Better Than a Box: Transforming YOUR Kitchen into a Real Food Wonder!

Better Than a Box

Ready for some real food magic?

Whether you’re right-brained or left-brained, a scientist who follows every recipe to the pinch or an artist who tosses this spice and that into the pot, you can learn to tweak recipes to make them healthier.

If you love cooking with whole foods but miss your old favorites, this book is for you.

Better Than a Box is more than just a recipe book – it’s a tutorial in real food cooking, reverse engineering processed foods, and creative recipe development.

In the first 100 pages, you’ll learn step-by-step processes to transform your own family-favorite recipes by ditching the boxes and cans and using 100% real food. Through demonstrations of successful recipe remakes and the extensive section of basic recipes, your “Reverse Engineering” toolbox will be well stocked, and you’ll be inspired to take courage in the kitchen.

We leave no can of cream of mushroom untouched.

No box of Stovetop Stuffing is safe.

Buy now to get access to Better Than a Box plus ten additional bonuses, including the Kindle and Nook files, printable recipe cards and Plan to Eat integration:

Better Than a Box book

Better Than a Box
(eBook Premium Package)

How to Transform Your Processed Foods
Recipes into Whole Foods Favorites
(218 pages + TEN bonuses, including Kindle + Nook)

price: $16.95

Any coupon code is entered after clicking the “Buy Now” button once the item is in your cart.

(Get a peek with the free download – Homestyle Chicken!)

If you can’t see the buy button, click here.
Amazon.UK Kindle book

Cart is empty $0.00
Ever misplace a file or lose an eBook? Use this super-easy, one quick tip to find your purchased Kitchen Stewardship eBooks in a minute or less!

You also might like Healthy Snacks to Go, which is in the hands of over 5000 people, The Everything Beans BookSmart Sweets, or The Family Camping Handbook. View them all HERE.

The print version of Better Than a Box is available right HERE.

***Get a free sample of the book, 32 pages long! Scroll down to the green form below the description of everything in the Premium Package…***

Welcome to my Kitchen

I’d like to invite you into my busy real food kitchen, where I took a moment away from making dinner for my family to talk about Better Than a Box:

If you can’t view the video, click HERE to see it on You Tube.

price: $16.95

What’s in Better Than a Box?

  • 20 Reverse Engineering 101 “lab” demonstrations of how I got the processed foods out of favorite recipes and transformed them to whole foods; three of those are Create-your-own 101 with advanced techniques for writing your own recipe from scratch.

  • 35 Remake Resources, the recipes for basic ingredients that you’ll need if you want to reverse engineer your own recipes to ditch the processed foods; things like homemade chicken stock, mayo, BBQ sauce, dressings, bread crumbs, and more. Including…
    • Homemade White Sauce (Cream of “Whatever” Soup) Tutorial
    • Homemade Biscuits, Cornbread, Pie crust, Rolls, and Crackers
    • Stovetop Stuffing Substitute
    • Velveeta Substitutes
    • 5 Homemade Dressings
    • a 25% off coupon for Easy. Homemade. by Mandi Ehman
    • …and much more!
    • These recipes are on printable recipe cards, available as a bonus with the premium package…

    • 25 Ready-to-Cook Recipes, where I’ve done the work for you and you can just pull the recipes out and plan for dinner without having to think through anything. They include prep foods so you know what you need to have prepared, allergy-friendly notes and a section on each one called “Get Kids Involved” to give you courage to invite your little helpers into the kitchen. Including…
      • Dad’s Cheeseburger Helper
      • 2 Rice-a-Roni Substitutes
      • Grandma’s Tuna Noodle Casserole
      • Chicken Pot Pie and Not Pie
      • Homemade Chicken Nuggets
      • Homemade Chocolate Syrup
      • …and much more!

The full table of contents recipe lists are available after the FAQs at the very end of this page.

price: $16.95

Premium Package Includes:

When you purchase Better Than a Box here at Kitchen Stewardship, you automatically get the entire Premium Package:

BTAB book 3d best

PDF downloadable eBook, Better Than a Box (218 pages + TEN bonuses)
Better Than a Box IS available in print as well, but not as part of this package. View the print book on Amazon right here.


