Kick the Processed Food Habit

Have you heard of the “jelly bean rule?” It’s basically an FDA guideline that’s meant to prevent food companies from adding vitamins to junk food, just so that they can call it healthy.

For most folks, a jelly bean fortified with vitamin C is pretty clearly still junk food, but what about the other fortified snack foods we see on store shelves? I’m thinking here of sugary granola bars touted as breakfast food, fortified juice drinks like VitaminWater, and energy bars. These processed foods are certainly convenient, but they are not healthy. Calling them food almost feels like a stretch in some cases.

Not only are these processed convenience foods loaded with sugar, unhealthy fats, and GMO ingredients, but the excessive packaging is as bad for the planet as that snack is for your body. One granola bar wrapper might not seem like a lot, but imagine all of the granola bar wrappers from all of the people that eat one for breakfast every morning. That adds up to mountains of discarded single use plastic in our landfills and in our oceans.

The trouble is that you’re busy, right? Sometimes grabbing a granola bar on the way out the door is all you have time to do! So, how can you kick the processed food habit when you’re short on time?

If you want to ditch the processed convenience food but don’t want to give up convenience, don’t fret! There are lots of foods that are both convenient and healthy. Check out a list of truly healthy convenience foods on the next page.

Image Credit: Creative Commons photo by smoorenburg

healthy convenience food

Truly Healthy Convenience Foods

Convenience alone doesn’t make food unhealthy. With a little bit of planning, you can stock your pantry with grab and go snacks without any of the mystery ingredients or excessive packaging. The best part? When you eat whole foods like these, you don’t need to fortify them. They’re already packed with the vitamins, minerals, and fiber!

  • fresh fruit – What could be more convenient than grabbing an apple or banana to snack on?
  • nuts – A handful of cashews, almonds, or pistachios make a filling snack that’s loaded with protein and fiber.
  • veggies – To make fresh veggies even more convenient, process them in advance. Cut carrots and celery into sticks, chop broccoli into florets, etc. That way, when you’re ready to snack, you can just grab a container of prepared veggies from the fridge.
  • bean dips – Bean dips, like hummus, take only a few minutes to make. Just drain and rinse a can of your bean of choice and toss that into the blender with a few spoonfuls of tahini, a splash of olive oil and lemon juice, and a clove or two of garlic. You can use those veggies you prepped for dipping when snack time rolls around!
  • homemade granola bars – It’s easy as pie to make granola bars at home, and Mommy Footprint has a great recipe. To make this a vegan recipe, substitute maple syrup for the honey and use 1 tablespoon flax meal beaten in 1/4 cup water in place of the egg. If you are trying to watch your refined sugars, you could probably cut the amount of brown sugar in half, too!
  • green smoothies – If you feel like you’re always short on time in the mornings, assemble your green smoothie in advance! Toss the greens and fruit that you want to use into a Mason jar the night before, so in the morning you just have to dump it into the blender with a few ice cubes and some almond milk or juice. You can even use the Mason jar as your to go cup and save yourself a dish.

Do you guys have any favorite homemade convenience foods? I’d love to hear more healthy snack and on-the-go meal ideas in the comments!

Related:
Can You Be a Soy-Free Vegan?
5 Food Habits That Age You
Could You Go 100% Unprocessed?

39 comments

Lupe Guerra
Lupe Guerra2 years ago

I miss how we used to eat fresh in Mexico. Each morning we picked from the gardens & went to the market for what we were missing for that meal

Lupe Guerra
Lupe Guerra2 years ago

I miss how we used to eat fresh in Mexico. Each morning we picked from the gardens & went to the market for what we were missing for that meal

Nicole Bergeron
Nicole Bergeron3 years ago

I've made my own granola bars before. So far only my mother and I eat them. They're "not sweet enough" according to my little brother (who is majorly addicted to white sugar, he will sit there and eat it right out of the bag if given the chance, so I don't give him the chance), only one he does seem to like are the ones that I add a drizzle of chocolate on. It's a start.

I've also been cutting up fruit/veggies that is large into finger-picking sized pieces and went as far as spent nearly $100 on a personal fridge for him and I stock it once a week with fruits and veggies and take note as to which ones he eats more than any other (so far orange/yellow peppers, lemons, cucumbers and cantaloupe). What isn't eaten either is frozen, made into baked goods or moved to the compost.

Best way to avoid it for kids, is don't start them on it.

billy belshaw
Past Member 3 years ago

thank you.

Past Member
Christine W.3 years ago

Great ideas!

Edith B.
Edith B.3 years ago

Good tips, thanks!

Dale Overall

Interesting and tasty, there are a number of things I can take along and often prepare in advance.

Marie W.
Marie W.3 years ago

Time time, cut chop wash...

Michele Mihlack
Michele Mihlack3 years ago

I would love to dry fruits and have for snacks...

Rhonda Bird
Rhonda B.3 years ago

Thank you:)