Confession of a convenience addict

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.

Annie Chun’s disappointing kung pao noodle bowlIt 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!

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5 Responses so far »

  1. 1

    Student Doctor Green said,

    March 27, 2008 @ 3:54 am

    Hi. My name is Student Doctor Green and I am also a convenience food junkie.

    No, but seriously I hear you. Those college habits die hard. Let me know how the making your own noodles thing goes that sounds like an awesome idea.

  2. 2

    Dana said,

    March 27, 2008 @ 6:47 pm

    There is nothing wrong with PB&J! The US is pretty much the only country where peanut butter is considered a staple, so let me tell you, if you live anywhere else for very long, you start to consider good ol’ PB&J to be a delicacy.

    My latest convenience food of choice is a tortilla with peanut butter and either raisins or craisins, whichever is available, rolled up or folded into quarters. Tortillas don’t go bad as quickly as bread, and take up a lot less space, which is the reason the summer camp my brother worked at gave them to all the kids as their backpacking “bread.”

  3. 3

    Will said,

    March 27, 2008 @ 8:47 pm

    Will do, SDG. Let me know if you find any good convenience food coping strategies!

    Oh, I wasn’t saying that there’s anything wrong with PB&J. That’s just definitely not the “slow food” ethos. I am whatever the opposite of a gourmand is (I prefer simple fast food rather than fancy slow food).

    Tortillas are good, especially the flavored ones (tomato and basil or even just corn tortillas). I’m not sure about having them with peanut butter, but I do enjoy them as bread for other sandwiches.

  4. 4

    Dana said,

    March 28, 2008 @ 5:45 pm

    I meant plain flour tortillas. Not as wholesome as whole grain bread, true, but I am willing to make such sacrifices for easily portable, non-moldy, bread-like substitutes.

    I think the biggest problem with the Slow Food movement is that it seems so dedicated to only worshiping complicated, time-consuming food preparation and eating. I like their ethos, sure, but I hate cooking, I’m content to eat the same things over and over, and I’m frequently doing something more interesting when it occurs to me to eat.

  5. 5

    User links about "biodegradeable" on iLinkShare said,

    August 18, 2008 @ 6:00 pm

    […] | user-saved public links | iLinkShare 3 votesConfession of a convenience addict>> saved by durf 1 days […]

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