Convenience food in our supermarkets
It hides at nearly every corner – convenience food. The shelves in the supermarket are full of “fast food”. Packaging and advertising promise us supposedly healthy dishes, but often deliver the opposite. We explain which convenience products you should avoid.
In our busy lives, things need to be done fast. Often, this leaves no time or energy left for cooking or healthy food. This makes instant powder meals, which only need to be prepared with some hot water, more attractive. Dinner ready in only five minutes – that’s the promise. The same works with whole meals – highly processed, preserved and mostly ready-made from a can.
The pictures on the packaging leave you drooling. But the actual content is often disappointing – and not only in terms of taste. Many convenience products don’t deliver what they promise at first glance. Instead of fresh food, there is usually only industrially produced ingredients inside. If you take a closer look at the list of ingredients, half of them might as well be in Chinese – do you know what butylated hydroxytoluene, Carrageenan or Inulin are? Me neither, but they’re in there, looking rather sheepish hiding behind the healthy packaging.
What’s inside the convenience meals?
Aromas, flavour enhancers, preservatives, acidifiers, stabilizers, emulsifiers – the list of additives in convenience products and canned foods is long. They not only ensure a long shelf life but also create “taste”. Due to the strong processing of the food, hardly any natural ingredients remain.
Ready meals often contain only powdered ingredients such as potatoes or chicken. These have a long shelf life and hardly contain any vital substances. People who regularly eat ready meals will sooner or later feel the effects of malnutrition. Even the synthetic vitamins occasionally added by the manufacturer do not change this.
Which convenience products you should avoid:
The quality of many convenience meals is poor or even harmful to a healthy diet. A dried zucchini or powdered “potato” in mashed potatoes in a convenience meal has almost nothing to do with the original vegetable. In addition, there is a list of artificial additives for enhancing taste and shelf life. This means that you should remove 5-minute terrines, instant noodle dishes and ready-made mashed potatoes from your shopping list.
As a rule of thumb: avoid highly processed food. The more an ingredient is processed, the less vital substances it still contains. The foods in “typical ready meals” are processed so much during production that hardly any of the healthy ingredients survive.
Another rule of thumb: look at the best before date. Foods that can be kept for several months, or even years, contain many preservatives and hardly any natural ingredients. This applies, for example, to instant noodles, packet soups or canned dishes.
Which convenience products you can eat:
There are some “ultra-fresh” ready meals that you can eat when things have to be fast. Pre-packed salad mixtures are no problem. The same goes for ready-made wraps or ready-to-eat pre-made meals that are only vacuum-packed and have a short shelf life of a few days. These still contain all the important ingredients. As the products have to be consumed within a few days, there are hardly any flavour enhancers or preservatives used.
If you need a quick and easy meal at work or home, it can be a ready-made meal. However, you should carefully consider which one you choose. The best before date and the ingredient list always provide a good indication. It is better to avoid food that has been highly processed. Freshly packaged meals, on the other hand, are completely fine.