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Best Of The Worst?

post #1 of 17
Thread Starter 
When it comes to unnecessary convenience foods I didn't think anything could top the Crockpot Classics. I mean, how long does it take to chop up some protein and veggies and toss 'em in a slow cooker? Does anybody really need a frozen food company to do that for them (and add all that salt and preservatives as well)?

But I've found one that tops even that. In the latest Food & Wine is an add for premade bruschetta. Yep! Just picture it. In a plastic tub is mixed together chopped tomatoes, some Parmesan, basil, and garlic. You'll find it, the ad says, in the refrigerated section of your market.

Even worse: It's being marketed under the slogan "Keep Life Fresh."

Gimme a break!

Got me to wondering, though. If you had to make a list of the worlds most unnecessary convenience foods, what would it include?
They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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post #2 of 17
I don;t live in the states, so many of the convenience foods you now have i donl;t even know about. But what about bisquik
- i used to think you couldn;t make pancakes and biscuits without it (that was 35 years ago when i moved here) - then i realized measuring out melted butter, an egg, baking powder, salt and sugar is no harder than measuring out bisquik and milk and the extra ingredients i would add to make them good.
same for brownie mix, cake mixes, etc.
but i must agree, this bruschetta mix sounds like it takes the cake (so to speak) why don't they also add the pre-toasted bread rubbed with garlic?
"Siduri said, 'Gilgamesh, where are you roaming? You will never find the eternal life that you seek...Savour your food, make each of your days a delight, ... let music and dancing fill your house, love the child who holds you by the hand and give your wife pleasure in your embrace.'"
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"Siduri said, 'Gilgamesh, where are you roaming? You will never find the eternal life that you seek...Savour your food, make each of your days a delight, ... let music and dancing fill your house, love the child who holds you by the hand and give your wife pleasure in your embrace.'"
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post #3 of 17
Thread Starter 
Apparently, they don't know about rubbing the toasted bread with garlic. Or choose to ignore that technique, in favor of mixing garlic in with the other "fresh" stuff.
They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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post #4 of 17
I've seen premade bruschetta at TJ's. I'd never buy it.

"Instant" chocolate milk mix (I've seen ads for Nestle) is laughable - sheesh, if you want chocolate milk you can buy it in the market or just add chocolate syrup to a glass of milk. How hard can that be - same amount of stirring with the syrup.

Going into Trader Joe's I see lots of containers of pre cut up fruit and veggies at prices that, when compared to the price of whole fruit and veggies, are outrageous, So, you pay lots more and lose lots of freshness, and, in some instances, end up with preservatives and added sugar (maybe not so much with TJ's stuff). Or pre-made fruit and vegetable salads. How hard is it to throw a few pieces of fresh fruit into a bowl.

TJ's has a "guacamole kit" that includes a tomato, an avocado, and some other items, in a little plastic tub. It's sold in the same area the very same unpackaged ingredients are sold, and the kits move out smartly.

It's bad enough (although admitedly very convenient) that so much lettuce is sold in bags, and for some time stores have been selling the lettuce already cut up for the consumer - like a parent would cut up their child's food. Lately I've seen bagged salads - cut up lettuce, some crutons, and an included tub of salad dressing. Gimme a break - that's carrying convenience a bit too far, especially when the same items are already sold as convenience foods like pre-made salad dressings and boxes of crutons. What's next ... pre-digested salads?

TJ's has packages of chicken that's been cut up into small pieces - maybe they call it "Just Chicken" For a little less money you can get larger pieces of pre-cooked and frozen chicken. For MUCH less money you can get "fresh" deboned chicken breasts or thighs. If you want convenience, how hard is it to poach, bake, broil, or even microwave a chicken breast or thigh, cut it up, and save it in the fridge (or even the freezer) for a while for quick use later on.

Robin Miller has a cooking show on FN, the premise of which is how you can make quick and easy meals. The other day she made four or five meals from one package of chicken breasts, by cooking all the breasts at once and then using them later in the week in salads and other dishes. I think it took 20-minutes to make enough chicken for a week of meals for her family.

