27 January, 2009

Osem Meals-On-The-Go Instant Mashed Potatoes

When I was a kid, my mother always had a box of instant mashed potatoes in the cupboard. Most of the time, she cooked from scratch, but she wasn't above convenience if she was pressed for time or someone showed up unexpectedly at meal time and another couple of servings of spuds were needed (whip up a short batch of instant, stir 'em into the real thing, and no one's the wiser.)

I keep instant mashed on hand, too, because they're cheap and fast, but also because I just like them. None of them will ever replace the real thing, of course, and some brands are better than others, but they have a place in my heart nonetheless.

And that brings me to Osem Meals-on-the-Go instant mash in a cup. Made in Israel, they come in several varieties including mashed with mushrooms and mashed with vegetables. Each cup contains dehydrated mashed potatoes, flavorings, and a small but rugged spoon. The vegetable variety has bits of parsley, onions, celery, and carrots. The mushroom cup contains tiny bits of dehydrated porcini mushrooms. They're very easy to prepare - identical to cup noodles, actually: Just peel back the lid, add boiling water to the line, stir, cover, and wait a few minutes. Stir once again to fluff up the spuds just before eating, and you're good to go.

It doesn't seem that a small cup of mashed potatoes would make a very good lunch, but the serving size in an Osem is almost a full cup. The added flavors of the veggies and mushrooms also add to the experience, and with a handful of celery sticks or a piece of fruit, it's a satisfying and filling lunch.

As with many other quick prepackaged foods, a little bit of fiddling with the preparation can make a big difference, and bump up the quality quite a bit. I found that stirring in a lump of butter with the boiling water kicked up the flavor and texture much more than I would have expected. Also, thinning out the spuds a bit with milk or half-and-half (even better!) was also an improvement. (Notice the common element in both of these techniques is the addition of fat. Hardly a surprise, right?)

I found these Meals-On-The-Go at Ocean State Job Lot and laid in a supply of them because they aren't available at other stores in my area. If you have a Wegman's near you, though, you can get them there.


Osem's website (takes awhile to load)
Osem Meals-On-The-Go at Wegman's


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