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08 August 2007


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I wouldn't tend to think of canned tuna or sliced bread as a convenience food, but as staples. If canned tuna is a convenience food, why not dried pasta? It's quicker to make your own pasta than to cook and debone a tuna.

I think that there are few food items viler than boxed mac 'n cheese. It doesn't take any more time to make it from scratch -- a cheese sauce can be whipped up in the time the noodles boil. I suppose the convenience of the boxed stuff is that you don't have to do anything while the noodles boil. Still, the trade-off in taste and overall healthiness makes the time spent shredding cheese and making sauce worth it. Yet, like your mother's co-worker, it doesn't seem to occur to most people that you would actually make it from scratch. I blame Kraft...

Christy P

My mom, a very good cook in the classic Midwestern style, has been visiting this summer and commented often on the *fancy* dinners I make. Keeping in mind that I work outside the home full time and have a 13.75 month old, I beg to differ. Our dinners are much simpler than they were before Zoey. I try to keep the prep to a minimum so that it can fit in with a hungry nursling and hungry parents when I get home from work.
Last night is a great example, we had fettucine alfredo (fresh noodles and sauce delivered by the milkman) with sauteed zucchini from our garden, shrimp that were cooked on the boat and sold frozen; green salad (organic in a box from Costco, I do wash it) with grape tomatoes from the garden; and bruschetta - garden tomatoes (this one was a pineapple!) with fresh garlic (not our garden, but our CSA), basil from the plant out front, fresh mozzarella (Costco), and the bread was from a local bakery. Total prep time for me, less than 30 minutes. Lots of local food, variety of colors, textures, and nutrients.
In my world convenience food certainly increases the variety, but there is a big difference between convenience whole foods (e.g. packaged salad) and processed food (e.g. bruschetta spread in a jar).


Christy, ITA on the convenience whole food/processed food thing. I think I also mentally differentiate between ingredients that I might conceivably make myself and ingredients that I never would. I mean, if I make a pizza bianca from scratch, mix my own dough, top it with olive oil and fresh red peppers and spinach, it just boggles my mind that this pizza magically transforms from "homemade" to "modified convenience food dish" if I add a few slices of cappicolla salami.

The fact that the author didn't count tortillas as a "commercial/convenience food," I think, betrays a sort of white-collar bias towards "exotic" ingredients not counting as commercial. She said that pepperoni was a convenience food, but does it make a difference to her whether it's made by Hormel or by Tuscan artisans?

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