Kindle & Nook files


Printable recipe cards
18 of the basic pantry staples from the “Remake Resources” section

Access to all the recipes on Plan to Eat
(a 30-day trial account works to view them, and you’ll also want to be part of the
KS group to see over 30,000 real food recipes uploaded by readers)
To view the recipes on Plan to Eat, click on the link in an email that will come to you within 7 days of purchase (separately from the download email). Do not friend request Kitchen Stewardship.

Homemade Dressings Video Freebie

Exclusive Video: How to Make 3 Salad Dressings from the book
(11 min., my 7-year-old son is featured demonstrating Homemade Ranch)


FOUR Info Printables: Real Food Substitution Chart, Baseline Fats Chart, How to Cook Dry Beans, Chicken Stock Cliff’s Notes


Printable: Freezer Inventory List

Better just got bigger! Download 32 pages to start transforming favorite meals now:


Signing up for the free download subscribes you to the KS monthly newsletter.


Better Than a Box book

Better Than a Box
(eBook Premium Package)

How to Transform Your Processed Foods
Recipes into Whole Foods Favorites
(218 pages + TEN bonuses, including Kindle + Nook)

price: $16.95

Any coupon code is entered after clicking the “Buy Now” button once the item is in your cart.

(Get a peek with the free download – Homestyle Chicken!)

If you can’t see the buy button, click here.
Amazon.UK Kindle book

Cart is empty $0.00

What About Food Allergies/Dietary Restrictions?

See how there are three different kinds of chicken nuggets in that photo? I’m no stranger to adapting recipes for gluten-free and even grain-free. Many recipes include variations to accommodate food allergies.

There are 35 basic recipes + 25 reverse engineered recipes in Better Than a Box. Of those 60 recipes, here’s the breakdown:

  • Gluten-free: 51
  • Grain-free: 33
  • Dairy-free: 27
    • The sticking point for dairy is the cream sauce – which I understand can be made dairy-free, and there are adaptations in the book, but I still don’t count each recipe as dairy-free because I haven’t tried them all myself.
  • Vegetarian: There are 28 of the 35 “remake resource” recipes that have no meat. In the end section, only 8 of the 25 have no meat, but in 10 others, the meat is ground beef or shredded chicken added to a sauce/pasta/rice. One could cut it out or sub with a vegetarian option.
  • Eggs and nuts make rare appearances but are not frequently used

Ultimately, the first 100 pages are a teaching section that anyone can use to learn techniques from, and the latter half is filled with the recipes. Better Than a Box would still be appropriate for any food allergy.

Satisfaction Guaranteed

If you are disappointed in the book for any reason, including that you can’t find enough recipes to fit a dietary restriction, I will refund your money without hesitation. Just email me!

Better Than a Box book

Better Than a Box
(eBook Premium Package)

How to Transform Your Processed Foods
Recipes into Whole Foods Favorites
(218 pages + TEN bonuses, including Kindle + Nook)

price: $16.95

Any coupon code is entered after clicking the “Buy Now” button once the item is in your cart.

(Get a peek with the free download – Homestyle Chicken!)

If you can’t see the buy button, click here.
Amazon.UK Kindle book

Cart is empty $0.00

“This Book Changed My Life”


I downloaded Better Than A Box onto my Kindle months ago but… at the time I thought it was just a cookbook, so I’d just skim a few recipes and move on. Then I actually opened the book. Wow. I couldn’t put it down!I loved your lessons in reverse engineering and your friendly and encouraging tone as you described your processes and pushed me to experiment. I’ve always been a “glued-to-the-recipe” cook, but since I’ve read your advice I’ve felt so much freer to take chances in the kitchen. The other night I decided to make cheesy vegetables loosely based on your cheese sauce instructions. Out of key ingredients, I thought to myself, “Katie says I can do this – I’ll just improvise.” I mixed in some water, a bit of this and a bit of that, thickened it up, mixed in the frozen veggies, and added a couple handfuls of mozzarella cheese cause “cheese makes everything better.” Even my pickiest kid ate multiple serving of the “creamy vegetables!”

