Get Out of the Box of Processed Foods

peanut-butter-sandwich I don’t know about you but I’m getting tired of all the food recalls of products containing those tainted peanuts.  There is such a long list that I no longer can keep up with it.  How many processed foods out there have peanuts in them?  I’m thankful that our family does not have a peanut allergy.  But after hearing this long list of items, have you begun to look into your pantry at all of the boxes of processed foods and ask yourself, what is in there that could make me sick or worse, kill me?

If not you should be.  When I was growing up we always had a saying at our house, You are What You Eat.  Now this is not a new saying as it is reported to have started in 1826 but the phrase was put into the current public conscious by Lindlahr who published You Are What You Eat: how to win and keep health with diet.  Lindlahr is likely to have also used the term in his radio talks in the late 1930s.

It’s sad but I don’t really hear many people talking like that anymore.  I think it’s because too many of us live in the boxes of food in our pantries and freezers.  We don’t have or give ourselves the time to cook food from it’s original state so we grab what is convenient.  Have you ever read the long list of ingredients on some of these boxes?

Now if you have food allergies or intolerances I’m sure you have gotten very good at reading those lists of ingredients.  But doesn’t that take a ingred-lable lot of time?  When you go to the grocery store do you spend a long time reading everything?  Well I’m sure you’ll tell me that you now know the products that you can eat and you only purchase those, so shopping is faster.  Well that must be boring.  Are you now forced to eat the same things over and over?

Have you ever read the ingredients label on a zucchini or mushroom?  How long does it take to shop the produce, seafood and butcher shop?  Not long at all.  You could use that time you are wasting reading all of those boxes and put it towards cooking.  Did you know it costs a lot less per volume to cook with single ingredients than it does from boxes?

Now there are some items I know you are just not going to make and that you will buy in a box.  I too have those.  I don’t make the quinoa pasta I eat, it comes from a box.  It has 3 ingredients on that label and no chemicals, so I use it.  There are others but the overall amount in any given week is extremely minimal.

What if only 10% of your weekly menu came from a box?  How would that change your health?  How would it change your bank account?  How would it change your kitchen?  Think about it.  Use the tools you have around to make the food your family likes and is safe to eat.  Get out that crockpot and make your own stocks and cook the less expensive cuts of meat.  Cook in bigger batches and freeze the leftovers.  This is how you make your own fast food.  Why should we allow all of those companies to decide what goes into our bodies?  After all, you are what you eat.

I am challenging you to get out of the box and back into real food.  If you have tips that could help others jump or tip toe into this lifestyle, please leave a comment.

7 Responses to Get Out of the Box of Processed Foods

  1. Erica February 20, 2009 at 6:56 am #

    Life is just plain simpler without reading nutrition stats on boxes! Real food doesn't come with labels. Great reminder!

  2. Diane Eblin February 20, 2009 at 6:59 am #

    Erica- Thank you for your comment. I really appreciate it. -Diane

  3. Alisa - Frugal Foodi February 20, 2009 at 7:08 am #

    This is a wonderful post! Thank you!
    I think people are most afraid of a lack of convenience. I recommend stocking your pantry with raw grains, flours, dried fruits, and I still believe in having things like canned tomatoes, olives, etc. in there. They make for quick and easy meals.
    Also, a stocked pantry (I buy foods in bulk and store them in labeled containers) allows you to bake your own cookies, bread, and granola with ease.
    Flash freeze leftovers and vegetables that you may not use up before their prime.

  4. Diane Eblin February 20, 2009 at 7:28 am #

    Alisa- I think you are absolutely right. Fear can drive us to not do things we know we should. I love your ideas. I wish I was a baker and I miss those treats. My son Brad is a great baker and I'm counting on him to bake up a storm for us so we can freeze it all. How do you flash freeze your food? -Diane

  5. Ella Lane February 21, 2009 at 12:54 pm #

    I'm TOTALLY with you…I'm anti processed, well mostly. You will catch me with a veggie burger and some soy cheese here and there, but for the must part, I'm from scratch. I love it, and my food is better than what I can get at most restaurants in town. Being vegan can be hard on dining out, but I liked to cook in even before I was vegan…it as you said helped me avoid having to scan for things like corn syrup and msg. Fortunately, I was raised to cook and eat healthy. Good post. Thanks!

  6. Diane Eblin February 21, 2009 at 12:59 pm #

    Ella- thank you for sharing. My oldest son is a vegetarian and moving more and more toward vegan. I need to make more of that move too. I can't eat casein so I'm looking for a good mozzarella option with no rice. If you have a cheese you like please share. -Diane

  7. boxes to the Philipp April 6, 2009 at 6:26 pm #

    You are definitely right, real foods are much better than food stored in a box, and more nutritious.