I've tried to understand why I love mixes so much and I think it comes down to one thing:magic. There is a magical quality to cooking, like being in a chemistry lab where you mix a few things together and voila! you end up with something else. I know that mostly things made from mixes don't taste as good as made from scratch, but still they appeal.
My personal take on mixes is to doctor them. I guess people have been doctoring cake mixes for a long, long time. There is even a series of cookbooks by "the cake mix doctor". She has a web site too where you can try a few recipes before you commit to buying a book. Cakes can be tough to make. Inaccurate oven temperature can spell disaster, and measuring ingredients with measuring cups instead of weighing can also throw things off. But cake mixes are foolproof by design. I once experimented and made a chocolate cake from a mix, adding Kahlua and some shaved Mexican chocolate and it was quite a hit. Using a cake mix you can be adventuresome with a measure of safety thrown in. Who wouldn't want that?
This week faced with little time to prepare dinner, I made a soup out of 1/2 a package of Knorr Spinach soup mix, milk, some leftover cheese sauce and a whole mess of chopped fresh spinach. A little swirl of sour cream and a pinch of grated nutmeg and you'd swear it was homemade.