The more I realize how much easier these little steps simplify my life, the more motivated I become to do them…Thank you for empowering me to experiment in the kitchen and enjoy the adventure. I’ve been telling everyone around me about this great cookbook I’ve been reading (maybe I should start saying textbook).

Thank you again for inspiring me and bringing joy back to my kitchen. Blessings, Amy



1. Do I need a special device to open the eBook?

Not at all. A PDF can be opened on any computer or mobile device. You’ll need Acrobat Reader, which you can download for free right HERE. Don’t forget to save it to your hard drive once you open it.

2. How do I load the files to other mobile devices?

On most tablets, you should be able to download the PDF files directly to your device by clicking on the links in your email confirmation from your tablet. For e-readers and tablets that don’t support file download, simply download the files on your computer and then transfer them via USB cord to your device. **Be sure to read your manual about how to connect and disconnect cords. I cannot be liable if something goes wrong.

3. Can I print the recipes?

Yes! Once the PDF is open on your computer, you can choose just a few pages to print when you find a recipe you want to make. I keep the photos off the recipe pages so you don’t have to waste expensive ink. The document is even formatted so that you can print back to front to save paper, and you’ll be able to put them into a 3-ring binder.

If you love a “real” book, Better Than a Box is available at Amazon HERE.

4. I can’t see the buy button. What do I do?

Your device needs javascript enabled to see the buy button. If it’s not working and you’ve tried a mobile device and a regular computer, you can just Paypal the cost of the book to kitchenstew at gmail dot come and send me a quick email telling me what it’s for. I’ll deliver your files myself! You can also try clicking HERE to add to cart.

5. It looks like a blank page when I download. Where’s the book?

When you click the download link, it looks like a blank page, but the eBook is actually downloading in the background. It will go into a “temp” file that may or may not automatically open up for you, depending on your browser settings. Click on your Firefox/Internet Explorer/Chrome icon at the bottom of your screen, and there is probably a new window downloading the book.

6. Can I give Better Than a Box as a gift?

What an awesome idea! I’m totally honored. A lot of the emailing stuff is all automatic, so the easiest thing to do is just forward the download links when you get them. Then you can explain to your friend what the gift is, etc. Thanks so much!

Like with a real book, one book is one book, so if you want a book to keep and a book to give, please purchase two copies.

Full Table of Contents

Here is the table of contents from Better Than a Box:

The Bad News
Why Reverse Engineering?
My First Reverse Engineering Meal
A Community Effort
What Will I Learn in Better Than a Box?

{Section One} Reverse Engineering 101: How to Look at a Recipe and Make it Yours

  • Reverse Engineering Cheat Sheet {The Visual}
  • Reverse Engineering Cheat Sheet {Basic Tutorial: How to Remake Your Processed Foods Recipes}
  • Reverse Engineering Cheat Sheet {Adding Nutrition to a Recipe}
  • Reverse Engineering Cheat Sheet {Make it a One-Pot Meal}
  • Designing Your Own Recipes {Use What You Have}
  • Designing Your Own Recipes {Eat What You Want}

{Section Two} Kitchen Basics 101

  • The Importance of Meal Planning
  • The Importance of Meal Planning {Connected Meal Planning}
  • The Importance of Meal Planning {Cook Once, Serve Twice}
  • Cooking Basics {Indispensable Time-Saving Tips to Save Your Sanity}
  • Cooking Basics {Stocking Up for Real Food Success}
  • Cooking Basics {Getting Comfortable with Herbs and Spices}
  • Cooking Basics {A Mini Herb & Spice Dictionary}
  • Cooking Basics {Herbs and Spices that Complement Your Food}
  • Baking Basics {It’s Different Than Cooking}
  • Baking Basics {How to Healthify Baking Recipes}
  • Baking Basics {What is Soaking Grains?}
  • Baking Basics {How to Soak Grains}
  • Baking Basics {How to Adapt a Recipe for Soaking}

