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Old 11-21-2010, 01:33 PM   #71
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Well, I have to say that I can see the attraction to pre-made meals. Believe it or not, if you are cooking small amounts, these can be less expensive than cooking "from scratch." Going through my own, small town grocery store, I'm astonished that some products are packaged in such a way that my husband and I, big lovers and eaters of food, AND loving to cook, could not possibly eat the whole before it goes bad. I'm always hearing that the American household is getting smaller (and in my own life I see it to be true; many, if not all, of my friends' households are 1-3 people. Yet I look in the store and find that some products are packaged in such a way that if you don't have a large freezer or huge pantry, a small household will not be able to finish it before it goes bad. And, I might add, a package that would feed a family of 8 often costs less than the same item packaged for one or two people. SO .... some of us just don't like throwing away food.

Another thing about the packaged goods is that they come with the nutritional information posted. For people on specialized diets, this is a Godsend. I have to watch carb counts for my husband. A slice of bread is not necessarily a slice of bread. We pretty much have pasta and rice down pat, and most veggies (Mom already raised me to consider peas and corn to be starches rather than vegetables). But I can see where if you lived alone a frozen dinner that had the right nutritional chart might be one heck of a lot easier than cooking from scratch.

The packing of junk food is a real case in point. I've had a taste for coconut lately, and wanted the old-fashioned cookies. I looked for months to no avail, but found some. Now, what I'd really have liked was a couple of cookies. Now I'm munching on the other half of the smallest package of them I could find. I'd have been perfectly happy with two of them! Ditto chips. Sometimes I want to make a small batch of nachos for hubby and me. I cannot buy plain yellow corn tortillas is smaller than a bag large enough to feed my entire block!

So these small, prepared meals can look awfully tempting.

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Old 12-05-2010, 12:13 PM   #72
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I think part of the problem with this issue is that there are so many factors that go into people loading up their carts with junk. Yes, there are absolutely the people who are lazy ad just eat junk and wonder why they are unhealthy. And there are some people like me who sometimes go to the grocery store for a special occasion and end up with a car loaded with junk because I already have all the regular food at home.

I just recently finished putting my hubby through school so that he could earn enough for me to be a stay-home mom. During the time he was in school, we ate a lot of boxed and convenience food. Multiple reasons, really, but the truth is I got home at 7:30, he had to feed the kids earlier, so he'd cook them mac & cheese. I'd cook sometimes on the weekends but I was so overwhelmed with being gone all day and then coming home to housework that I wasn't consistent at it.

The truth is, the LIFESTYLE was really to blame. Now, for us, it was temporary. And please don't misunderstand me, I am not knocking people who want to have a two income lifestyle, but in our case, it was simply that both my husband and I are mostly productive in the morning and so by the time evening rolls around, we are done.

When he got his new job, we moved to a new home in the country, I became a stay-home mom and almost immediately our quality of life improved significantly. I'm sure some people are better at maintaining a nice home with quality food and working at the same time, but for us, we were barely hanging on. Now we eat quality food made from scratch, our bread is homemade, laundry is done, etc.

All this to say - I think we need to look at outside factors. The truth is YES I did have time to cook from scratch while I was working but I did not have the mental energy to do it. I could have forced myself to do it, even to spend all Sunday cooking for the week, but then again, the weekends were spent running errands, grocery shopping, cleaning, doing laundry, etc. In order to maintain my mental sanity I had to have SOME time to myself.

So in my opinion, the real issue is that people are not leading a lifestyle that is conducive to cooking from scratch. I completely 100% believe in "slow food" but our lifestyles are not always compatible with that. Our society places priority on the wrong things... there's something wrong when people are driving expensive cars and putting their kids in expensive daycares but are so hurried and rushed that they eat frozen meals in front of the TV, or even the people who are perpetually living off the state and buying junk with foodstamps because it's what they think they can afford, or they just don't want to take the energy to cook.

Keeping in mind of course I am totally generalizing here, because we all know there are lots of people like that. I'm not saying everyone on food stamps is lazy, etc... I'd be calling myself lazy since state assistance with food and daycare is the only way I was able to afford to put hubby through school in a timely manner. But are we really prioritizing the right things here?

I hope I'm being coherent here, I tend to kind of go all over the place. I guess what I am saying is that it isn't so much that people don't know how to cook from scratch or the education isn't out there, but they don't care or they don't think it's important, it's just not a priority to them.

-- Anna Bailey --
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Old 12-05-2010, 12:22 PM   #73
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Well said!
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Old 12-05-2010, 03:20 PM   #74
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Lots of people just don't know how to cook. Somewhere down the line people failed to teach their children life skills. I know I was one.

