The other day I read an article on Yahoo about Joy Bauer's list of the best and worst frozen foods.The first "worst" item on the list was a creamy frozen chicken pot pie. OK, that makes sense. So what is the best frozen pot pie? Not another pot pie, but a Mexican veggie dish. Really? Did I need someone to tell me that a low-fat veggie dish is better for me than a pot pie?
Further down the list, she slams a green bean and spaetzle dish and recommends frozen butternut squash. Huh? How about green beans not in a butter sauce? I don't know anyone who would fix butternut squash if they really wanted green beans. (I don't even like butternut squash.)
She then lambastes Eggo brand waffles and recommends De Wafelbakkers A+ Cinnamon Sweet Potato Waffles. The funny thing here is there are De Wafelbakkers A+ Cinnamon Whole Grain Spelt Sweet Potato PANCAKES, but no waffles!
From the comments posted by others who read the article, I was not alone in my poor opinion of it. One person posted, "Why oh why do I bother reading this crap..." Several said something like: This would only make sense if the products that were better were the same type as the worst (i.e. pot pie for pot pie). There were a lot of comments about comparing apples to apples.
It would also be nice if the replacement product actually existed.
The next article I read on Yahoo was "Time-Saving Foods to Keep in Your Kitchen" -- reprinted from Real Simple Magazine. I should have been prepared for this since the typical Real Simple reader is in a much higher income bracket than I am. The list included brand name pie crusts, puff pastry, fresh pre-chopped veggies, focaccia bread mix, frozen spinach appetizers, portobella mushroom tapenade, organic canned beans, frozen cinnamon apples and frozen cooked shrimp among others.
There were a few things I agreed with such as jarred spaghetti sauce.
At the end, I had to laugh. The article read like a list of advertisers in Real Simple. It can't be just ANY brand of organic canned beans, it has to be Eden brand organic canned beans. Heaven forbid they not be organic. It has to be Belgium Chef frozen waffles and Buitoni focaccia. (I wonder if both of these are organic? If organic is important to you, why is only one item on this list organic?)
The point of this blog posting is that both of these articles were a waste of my time to read. And from the comments posted, most of the readers agree with me.
I used to subscribe to Joy Bauer's e-mail newsletter, but most of the information she provided was about as helpful as the article cited, so I unsubscribed. And I quit reading Real Simple because a lot of the things they recommend as simplifying life are either things I would never use, or they are great, but I'm not willing to spend that much money on it.
So to help save you time, money and calories when deciding what to eat, here are some of Cindi's suggestions:
- Buy vegetables that are not in any sauce whatsoever. If you cannot eat them plain, add a tiny bit of butter or a little bit of cheese. I prefer fresh veggies steamed, especially broccoli.
- Buy fresh fruits or canned fruits that have no added sugar.
- Instead of preparing something like Hamburger Helper, make your own. Cook a pound of quality hamburger, drain it. Toss in onions, garlic, canned tomatoes, whole grain cooked noodles or pre-cooked brown rice... anything you might find in the prepackaged food and spice it your own way. It will certainly taste better and probably will not take any more time.
- If you like spaetzle and butter sauce in your green beans, do it once in a while, but it doesn't have to be every night.
- Keep frozen, boneless, skinless chicken breasts on hand. They thaw quickly and you can do tons of things with them from broiling, simmering in a sauce of your own making, chopping and adding to soups or casseroles, etc.
- Cook a big pot of brown rice (the kind that takes an hour). After it cools, spread the rice on a cookie sheet, freeze it, break it up and store in a plastic freezer bag or plastic container. Any time you want brown rice you can measure some out, thaw it in the microwave or toss some frozen rice into soups or casseroles.
- Baby carrots go bad too quickly for me. It really does not take much time to peel and cut up carrots. Put them in a bowl of water in the refrigerator. I chop them and add them to everything from spaghetti sauce to stuffed peppers or salads.
- If you think you don't like something, try a different kind. I thought I didn't like apples because I hate red delicious. (They are bland and tasteless.) But I discovered I really like honeycrisp, cameo and the occasional granny smith.
- If you think you hate a vegetable because your parents always bought canned or frozen, try buying some fresh and steaming it, or sautéeing it. Fresh spinach sautéed in olive oil and garlic is great! Fresh Brussels sprouts will surprise a lot of people.
- Read packages. Know what a serving size is. Know the calorie count of what you are consuming.
- Wheat bread is different from 100 percent "whole" wheat bread.
- Try new things.