{Section Three} Reverse Engineering Examples
{Reverse Engineering 101}

  • Katie’s Spicy Meat Chili
  • Basic Pepper Steak
  • Dad’s Cheeseburger Helper
  • Homestyle Beef and Potato Casserole
  • Honey Dijon Chicken Casserole
  • Easy Chicken and Biscuits & Chicken Pot Pie
  • Cheesy Beef and Mac
  • Grandma’s Tuna Noodle Casserole
  • Creamy Chicken Enchiladas
  • Chicken with Rice and Green beans
  • Stovetop Stuffing Remix
  • Real Food Beef Stroganoff
  • Simple Onion Pot Roast
  • Spicy Chicken Cheesy Dip
  • French Onion Chip Dip
  • One-Bowl Pumpkin Muffins (+ soaked version)
  • Southern Banana Pudding

{Create-Your-Own 101}

  • Homemade Caesar Dressing
  • Homemade Barbecue Sauce
  • Gluten-free Cornbread Stuffing

{Section Four} Remake Resources
The Real Food → Standard American Diet Language Dictionary
Basic Recipes:

  • Homemade Chicken Stock
  • Homemade White Sauce (i.e. Cream of Whatever Soup)
  • Cream of Potato Vegetable Soup
  • Bouillon Cube Substitute
  • Dry Onion Soup Mix
  • Cheesy Grain-free Biscuits
  • Mom’s Whole Wheat Biscuits
  • Bisquick Substitute
  • Grandma’s Pie Crust
  • Homestyle Cornbread
  • Gluten-free Cornbread
  • Homemade Whole Wheat Tortillas
  • Favorite Homemade Rolls
  • Homemade Wheat Thin Style Crackers
  • Homemade Bread Crumbs
  • Stovetop Stuffing Substitute
  • Homemade Sausage Seasoning
  • Basic Meat Marinade Framework
  • Bonus: Mexican Beef Fajitas
  • Roasted Shredded Chicken
  • Freezer Meatballs (& Meatloaf)
  • Not-so-Tough Beef Jerky
  • Macaroni and Cheese
  • Velveeta Cheese Substitute/Creamy Cheese Sauce
  • Homemade Mayonnaise
  • Homemade Caesar Dressing
  • Homemade Italian Dressing
  • Homemade Asian Toasted Sesame Salad Dressing
  • Tangy Greek Salad Dressing with Feta
  • Homemade Ranch Dressing
  • Ranch Dressing Mix
  • Seasoned Salt and Dip Blends
  • Homemade Barbecue Sauce
  • Italian Diced Tomatoes
  • Fake Whipped Topping
  • Instant Pudding

{Section Five} The Ready-to-Cook Recipes

  • Katie’s Spicy Meat Chili
  • Basic Pepper Steak
  • Dad’s Cheeseburger Helper
  • Honey Dijon Chicken Casserole
  • Easy Chicken and Biscuits
  • Chicken Rice-a-Roni Substitute
  • Mexican Beans and Rice
  • Cheesy Beef and Mac
  • Grandma’s Tuna Noodle Casserole
  • Creamy Chicken Enchiladas
  • Chicken Pot Pie and Not Pie
  • Chicken with Rice and Green Beans
  • Homestyle Crunchy Topped Chicken Casserole
  • Real Food Beef Stroganoff
  • Simple Onion Pot Roast
  • Spicy Cheesy Chicken Dip
  • Homemade French Onion Dip
  • Sausage Spinach Pasta Toss
  • Homemade Chicken Nuggets
  • One-Bowl Pumpkin Muffins
  • Real Hot Chocolate
  • Homemade Chocolate Syrup
  • Southern Banana Pudding
  • Homemade Whole Wheat Graham Crackers

Powered by
Click here for my disclaimer and advertising disclosure - affiliate links in this post will earn commission based on sales, but it doesn't change your price.

