If you go to a grocery store, you are likely to find several other shoppers with convenience foods in their cart. From cans of soups to packages to frozen dinners, I wonder if these “convenience foods” really make life that much easier. I do know that they can waste a big chunk of your grocery bill. These five foods not only cost more but are not the best for your health. These five foods can be made so easily for a fraction of the cost.
- Bottled Teas: I made this stupid purchase move last month when I bought a box of Honest Tea from Costco. While they are organic, tasty teas, twelve teas cost me about $9-$10, not including CRV. The tea had natural sugar in it, but I can drink green tea “black” and not mind. It takes about five minutes to brew your own tea. Just place four tea bags in a medium container and microwave for five minutes. Transfer to a pitcher and add more water and sugar/honey if desired. This should make a gallon of tea for pennies a serving.
- Packaged, Cut Fruit: When I use to work at Starbucks, I was always amazed at how many people purchased the fruit bowls for $3.65. You can find these tiny bowls there today. Each bowl includes a few pieces of pineapple, a few grapes, and about two pieces of blueberries, strawberries, and kiwis. Ridiculous, right? For less than $10, you can buy strawberries, blueberries, grapes, kiwis, and a pineapple (depending on the sales). It takes only a few minutes to chop up all the fruit and separate them into single serving bags. I did this two weeks ago and was able to get 12 bags of fruit for less than $8. They were perfect for grabbing a snack on the run.
- Trail Mix: Sad to say, but trail mix is another overpriced, packaged item. While nuts are expensive, if you can buy them in bulk along with your favorite dried fruits, pretzels, and chocolate chips, you can make an affordable trail mix. Get creative and come up with new mixes, like white chocolate chips, cranberries, and cashews.
- Frozen “TV” Entrees:I know this one is going to get me some angry looks. Have you looked at the back of a frozen dinner lately? Even healthier frozen dinners Lean Cuisines (and my beloved Amy’s Organics) are packed full of sodium. Truthfully, these lunches/dinners are so small! Unless you can get them for free, these frozen entrees are not a good deal financially. It is much better and dare I say, tastier to make a whole pot of chicken pasta or chicken breast with veggies from scratch. If you are relying on frozen entrees to help you get through the work week, here are two tips for you:
- Make extra dinner each night, package the leftovers in Tupperware and grab them in the morning on your way to work.
- Spend a few hours every weekend preparing your own “frozen entrees” by cooking up chicken breast and other desired meat, steaming vegetables, and cooking rices and pasta. Throw a serving size of protein, grain, and vegetables in five separate Tupperware containers and throw them in the freezer. The Tupperware containers that have dividers work very well. You can whip up whatever you would like to eat or make entrees more appealing with a sauce.
- Canned Soup: I love the ease of canned soup, especially when I am in a pinch. While many soups are low in fat and calories, their sodium content is astonishing. Anyone can make a tasty soup for pennies per serving. Just throw your desired ingredients in a crock pot in the morning and you will have a delicious soup by dinnertime. Just add vegetable, chicken, or beef broth (homemade is the tastiest and thriftiest) as the base and add your favorite herbs, vegetables, and meat. Twenty to thirty minutes before you want to eat the soup, throw in some rice, pasta, or quinoa. I then freeze leftovers in single serving Tupperware containers, pulling them out the night before. It is just as easy as taking a can of soup from the pantry.
Of course, when any of these products are at a low or free price, it is nice to have a few on hand. The point is to not to heavily rely on them from week to week when you can easily make them at home. What convenience foods do you make from scratch?
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