Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Really convenient convenience foods

Since I wrote about a Wall Street Journal article pointing out the myth of convenience foods, I was surprised to see a post over at Food Fetish stating essentially that I might frown on her buying and using bagged salad as a time-saver, based on my recent post about convenience foods and the fact that they really don't save enough time to make them worth the extra fat and calories that they usually include. Her post made me think about what the definition of convenience foods should be and which ones I couldn't live without.

When I started looking at it, almost everything we use today is a convenience food of sorts, if you define that as a food that is already premade or pre-prepared. Are all canned foods convenience foods? I certainly use my share of canned tomatoes, canned beans, and even pasta sauce on occasion. While I love homemade bread, I don't bake for everyday use. So, if you consider processed foods as convenience foods, I don't use that many, but if you count pre-prepared foods, they are staples in my pantry and freezer, and they are the building blocks I use to play with food.

What convenience foods could you not live without? I think that you may find drawing that line a little more difficult than you imagined.


ArkAngels for Russian Orphans said...

Here are some "convenience foods" I almost always have on hand:
Refrigerated minced garlic, crushed ginger
Shredded or mini carrots
Canned beans, tomatoes, corn
Frozen berries, peas, broccoli
Long grain/wild rice mix
Breakfast cereal
Prepared stock (veggie/chicken)
And I'm sure there are others....

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s'kat said...

I prefer not to, but in a pinch, I've no problem using bagges salad (but not the mixes!).

My well-stocked pantry shows my love of convenience foods: dried pasta, beans, tomato sauce, capers, stock and taco dinner kits.

Sara said...

Canned beans - they are my most favorite thing in the kitchen.
Canned tomatos.
Canned corn.
Vegetable stock.
Bagged salads.
Frozen veggie burgers.

C'tina said...

I took your reference to the Wall Street Journal article to include foods such as Hot Pockets or Hamburger Helper, not the staples almost everyone has on hand such as canned beans or chicken broth, and (gasp!) bagged salad, lol. The pre packaged foods I always have are tofu and frozen blueberries for morniing smoothies.

Deborah Dowd said...

Lisa- You can enjoy a lot of variety with your list!

Shelley- Like you, I like the convenience of prewashed greens, but like to add my own dressing, etc.(besides, the "kits" are so much more expensive!)

Sara- I totally agree- beans are a great pantry staple, and canned beans are an essential convenience food for me!

C'tina- I interpreted it the same way, but you could draw the line more conservatively, and then it would be difficult to be a home cook without "convenience" foods.

Helen said...

Canned pulses are my thing. I ALWAYS forget to soak the dried ones the night before! Canned chickpeas in particular are brilliant for throwing into dishes for an extra hit of nuttiness and healthy points!

Deborah Dowd said...

Helen- I assume pulses are beans? And I have the same problem, which is why the canned version is so convenient!

greensgal said...

We cook and cook in our house, but I wouldn't be without special mustards for salad dressings, and yes, canned beans and tomatoes, coconut milk, and even good mayonnaise, different salsas, frozen peas and corn. All of these things take ordinary cooking to a different level. There are "secret" ingredients like that in every restaurant kitchen as well! If it makes us cook more whole grains and fresh vegetables, so much the better! Nice blog!


Deborah Dowd said...

Greensgal- Canned beans and tomatoes are part of our pantry too, but coconut milk- what a great ingredient to have around!

Kristen said...

We use a lot of convenience foods but doctor them up with our own ingredients. On a busy weeknight, they are a huge time saver and sometimes mean the difference between eating out or eating at home.

Deborah Dowd said...

Kristen- I use them occasionally too, and sometimes they are a life saver!

Fleagirl from California said...

I hate to pay for the convenience of someone else preparing my food. I'm cheap that way. I certainly don't think of frozen fruits and veggies as convenience foods...and hadn't considered tinned beans or tomatoes in that realm either. But here are the ones that I always have to tell myself I'm saving money by saving myself TIME:

Pre-shredded carrots
Shredded cabbage/cole slaw mix
Brocolli florets (like those Broccolli Wokley bags)
Fresh salsa--or worse, the salsa kits from Trader Joes!
Ground meat shaped into patties
Sliced fruit

Deborah Dowd said...

Fleagirl- You are so right! Unless you decide your time is worth nothing, you do save money by saving time!

Melissa-Long Beach, CA said...

I love your site! Found it by googling breakfast pizza. I will be lurking!

Deborah Dowd said...

Melissa- I am so glad you stopped by and hope you will be a frequent visitor!

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