I've seen peanut butter mixed with jelly- ribbons of jelly can be seen in the jar of peanit butter. Yech!

Shel
post #5 of 17
LOL yeah you never know. Some of the readymade salads already taste like that. I tried one for a caesars salad - never again!!

The packs of pre-cooked baby potatoes I find unnecessary - by the time you've finally broken into the packet and stuck it in the microwave to rehaeat - you could have done your own - fresher and better. And pizza bases with the tomato paste already on them - yuk yuk YUK!!! Horrible. How long does it take to take a base (I'm a fan of frozen pizza bases in an emergency) and put some tomato paste on it??? Again - by the time you've wrestled getting the packaging open you could have popped open the jar of paste, got a knife and spread it on.

And then there's kids lunch box snacks - I've tried some in my time on my kids - how many disgusting ways can processed cheese be packaged to tempt kids - and how many preservatives have to be added to make them keep?? Try sticking a piece of cheddar between some crackers - much tastier - much healthier! And fruit roll-up type thingies - for goodness sake, toss them real fruit instead!! Our high school did some research into preservatives in school snacks avail. in the supermarket - we don't buy any of them now - at request of our kids. Geez the school taught them something :) Fruit, cheese, crackers, healthy sandwhich (sometimes a mini-quiche - homemade - when I have time) and Bob's your uncle.

All this not mentioning the effect of the extra packaging on our already rubbished up world....
 Don't handicap your children by making their lives easy.
Robert A. Heinlein

 
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 Don't handicap your children by making their lives easy.
Robert A. Heinlein

 
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post #6 of 17
I've recently introduced those crockpot classics, or something like it, to my 28 yr old single non-cooking son. Birdseye makes some with meat, veggies, pasta and he can easily microwave them. I think it's better than McDonalds or the other fast foods he's been eating. He refuses to take the time to cook or learn too. I did get him a George Foreman grill which he'll use occasionally to cook chicken and sometimes veggies (mushrooms and onions are his favorite GF foods). The Birdseye dinners look nutrionally sound, low in calories, although a little high in sodium. He told me he found some by Kashi, I think, at Wild Oats, one of his neighborhood stores where he can also buy prepared food.

I do think these quick dinners have their place and are a better alternative than other food. when he lived at home, the only thing I could get him to cook was mac and cheese, yup, in the box, and ramen noodles.
post #7 of 17
lunchables. for the love of all that is holy, just buy a box of ritz, and some cold cuts.

hamburger helper. unless it came with the ground beef, all this box contains is a packet of sauce and dried pasta.
post #8 of 17
Individual packets of flavored instant oatmeal. How difficult is it to make oatmeal - you can even use "instant" oats -and add whatever you like to it, like rasins, sugar, etc.

What a waste of packaging and what an unneccesary expense.

Reminds me, I've been meaning to get some oats.

Shel
post #9 of 17
But didn't Cousin Eddy exclaim "I don't know why they call it Hamburger Helper, it tastes good just the way it is!".

To which "Sparky" replies "Real Ketchup Eddy?"

Nothin' but the best.

:)

doc
post #10 of 17

Cooking Classics

I have a friend at work that all she prepares are those frozen dinner meals for her husband & 10 year old son. I told her those dinners are nothing but preservatives & sodium--she looked at me with a blank stare. Guess nothing in between the ears.
As one response stated, at least it is not McDonalds or Burger King. But anyone can chop up meat, veggies, & herbs & throw them in a crockpot.
I also watch Robin Miller on FN & enjoy her ideas that she has. I tried to tell me friend about the show but it does not sink in. She also buys the cookies in the bags for her son. How terrible!!!! She worries about the amount of bread that she eats but munches down on Doritos, which are another bad food!!!!
People just don't know or CARE what they are eating or feeding to their families. As long as it is quick, easy & cheap, they don't care. I see lines of people waiting to get into Steak & Shake--how bad!
post #11 of 17
Thread Starter 
Actually, Whitbob, the scary part is that they do know. It's just that convenience is more important to them than the health and well being of themselves and their families.

