You always pay more for the convenience of packaged foods, right? Convenience foods can’t be healthy and save money, can they? Not always, but there are some convenience foods that are health and save time and money. You have to do the math. Here are some packaged, convenience foods that fit the bill.
Boneless, skinles IQF (Individually Quick Frozen) chicken breasts and chicken thighs. Boneless, skinless chicken breasts are often available fresh in the butcher case at a reasonable price. I’ve found them for $2 per pound and under. But there’s one problem. What about the dark meat chicken lovers? For them, boneless, skinless chicken thighs are individually quick frozen are a cost and labor savings convenience food. Even on sale, chicken thighs, leg quarters, whole chickens and mixed fryer parts are rarely available for less than a $1 per pound. I buy four pound bags of frozen boneless skinless chicken for $2 per pound at regular price. Yes, I’m spending more per pound, but for health reasons, I always remove the chicken skin and fatty layers underneath the skin. And of course the bone goes to waste. So for a dollar more per pound at most, I save time and money with the convenience of individually quick frozen chicken thighs.
Shredded cheese and sliced sandwich cheese: Do the math. Even if you spend a little more per pound on shredded cheese, you don’t have the mess of cleaning a gooey, cheese-coated grater. It can take me up to five minutes scrubbing the grater under hot water to clean away the cheese. That time and money wasted. About cheese, I buy only fresh, 100% pure cheese, not processed spreads, whips or cheese ‘singles’.
Bagged salads, lettuce, greens and pre-cut vegetables. Again, you have to do the math. Grocery store sale prices will affect the savings. Nevertheless, do some price comparison on bagged salads and vegetables, vs. the fresh per-pound produce price. And be sure to compare lettuce to lettuce. I buy spinach, dark green lettuce, baby spinach, spring mix and romaine, generally. While you have to use bagged lettuce more quickly, you can often buy it on sale. And packaged salad and lettuce has been clipped. No cutting away half the lettuce in core, rusty leaves and damaged greens. I have been forced to discard up to half a head of lettuce due to damage I wasn’t able to see in the store. Packaged, pre-cut broccoli, celery and cauliflower often saves money because much of these vegetables goes to waste (core, stem, etc.). Baby carrots are convenient in the time they save. With the rising cost of groceries, the savings buying baby carrots as opposed to untrimmed carrots is becoming more apparent. I have read that baby carrots are less healthy than regular carrots, but they are still a pretty good health value.
Using these convenience and packaged foods saves me loads of time on kitchen preparation, cooking and clean-up. And I haven’t spent more money or sacrificed time with my family.