When I wrote Sunday’s post, I had very specific convenience foods in mind. Yet, I realized after I spoke with Ivy that I may have sounded as though I am against all prepared foods. I’m not.
If you looked through my cupboards, there are plenty of convenience items I happily use with no guilt:
- whole wheat bread -I do try to stick to Arnold’s or Nature’s Own, neither contain HFCS
- canned tuna
- canned tomatoes
- whole grain cereals
- a few spice mixes (Montreal Steak Seaoning, Lawry’s Seasoned Salt, Chef Prudhomme’s Redfish Magic)
- peanut butter – and no, not even the organic kind
- pie crust – I can make them, but oh do I hate to, mostly because I don’t own a food processor.
- tortillas – because yes, I’m too lazy to learn
- chocolate chips
- salad dressing -some varieties cause a little bit of guilt
My “emergency” stash gets a bit worse and there is guilt:
- spaghetti sauce
- ramen noodles (These are for extreme cases of PMS and actual hurricanes, we get those)
- canned soups
Treats include chips, salsa, dips, and occasionally soda. I happily use a cake mix rather than buying cake flour that won’t get used for months.
There is nothing wrong with having a treat. The trouble comes when convenience foods are used so often that a person’s palate becomes accustomed to the cheapest ingredients possible, dressed up with high fructose corn syrup, MSG, and high levels of sodium. It takes time to undo that training. Sometimes returning to less processed options feels like a detox, with cravings and a general feeling of being unwell. Processed foods can become a hard habit to break.
Just for fun, I asked via Twitter and Facebook:
Hey it’s another Help a Heather Out: Looking for your worst examples of processed “foods” ie Hot Pockets. Will give credit for suggestions.
And here they are:
Nate Mallard: Lunchables! PizzaRolls! Jimmy Dean Breakfast sandwich! All my favorite foods.
Heidi: Hamburger Helper?
Gene Bowker: SPAM
Shannon Brigham: SPAM Also someone was telling me about another line Hormel products on shelves that lasts two years and doesn’t have to be refrigerated? –stews and such.
Caanan Tully: How about spaghetti o’s? I can’t stand to smell that fake tomato sauce, much less taste it.
Jessica Ashley: Flavored non-dairy creamer. And yes, I am guilty of consuming it. Hot Pockets? Oh hell no. Creamer? Ohhh yes.
Becky Ray: Here is GA we shop at Kroger, and they sell a store brand ice cream called “Frozen Dairy Product.” I’m not kidding, that’s what it says on the box. It tastes like plastic.
Hillary Gerber: I think the frozen crustless peanut butter and jelly sandwiches are kind of scary.
Chells: With @CaananTully, any of those Chef Boyadee concoctions [sp?]
Gigi: 1. frozen crustless pb&j. 2. Indiv wrapped pb “slices”. Omgsrslywtf?!?!
Allison Nadeau: I always thought lunchables were particularly icky. So much sodium.
Carol: Hmmm, spam?? Can you get any worse then that. Hamburger helper, that is awful. I am sure I can list about 100 more.
Jennifer: The frozen crustless grilled cheese sandwhiches….just plain gross. My kids did not like them at all.
Rosemary: I will defend this much of hot pockets. The meatball ones are better if you baked them in an oven. But microwaved? Oh hell no! BUT Smucker’s uncrustables are horrible. My peanut butter aficionado tells me they taste like mushy cardboard and to top it off, the dog (who loves PB&J) sniffed it and walked away from it.
Kelly Love: Lean Cuisine! Lived on them in college while working @ software co FT. Cannot stand the smell of microwave meals to this day.
Oh, and from a health perspective, Stouffers has to be the worst (high fructose corn syrup, trans fats, other yuck).
James Williams: I should be able to win this game, but I don’t eat anything worse than ::sings:: Hot Pockets. [I then ribbed him about his known affection for Cheez Whiz / Poptarts at the same time, to which he responded] I just don’t think that’s as bad as Hot Pockets. The cheese in a Hot Pocket is like something that fell to earth.
Ian May: I tried Hot Pockets once. Curiousity killed the cat, ya know?
Simon Ashton: Sorry, coming late to this, but can I put in a shout for Kid Cuisine? – unbelievably nasty stuff!
Don’t worry, it’s not all soapboxes here at Home Ec 101. I’m working on another Fearless Friday, are you? Additionally, some of yesterday’s comments are in the process of being addressed.