By now there can't be many people unfamiliar with Fast Food Nation and/or Super Size Me. But the lines at McD's and such places haven't gotten any shorter.

Reminds me, in some ways, of how the Declaration of Independence got signed. Independence Hall was located near a stable, and the horseflies were particularly numerous and vicious that year. As Thomas Jefferson later noted, the delegates signed quickly because "comfort was preferable to treason."
They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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post #12 of 17
The worst convenient food items I know:

grated cheese in a bag?
Cheese companies use their batch rejects for grating. The ones that do not pass the moisture level, salt levels, etc... They almost freeze it to grate then they add anticaking ingredients (silicon dioxide) to prevent the moist cheese to stick together. Often sorbates and benzoates are added to prevent mold growth.

another:
graham cookie crumbs.... Again all the broken cookies at the plant are crumbled for your convenience. Often, on a per weight basis, the price is as expensive as whole pristine cookies!

Milled herbs or spices.
A complete waste of money. The spice stales quickly. Spice rejects and twigs are milled. Always buy whole spices, at least you can see what you bought.

Luc H
I eat science everyday, do you?
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I eat science everyday, do you?
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post #13 of 17
microwave pizza--I could eat my shoes if I was that hungry
post #14 of 17
I've gotta admit I used to buy the grated cheese in a bag in the long long ago :blush::blush: Thought I was saving myself some time in the kitchen. Then I went back to grating cheese - the difference in taste was amazing. Never again. Especially after reading that :eek:

DC
 Don't handicap your children by making their lives easy.
Robert A. Heinlein

 
Reply
 Don't handicap your children by making their lives easy.
Robert A. Heinlein

 
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post #15 of 17
Spaghetti sauce in a jar and spice packets/sauce mixes. Guess I can include marinades in this category too. I will make a comment here though. Everyone here has a knowlege of or interest in foods. Not everybody does. It's not much for any of us to say "Well, how hard is it to..." but there are people out there who have no clue how to even start or really are just that busy. And while I have never bought the pot roast kit in question, I can see myself doing it because I'm single and to buy everything for it is expensive and wasteful if I don't get the chance to use the rest of the things before they spoil. I'm sure the mechanics at the garage think "Sheesh, why don't they change their own oil, it's not hard.".
post #16 of 17
Thread Starter 
You raise a very good point. Which is why, even though I don't use many convenience products (depending on how you want to define that), I don't knock most of them either. There are reasons people like using them.

But when a "convenience" product is not particularly more convenient than doing the same thing from scratch, then it's just an expensive froppery. And usually a less healthy one to boot.

Take that bruchetta in a tub. It is nothing more than chopped tomatoes with some basil, garlic, and a sprinkling of grated cheese. Do you really believe that anyone who would think to buy something called "bruchetta" doesn't know what it is? Or that they don't know how to chop a tomato?

That's not the same as, forgive me, spaghetti sauce in a jar. To make a good sauce is time consuming, and requires some knowledge of how flavors work together. So I can see somebody opting for the convenience of a jar. Some people don't know the difference. And some people tell themselves, "not as good as homemade, but for a quick meal.....," and some really think it is as good. But people who use it are at least saving time.
They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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post #17 of 17
A few months after my kid entered grade school he started about wanting to take a Lunchables to school for lunch. He usually won't eat things like ham roll or pepperoni or processed cheese so I postponed buying them until he'd finally assured me that he'd eat it and that all the other kids had them etc etc and so forth. And I bought a few when they went on special.. After a few times he took them to school I figured out what he was doing- I told you he didn't eat any of that stuff well he doesn't. He'd eat the little candy out of them and then trade the rest of it to kids whose lunch items he liked better!
What a relief! To find out after all these years that I'm not crazy. I'm just culinarily divergent...
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What a relief! To find out after all these years that I'm not crazy. I'm just culinarily divergent...
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