bad for their bodies, and it hurts my wallet, too!

When I heard that Marcia Washburn had developed a system to help busy moms get a homemade, nutritious dinner on the table in 15 minutes or less, I was intrigued!  She raised five boys and understands that my sons will polish off the ingredients while I cook if I can’t get the meal done fast enough.

Marcia claims that by following her Homemade Convenience Foods system you will always have the ingredients on hand to prepare at least two dozen different menus.  I read through her book in one sitting, eager to see if her program could give me some tools to feed my family lightning fast, healthy meals on a reasonable budget.  I confess that I hoped that her system was some unheard of miracle which would help me get a gourmet 15-minute meal on the table without any advance prep work at all.  I guess that was unrealistic.  The truth is, I usually can’t even find all my ingredients in 15 minutes because my pantry, refrigerator and cupboards are so disorganized.  Could Marcia’s book really come to my rescue?  I was excited to find out!

Marcia provides several lists of common ingredients you’ll want to keep on hand in your refrigerator, freezer and pantry, and she gives ideas for prepping ingredients ahead of time in order to save time later during the busy weeknight crunch.   Although I am a veteran in the kitchen, I still found several useful ideas and quick-to-make recipes in Homemade Convenience Foods. I spent a few hours shopping, organizing my pantry, and prepping my ingredients for the week, and then challenged myself to make a week’s worth of lunches and dinners in just 15 minutes or less.  Game on!

So how did the challenge go?  I think I did pretty good, and I give Marcia’s book a thumbs up.  I tried to keep lunch prep to less than 15 minutes, though dinner prep sometimes took 20 or 30 minutes from start to table when I used my own recipes.  I usually serve more than one course and I am cooking for seven every night, which may account for the extra time.  Many of Marcia’s recipes truly came in at the 15-minute mark, and using her tips I was able to get many of my own family’s favorite recipes on the table more quickly than usual.  Marcia’s tips were helpful, and even 30 minutes is an acceptable window for supper prep, in my opinion.  I often don’t think about what to make for dinner until about 4:00 pm., and her quick-fix recipes and prep tips gave me a lot more options.

My family enjoyed several of the recipes Marcia included in her book.  Better still, her systems and tips were easily adapted to my own tried and true recipes.  Some of her recipes called for either homemade or frozen bread dough, which was a pleasant surprise for me, since I bake all our bread from scratch, and I will benefit from her ideas for streamlining my bread making process.

One reader will win a free copy of Marcia’s e-book Homemade Convenience Foods.  To enter, please leave a comment about one of your cooking challenges.  For an extra entry, leave a comment with one of your own quick-fix recipes (15 minutes prep or less).  For a third entry, repost this on Facebook and leave a comment letting us know.  This contest will end at midnight on November 15th.  The winner will be drawn using from the comments we receive.

Marcia’s e-book normally retails for $5.99, but she is graciously offering our readers a $1 discount on the e-book edition if you purchase by November 15th. Homemade Convenience Foods is also available in a comb-bound print edition for $5.99 plus $2 shipping and handling.  I received a digital copy of this book, in exchange for my honest review.

About Molly Evert

Writer Molly Evert is a wife and homeschooling mom to 6 kids, who range in age from 2 to 18. She runs an educational website, My Audio School (, providing access to the best in children's audio literature. She also blogs at CounterCultural Mom ( and CounterCultural School (

Encouraged? Share this post...


  1. One of my cooking challenges is making the most of my grocery budget. I try to make every ingredient I buy count for the most nutrition at the best price!

  2. Here is one of my favorite recipes to fix in a hurry. I often make a mini version for lunch for my toddler. Simple Veggie Orzo

  3. I shared about this on Facebook, too! 🙂

  4. My biggest challenge is lack of energy – struggling with adrenal dysfunction. Secondarily, I need to cook for gluten-free eaters and those who want their gluten! Thus I really need either more energy or faster recipes.

  5. I think cooking a roast or chicken in the crock pot is the simplest entree I can make. Then all I have to prep at dinner time are the vegetables or salad.

  6. Georgette says:

    I have to cook every night for 7 as well and I would love this book. It sounds right up my alley!
    Thanks for the giveaway!

