90% of every American food dollar is spent to buy processed food (Food inc.)! According to a study, published in BMJ Open March 9th 2016, much of that money is spent on what is called ultra-processed food. That study revealed that on average 57.9% of the calories people eat comes from ultra-processed foods.
Why? Why should we care?
Firstly, what is processed food? The FDA defines processed food as “any food other than a raw agricultural commodity and includes any raw agricultural commodity that has been subject to processing, such as canning, cooking, freezing, dehydration, or milling.” That would include any prepackaged food, even frozen spinach or prepared “health foods”
How do Ultra-processed foods differ from processed foods? The study mentioned earlier defines ultra-processed foods as “industrial formulations which, besides salt, sugar, oils and fats, include substances not used in culinary preparations, in particular additives used to imitate sensorial qualities of minimally processed foods and their culinary preparations.”
Why should we care? The study published by BMJ Open reveals that ultra-processed foods comprised just under 58% of an average Americans energy intake and of that almost 90% was from added sugars. The sugar content of these foods is 8X higher than in just process foods.
The dangers of eating too much added sugar have been well established. This has even been reflected in the U.S. dietary guidelines which recommends consuming “less than 10% of calories per day from added sugars.”
If these we know all of this why do we continue to eat so poorly?
In a word, I think, it is convenience. We are all extremely busy. As time goes on it seems that more and more things occupy our time and lives. It is convenient to stop in for fast food and take it home. When we go shopping it is easy to grab the microwave dinner “just in case”. Then “just in case” soon becomes the norm because it is convenient and it’s just too much trouble to figure out what we can make with what we have on hand.
How do we break this insane cycle? Simply put with planning, meal planning to be specific. When you have a meal plan you already know what you are going to have that evening. There is nothing to figure out. Over the past several years my wife and I have been using this method and have found we spend far less using a meal plan than we did before. We also enjoy a far more diverse menu than prior to meal planning too. The Daily Mail reports that the average mother in the UK relies on just 9 recipes to feed their families, how boring.
My advice, start planning. It takes time and effort to get started. But it is well worth it. We have been asked several times how we do our planning. It became clear that rather than try and explain this over and over it would be easier to start a blog, so please visit us at JaquesKitchen.com.
One of the greatest challenges we have faced is coming up with ideas, really Inspiration is key to developing a plan. There are many great sites we use for inspiration. Below you will find a list we use.
This is not meant to be an exhaustive list. Rather it is just what I have found especially useful so far.
Please comment with any sources you have found helpful.
http://shrinkingkitchen.com/ - Love this site. Lots of Menu Plans and Recipes
http://allrecipes.com/ - Loads of recipes
https://foodgawker.com/ - Loads of recipes
http://www.tastespotting.com/ - Loads of recipes
http://www.photograzing.com/ - Many more recipes/Useful Techniques Guides/More.
http://cookingwithawallflower.com/recipes/ - Recipes and helpful blogging tips
http://goanwiki.com/ - Recipes and products from South Western India
http://blog.myfitnesspal.com/meal-planning-for-beginners/ - Meal planning help