I have 7 kids and I work. My wife is a stay at home mother, yet she also never learned a thing from her parents about cooking. I love to cook and I decided to take it to another level and attend culinary school. I learned a lot and I use it everyday. I hope I can pass my knowledge to my kids. Cooking from scratch allows me to feed a family of 9 on $500 month. We eat good.

If you don't make delicious meals that kids will eat your effort is wasted. If you raise kids to enjoy boxed crappy meals then that is also a waste. Yeah I have picky kids but for the most part they enjoy complex tastes and meals. I know people who only feed their kids chicken nuggets and hotdogs because that is all the kids will eat.

It is lots of fun to raise kids to be adventurous in their tastes.
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Old 12-06-2010, 12:55 AM   #75
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i guess i'm a little different. i love to look into other people carts to see what food they are buying, from slobs to snobs!

i wonder what they might make with what they're buying, and as far as the processed foods go, i wonder if what they have is any good?

not surprisingly, i get into conversations fairly often on the checkout line about how someone might plan to cook something. older women always seem surprised that i know a thing or two about cooking, and it's fun to compare recipes and what not. i've even heard of good recipes using processed foods, like a lazy man's lasagna using store bought ravioli, pre-cooked sausage, and shredded mozarella cheese to form the layers.

so, like moll suggested, only those without sin (nor cheez-whiz) may cast the first stone.

which reminds me of the quote from when jesus stepped in front of the maddened crowd to stop the stoning of a harlot.

suddenly, a rock came sailing over from the back of the crowd and struck the woman square between her eyes.

jesus turned, and said, "mom, would you quit following me around to my gigs..."
in nomine patri, et fili, et spiritus sancti.
beidh ar la linn.
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Old 12-06-2010, 01:09 AM   #76
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I had a nice encounter today with someone who had a cart full of frozen dinners. They were just for her, no other family and she is an EMT, she is on call at all hours and any day of the week. Rarely does she have a whole, planned day off to herself.

By the time we reached the checkstand we had traded phone numbers and have plans on meeting for coffee. Then we both had fun teasing the cashier, one we both know, and we had a good laugh. The cashier thanked us for making the last 20 minutes at the register fun, then she went on break!
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Old 12-06-2010, 01:11 AM   #77
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. My kitchen is for dancing. Bring me sunshine in a cup~emily dickinson. Knowledge is knowing a tomato is a fruit. Wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad.
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Old 12-06-2010, 01:32 AM   #78
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Originally Posted by buckytom View Post

which reminds me of the quote from when jesus stepped in front of the maddened crowd to stop the stoning of a harlot.

suddenly, a rock came sailing over from the back of the crowd and struck the woman square between her eyes.

jesus turned, and said, "mom, would you quit following me around to my gigs..."
Tom mate if you have not seen it, check out the stoning scene from Monty Pythons the Life of Brian.
One of the biggest mistakes made in the UK years ago was to stop practical Home Economics lessons because of cost, we as a nation have been paying the price for this short sighted stupidity for two generations.
I do not wish for this to sound like America Bashing, I remember when I was a child seeing an advert for the latest thing from the US, TV dinners we asked Mum to get them, she said the day we do not sit down as a family at the table for any meal will only happen at her funeral, we gave her a hard time about it, thankfully she stood firm.
I love to have a table full of friends with their kids, it is the epitome of life to me, kids will always behave at my table, not out of fear(that is for their parents) it is because I include them in the fun, I want to hear what they have to say.
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Old 12-12-2010, 03:17 AM   #79
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When I first saw this thread, I didn't want to read through it, but then I told myself to butch up, so I did. And I guess I'm glad I did because I figure I have a few things to contribute.

For starters -- about the premade "crap" available in stores -- well, some is, no question, but some isn't. Just because it's been premade that doesn't mean it's crap. One does not necessarily follow the other. Until quite recently, my wife worked in the service deli at Costco for six years. Most of the food they prepare in the deli, they make from base ingredients. And they monitor the expiration times and dates constantly. Did you know that the rotisserie chickens at Costco are removed if they haven't been sold within two hours? Once removed, the breast meat is harvested for use in other dishes they make and the remainder of the chicken goes into bins that's picked up by food recyclers who use it for who knows what. The items they prepare in the deli are extremely popular, so not a lot of it gets thrown out because of passing an expiration date (or time). People buy it on their way home from work, knowing that all they have to do is pop it into the oven when they get home, and they've got a well-made meal to serve their family. While she was in the deli, my wife took a lot of pride in producing an excellent product.