  7. Georgette says:

    I shared his on FB too!!

  8. Georgette says:

    My quickest meal would be black bean taquitos. Refried beans, black beans, diced tomatoes, (I use canned for all the above for when I need a quick meal)cumin 1/2tsp, chili powder 2tsp, 1/2 tsp minced garlic, scallions or onions are optional if you have time. I usually dice my onion & have them in the freezer for the week to use as I need. Anyway mash all up in pot and heat through. Add 1 cup of cheddar cheese and turn off heat. Fill tortillas and then eat as is or toast in oven. Salsa or sour cream to dip is optional. My kids love this meal!

  9. Georgette says:

    Ooooops, I forgot to put my cooking challange is planning everything well.

  10. My biggest challenge with meal preparation is my very tight budget. I want to feed my family healthy meals but I find healthy food is much more expensive where I live. I shop the sales and stock up when I can. But that doesn’t work on fresh items which are our favorites.

  11. Here is one of my favorite- very easy supper meals. You can quickly put it together then go about your day. I do check it about half way through because sometimes you need to add more broth.
    Printed from COOKS.COM
    4 chicken breasts
    1 can cream of celery soup
    1 can cream of chicken soup
    1 can cream of mushroom soup
    2 stalks celery, diced
    1 bay leaf
    1 large onion, chopped
    1/2 teaspoon Bell’s Poultry seasoning
    3 cloves garlic, minced
    1 cup Minute Rice
    Mix the cans of soup with the rice at the bottom of the Crockpot. You may substitute the type of soup you use in any combination (for example: 2 cans cream of chicken soup and one can celery soup).
    Add the diced celery, onion, and garlic and stir. Submerge the chicken in the soup.
    Turn heat to high for 10 minutes, then reduce to medium and cook for 4-5 hours. Or cook on high for 3-4 hours.

  12. This is a great site and I was happy to just share it on Facebook!

  13. Sounds like a great book! One of my biggest challenges is lunchtime. It’s hard to “fit it in” during our busy school day. LOL Thanks so much for the review!

  14. I am blessed to have been taught well how to stock the pantry and shop on a strict budget. My challenge, however, has really come up in the last 6 months when one of our daughters was diagnosed with 8 food allergies (beef, pork, cow’s milk/dairy, soy, eggs, peanuts, tomatoes, and potatoes). Most quick-fix meals include one or more ingredients that she is allergic to. While blessed that her allergies are not life-threatening reactions, it sure throws a wrench in how I have cooked all my life.

  15. One of my family’s current favorite meals that is allergy friendly is just simply pasta and spinach in a white sauce.

    Cook your pasta according to package directions. (I like to use mini shapes, simply for the fun-factor.) During the last 3 minutes or so, add about 10 ounces of frozen spinach. This equates to one box or about 1/2 bag.

    While the pasta is cooking, heat 1 T olive oil and 1 T margarine in a 2 quart pot. After the margarine is melted, add about 1/4 C diced onion and 1 clove diced/minced garlic (I often used dried onion and garlic that I have rehydrated). Cook those for about 2 minutes. Add flour, mixing while adding, until you have a very dry mixture. Cook this for an additional 2 minutes, continuing to stir so it doesn’t burn. Begin slowly adding almond milk, stirring while adding to eliminate the lumps. Add enough almond milk to get the sauce to the consistency you like. I generally add about 1 1/2 – 2 C. Season the sauce with salt and pepper to taste, 1/2 t ground nutmeg, and 1/2 t ground coriander. Pour sauce over drained pasta and spinach. Stir and serve.

    I love this served with fresh bread from the bread machine.

    A quick and easy meal that is ready in about 10 minutes.

  16. My biggest cooking challenge is lunch. I can think of good breakfast and dinner ideas, but struggle with lunch because my husband doesn’t always have access to a fridge at work, and I don’t want to constantly send him with pb&j.

  17. Was the winner ever announced? I haven’t been able to find anything.

  18. Sorry we didn’t get the winner posted sooner! Donna was the winner. She has been notified and has already received her cookbook from Mrs. Washburn!