The Inconvenient Truth About Convenience Foods


For many over-worked cubicle dwellers, meals consist of Luna bars, Lean Cuisine lunches, and soups out of a can. Yup, that used to me, too. (And I admit that I sometimes still reach for a protein bar when I’m in a rush.)

But it’s better for you, your body, and your budget not to subsist on these so-called convenience foods. Anyone who’s seen the 2004 documentary Super Size Me knows about the horrific impact the McDonald’s drive-through can have on your health.

But so-called health foods have their drawbacks, too. Canned soup is notoriously high in sodium, as are many frozen entrees. (Often the salt is to compensate for the flavor lost when they remove most of the fat.) Not to mention the fact that it’s kind of sad to be ingesting the same microwaveable meals day in and day out.

And let’s not forget the financial cost of convenience foods. Sometimes those ready-made packets can be twice as expensive as their less convenient counterparts!

What’s a cash-strapped, time-crunched worker to do? I try to prepare a big batch of food on Sunday nights, so I’ll have healthful meals to last most of the week. I then supplement my rice casserole or Greek salad with lots of fresh fruits and veggies and (yes) even the occasional convenience meal, which is stashed in the freezer for emergencies (not everyday meals). With a little experimentation and a few kitchen implements like a casserole dish and a slow cooker, I’ve found several nutritious meals that I can prepare quickly and easily. My favorite is instant brown rice with salsa and veggies mixed in and baked for 30 minutes.

What about you?


Susan Johnston is a freelance writer/blogger who has contributed to publications including The Boston Globe, Mint.com’s blog, WomenEntrepreneur.com, and Yahoo! HotJobs. Her own blog, UrbanMuseWriter.com, covers tips on productivity, brainstorming, and more for fellow writers.

Discussion

  1. Chad Kettner on the 26th August

    I go with BIG meals in the evenings with plenty of leftovers for the next lunch. Works pretty good – as both my wife and I need lunches the next day.

  2. Ian LeBeau on the 27th August

    Great article :)

    I make a big batch of chicken, carrots, diced potatoes, and cream of mushroom mixed and cooked together! For a drink I usually go with a bottle of water, but if I need something extra I throw in a Crystal Light Lemonade packet!

  3. James Wade Weaver on the 29th August

    Another couple great movies to watch are the future of food and food inc. Just saying.

  4. Kevin Kuzia on the 30th August

    Big meals are key – cooking for more than just one meal at a time is a huge help. I know some people have this down to a science and use those vaccuum sealers for their food as well.

    In addition, I am a fan of protein shakes, so I tend to have a tub on hand along with raw almonds or other healthy nuts. This always makes for something healthy in a pinch as an easy go-to.

    The last thing I do is have a mini fridge in my office.

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