The $5 Frozen Grocery Item I Buy Every Week for Quick Family Dinners

published Sep 18, 2021
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Credit: Thao Thai

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There’s a wonderful stand in our local market that makes piping hot pierogi from scratch and serves them with a light buttered sauce. When we first found them, we couldn’t eat them fast enough! The decadent, potato-filled dumplings were perfectly satisfying, especially on a cool fall day when all you want is to be enveloped by cheesy carbiness. This made me think: Shouldn’t I be making these at home? Then I stumbled across this frozen, $5 alternative — also satisfying (though let’s be honest, nothing compares to fresh pierogi) and absolutely lightning-quick to make. It soon became a weeknight staple.

Credit: Thao Thai

Look in my freezer at any given time and you’ll see a box of frozen pierogies (or three) stacked in there, waiting for their time to shine on our dinner table. It’s a known fact that we are a potato and pasta loving family — but when you combine the two? All hail the magic, foolproof dinner that even the littlest (read: pickiest) eater will devour. It’s the new alternative to pasta in our household. (Bonus: it’s even quicker to make than pasta, what with all the waiting-for-water-to-boil routine!) 

How we use frozen pierogi

We have established Pierogi Nights in our household, but we never get tired of them, because these pierogi are endlessly versatile. You can saute them right out of the box or boil them. You could even bake them into a casserole, layered with marinara, cheese, and breadcrumbs, for a kind of makeshift lasagna. The mini version is perfect for kids!

Credit: Thao Thai

During tomato season, I like to make a fresh, light sauce with cherry tomatoes and garlic. Sometimes, I’ll mix in ground meat or bacon. When I really want an easy dinner, I caramelize some onions in a brown butter sauce, then add spinach or whatever vegetables are on their last legs in the fridge. (This is all highly inauthentic, so please don’t look at these as a true representation of the classic Eastern European delights.) And, of course, I top with plenty of shredded cheese. Leftovers taste great, and you can even slide some into a bento box for a simple lunchbox treat.

Bonus: if you’re hosting a bunch of people with different palates, you can also make a couple sauces and toppings and let people build their own plates. Add some fruit or a quick salad, and you’ve got an easy meal everyone will beg for again and again.