Made From Scratch vs Convenience Items
Updated: Oct 19
It is 2022 and everything has gone through the roof, expense-wise. The cost of rent, utilities, medical bills, high-deductible insurance plans, prescription medications, fuel for your car, and yes, food has become a significant challenge. That doesn't include cost of childcare for working parents, school-supplies and clothing for families with children, or the extras that schools pass on to families with fundraisers (let's face it, those fundraisers are not cheap anymore!). What about those individuals who are on tight-budgets and have to make financial sacrifices? What about our disabled community? What about our senior community? What about our medically-compromised community? The list goes on!
The traditional methodology is that if a grocery store, a farmer or anyone who offers food for sale to the public, it runs into higher costs to run the business (increased utilities, rent, insurance, supply/demand issues), the costs are passed on to the consumer. Basic economics, right? When one item is on sale, there are most certainly other items that will have had a price increase. Let's not forget though, each store/farm-stand is going to be different in pricing strategies because they don't all use the same distributors. They may also have different contracts in place that affect pricing. So many different parameters and variances, UGH! I definitely can say, online flyers are my favorite go-to in order to see what is on sale. Even the farm-stands have great deals on their social media sites.
The one thing I see through social media, through news articles and other media sources is this rampant, social-media army of "keyboard commandos" barging through posts/videos of those who post recipe creations to a full-throttle battle-mode because the digital creator used convenience foods in what they are showcasing. Equally so - I see digital creators who use nothing but fresh ingredients and they ALSO get attacked! Seriously?! And yes, I called them keyboard commandos with very good reason! There is the other side of the fence when the digital creator starts getting very judgemental when people can't afford certain fresh ingredients or ingredients are way above anyone's traditional paychecks and have to budget everything. Example: Imported 12-month parmigiano-reggiano. I am lucky to have multiple places where I live and find it. Pricing is all over the place! Specialty shops going to have much higher prices than the local grocery stores. I found this specialty cheese for USD$15.00/lb (454g). THANKFULLY it was already cut into manageable wedges. I had found a chunk for about $6.00 that I was comfortable enough to pay and bring home for when we have homemade Italian. But, not everyone can splurge so easily. So, those folks are either going to use something as a replacement or they are not going to get the ingredient at all. Makes sense, right? People keep forgetting that not everyone is making good wages. They also keep forgetting that budgeting is so much more important today and responsible people will make changes or deletions from their grocery list where and when necessary in order to keep a roof over their head. I watched a video that was featuring a husband who was making his wife a particular creamy chicken soup "just the way she likes it". It was a beautiful video and it was so refreshing to listen to the guy talk about his wife, why he makes it the way he does and that it makes him so happy that his wife loves the way he makes this. The guy made me smile, it was such a beautiful approach to his content. He had some fresh ingredients and also convenience ingredients. Out of every 10 comments, I would say 50% of the comments were full-on negative, highly critical and even downright nasty because the guy used chicken bouillon cubes. Yep - these keyboard commandos were so butt-hurt over salty soup cubes that you would swear someone unleashed an army to go into full attack-mode.
I have read people's justification for going all attack-dog is that it is an open-forum and scream "FREEDOM OF SPEECH!", blah, blah, blah! When they get called out on it, better have the popcorn soaking in butter. Sit back and watch the show unfold! I can get you some napkins!
About ten years ago, I was actually asked "Why don't you write recipes for diabetics?" I replied to the person with "Because, your individual medical provider has advised you to maintain x-numbers for your glucose testing and has imposed on you to be careful with your own intake. It would be your responsibility to follow the medical guidance from your treating providers. The next Diabetic will have had a different doctor with their own medical assessment and definitely have a different goal with different food selections. No two Type II patients are the same because each person is individual. Instead of focusing on the individual recipe though, focus on what medical guidance you were given. Ohhhhhh this woman got good and angry. She wasn't having any of it. I asked her if she had consulted with a Certified Diabetic Registered Dietician or an RN with a CDE when she originally received her Type II diagnosis. She said "no, I can do this by myself". I shared with her that the internet is not a replacement for proper medical instruction/advice unless you were given a list of verified sites from her healthcare providers. Yep, that made her mad too!
She began to get angry over why I dont use "normal foods from the store like other people". I explained that I am very much a normal person with complicated medical conditions that dont even have a medical name assigned. I just happen to cook from scratch with fresh ingredients in the home and in professional kitchens. I did share her that obviously there are changes to your dietary intake that you are coming across as struggling with and it would be in her best interest to consult with her treating provider and/or a CDE (Certified Diabetic Educator). I am not going to use fast, convenient ingredients because that is just not my way. I wouldn't do that to a customer that dines in a restaurant I work in. I wouldn't do that to my husband and I because of our unique and individual medical needs.
The bottom line here is this: It's cooking. If there is one amazing thing that has influenced people during the pandemic is the mad rush into baking, cooking, grilling and spending time with their loved ones. Even though the food shortages were frustrating and purchase limits were imposed, it was AMAZING to see all the folks out there, including celebrity chefs who were joining in on the bandwagon with cooking and baking at home! Seeing kids getting in the kitchen with Moms, Dads, Grandparents and joining in the fun of what cooking can bring. THAT in itself is wonderful! Whether it was fresh ingredients or convenience ingredients, ignore it. Celebrate the fact that people are back in the kitchen and cooking!
Is it healthy to work with convenience items? No, it is not. But, most people are already educated enough to know that. They just happen to have certain things on hand, they may have made substitutions, purchased replacements, or quite simply: this is how they prefer to make the dish. The army of keyboard-commandos will never go away but, I ask of you, don't "join" that army. Be less judgemental. If you can't say/post something nice, just "forward, march" and move on! We have enough negativity still going on today. At the rate these keyboard-commandos keep going with the negative posts, they will eventually break their keyboards. We don't need a shortage on keyboards, ok? In fact, when you feel the need to be nasty on someone else's post, stop. Get up. Go cook something. And, enjoy it.