Convenience at a price?
We often hear excellent and convincing arguments for convenience in cooking and as a busy family of 5, we’re all for convenience too. Whether it be bulk cooking a dish and freezing some to reheat quickly on a school night when there are activities (for example our tangy tomato sauce or pizza dough) or using certain pre-prepared produce.
Sometimes however, convenience isn’t all it’s cracked up to be and can come at a price to taste and your health.
Take fajita spice mixes. A quick look at the ingredients and nutritional value on a well-known brand reveals some interesting facts. For example, the number one ingredient? Sugar – 54% in fact! The third largest? Salt! Sandwiched between is hydrated vegetable and then salt is followed by hydrolysed soy protein and acidity regulators.
So not great from a health view point, and when you see the ingredients we use in our fajita recipe, not great from a cost point of view either.
Then there’s the key factor in convenience, time saving. Another fail for fajita mixes I’m afraid. You’ve still got the chop the chicken, onion and peppers so there is very little difference in tearing open a packet and selecting from different spice jars in your cupboard. Add to this that, in our experience, packet mixes taste processed and bland, doing your own with a little love is a much tastier and satisfying result.
On the convenience flip side, we sometimes do use carefully selected, pre-prepared salsa and guacamole when we don’t have time to make our own.
There are other examples too. Gravy doesn’t have to be about Bisto and stock cubes. You can make the most amazing gravy with no Bisto from scratch whilst you are letting the meat rest and serving up the Sunday roast.
It takes a while to wash up and tidy away after a roast chicken dinner doesn’t it? Why not use this time to have a delicious homemade chicken stock bubbling away which can be later be frozen and then used in soups, gravy and lots of other dishes. It’s infinitely more tasty and health than stock cubes and Bisto and nearly as convenient.
I’ll leave this admittedly narrow take on convenience here for now however there is a lot more that that can, and should, be said for and against convenience. If you want to find out more about how our quest for convenience has ruined bread you can check out our post on real bread.
Approached in the right way, convenience is great and we are all for it. However, convenience can come at a price. With a little thought and planning, we can have convenience without sacrificing taste, time and our health.
What are your thoughts on convenience food? What are your tips for food that is convenient whist still being healthy and tasting great?