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Thread: The value of convenience in food

  1. #1
    Chairman of the bored Maister's avatar
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    The value of convenience in food

    Convenience can be a good thing, but like most everything, is best in moderation. I was instructed on short notice that I had to buy a 'bag' of salad on my way home from work yesterday. It was the first time I had purchased one of those. I guess I've seen those pre-assembled salads many times before but never felt the need to buy them because during the late spring-summer-early fall months we typically pull all of our salad ingredients out of the garden. During the non-growing season it's more economical to buy a head of lettuce and a bunch of carrots, a cucumber, or whatever salad components are needed and assemble it ourselves. The bag salad did not taste unpleasant, nor was it outrageously expensive, and I have to admit it was nice just scooping the salad out of the bag, as opposed to cutting up all the ingredients - probably saved 5-8 minutes time.

    Frozen foods are another area where there is a marginal gain in convenience, sometimes without sacrificing too much in quality (this varies a great deal, though, depending on the item)

    Fast food is probably the best known example of convenience food. I confess I probably buy it more than I should - usually at lunch where time is at a premium.

    Do you ever purchase pre-assembled salads? Are there certain foods you will NOT buy frozen purely on principle (say, frozen pizza)? When do you tend find yourself at a McDonalds drive-thru?
    What value do you place on convenience where food preparation and/or consumption are concerned?
    People will miss that it once meant something to be Southern or Midwestern. It doesn't mean much now, except for the climate. The question, “Where are you from?” doesn't lead to anything odd or interesting. They live somewhere near a Gap store, and what else do you need to know? - Garrison Keillor

  2. #2
    Cyburbian btrage's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Maister View post
    Convenience can be a good thing, but like most everything, is best in moderation. I was instructed on short notice that I had to buy a 'bag' of salad on my way home from work yesterday. It was the first time I had purchased one of those. I guess I've seen those pre-assembled salads many times before but never felt the need to buy them because during the late spring-summer-early fall months we typically pull all of our salad ingredients out of the garden. During the non-growing season it's more economical to buy a head of lettuce and a bunch of carrots, a cucumber, or whatever salad components are needed and assemble it ourselves. The bag salad did not taste unpleasant, nor was it outrageously expensive, and I have to admit it was nice just scooping the salad out of the bag, as opposed to cutting up all the ingredients - probably saved 5-8 minutes time.

    Frozen foods are another area where there is a marginal gain in convenience, sometimes without sacrificing too much in quality (this varies a great deal, though, depending on the item)

    Fast food is probably the best known example of convenience food. I confess I probably buy it more than I should - usually at lunch where time is at a premium.

    Do you ever purchase pre-assembled salads? Are there certain foods you will NOT buy frozen purely on principle (say, frozen pizza)? When do you tend find yourself at a McDonalds drive-thru?
    What value do you place on convenience where food preparation and/or consumption are concerned?
    I will confess that we partake in convenience food quite a bit. Both the take-out and grocery-bought types.

    When we eat salad, it is a pre-assembled salad 90% of the time. I prefer frozen vegetables over canned, but this really isn't that much of a time saver. We will partake in frozen pizza from time to time. Recently, we have started using Tyson Grilled & Ready frozen chicken in numerous dishes.

    http://www.tyson.com/Products/Our-Pr...-Products.aspx

    We typically find ourselves at a fast-food establishment during our weekend shopping trips with the girls, or on weeknights when there is a school or some other activity and we're short on time.

    I place a high value on convenience, but will not sacrifice taste when it comes to preparing food at home. There are some good frozen/prepackaged products out there, you just have to find the right ones.

    Now the nutritional component is a whole different issue.
    "I'm very important. I have many leather-bound books and my apartment smells of rich mahogany"

  3. #3
    Cyburbian stroskey's avatar
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    Neither my wife nor I enjoy cooking. She is on her feet all day so wants to rest when she gets home and I run when I get home so when I'm done it's usually late and I don't want to wait any longer to eat. When we make food at home it is usually a frozen pizza or easy pastas but most of the time we get fast food or something like Applebee's carside to go. When we have purchased fresh food in the past most of it goes to waste because we don't need an entire head of lettuce or bag of carrots. We'll pay more for the convenience of eating quickly. I bet our food budget is close to a grand/month.
    I burned down the church to atone for my transgressions.

  4. #4
    Cyburbian ursus's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by stroskey View post
    When we have purchased fresh food in the past most of it goes to waste because we don't need an entire head of lettuce or bag of carrots. We'll pay more for the convenience of eating quickly. I bet our food budget is close to a grand/month.
    We don't eat out much, but a little here and there. Our typical grocery expenses in a month runs about 1,000, like yours....but we feed 8 people plus a gaggle of friends with it. Yeah, it might be more like 1200 but we shoot for the 1000. You do pay for convenience, probably more than you realize.
    "...I would never try to tick Hink off. He kinda intimidates me. He's quite butch, you know." - Maister

  5. #5
    Cyburbian Cardinal's avatar
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    In the last few years we have gotten away from convenience food as much as possible. Still, on our last trip to Trader Joe's I picked up a bag of polenta in a sauce with peas and greens. The other night I wanted to make something easy so I cooked and sliced a couple chicken breasts and added them to the mix. It was really, really good! I will look over the ingredients to ensure that it is good quality without additives or artificial ingredients, but I can see my way to allowing products like this into the house. No Hamburger Helper, though, or frozen dinners.
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    Super Moderator kjel's avatar
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    Frozen veggies and bagged salad plus an occasional sauce/seasoning packet are about as convenient as it gets in our kitchen. All three big people cook so it's not a big deal. I buy bagged salad for myself and RT because we like dark green leafy salads and my SO does not-he's an iceberg kinda guy. RT and I can't finish off enough raw ingredient before they go bad so bagged eliminates the waste. I don't mind stopping at McD's for a salad for lunch or a snack wrap and a diet coke or a coffee but there's not much else I eat from there.

    I spend about $120/week for 3 big people and a baby which includes formula.
    "He defended the cause of the poor and needy, and so all went well. Is that not what it means to know me?" Jeremiah 22:16

  7. #7
    Cyburbian wahday's avatar
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    We eat out once or twice a week, otherwise its all home-prepared. Even my lunch, which I am lucky enough to go home for most days. We do, however, get some convenience type foods from the store. Last night I made a rice and chicken dish using a “simmer sauce” which was an Indian masala type affair. Make some rice, add chicken, stew for 20 minutes and its ready. We usually have one convenience meal like this a week.

    Otherwise, I really enjoy cooking. It’s the time for preparing, making and then cleaning up where the convenience becomes valuable to me. Even if I didn’t have to clean up, I would be happy to cook every night. Currently we have a schedule where my wife cooks dinners Monday and Tuesday and I do Wednesday and Thursday. Friday is usually “cooks night off” unless we plan ahead and make a crock pot dish (another form of convenience food). Otherwise we eat out or order in. Saturday and Sunday we figure it out as we go.
    The purpose of life is a life of purpose

  8. #8
    NIMBY asshatterer Plus Richmond Jake's avatar
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    Fleischmann's Simply Homemade no knead bread

    If you're like me and love bread, give this product a try. We've been eating it for a couple of months. We've had the Country White and Italian Herb. Tonight we're having the Stoneground Wheat. It takes about an hour to prep and cook.

    http://www.simplyhomemadebread.com/

    Yummy.

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