Convenience Foods: At What Cost?

Convenience foods, are they really worth the convenience? This article will explore the dangers of pre-cooked and readi-pack convenience foods and offer some ways to prepare your own alternatives.

Pre-cooked chicken strips cost over $10.00 per pound and contain additives and preservatives.

You can prepare you own by purchasing boneless skinless chicken breasts or tenders, seasoning them with your favorite herbs and spices, grilling them and refrigerating or freezing them in portion sizes. To save even more money, purchase bone-in, skin-on breasts and remove skin and bones. The skin, bones and scraps make an excellent soup stock which you can de-fat later and use in recipes.

Ground beef is made from scraps and unusable cuts, unless of course, you have a relationship with your butcher and he hand grinds a cut of meat to your specifications.

You can easily make your own ground beef, practically fat-free, by processing your own cut in your food processor, then bagging and freezing it for future use.

Readi-bagged, pre-cut salad greens and vegetables have a chemical sprayed on them, or they are run through a chemical bath, to retard spoilage. Have you ever wondered why they stay fresher longer than a plain head of lettuce? Now you know! If you do buy bagged readi-cut greens, look for ORGANIC. These will NOT stay fresher longer, however, they will save you the step of tearing the lettuce or cutting the vegetables.

The “Lunchable” kits found in the deli case are loaded with sodium, additives and preservatives, as well as empty calorie desserts and snacks. Plus the fact that they are very expensive.

Simple Alternatives

You can easily make healthy alternatives by substituting home-grilled chicken strips, low fat cheese slices, fresh cut veggies and fruits, pita wedges, and yogurt for dipping.

You can make pizza dippers by making a simple pizza sauce from some Hunt′s sauce, oregano, basil, garlic and a fresh grind of salt and pepper for dipping lite string cheese, chicken strips and pita wedges. All pack well in Zip-Lock bag and plastic containers.

Prepared pasta sauces contain sugar and even trans fats in the form of hydrogenated oils, as well as additives and preservatives. It is easy to prepare your own large batch and freeze in portions.

Grades of Beef

A little know fact is that there are actually EIGHT grades of beef. Prime and choice are top quality and are sold as distinct cuts of meats, marked with the USDA stamp. The lesser quality beef, that does not make the grade, is sold under generic or store labels, but is not USDA stamped. Then there is cutter grade, which is sold to commercial food processors. These are inferior grades of meat which are made into canned stews, chili, soups and frozen entrées.Hamburger sold in “chubs” is made from dairy cows that no longer produce. This meat can be labeled “pure” beef, because it contains nothing but beef, however it can contain beef snout, ears, lips bone, gristle and veins, to which the processors add red chemical dye for that bright red fresh look!

It is very easy to make your own stirfry by using a frozen stirfry vegetable blend, a tablespoon of soy or stirfry sauce, a teaspoon of extra virgin olive oil or chili oil and 3 ounces of boneless skinless chicken breast strips, fresh wild salmon, or choice top sirloin. You know exactly what you are eating and it takes the same amount of time to prepare as it would to microwave the frozen entrée.

Canned chili also contains hidden sugars, high sodium, cutter grade beef and additives and preservatives.

You can make your own in minutes using a can of diced tomatoes, some diced onion and garlic, canned rinsed or pre-cooked dried beans (make a batch and freeze them), some canned ortegas (or fresh ones), some chili powder, a dash of cumin and fresh ground beef, chicken or even veggie ground round, Add some barley to tighten it up and serve with Tabasco for heat. Overages freeze well in portions.

Canned and bottled iced teas have added flavorings, high fructose corn syrup or artificial sweeteners and preservatives. You can make sun tea by placing a tea bag (regular, decaf or herbal) in a bottled water and placing it in the sun until brewed. Then add a little stevia or fructose if you like and a twist of lime and a sprig of mint when ready to drink.

Low Carb Breads

Beware of low carb breads. Some now contain cotton fiber. Cotton is a non-food and is not regulated by the FDA in regard to pesticide use. So, the cotton fiber in the bread could possibly contain harmful pesticides. Try making your own bread with the many specialty flours and grains available. It′s a lot of fun!By eliminating the additives and preservatives you are freeing your body of chemicals and toxins that can interfere with proper body functions. By knowing the source of your meats, you are eliminating hormones and antibiotics that get into your body by way of the meat, that were not meant for you and that interfere with normal body functions.

With a little planning you can prepare healthy foods which cost less than convenience foods. Batch cooking allows you to have ready extras. You know exactly what you are eating and you can prepare it exactly how you like it.

I choose to eat healthier now. I choose to know exactly what my entrées contain. I read labels. If I cannot pronounce it, I won′t buy it. I buy organic as much as possible. I eat fresh whole foods a lot. I buy wild fish only, and meat with no added hormones or antibiotics, and free range when available. I make my own chili, pasta sauce, stirfries and lunchables and bake my own bread.

Armed with some facts and some ideas on how to prepare your own foods, are you prepared to make some healthy choices? Are convenience foods really worth the convenience

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