Desperate Housewives... What's For Dinner?

JoAnn Hines

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I count myself among the many desperate housewives who echo the daily question. . .

What's for dinner? This all-encompassing question won't go away despite my desire that with a snap of my fingers a fully prepared nutritious meal is ready for consumption and on the table. Yet, thanks to the packaging industry and its proliferation of new product ideas, I'm less frenzied about this question than I used to be. Yes, believe me things have changed from my mother’s day when cooking healthful meals was a time consuming chore. Food marketers finally understand that good food need not equate to long hours in the kitchen.

I love to cook; however, it seems there are not enough hours in the day to make the home cooked meals I grew up on. Real food prep used to be a lot of work. Now with many new packaging innovations the hard work is actually done for me. I use many of these new packaging innovations in an effort to save time and because they are good. Every week I scour the supermarket shelves for new offerings that make my life a little easier. I regularly try different products to see just how time saving they really are - even if the price might be at a premium. Remember, time is money.

This Thanksgiving I was happy to pick up the bags of prewashed, precut turnip greens. Ever spend a couple of hours stripping and washing greens? Not a pretty sight. How many of you know what turnip lice looks like? Believe me if you have them you will know. But thanks to packaging technology, this horror is now avoided with packaged prewashed greens.

As I search the isles looking for the latest and greatest food product, I'm pleased to discover that the packaging companies are really thinking about me. There are now prechopped goodies of all kinds: carrots, peppers, onions (no crying please), washed and ready to eat salads - which I use despite the claims of no nutritious value. (I recently read an article about how the greens were washed in a chlorine bath, which washed out all the nutrients. I admit it made me fell a little squirrelly, but I have been to the “Fresh Express" lettuce factory and I didn't see anything untoward happening. )

My newest favorite is the Jimmy Deans breakfast “Skillets" that are packaged ready to go after only about ten minutes in the pan. After all breakfast is the most important meal of the day so who cares about the calories? Speaking of calories, how many of you saw Mr. Potato Head in the Macy's Day parade? (I'm dating myself here. ) Mr. Potato Head was one of my favorite childhood games. Yes, the misunderstood potato is making a comeback despite carb counters and all that stuff about them being bad for you. I love the premashed potatoes that come packaged in a tub ready to heat and eat. They are as good as homemade, so my husband says, and let’s face it a tub of premashed spuds is certainly are a whole lot less hassle.

Publix, where I shop most of the time, has dozens of ready-to-eat in 30 minutes or less meals. All of them use prepackaged, prewashed, prechopped or preprepared ingredients that could not exist without the package. So, the next time you get a little frenzied about what's for dinner, thank the innovations of packaging because you’d be desperate without them.

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