What’s Really in Your Frozen Meal? Do you know?
Let me first say that this post draft started out as a totally different thing. I was originally going to talk about some of my favorite frozen food finds for the office and those busy days when I just can’t deal with cooking.
But over a very short time I realized something: frozen food is yucky. Like, really yucky. Everything about it. There’s something so wrong with chicken that has a soft, slimy outer texture and is yet unchewable at the same time.
Don’t get me wrong – up until recently I used to be a big fan of frozen foods. I thought they were delicious back in high school and college, and honestly I didn’t have much of a choice at the time because I either didn’t have a proper kitchen, a car to go get fresh groceries every week, or any downtime at home to prep fresh food (let alone cooking ability).
But the more I continued to integrate fresh cooking into my life, the less appealing frozen foods became. Even my old favorites eventually started to disgust me. Which, for awhile, made it really hard to find something to eat at work. If I can’t bring something fresh, that means I’m getting fast food, so I kept on trying to find new “healthy” frozen meals that were cheap and low-calorie.
I found a new line of frozen meals that claims to be super rich in protein – Eating Right for High Protein – and hands down their dark-meat chicken was THE most disgusting thing I’ve ever tasted in my life. I literally took one bite and threw it out. Waste of money and well-being in my opinion. I can make chicken and peppers at home that don’t make me want to hurl, and for about the same price.
Later that week I went back to one of my old standbys, a Tai Pei frozen Asian meal in a little takeout box. I always thought they were fresh tasting but this time I found the meat to be unappetizing. I guess I never looked hard at the ingredients before because the first listed was “Cooked Seasoned Beef Pectoral & Modified Food Starch Product” (as in…definitely NOT 100% beef). I threw my lunch away AGAIN, feeling honestly ashamed that I had ever thought it was a good idea (even for $2).
Yet another “healthy” brand that is having problems – the uber-popular Amy’s Kitchen meals were just recalled due to the possibility of a Listeria contamination. When even an organic brand isn’t safe, it’s time to focus on freshness.
What I learned is you should never ever settle for that garbage no matter what the excuse is. Even the “healthy” brands are sugar-coating, or even flat-out lying to you about the benefits of the meal! Yes, it might be relatively low in calories, but most frozen meals typically include way too much salt, emulsifiers, anti-freezes, preservatives, and other chemicals that you simply would not find in normal food that you make yourself at home.
So how does one actually save time and money without purchasing packaged foods? It’s definitely harder than it sounds. Preparation is key, and changing or lightening your meal habits won’t hurt either.
First off, I’m going to start prepping meals on Sundays that I can freeze and eat throughout the week. My boyfriend has been doing this and seeing a lot of success just having tons of white rice and chicken around, but I’m hoping to come up with more creative ideas so I don’t get bored. I love to make pizzas at home, so maybe I’ll make personal ones to refrigerate during the week. Maybe even my very own homemade Hot Pockets recipe? The possibilities are endless – and I KNOW it’s going to taste better than stupid Lean Cuisine.
Secondly, I’m changing the way I think about lunch. I’m getting a lot better at eating breakfast lately, which is reducing my appetite for a huge meal later in the day. Instead of going out for a sandwich or trying to bring all my sandwich-making stuff to work, I’m okay with just a plate of sliced turkey & cheese, some apple slices, crackers, etc. as a light but fulfilling meal that takes just a few seconds to put on a plate.
So will you guys pledge to quit frozen lunches cold-turkey with me? I really hope you will because I can’t stand the thought of y’all suffering like I have.
Food should be delicious.