But there's a lot of other stuff that's so heavily processed that one can barely call it food anymore. And I won't eat it or serve it to my family. Well, okay, I'll break down about once a month or so and make a box of hamburger helper for my daughter (she loves the stuff), but that's about it.

I too grew up in the era when TV dinners were first introduced and I can recall being fascinated by the idea as a kid and my mother's skepticism if not revulsion over the idea. But I think she decided the best way to nip things in the bud was to buy some and serve them for dinner instead of a real home cooked meal. Heh! That worked! Our curiosity satisfied (but not our stomachs), we didn't ask for them much after that. I still remember this tasteless oval gray mass swimming in a pool of brown goo and asking my mom what it was. She told me it was what I'd asked for -- Salisbury Steak. Huh. I was baffled at how something with such an appetizing name could be so awful in person.

I can sympathize with single persons or couples, and how it seems the markets conspire against them: they make you overbuy products to get good prices or trap you into paying higher prices when you buy in smaller quantities. But there's a simple solution to this -- more than one actually -- but the simplest is this: get used to eating leftovers. And if you can't stand the leftovers anymore, freeze them before they go off, so you can have them again in a month or two when you're not so burned out on them anymore. We have a family of three and our daughter has a pretty small apetite, so it's more like two and a half. But when we cook, we tend to cook large meals. Because that's where the price breaks are. And then we just have leftovers for a while, or we freeze the leftovers.

But for me there's another big factor that was also mentioned here and that is food costs. Our family food budget has gotten stretched really tight over the past couple of years, and -- I dunno about where you live -- but in almost all instances I can think of, buying prepared foods is always more expensive than preparing a meal from base ingredients. So as a result almost every meal we prepare is cooked from scratch. And I expect that even if our budget wasn't so tight we'd still cook pretty much the same way. And this is because of the way both my wife and I were brought up. She's a chef, so she's used to preparing meals from scratch and, me, well I do my best. Plus, we've both learned from trial and error that, not only does the preprocessed stuff usually cost more than its scratch prepared equivalent, but it doesn't taste as good anyway.

Speaking of the advantage of having nutritional information on the box or package of a processed item, well this info can have the opposite result as well. If you are on a reduced fat, reduced sodium, and low carb diet like I am, then what you will find is that most of the stuff whose labels you examine get put right back on the shelf. So I too am glad of the nutritional information labels. Especially when it comes to keeping track of my carb intake.

Next time you walk into a supermarket, take a moment before you enter any aisle and just let your eyes scan the market from one end to the other. This works best if you are familiar with the market. Then see if you can estimate the percentage of carbohydrates that the market is made up of. You might be surprised at the figure. I typically come up with 70% to 80%. And most of these carbs are combined with fat in various forms and put into processed foods. The worst possible combination of foods I can imagine is carbs and fats. But oh do they taste so good together. Krispy Kreme donuts. Flaky pie pastry. pancakes with butter and syrup, baked potatoes with everything on them. You get the idea. So is it any wonder why it is that here in the US we have such an obesity problem? If we Americans would go back to preparing and eating foods the way our parents and grandparents did (but perhaps with a better eye toward fat intake), and if we would kick our kids outside to play sports (the way my mom used to do with us) instead of allowing them to sit around and play computer games all day and night, maybe we wouldn't be having such problems.

Lastly, I don't think it's fair to characterize people as being greedy or obsessed in their pursuit of the almighty dollar, and that this is the reason for their cutting corners. Sure, some do, but I believe it's much more complex than that. One might argue that we are victims of incipient commercialism and being obsessed with keeping up with the Joneses, but I think that's not nearly a complete picture either. I think that most families now don't have any choice but to have two (or more) wage earners just to stay afloat. They're being taxed out of existence, squeezed by inflation, and first seduced then hammered by debt. So with this sort of financial pressure it's difficult to have one of the parents stay at home. We're luckier than most, I suppose because I'm usually home. But it's a two-edged sword because I work out of my home, and if I'm having to do domestic chores, like cooking scratch meals, then I'm not getting work done. But at least I don't have a commute, so that saves us some time (and $$$) there. Plus I can choose my hours so seldom do I knock off at 5 pm.
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Old 12-12-2010, 03:32 AM   #80
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I agree with your well written post. I'm retired, and like to cook, but a bad back makes standing for long periods uncomfortable. I don't feel guilty about using some mixes. Seasoning mixes like taco seasoning is great because of the consistency of flavor. Jiffy cornbread mix is great because it's pre-mixed and no mess. Stuffing mix is great for casseroles. I still make stuffing sometimes, but it's a messy, long process.

I also figure that other people's carts are kind of private and I don't need to be nosy or judgmental about their purchases.


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