Packaged instant food and beverages are all the rage both in large and smaller cities these days. For nuclear families short on time, where all the members are engaged with their jobs or studying, they seem to be a lucrative option. Be it that ‘7 p.m. urge’ to have spicy noodles or quick dinner plopped into a pan straight from a pack of MTR’s instant Rajma—packed and artificially preserved food is everywhere. However, it is surprising how many of these overpriced items can simply be made at home, or at least purchased fresh, even in the middle of a busy week.
There are some packed items that you cannot do away with. But here are some tips on how to avoid, or buy packaged food smartly:
Fruit Juice and Soft Drinks
These are the number one culprits among harmful packaged beverages. Their sales climb up rapidly in summers. Loaded with synthetic colors, artificial preservatives and way too much sugar, they are definitely a bad influence on your liver. If you’re out and feel thirsty, buy a bottle of chilled, plain bottled water. If you’re just looking for a drink, fresh coconut water may be another good option. But never buy the packaged version of coconut water.
Instant noodles and Soups in a Cup
Instant food has an appeal which makes it hard to resist. It is delicious, easy and quick to make, and not too heavy on your wallet. But the amount of saturated fat in merely half a small pack of noodles is enough to exceed your daily quota of fat and throw your entire dietary recommendation off track. Instead, if you must buy noodles, prefer to buy the plain, uncooked variety made with rice or whole wheat. Always make soups at home with fresh ingredients and whole spices.
This is one of those mandatory kitchen staples without which your weekend remains incomplete. More often than not, you end up picking up a 200 gram pack from your nearest supermarket without giving it a second thought. However, if you have ever tasted fresh cheese, you would know that the packaged version tastes a bit tangier. It is the taste of those preservatives which make it last fifteen days in your fridge.
Fresh cheese should be consumed within three days. So the next time, if you cannot make the effort to prepare your own at home, buy it fresh from a dairy store and not a supermarket.
Packaged Oats and Cereals
Oatmeal is the ultimate breakfast cereal for many workaholics in metropolitan cities these days. Cereals are very quick to prepare. Naturally, they are the go-to breakfast favorites. If you thought you were being smarter by choosing oats over sugary cereals, however, think again. Packaged and flavored oats have the same amount of sugar as cereals and you could easily exceed your quota of daily sugar requirement by having them. Instead, opt for plain, steel cut or rolled oats which you can cook in milk or water, and top with vegetables or fruits.
From juice to soups to harmless milk products, supermarket aisles have all sorts of packaged stuff to lure you. In fact, surveys have proved that adults and children alike get fascinated by fancy packaging and routinely fall into a habit of overspending. But when you do go out to buy something, just choose wisely. Deliberate upon whether you can cook the particular item at home. And an antidote to ditching unhealthy food is to simply cook more at home.