Whole Foods Lifestyle - packaged foods




View Full Version : packaged foods


Snowbunny
09-25-2007, 05:48 PM
Do you have rule against bringing pre packaged foods into your house? Like muffin mix, cake mix and such?


baffled111
09-25-2007, 06:27 PM
I've never really understood cake mix. Why not just mix the flour and eggs and stuff together yourself? It always tastes much better and I don't see that the mix significantly cuts down on labor.

It's not a rule for me, we just don't do it. For the most part, I prefer to make things from scratch. One big exception is chicken stock. Pacific Organic Chicken broth tastes just as good as anything I've ever made. :)

phantastica
09-25-2007, 06:27 PM
I don't have any particular rule, but I mostly live alone. My teenager comes home every other weekend, so I tend to have a box of macaroni and cheese on hand for him.

Since I'm "cooking for one", I find myself purchasing some prepackaged foods (sometimes, all the kitchen prep and cooking doesn't seem worth it), from Trader Joe's or Whole Foods if possible. Other times, I'm really good about cooking my own "convenience foods" and freezing them.

LOL, baffled, until I was about 20 I thought baking a cake from a box WAS baking from scratch! HA. I still haven't baked a cake from scratch.


kaplods
09-25-2007, 08:52 PM
I don't remember where or when I read it, but I read an article several years ago in a frugality publication on pre-made mixes like chili, cake from a box, macaroni and cheese, hot chocolate.... and comparing them to homemade, in cost, time of preparation and taste. Cake mixes came out as the best value (in most cases actually cheaper and better tasting than homemade, unless you bought flour and sugar in 20 lb bags or larger).

I rarely bake, especially now that I'm limiting simple starches, so I haven't had a cake mix in the house for years, but I do have some low-gluten baking mix in the cupboard that I bought in the health food section of a local discount store. I haven't used it yet though. I also have some scone mix. I use bottled salad dressings and marinades, and canned soups.

I'm definitely not hardcore, and make a few compromises, but for the most part, the food in our house would be recognizeable by our great grandparents, so we're making progress.

baffled111
09-25-2007, 09:22 PM
LOL, baffled, until I was about 20 I thought baking a cake from a box WAS baking from scratch! HA. I still haven't baked a cake from scratch.

LOL. That is a terrible story!

I started baking when I was really little--5 or 6--and I've never yet used a mix. I don't think they taste good AT ALL; you can always tell when you're eating cake from a mix, imho. Some of those things are a terrible rip-off, too. Bisquick is basically flour, baking powder and salt. I don't care how incompetent a person is in the kitchen, she can still mix flour, salt and baking powder together on her own!

Colleen: I like your criterion that food should be recognizable to your great-grandparents. That's a really good way of thinking about it.

onthetee
09-27-2007, 12:07 AM
Trader Joe's Vanilla Bean cake mix is too yummy. We get it rarely because it calls for a cup of melted butter (see why it tastes so good?) and has a million cals in it.

We have some processed things for my son, which we all share. He has food allergies, so we have Soy Garden butter-ish spread, Soy-gurt and some other things.

We buy commercial bread. I try to make a much as I can with the bread machine, but that seems to drop off in the summer and I pick up again in the fall.

Trader Joe's frozen pizza.

Amy's kitchen soups. I love soup, and yet I am terrible at making it. Even from a recipe, it is never too yummy.

SoulBliss
09-27-2007, 12:39 AM
I don't remember where or when I read it, but I read an article several years ago in a frugality publication on pre-made mixes like chili, cake from a box, macaroni and cheese, hot chocolate.... and comparing them to homemade, in cost, time of preparation and taste. Cake mixes came out as the best value (in most cases actually cheaper and better tasting than homemade, unless you bought flour and sugar in 20 lb bags or larger).
Perhaps in terms of calories per dollar they are the "best value", but in terms of nutritional value and taste, I can say that I am sure a natural whole-foods cake would beat out any boxed commercial stuff.

When faced with the choice, I'd gladly mix up an organic, GMO-free, partially-hydrogenated oil-free, trans-fat free, HFCS-free and cholesterol-free cake any day!

RosieKate
09-27-2007, 11:24 AM
Not a rule per se, but we eschew HFCS, refined flour, and trans fats...so that naturally excludes most pre-made mixes. The mixes that meet those requirements are kind of spendy and we'll only use them if we are in a BIG hurry.. I have also found that making things from scratch to be easier and not as time consuming as I have previously believed. I just baked some muffins from scratch for my kids' breakfast. Took less than 5 minutes to mix up and get into the oven. They baked for 15-17 minutes while everyone was getting ready.

