For years and years I avoided processed foods. I made cakes and brownies from scratch. I rarely bought pre-made spaghetti sauce. I cooked only fresh (or sometimes frozen) vegetables. The only processed food I’d make was Kraft Macaroni and Cheese because it was such a comfort food.
If I made anything (except Kraft Mac & Cheese) from a mix, jar or bag I felt guilty. I’m not sure what I felt guilty for, but I felt guilty nonetheless.
Lately, however, I’ve been making more and more meals out of processed foods. I almost always have a jar of Barilla (or Rao or Bertolli or Classico — what’s ever on sale at Giant) in the pantry and often use it in place of the tomato sauce in a spaghetti sauce recipe. I rarely make deserts from scratch anymore — in fact I don’t remember the last time I made a cake or brownies not from a mix.
I’d noticed other people cutting corners by using processed foods and figured it would be ok if I did it too.
Really lately (like in the past couple of weeks) I’ve made a lot of processed food. The most notable is Bertolli’s frozen entrees. I’d seen them at the grocery store and thought they might taste ok and longed for a quick and easy meal to make when I didn’t feel like cooking or for something the kids could make for themselves. I finally bought one when it was on sale and served it for dinner (just Andrew and me, but Dean tasted it) and liked what I tasted. It was pretty good. And I didn’t have to cook the pasta, make the sauce, brown and cook the meat. All I had to do was throw it in a pan and heat it for 10 minutes.
So last night I made one of these meals for dinner. Dean had eaten, Clare was at Prom, Andrew had a sandwich earlier but I was hungry. I thought the food tasted good, but then remembered why I’d avoided procesed foods for so long. It wasn’t the price. It wasn’t to keep me busy. It wasn’t even the taste. It was because these things are unhealthy. I could feel my body absorbing the salt in the entree and I’m sure there are chemicals in the meals that would not have been in anything I’d made fresh. According to this web site, the portion I had last night (1/2 a bag) would be walked off in 158 minutes. That’s a lot of walking for an easy meal.Plus the sodium in that serving was nearly half my daily allowance. (assuming I’m a 37 year old 144lb female which I am not)
So, I once knew why I tried to make fresh food and limited my processed food intake, but the lure of convenience blinded me — made me forget the real reason I liked to cook from scratch. It wasn’t because I loved cooking. It wasn’t because we couldn’t afford to buy processed foods. It wasn’t because processed foods tasted bad. It was because they are full of things that should not be regularly ingested.
Damn. I gotta start cooking for real again.