My generation was arguably the first to make “TV”, or “convenience dinners” a norm rather than an exception. I remember watching “Home Alone” when I was 7 or 8 years old. When Macaulay Culkin i.e. “Kevin” was zapping microwave meals and muttering “delicious” to himself, I, being the same age, was thinking “yes, definitely!” I grew up in a home where a delicious freshly cooked meal was made every evening. And yet even in my mind, convenience meals were already part of my food vocabulary.
Times have changed of course. For a long time, “ready meals” as they are called here in the UK, have been stereotyped as the unhealthy choice of those who don’t have the time to cook, or simply can’t be bothered to. While the convenience food industry is huge, it still gets a very bad press. In a purely nutritional sense, this is not without good reason. Cheap ready meals in particular are often packed with preservatives and an excess of salt. We all know that if consumed too regularly, these can contribute to a number of health problems.
Without divulging any specifics, I’ll tell you a little story before I get into the nitty gritty. Someone in my family once went 9 months without a fridge. This person claimed to be too busy to go and buy a new one, and lived on ready meals while complaining of feeling unwell and of putting on weight. I just listened and pointed out the obvious!
The further we get into the 2000’s however, the more emphasis there has been on healthier convenience meal choices. Companies like HelloFresh, for example, provide meal plans rather than just simply ready meals. You can now choose from recipe boxes which come with pre-measured ingredients and cooking instructions.
This is the new type of “convenience meal”. And it’s proof that there is such a thing as the right convenience food. You get to cook a healthy meal without having to do all the prep (slicing, measuring etc.) and the ingredients are fresh. Sure, it’s pricier than what you’ll pick up from the supermarket freezer. But can you really put a price on better health? 2020 has certainly taught us that long term health and wellness should be higher up our list of priorities.
So here are 3 reasons why eating the right convenience food can often make sense!
Time is Money
It’s a bit of a cliche, but it’s often true – time IS money!
Take what I do for a living – blogging and providing virtual assistance. I can think of numerous occasions where I’ve missed out on a campaign or a new client because I’ve decided to spend 3 hours cooking a complex midweek meal rather than keeping tabs on my inbox. I mean sure, F.O.M.O is no way to live and I do really enjoy quality kitchen time. But you know where I’m coming from.
For many freelancers and small business owners, choosing to prioritise simple day to day activities like cooking a nice meal over working will literally lead to a cut in the supermarket budget. Now that’s a paradox in itself isn’t it? But it shows that making time-effective meal choices is often a necessity, not just a lifestyle choice.
I enjoy my food, and keeping tabs on how much I eat is sometimes a bit of a struggle. What was intended to be tomorrow’s leftover lunch can easily become late night seconds. We know that keeping a healthy weight is 80% diet-based, and a big part of this is not over-eating. The stomach is a pretty adaptable organ and will easy stretch to accommodate more than the body needs. This can become a vicious circle as the mind can easily be tricked into thinking that you’re not full when in fact, you should be.
One of the advantages of a healthy pre-packed meal is that it’s possible to visualise what the meal contains as what your body needs. For people who can really put it away (like me!), this can help with portion control. Another reason why there is such a thing as the right convenience food. I mean, the chef who prepared the ingredients for you to cook obviously thought it was enough to constitute a meal, right?
With “Stay at Home” being among the most common phrases used in 2020, most of us have had more time to spend on looking after our home, including putting our kitchens to better use. But often, cooking something new from scratch without ever having tasted it before doesn’t feel ideal. Especially if you have fussy eaters to think of!
Enter online recipe hubs where you can discover new recipes and order the ingredients you need to try them out in the form of a recipe box. If the recipe meets with your taste buds’ approval, you can then try preparing the same meal for your loved ones completely from scratch.
Before I wrap up, I should add that a further benefit of quality “recipe box” providers like HelloFresh is the sustainable packaging they store their food in. It’s all very well knocking people who use these companies for not cooking their own meals completely from scratch, but have you seen some of horrendous plastic packaging that meat, fish and even veg comes in? In my opinion, plastic pollution is the biggest threat facing the earth and if it’s a choice between not being supportive enough of supermarkets and helping to drown the oceans in plastic I know what I’d rather be accused of!
I would love to hear you thoughts on this post and the issues discussed!
in collaboration with HelloFresh