I used to think baking or cooking from scratch was too much bother, but once I had a pantry set up and learned how to plan ahead a little, it wasn't that bad.

AnneWonders
09-27-2007, 11:32 AM
In keeping with our house philosophy of doing it better and not necessarily doing it perfectly, I make cakes and stuff maybe once a year, so I typically use the boxed stuff. If I did it more often I'd worry about it. Not so thrilled with the commercial frosting available, both in terms of being heavy and loaded with trans-fats. I'll probably do something simpler next time, confectioners sugar w/ water or the like.

Anne

phantastica
09-27-2007, 11:35 AM
You're right, Baffled, it's a terrible story! hahahaha. I guess the good part is that I've probably only baked three cakes my entire life, none of which have been done in my adult life. I seldom bake, and if I do it's usually a banana bread, zucchini bread, or my son's favorite cookies - I cook them "from scratch", not from those boxed mixes or frozen doughs - :lol:. If I took pride and pleasure in baking, I'd be more holistic about it.

kaplods
09-27-2007, 12:18 PM
My point on cake mixes wasn't that there isn't a better way to do it, just that there is a reason some people use them and it isn't a nutritional or taste tragedy. Baking intimidates a lot of people, and unlike other basic cooking techniques, does require a precise formula or recipe.


Some would argue that even whole grain flours are a processed food, and I'm not going to go down that extreme a road, but cake, whether made from scratch and whole grains or not, is never going to qualify as a health food and shouldn't be a diet staple. If you're making a cake once a year or less, I think there are bigger and better battles to fight than whether or not you use a mix. I'll admit I'm very biased in this area, as I've made a cake (from a mix) or any dessert for that matter, maybe three times in my five year marriage, and probably three times in the prior 17 years of my adult life before that. (Un)fortunately, I did not gain my weight on dessert, or even snack foods for that matter. I like food, and I like real food best, so addressing my weight problems is going to involve a lot more than just switching to a whole foods diet.

SoulBliss
09-27-2007, 01:12 PM
Some would argue that even whole grain flours are a processed food, and I'm not going to go down that extreme a road, but cake, whether made from scratch and whole grains or not, is never going to qualify as a health food and shouldn't be a diet staple.

:yes: Flour *is* "processed. Everything not eaten in a raw, unadulterated form is "processed", but I will not become a raw foodist as it isn't the best choice for me and my health. Been there, done that and it wasn't balanced!

(Un)fortunately, I did not gain my weight on dessert, or even snack foods for that matter. I like food, and I like real food best, so addressing my weight problems is going to involve a lot more than just switching to a whole foods diet.

I also didn't gain weight on desserts or snack foods either. I am a foodie! I LOVE good food, real, wholesome food...I just eat too much of it! :lol:

SoulBliss
10-01-2007, 01:06 AM
"Healthy" Fruit and Vegetable Cake

2 cups whole wheat flour
1 1/2 cups raw shredded carrots
1 cup raw shredded beets
3 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup maple syrup or agave nectar
1 cup applesauce (unsweetened)
1 cup blended pineapple
1 very ripe mashed banana
1 tsp. vanilla extract
3 T. ground flax
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1/2 cup chopped dates, dried mango or whole raisins


Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Mix flour and baking soda in a large bowl.

In a separate bowl, beat maple syrup (or agave), apple cider vinegar, ground flax, pineapple, banana, and applesauce together.

Stir in the vanilla and mix well.

Combine the wet and dry flour mixtures along with the chopped walnuts and mix.

Add the shredded carrots and beets, mixing well.

Spread in a nonstick 9 X 9 baking pan.

Bake 45-50 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

VelVeeta
10-03-2007, 06:48 PM
No I don't have a rule in my house- while I do like to steer towards homemade and organic food products, prepackaged snacks help get me through the day without over eating, or if I don't have as much time that week to cook. I'm also not a huge believe in hfcs being all bad for you. It's equal to sugar in my mind, and I'm a big proponent of "everything in moderation" is fine.

SoulBliss
10-03-2007, 06:54 PM
This is a great read:

http://sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/chronicle/archive/2004/02/18/FDGS24VKMH1.DTL

Loading high fructose corn syrup into increasingly larger portions of soda and processed food has packed more calories into us and more money into food processing companies, say nutritionists and food activists. But some health experts argue that the issue is bigger than mere calories.

The theory goes like this: The body processes the fructose in high fructose corn syrup differently than it does old-fashioned cane or beet sugar, which in turn alters the way metabolic-regulating hormones function. It also forces the liver to kick more fat out into the bloodstream.

The end result is that our bodies are essentially tricked into wanting to eat more and at the same time, we are storing more fat.

Glory87
10-03-2007, 11:09 PM
Hmm, no rule per se. I just try to do the best I can everyday to eat mostly whole foods and avoid most processed foods. The cake batter example is an odd one for me - I don't keep sweets in the house, so I wouldn't have cake batter. I try to keep sweets as isolated, single portion incidents outside the home!

If I were going to make a cake (maybe for an event??) I guess I would use a mix, since I'm not much of a baker. I did recently make a cheesecake from scratch, it wasn't too hard :)

The processed stuff I buy is balanced with the convenience factor - I would love the time to make my own pasta, bread, tortillas, salsa, granola, etc etc. but I just don't have that kind of time (or I choose not to make the time). I do have strict rules (for myself) for white flour and packaged baked goods products, those I try never to eat and wouldn't bring into the house.

Some other processed foods set off my "triggers" like crackers and cold cereal, so I usually don't buy those (although I don't think there's anything wrong with Kashi organic crackers, I just don't want to eat a whole box in one night).

Suzanne 3FC
10-04-2007, 10:20 AM
I check the ingredient panel. I put most things back on the shelf, but will still buy unusual sauces, seasonings, etc. I also buy canned soup, as long as it's organic and the ingredient panel looks good. I enjoy cooking from scratch for a lot of reasons. I also prefer bringing less packaging into the house, unless it's recyclable.

phantastica
10-04-2007, 10:58 AM
Suzanne, what types of things do you check for on the ingredient panel? I avoid HCFS, trans-fats, and I look for a carb-to-fiber ratio of 15:2. I just recently started noticing sodium, too.

SoulBliss
10-04-2007, 11:01 AM
You didn't ask me, but I wanted to chime in anyway...I look for and avoid all those things plus preservatives and artificial sweeteners and colors.

WaterRat
10-04-2007, 03:33 PM
I don't have a rule. I try to avoid HFCS and trans-fats, and don't buy many packaged foods or mixes. I do however, buy canned beans, soups and tomatoes. (You wouldn't recognize what passes for a "fresh" tomato in Alaska, never mind that they're nearly $4/lb!) as well as pasta, tortillas, etc. I will buy - in the natural foods section - interesting sounding sauces or soups, but if I like them I'll try to recreate them.

Baking - I have baked since I was in 4th grade or so. Mostly from scratch except angel food cake (which I have done a few times, but all those egg whites..... ). I bake bread a lot. Lately I've been using a bread maker to make the dough then remove it, knead slightly and shape for the second rising. I find the shape and texture much better than completely baked in the bread machine. My DH can't digest whole wheat well, so I usually make two kinds of bread, cut each in 1/2 or 1/3rds and freeze a portion. One downside to no preservatives is how fast stuff goes bad.

Ready2ShedLBS
11-13-2007, 12:09 PM
I am a baker. I dont use box anything to make cakes or the like. I even make any frostings or fillings by hand. I actually was going to be a pastry chef, but have now switched gears and am going to be a registered dietician ha. I figured I needed a profession that doesnt encourage obesity. Anyways.. it does taste better, and it is better for you to make it yourself, not calorie wise but "garbage" wise. I even make my own marshmallows :) Let me tell you.. they are so much better then you could even imagine then the bagged crap :) Anyways.. yeah.. so I dont buy pre packaged anything except veggie burgers and thats because I cant seem to learn to make those. If anyone knows.. hook me up :)

SoulBliss
11-13-2007, 05:07 PM
I will look for my veggie burger recipes! Do you have a good recipe for vegetarian or vegan marshmallows? ;)

Ready2ShedLBS
11-14-2007, 04:40 PM
all marshmallows are, are sugar, water, and corn syrup. Definitely not a clean food lol. Now.. maybe if you used raw sugar or cane syrup, I dunno. Im lost on that one.. lol. I havent made marshmallows since I have been trying to eat "clean-ER"