Sometimes I go on one of those little cooking phases where I want to be super fancy and use expensive ingredients and special meats from butchers. Other times, I eat Easy Mac. There's not often a whole lot of middle ground unless I go the semi-homemade route (that was seriously one of my favorite shows on the Food Network).
I have a big drawer of ready to go mixes, marinades, and spice packs. I'm a bit of a collector. I like to buy a dozen spice packs and then stand in the kitchen and stare at them while reading the instructions for no reason at all. Not too long ago, I made a big order from the Cajun Grocer in Louisiana. I bought boudin, Cajun seasonings, and some really awesome packets that I love from Louisiana Fish Fry. I'm a huge fan of their gumbo mix; all you have to do is add chicken, andouille and shrimp/crawfish and whatever veggies you might want and the meal is ready (I always make a big side of minute rice too because the large grains absorb the flavor of the gumbo really really well).
I recently mixed up a big pot of the red beans and rice and all I had to do was grill some andouille and make some extra white rice. The rice is definitely optional but this mix is really soupy and well, I'm Asian so I really like the extra rice. It came out really really well and with a tiny bit of extra seasoning, doesn't really taste like something from a mix!