Healthy Ways to Bulk Up Store-Bought Foods

Jun 7 2017
Question@2x Dear Hungry Girl,

Can I be Hungry Girl Junior? Because I'm always hungry! I buy a lot of packaged foods out of convenience, but the portions tend to be really disappointing. Any tips?

HG Jr.
Answer@2x Hi HG Jr.,

I think my pup, Lolly, might have her heart set on that title! I agree with you that packaged foods are often sadly undersized. However, I'm all about maximizing those servings without adding a lot of calories. Here are some clever ways to pump up your portions...

Add Portabella Mushrooms to Meaty Frozen Dinners

Microwave meals are good if you need food in a pinch, but the serving sizes are often seriously sad! I've found that the meat-like texture of portabella mushrooms works wonders in these situations. Cook up some chopped portabellas in a skillet with seasonings, and they'll blend right in with ground meat. This trick is also great for beefing up canned chili! If your dinner has strips of steak, just slice your 'bellas before cooking them.

Supersize Snack Mixes with Light Popcorn

Ready-to-eat snack mixes are great, but who can stick to a single serving, which is typically less than a cup?! And since they're often calorie dense, you don't want to go overboard with how much you eat. That's why I like to boost these mixes with a low-calorie, high-volume favorite: light popcorn! It works well with both sweet and savory snacks. Some other great additions are freeze-dried fruit and high-fiber cereal. Heck, you could skip the premade snack mixes and just combine those three!

Pump Up Pasta with Veggie Noodles

I usually skip real pasta altogether in favor of spiralized veggies, but if you need your fix of the real thing, combine the two! Bulk up pasta with spaghetti squash, zucchini noodles, or (a recent love of mine) turnip noodles. Prep the veggie noodles in advance, so you have them on hand and ready to go. And when it comes to mac 'n cheese, steamed cauliflower florets can go undercover. Once they're coated with cheese sauce, you'll barely realize they're there!

Grow Your Oatmeal

Oatmeal makes a great breakfast (it's even good for dinner!), but did you know you can make it even better? Enter "growing oatmeal!" By using twice the amount of liquid and cooking the oats for twice as long as ordinary old-fashioned oatmeal, you get a ginormous portion with the same amount of calories as traditional oatmeal. Check out my growing oatmeal recipes here, and for even more, pick up a copy of Hungry Girl Clean & Hungry!

Amp Up Asian-Style Frozen Dinners with Bean Sprouts or Broccoli Slaw

Let's face it: Pretty much all frozen meals could use a boost! Stir-fried bean sprouts and broccoli cole slaw have noodle-like textures that work perfectly in Asian-style dinners. If you need more sauce, just add a splash of reduced-sodium soy sauce. These tricks work with Chinese takeout too!

Perfect Premade Salads with Extra Lettuce

Premade salads are certainly convenient, but be wary of their calorie-dense ingredients like dressing, croutons, and cheeses. If these ingredients are in their own pouches, try using only half. I often skip the dressing altogether in favor of salsa, a squirt of lemon, or a drizzle of straight-up balsamic vinegar. Then supersize the whole thing with additional chopped lettuce! Big salads are always in style...
Next time you hit the supermarket for your old standbys, toss these super-sizers in your cart at the same time!

Chew on this:

Today, June 7th, is National Chocolate Ice Cream Day. Did you know you can have an entire pint of chocolate-flavored Enlighted The Good-for-You Ice Cream for just 240 calories? It's true!

Don't hog all the super-sizing advice... Click "Send to a Friend" or forward it now!

Have a Question for Hungry Girl?

Send it in! She answers new Qs each week (but cannot respond to emails personally).

Social

We may have received free samples of food, which in no way influences whether these products are reviewed favorably, unfavorably, mentioned with indifference, or mentioned at all. Click for more about our editorial and advertising policies.

SmartPoints® value* not what you expected? We follow the same method as Weight Watchers when calculating the SmartPoints® value* for a recipe: We add up the SmartPoints® values* of the individual ingredients. (Many foods have a value of zero and remain zero in recipes.)

*The PointsPlus® and SmartPoints® values for these products and/or recipes were calculated by Hungry Girl and are not an endorsement or approval of the product, recipe or its manufacturer or developer by Weight Watchers International, Inc., the owner of the PointsPlus® registered trademark and SmartPoints® trademark.