Selecting the Right Ready-to-Eat Meals During this Last Phase of COVID 19
It has been over a year now and everyone is dealing with this pandemic in different ways. There has been a total shift in the way of living. Everything has changed. Changed completely. Like life has taken a spin at 360 degrees!! Everything from the time we wake up, to what we eat, how we eat, when we eat, how we work, and when we sleep – has changed. Ready-to-eat foods have become a trend. Working from home has become a norm. Fixing lunches for the family while working is also a challenge. Therefore ready-to-eat meals have become a lifesaver for many individuals and families. The shelf-stable ready-to-eat meals make it easier and even more convenient to stock these meals in your pantry.
Whether you enjoy cooking or prefer to do minimal cooking, there are so many choices now available with all types of options. There are meal deliveries whereby you can order your food which is ready-to- eat right off the box, and then there are options available where you just need to assemble the ingredients and your meal is ready! More and more people have taken up cooking as a hobby during these COVID times. People have started exploring different types of cuisines, like Indian, Italian, Japanese, and what not. Ready-to-eat Indian meals are also on a rise. Preparing Indian food at home takes up a lot of different ingredients including a lot of different kinds of spices. Therefore, it just becomes easier to get these pre-prepared foods.
Since this has become an everyday thing, it is particularly important to select the right kind of ready-to-eat food. There are also a lot of options available for gluten-free, vegan, vegetarian, which makes it easier for people with dietary restrictions. Now let us see what one needs to keep in mind when selecting the ready-to-eat meals.
Clean Label – This is a term very commonly used by food manufacturers. What this means is that the product is free of any added colors, flavors, or preservatives. Make it a habit to read labels for their ingredients. There is one simple thumb rule. If you can pronounce it and are able to understand the ingredient, it is safe. Avoid buying products that have long names of ingredients that you have never heard of.
Read the Nutritional Panel: Especially if it a single serve container, check to see whether the nutritionals are for a single serving or more than a single serving. A lot of manufacturers tend to mention that a single serve container has 2 servings, which make the nutritionals seem to be extremely attractive.
Check for Sodium Levels: Ready-to-eat foods tend to have a lot of sodium. But of course there are a lot of concerned manufacturers who are conscious about this fact and keep the sodium levels within limits. Try look for these healthy ready-to-eat meals which are lower in sodium content.
Look for Convenience: Ready-to-eat food should be convenient. It should be easy to store and ready in minutes when hunger strikes. There are just-add-water meals available which are tasty, healthy, as well as shelf-stable. You can carry these meals anywhere and not have to worry about refrigeration. These meals are very convenient even while going on a vacation, trekking, hiking, or camping.
Frozen vs Shelf-Stable Ready-to-eat foods: The biggest issue with frozen foods is that it requires storage space in your freezer. With a limited freezer capacity this could be a challenge. Another drawback is that most of the frozen meal are high in sodium and fat, making it difficult to have these meals as everyday meals. Check for shelf-stable and freeze-dried meals. Although there are not a lot of ready-to-eat meals that are freeze-dried, there are some available which are healthy as well as tasty and convenient. The best advantage about freeze-dried meals are that they retain their nutritional value and when reconstituted with water they taste as good as fresh, unlike their dehydrated counterparts.
So during these challenging times when one is forced to stay at home and take up these extra responsibilities of taking care of the family while working from home and also having to worry about fixing lunches for oneself and the loved ones, these ready-to-eat everyday foods are a huge blessing! Just be careful about making the right selection.
Just hang in there....COVID 19 is on its way out :)
Stay healthy, Stay blessed!
Also read : 5 Powerful Reasons to Switch to Plant-based Diet