Busy? Overloaded? Overwhelmed? You and everyone else! This seems to be the common existence for most of us – no matter the stage of life you are facing. Even ‘retired’ folks talk about being ‘busier than ever’. So there is no escaping this hurried, demanding life of doing.
So it makes a lot of common sense that this challenge would make you feel the need to turn to convenience foods to do the food prep for you. It seems that being able to open a box and bake its contents or puncture a microwaveable cooking bag to zap or calling up to place a take out order to get delivered would be the logical answer. Yes, in the short term it works.
While those shot-cut convenience resources work for the short-term, what are the long-term effects? Such convenience foods are often highly processed products. Processed products are ladened with sugar, fat, and salt along with a long list of unpronounceable chemical ingredients. These ingredients are, in the long run, the cause of many lifestyle illnesses like heart disease, diabetes and even some forms of cancer. So are these convenient resources really worth it? How convenient is it to suffer from lifestyle diseases?
When you are following a whole plant-based diet, it might seem that you have to say, “good-bye” to convenience, especially if you are avoiding the seduction of convenient S.A.D. vegan items (fake meats, cheeses, etc). Well that does not have to be the case at all!
Here are some ways to put ‘convenience’ in your whole plant-based meal plan:
- Check out the Produce Department:
- Bagged or boxed pre-washed greens – spinach; mixed greens; kale, etc.
- Sprouts to add to salads
- Pre-cut veggie trays
- Pre-cut fruit trays
- Pre-washed and cut bagged fruits like apple slices
- Boxed, spiralized veggies (pasta alternative)
- Pre-washed and bagged carrots (baby. sliced. shredded), celery
- Pre-washed and sliced mushrooms
- Portobello Mushrooms – wash and remove stem, then just cook in microwave or broil for an almost instant veggie burger
- An array of fresh, seasonal fruit – pick, wash and eat
- Bagged no oil potato shreds
- Tofurkey Hickory Smoked Tempeh (T. Colin Campbell approved)
- Mori-Nu Lite Silken Low fat Tofu (Esselstyn approved)
2. Bakery Department:
- No oil whole grain breads, baggettes
- No oil whole wheat pitas for instant pizza crusts; or separate and cut in triangles to make dipping crackers
- Whole wheat no oil bread crumbs – perfect for breading
3. Fruit, Veggie, Bean, Rice, Pasta and Flour Aisles:
- Water or juice packed fruit: peaches. pineapple; mandarine oranges, etc.
- Unsweetened apple sauce – in individual snack cups (about 1/3 cup measures – perfect for baking)
- Unsweetened canned pumpkin
- No to low salt, no oil tomato sauce
- No oil, low salt tomato paste
- No salt version of canned tomatoes (diced; whole)
- No salt version of corn: kernel; cream of corn
- No salt version of canned beans: black; chick peas; red kidney; white kidney; pinto; mixed, etc.
- Dry beans – large variety
- Dry whole grain rices – large variety (Did you know you can cook ahead and then freeze – takes just like fresh!)
- Dry whole grain pastas – large variety
- Whole grain flours. oat flour (regular and glutton-free)
- Dry large flake and steel-cut oats
- Whole wheat no oil dry pancake mix
4. Frozen Food Department:
- Flash-frozen veggies (check ingredients to avoid any added ingredients like sauces. oils, etc.)
- Flash-frozen potatoes (check ingredients to avoid any added ingredients like sauces. oils, etc.)
- Flash-frozen veggies (check ingredients to avoid any added ingredients like sugars. oils, etc.) – roasted sweet potatoes; corn. carrots; cauliflower (florets; minced), broccoli, green beans, etc.
- Flash-frozen assorted veggies in themes like asian; oriental; mixed combos like peas and carrots
- Flash-frozen fruits like strawberries, blue berries; raspberries; blackberries; etc.
- Flash-frozen fruits in combinations like mixed berries
- And for special birthday occasions – zero fat non-dairy sherbets or fruit popsicles.
So you see it is possible to find convenience without compromising your health in either the short or long term. Bonus – they are often less costly than those so-called convenient health-damaging processed products!