I was watching Top Chef Canada on Foodnetwork last night, and although I was complaining about how the commercials repeat themselves I had a sad realization as I watched the Knorr one over and over. The words meal solutions stuck out. Simple on the surface; making you think “what am I going to have for dinner”, but dig a little deeper and I think there’s more to it.
Do people no longer want recipes, to make nutritious, balanced, home cooked meals? Do they instead search for ‘meal solutions’ that to me scream processed, sodium loaded, packaged foods, that really aren’t that much quicker to get on the table than a proper meal?
The word solution means to deal with a problem or difficult situation. A recipe on the other hand is a set of instructions likely to lead to a particular outcome. Which one of those is more positive? And when did dinner become a problem that needed to be solved? I guess I’m looking at this one with slightly rose coloured glasses on because a) I like cooking b) I don’t have kids c) my commute is 10 minutes on foot and d) there is a grocery store in my building. But c’mon, you buy a bag of frozen things or a cardboard box full of stuff, throw it in a pot and add some chicken or ground beef and that takes at least 30 minutes to resemble something edible. Have you seen what they can do on Top Chef in a 30 minute quick fire challenge?
I think the processed food makers need to take a step back and look at what they’re doing to the overall culture surrounding dinner by labeling a product a meal solution. I wouldn’t want to sit down at the table with my family under the guise of a problem constantly needing to be solved. And I certainly wouldn’t appreciate the ankle swelling associated with eating processed foods packed with as much sodium per serving as I’m supposed to get in a week!
So here are a couple of quick dinner ideas for those of you who need to come back from the dark side of searching for solutions.
- Wild mushroom risotto
- Crab cakes
- Grilled fish tacos with cabbage slaw
- Breakfast for dinner (omelette, oatmeal, pancakes) whatever!
- A simple spaghetti
- Potato leek soup
The possibilities are endless with a little pre-planning at the grocery store. Stock your fridge with vegetables instead of pre-packaged stuff. Think outside the box, and don’t be afraid to just throw things together in a pinch. If you like the idea of the ingredients you’re using, you’ll probably like the outcome. And remember that sandwiches can also be a treat at dinner. Grilled vegetables, hummus or pesto and some nice cheese is about as good as it gets for me on a fresh baguette.
If I can eat vegetarian for a week, you can stop opening plastic bags and cans of crap for a week. You’ll feel so much better, and you’ll probably slowly start making the shift away from meal solutions, back to recipes.