Previously, I wrote a blog about the packaged foods that I consider useful, healthy, and inexpensive. This post is just the opposite, where I will spend my time writing about convenience foods that I do not buy, for health or budget purposes.
Most of the local grocery store is full of ready to eat, fast cooking menu choices. However, convenience usually comes at a high price, whether we are talking nutrition or your wallet. Of course, you can buy Ramen Noodles for ten cents, cook them in two minutes, and eat them almost anywhere; but what are you really getting out of it?
I have read self help articles on dieting, and one tip is to only shop the perimeter of your supermarket. However, I find this advice to be foolish, since there are nutritious packaged foods in the aisles. Rather than skip over every shelf, use good judgement before purchasing a food or drink, and know what the labels mean.
Here are some items I do not buy, and the reasons why they are on my list:
Pre-cut produce - This is obviously a budget concious decision, since fruits and vegetables are super good for you. If I had money to throw around, I might re-consider this one due to the convenience. The prices are usually super marked up, and with a little extra time on my part, an unnecessary expense in my eyes.
Salad dressing - It is easy to make healthy, delicious dressing; and it literally can take one minute to make a simple salad topper. (1/4 cup of red wine or balsamic vinegar, 1/4 cup olive oil, 1 Tbls Dijon mustard, shake well in a glass jar) The healthy fats in the olive oil help to absorb the vitamins and nutrients in the vegetables, and you are not ingesting the million unnecessary ingredients in the store bought bottles.
Baby food - I rarely used this aisle for my daughter. Making your own baby food is easy and cost effective. Simply cook food until tender, and puree in a food processor. If you would like some recipes I used, just ask!
Dinner in a box - To me, anything in powder form that claims itself as a complete family meal should be considered false advertising. Unless you are going into space on a shuttle, there is no reason in the world to eat food that is so far away from it's original form. Just make a sandwich.
Frozen peanut butter and jelly sandwiches - Really? How hard is it to make a PB & J?
Frozen dinners - I am referring to meals that come in mini cardboard containers and get zapped in the microwave. Just read the label. There is a novel of ingredients, mostly unrecognizable, and the nutritional value is virtually irrelevant to humans. I admit, there are times grabbing a Lean Cuisine is helpful, but do not make it a habit. That is not healthy or cheap!
Instant Potatoes - If making potatoes is too hard or too time consuming, just buy frozen potatoes with minimal ingredients.
Lunch Kits - I only have one word, "ew."