I admit it, I’m a fan of convenience. I’m the guy that Slow Food hates, the one who eats PB&J well into his twenties (and counting). I do eat at home a lot but that’s mostly because I’m cheap. If there were a restaurant that were as cheap as eating in, I’d probably eat there every day.
Since there isn’t, I do the next best thing. Many of my lunches are microwave meals. Sometimes, it’s good stuff like soup from good chicken stock or frozen homemade lasagna. Other times, pickings are slim and I return to my collegiate habits. At times like those, I head right right to the noodle bowls. Yeah, ramen is cheaper (and I do make it occasionally, with added veggies and half the “flavor”) but there’s something satisfying about tossing some hot water into a bowl and coming back just minutes later for a delicious noodle dish. Of course, I’m easy when it comes to noodles so ‘delicious’ might be an overstatement.
The only thing keeping this from being the perfect lunch crime, apart from the very real threat of sodium overdose, is the packaging. I can’t very well pretend to Maggie that I’ve been good when there’s a styrofoam cup leering at her from the drying rack.
Cue Annie Chun’s kung pao noodle bowl. Instead of the plastic wrap some of the noodle bowls have, it’s got nice, recycleable cardboard. Even better, the packaging says that the bowl is biodegradeable! After my coworker Ian told me about them, I walked down to Kroger to check them out. Normally, they’re $3.20 which is pretty steep for eating in, but they had a special offer of $1.60, which was pretty good. I took it as a sign and grabbed one.
It seemed to good to be true and, to my chagrin, it was. Disappointment, thy name is Annie Chun. Inside the cardboard box and the biodegradeable bowl were four plastic packets of food and spices. I’m also not convinced that the “biodegradeable” bowl would actually biodegrade in a landfill, which makes it effectively plastic. The bowl’s website is more of an ad for Annie Chun’s charity than information about the bowl so I can’t tell.
There’s not much point in replacing the styrofoam cup with a “biodegradeable” bowl if you then add in as much plastic as you saved. I wish the microwave meal people would take a cue from the mac and cheese boxes. With just a cardboard box around noodles and a small plastic “flavor packet,” there’s very little packaging and all of it recycleable.
After mentioning my throught to her, Maggie upped the ante by suggesting that I create my own microwave meals out of bouillon cube “flavor packets,” frozen veggies, and rice noodles. At $0.99 a pound, the noodles are cheap, the frozen veggies almost as much, and bouillon is even less, so the frugal Dr. Jekyll in me definitely approves.
We’ll see how my convience-driven Mr. Hyde feels when I try it out!