Originally published: March 2011
For years I’ve watched with partial wonder and horror as the frozen food aisles in many grocery stores appeared to be multiplying, while the fresh produce section seemed to be shrinking. There are so many pre packaged foods to choose from.
I have no statistics or research to prove this theory, just observations during my (several times a week) trips to the grocery store for this, that and the other.
There are plenty of great things in those frozen foods aisles, no doubt. However, I think we can all agree that most of it is far from optimal, and healthy.
Now the pendulum has swung almost all the way over to the other side. The situation is quite dire. Obesity, diabetes, heart disease statistics are climbing at an alarming pace. Unheeded warnings from medical, nutrition and other experts for years were for the most part, ignored. However, there seems to be a quiet shift taking place — the food ‘chainge”.
There are still plenty of brightly coloured packages with inviting labels (fat-free, low-sodium, etc) on pre-packaged foods among other things in the frozen food aisles, but it’s what going on elsewhere that has my attention. There appears to be a conscious effort by the food and grocery industry to give consumers more healthy choices. There are healthier options right beside the not-so-healthy choices. The confluence of a stark health warnings, concerned parents, allergy issues, policy and pressure from government and lobby groups – has led to greater awareness of healthy alternatives and therefore more VISIBILITY of these items.
I am not innocent – there are certainly days when I have not a shred of creativity or energy left to make a healthy meal — so you might find a bag of French fries in my grocery cart. But those days are the minority.
The fact is eating healthy is a commitment that I believe starts from childhood.
I grew up with my parents spending a lot of time grocery shopping, planning and preparing meals. The act of eating (any meal) was an important one. No tv, no distractions. Just a pure enjoyment of the company and the food.
My sister and I realize we were extremely lucky that both our parents participated in food planning and preparation. Both are also excellent cooks!
My dad said back then and still repeats to his grandchildren, “to be successful in the kitchen you need two things — interest and ingredients.” So, so, true. You really cannot have one without the other.
With six children between us, my sister and I spend three-quarters of our life on the topic of food. The seeds sown by our parents were important and are still being sown as we place a huge importance on our roles as primary food-preparers in each of our households.
Decades ago I realized many things about myself when it comes to cooking. Most important thing them: I cannot cook everyday. So in our household we cook for the week on weekends. It’s a 2-hour commitment on a Sunday afternoon that keeps the weekdays sane and relatively orderly. The ingredients and dishes are fresh, and accessible whenever needed. The less pre packaged foods, the better.
I am a creature of shortcuts, quality shortcuts. I’ve devised many over the years, primarily in the kitchen and around the subject of meal planning and preparation.
With grocery stores offering better choices these days, my shortcut list has grown exponentially, cause now I don’t have to go to three different stores to find what I’m looking for.
What a relief!