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Are prepackaged meals a healthy option?

Meredith Biggart

Mar 02, 2016

Are prepackaged meals a healthy option?

Is this day and age with busy schedules and short attention spans, everyone is looking to make things as easy as they can.

On the surface, it is not so unappealing. However, is this a good idea in all facets of life?

Anything related to eating will have an abundance of "ground-breaking" studies and "special reports" and the "can't-miss-because-some-celebrity-was-paid-to-talk-about-it" product. Everyone wants results yesterday and people will cut corners everywhere if allowed.

This is why breakfast sandwiches are all the rage. It is also why Mcdonald's can use liquid margarine, partially hydrogenated soybean oil and hydrogenated cottonseed oil and people will literally gobble it up.

Convenience. And the illusion of doing something healthy.

So, what about prepackaged meals? Does this convenience make sense for the those health-minded folks who are looking for something quick and dirty?

Like most things in life, it depends.

Most options offer quite a spread. You can pick from low-carb, to gluten-free to menus designed for expecting mothers. Maybe this can rid the world of those awful peanut butter and anchovy sandwich cravings at 2am.

Most will give you the option to customize your menu for based on likes, dislikes and food allergies.

If you are feeling adventurous, you can have the ingredients delivered and you can make the meal yourself.

Some, like "Blue Apron" and "Hello Fresh" give you the option of fresh meals delivered weekly while others are frozen. I am a picky person. I like my food fresh. But, I would pay more for it. Convenience costs people.

So, should we or shouldn't we not use these convenient options instead of cooking from scratch. Well, as I said before. It depends.

Do some research. Check into the menus or items and make sure there are options that fit your palate and you budget. Make sure you look into the nutritional facts and make sure that information matches up with your health/fitness goals.  

Also check and see if you become automatically enrolled after making the initial purchase or if cancellation fees apply.

Maybe you use this service intermittently and have some ingredients or meals delivered to you through some busy parts of the week or tough "seasons" when time is at more of a premium.   

With all the packaging and shipping does this offend your sense of sustainability and increase concern about strain on the environment?

These services can be a little expensive. Especially if this is the main way you are feeding yourself or your family.

Going to the grocery once for a big trip and once for a smaller perishable trip can make doing it yourself easier.

Anyone with a smartphone can look up recipes on the internet. Doing some batch cooking one or two days a week can save you time and money while allowing you to eat healthier foods. Websites such as allrecipes.com or 100daysofrealfood.com are great resources.

Even if you choose to use any prepackaged meals, you still need to make an educated decision as to how this might fit into your day/week/life. Eating healthier starts with a change in mindset. This starts when you think about food and continues through purchasing and preparing as well.

Quick and easy isn't always the way. Nothing worth having is easily attained.