Yesterday I went to that weight watching place I go to and at weigh in the "weigher" handed me a sample package of a new branded, 10 minute side dish (something with chicken and rice and vegetables). I looked at this over processed, over packaged and probably overly salted convenience food and said "no thanks."
Now, I rarely turn down a sample. I'll walk the aisles of Costco and actively seek out those little samples of foods I never buy. At Trader Joe's, I head right for the sample area in back for a little cup of whatever they are dishing up and a free cup of coffee. I know which local stores have free coffee and or cookies. (And the one that gives you a free chocolate truffle if you buy a cup of coffee.) You probably get the picture and also understand why I need to go to that weight watching place.
But somehow, having just done the Hunger Challenge and having been a member of the weight watching place for so long with its tenets on fresh, whole and unprocessed foods (despite the side of the company that hawks frozen and processed goodies), something in me just said "no."
It was a private protest of sorts until the free samples and the glories of quickies on the side became part of the meeting. One father of young children said he did all the cooking and he had a closet full of such shortcuts.
The cook, the food activist, the parent and the weight watcher in me was aghast. I raised my hand, acknowledged that for some products like this were important, but stressed that this was a commercial product, with all kinds of additives, with extra costs for packaging and processing and that there were lots of other options for 10-minute side dishes.
I was polite, but resistant. It reminded me of the one time I decided to demonstrate my feminist views in my high school in the 70s. That day I didn't wear a bra, but did wear a work shirt with pockets on both sides of my chest and a zipped up sweatshirt. I'm not sure, but I think I also wore a sweater vest. I was liberated, but covered and my gesture didn't really mean anything to anyone but me.
The weight watching meeting went on. In my usual way I hoped I hadn't hurt the man's feelings or anyone else's. I began to think I should have just kept quiet. What did it matter to anyone but me anyway?
On my way out, a woman stopped me.
"I want to talk to you about what you said," she said.
"Oh, no," I thought.
"I'm so glad you said that. I was thinking the same thing. I'm glad someone spoke up."
I relaxed and smiled.
"I'm glad I did, too."
Maybe it did matter what I wore (or didn't wear) that day back in high school so long ago. Even if the only person that is affected is you, your voice is still important. And you might have an impact on someone else. You never know.
Some Ideas for 10-Minute Sides
Some of these might actually take more than 10 minutes, but are still convenient.
Make extra rice, pasta, potatoes, grains, or beans and reheat in the microwave or saute with add ins. Try cooking them in chicken, beef or vegetable stock for extra taste.
Chop extra garlic, onions and vegetables store in plastic bags and add in to left overs when reheating
If fresh vegetables are problematic, buy a big bag of chopped frozen vegetables (without added sauces) and a cup or two of those as an add in
Try couscous (cooks in five minutes once the water has boiled) or orzo pasta (small rice shaped pasta that also cooks quickly). Both are available in whole grains, too.
If you have ones to add, please leave them in the comments below.