320 Bites of Conversation So Far

  1. Rachel via Facebook says

    Nice work, fellow Michigander. :) Looking forward to snuggling down on this freezing winter morning and pouring over the ebook!

  2. Lori says

    I just bought your book from Amazon. I should have waited to check your site. Can’t wait to read/use it! Congratulations!

    • Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship says

      Wonderful, Thanks Lori! You got a great deal – if you want the printables, $1.99 is still pretty cheap. 😉 Katie

      • Lori says

        Of course I wanted the printables so I purchased again. It will be great to have access on my computer and my kindle. The little bit I’ve looked at looks great! I think I will be trying the cornbread recipe to go with my chili tomorrow and the chicken pot pie recipe this weekend.

  3. Angela says

    Am I the only one that can’t seem to buy it from your site? I am clicking all over the place and nothing is going into a “cart.”
    Any suggestions?

    • Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship says

      Thanks so much for your interest! Sorry you’ve run into a problem. Hmmmm…I just clicked the buy button and it worked. Let’s troubleshoot:
      1. Are you on a mobile device?
      2. Can you see all the buttons on the page?
      3. Can you see ANY images/photos on the page?

      Maybe one of those things will shed some light on the problem. :) Katie

      • Sharon says

        Katie, I have the same problem. There is no buy button. I did buy the kindle version but still want to ebook. Your help would be appreciated.

        • Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship says

          Much thanks to Meredith for helping me figure out the answer here! Were you able to access the buy button? Try switching browsers or updating your Internet Explorer. Thank you so much for your interest! :) Katie

      • Meredith says

        I had the same problem. I have an outdated IE, so I switched to Mozilla or Chrome and they both worked just fine. Can’t wait to read the book!

    • Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship says

      Thank you! I didn’t even know it would be a totally different link, so I’m glad I have it now. :) Katie

      • Holly says

        Yes, Amazon UK is a totally separate site, and if your Kindle (or Kindle account) is registered in the UK, you can’t use the US link. Just thought I’d make it easier for people to buy. 😉 Thanks for another great book!

  4. Gayle via Facebook says

    I tried to order multiple copies in the quantity option, but when it took me to the payment page, it took my quantity down to 1. Are we allowed to order more than one at this price? I wanted to give it as gifts to family members that don’t have Paypal.

    • Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship says

      Do you have Acrobat Reader? That will help you open it. Here is a place to download it for free:

      Also, your computer may have downloaded the file if you clicked on the download link, and you’re just not sure where to look. Mine opens a new window called “Downloads”, and I have to double click on the file there.

      Try those, and let me know if you still aren’t able to get the book. :) Katie

  5. says

    Gayle Retzer Dvorak Thank you!! Hmmm, no, there’s no limit that I set – and once it goes back to “1” you can’t reset it there at the payment page? This is a new problem for me…I’d rather you be able to check out once rather than have to do the whole process multiple times. Right now I can hardly even access my own site, it’s so slow – Murphy’s Law of Doing Something Important. If you didn’t figure it out, dash me an email so I don’t lose track of the issue, okay? Thanks so much! (kitchenstew at

  6. Erica says

    Do you have any plans to print and sell an actual book or just the ebook. I’m finding that I don’t really use my e cookbooks much. I don’t like the computer on all the time. I know its not very modern of me, but I love curling up on the couch with a cookbook at night!

    • Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship says

      I am totally the same way…YES, Better Than a Box will be in print within a month or two. Watch for it1 😉 Katie

  7. says

    Sharon Gamblin – the ebook is a PDF file, so it should be able to be viewed on just about anything. You also get the Kindle and Nook files WITH the PDF purchase, so there’s probably a Kindle reader app for your tablet, too. Lots of ways to enjoy! :) Katie

    • Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship says

      That’s so awesome to hear! And thank you for taking the time to write a review; super big help for people who stumble across the book on Amazon and don’t know who I am or what I’m all about. Yay! :) Katie

  8. Rachael says

    I am a little confused on this. Is it a PDF download or just Kindle/Nook? I do not have either of those but can use a PDF. I am interested but want to make sure I can use it before buying.

    • Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship says

      It’s everything! If you purchase here at KS, you get a PDF (plus the others if you happen to have those devices). So you’ll be able to use it. Thanks for your interest! :) Katie

  9. Margaret says

    Just read through it quickly, loved the recipes. The best and easiest grassfed beef roast I have made is to throw it in the crockpot and mix 1 T of ranch dressing mix, 1 T italian seasoning mix, and 1 T of onion soup mix (all homemade versions) and sprinkle on top. Add onions, potatoes, carrots and 1-2 cups of water and cook 10 -12 hours on low. (I cooked it from frozen this weekend for 16 hours for our Sunday lunch).

  10. Claudia says

    Thanks Katie,
    The book is awesome and I am really grateful to you for all the work you put into it, I owned two other books of you and I love them so does my family. I purchased the ebook form your site and also the kindle book from amazon ( I could not figured how to download to my Kindle, tech challenged here) for .99 is worth my sanity.
    Thanks again, can’t to see what you will come up with next.

  11. Laura says

    I’m having a problem downloading the ebook. The first time I tired downloading it stopped and said there was an error. The second time I tried, it opened up Adobe half-way through and said that the file was corrupted and could not be fixed. The third time I tried, it stopped half-way through and said “cannot decode raw data”. Help!!

      • Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship says

        Phew! I think you got every error message in the book! I guess it ran out of errors, so it worked. 😉

        Enjoy the recipes, and thank you!! :) Katie

  12. Cindy says

    When I click on your ebooks tab I can see the buy now button on some of the books but not the others and the Better than a Box is one that doesnt have a buy now button….Not on this page or the ebook tab page…

      • Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship says

        Did you see my answer to Cindy? Try a different computer or make sure javascript isn’t turned off on your browser. Thanks! :) Katie

    • Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship says

      Hmmm, maybe your browser is working with javascript off? You need that to work the button.

      If you’re on a mobile device, that could be a problem too. Try on a home computer and let me know how it goes! Thanks so much for your interest!

      :) Katie

      PS- you can email me at kitchenstew at if that doesn’t work…

    • Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship says

      I can, BUT did you see that the Nook file comes with the premium package? I’d go for it this week while the price is super low; can take FOREVER to get their act together and publish Nook books. Thanks for the interest! :) Katie

  13. Teresa says

    This book is AWESOME! You did a fantastic job putting this book together. I read through it today and love all the information and recipes. Writing my grocery list as I read through it. Thank you for all your hard work and time that you put into this project.

  14. Colleen Mayberry says

    Just bought this book and skimmed through it – so glad I bought it! This is sure to be my favorite reference. Thank you!

        • Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship says

          Some folks with outdated browsers had this problem. Try updating your browser (Firefox, Internet Explorer) or switching to a different one (Chrome is another). Otherwise, email me and we can work out Paypal and a book delivery manually.
          Thanks so much! :) Katie

        • Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship says

          Arg, computers. Sometimes more trouble than they’re worth! That would be absolutely fine – you can Paypal to kitchenstew at, and then be sure to email me as well so I can manually deliver the book. Either email from the same address you use for Paypal or tell me what it is so I can verify the transaction. Thanks for your perseverance! I think I’ll add an FAQ to the page…

          :) Katie

  15. Kimberly says

    Just bought it for my Kindle! Can’t wait to check it out. Your reverse engineered Hamburger Helper is what started my family down the “real food” road. Can’t thank you enough!

  16. Tara H says

    Ok, so silly me left a comment on the page after I bought the package, and now I can’t figure out how to get back there! :) Can you answer my question here or email me? Thanks…sorry.

  17. Jessica says

    Congrats on the new book, Katie! I have bought all of your ebooks and simply LOVE them. Just bought this one too. Thanks for all your hard work!

Take a Bite (of conversation)

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *