This is an opinion article. The author does not claim to be an expert in any field. It is acceptable and expected that some will disagree with the opinions expressed here.
First, to answer the question, "should you be using packaged foods"? Contrary to our belief that "cooked from scratch" is better, our answer is...a limited..yes!
Let me state that this article discusses the author's personal views. You certainly are free to disagree. We here at Ol' Southern Recipes are advocates of cooking from scratch...the old fashioned way. We are aware that most of our site visitors are disdainful of using packaged foods and may feel we are deviating from our traditional philosophy. But hear us out.
Packaged foods have the advantage of convenience when that is your top priority or if you simply do not know how to make the food the package offers. Seasoning mixes, batters, gravy and sauce packaged mixes are generally quite good and we see no harm in using them for their convenience. However, we draw the line at complete meals and entrees in a package.
What Are Packaged Foods?
We like to lump them into two categories:
1. Prepared complete meals and entrees
2. Packaged Mixes
These are just what it says. A complete meal or entree in a can, package, fresh or frozen. Practically anything may be purchased in this manner. Canned beef stew, chicken dinners, frozen enchiladas, spaghetti, etc.
Packaged mixes include seasoning, gravies, sauces, batters and other foods that are not a complete meal or entree.
The Good and the Bad - Comparisons
: Many packaged foods are good, some not so good. The benefit of "made from scratch" food is that you can adjust the ingredients to suit your own taste. With packaged food you "takes what you gets".
: Packaged foods have the edge here. This is probably their greatest benefit.
: Without question it is cheaper to make your own.
: My personal belief is that home made is healthier. You have control of what goes in your food when you make it yourself. Unless you are an ardent label reader, you do not know what is in packaged food (you can count on preservatives). And even if you read the label, do you know what chemical bisphenol A (BPA) is? Answer: it's not good.
So what's the bottom line? It pains us to see young people set their table each night with canned spaghetti, pizza or other fast food. Yes, it's a busy world and fast food is convenient. But, isn't your family worthy of wholesome, home cooked food? We highly discourage the use of complete meals in a box or food from fast food restaurants on a regular basis.
However, the use of packaged sauces, gravies, seasoning and breading mixes is a great time saver and most are quite good. Your local market shelves are full of these mixes and they can turn "bland" into "special".
To our faithful repeat visitors that have been with us for years, do not despair. We are not caving in to the prepared food industry. We simply recognize that times have changed and we have many new, young, inexperienced cooks that want to cook the old fashioned way but it is such a busy world now days they simply do not have the time to spend hours in the kitchen.
So while we still discourage use of packaged complete meals and fast food, we believe that use of packaged gravies, sauces, breading mixes and salad dressing mixes can, indeed, save much time and produce a flavorful dish.
Finally, if you are one of those that turns your nose up at packaged food of any kind, we say, "good for you". You're our kind of people. But, let's give the youngsters a break and not discourage their use of all packaged foods (just the meal in a box kind).
With experience they will be creating their own home made mixes and cooking from scratch. Meanwhile, enjoy their cooking efforts, encourage them and say, "you done good!"
Ken, site owner