” The idea behind fast food is great – people want convenience.”
Kimbal Musk, Businessman
The Pros and Cons of Convenience Food
Convenience food (sometimes also referred to as tertiary processed food) can be defined as food that is prepared and processed through food companies in order to facilitate the use for the end customer.
Among many others, this can include instant soups, snack foods and dishes that just have to reheat in the microwave.
Although convenient foods have some advantages, there are also some problems related to it.
In this blog post, the pros and cons of convenience food are examined.
Advantages of Convenience Food
- Convenience food can save you time
- You can save effort
- You don’t have to buy many different groceries
- Convenience food saves you brainpower for planning
- Convenient on stressful days
- Good for people who cannot cook
- Convenient for your travels
- Good alternative for people who don’t have a kitchen
- Alternative to conventional fast food
- Convenience products can be stored for a long time
- Convenience foods are easy to prepare
- Lower amount of leftovers
- Cleanup is quite simple
Convenience food can save you time
One major advantage of convenience food is that it can save you plenty of time. For instance, if you cook from scratch, you often have to spend a long time in the kitchen preparing your meal.
However, by using convenience food instead, you can just put it in the microwave or in your oven and your meal will be ready in just a few minutes.
Thus, if you don’t have too much time due to a job where you have to work long hours every day, you might rely on convenience food instead of cooking by yourself due to the time constraints you have in your life right now.
You can save effort
Although there are many advantages to cooking at home, it can also imply a high level of effort. This is especially true for dishes that take a long time to prepare and which are difficult to make. By going for convenience food instead, you have to put in hardly any effort at all since you just grab it and reheat it and you are done.
Therefore, if you are a rather lazy person and do not want to cook by yourself since you think it will be too exhausting, convenience food may be the way to go for you instead.
You don’t have to buy many different groceries
If you rely on convenience food, you also do not have to buy a variety of different groceries. You can just pick your favorite convenience food item and go to the checkout of the grocery store. Thus, you do not have to worry to get a long list of different food items as if you were cooking on your own.
This may not only save you time, but it may also save you some nerves, especially if you go shopping in a store where the selection is rather limited and you may not find everything to cook with fresh food on your own.
Convenience food saves you brainpower for planning
When you cook on your own on a regular basis, you might also have to plan what to buy and when to prepare your meals. This might not be an issue if you only work moderate hours, but it may become a problem if you work quite long hours and need all your mental capacities for your job and your private life in order to work.
Thus, depending on your individual circumstances, you might not want to do all the planning that is necessary for fresh cooking and go for convenience products instead.
Convenient on stressful days
Even if you are a fan of cooking at home, you might experience times in your life which are quite stressful and overwhelming and you might simply not have the energy to cook during these exhausting times.
Therefore, in those times in your life, you might rather want to rely on convenience food since you do not have to worry about anything and can just reheat it and you are done.
Good for people who cannot cook
Many people out there simply never have learned how to cook. Even though cooking is not that difficult, there still is a steep learning curve and you have to spend some time to inform yourself and to prepare some dishes before you will become better.
However, many people simply do not want to put in the effort to learn cooking. Therefore, for those people who can’t cook and also do not want to learn it, convenience food may be a suitable alternative.
Convenient for your travels
Another upside of convenience food is that it might be quite useful for your travels. If you stay in hostels and sleep at a new place almost every day, chances are that there will not be too much time for cooking and you may also lack the proper equipment to cook.
You might also not want to spend any of your precious travel time on cooking. Thus, convenience food may also be a viable option for your travels in order to use your travel time efficiently.
Good alternative for people who don’t have a kitchen
Some people also simply do not have a kitchen at all. If you live in a small apartment, there might only be a shared kitchen space.
However, quite often, there will be far too many people using this space and you might not want to wait until they are done with cooking.
Instead, going for convenience food may sound like a good idea since you can save plenty of waiting time.
Alternative to conventional fast food
Even though convenience food might not be considered to be healthy, it might still be healthier compared to most fast foods. Therefore, if you do not want to cook at all, it might be a good idea to go for convenience food instead of fast food since it might still be healthier on average.
However, I still recommend that you learn cooking since it can be quite a lot of fun and you will be able to live much healthier through cooking by yourself compared to relying on convenience food.
Convenience products can be stored for a long time
Another benefit of convenience food is that it can be stored for an extensive period of time. Instant soups and chips can be stored for many months or even years and are will still be suitable for consumption due to the large amounts of preservatives that are contained in those convenience products.
Thus, if you want to store your food for a long time for some reason, you might want to go for convenience food.
Convenience foods are easy to prepare
It is also quite easy to prepare convenience food. In many cases, you just have to read the description and almost everyone will be able to prepare these kinds of food in a proper manner.
Thus, for preparing convenience food meals, it is not necessary for you to have any cooking skills and this may be attractive to many people since they simply can’t mess it up.
Lower amount of leftovers
If you cook fresh, you have to buy a variety of different foods. However, there will be some leftovers and food waste which you will often dispose of into the trash bin. In turn, this implies large amounts of unnecessary food waste over time.
By using convenience products instead, you can vastly decrease the amount of food waste since convenience products are portioned and you will not have to throw away too much.
Cleanup is quite simple
Since you do not have to cook and can just reheat your convenience food most of the time, there will also be far fewer dishes to clean up. Washing the dishes is not a thing that many people like and therefore, it might be quite nice if you do not have to do it if you go for convenience food instead of cooking by yourself.
Disadvantages of Convenience Food
- Convenience food is often unhealthy
- Rich in flavor enhancers and preservatives
- Low-quality food
- Meat often comes from factory farming
- You don’t know exactly what’s in your food
- Mental problems
- Obesity and overweight
- People don’t learn about proper nutrition
- Plenty of unnecessary waste
- Cooling chain interruptions may lead to the development of germs
- Relying on convenience food does not make you a good role model
- Convenience food may contain plenty of allergens
- Some convenience foods are expensive
Convenience food is often unhealthy
Although there are several benefits of convenience food, there are also some issues that come along with it. One downside of convenience food is that it is often rather unhealthy.
Convenience food often contains high amounts of salt and saturated fats, which is rather harmful to several parts of our body, including our cardiovascular system.
Thus, if you rely on convenience food too much, chances are that you might develop serious health conditions sooner or later and your overall life expectancy might be rather low due to that.
Rich in flavor enhancers and preservatives
Another disadvantage of convenience foods is that they often contain significant amounts of preservatives and flavor enhancers.
While preservatives might be quite useful in terms of the shelf-life of a product, they are considered to be rather unhealthy.
Moreover, while flavor enhancers might make your convenience meals more delicious, they are often also not good for your health in the long run.
Quite often, convenience food is also of rather low quality. Especially the cheap ones often use only low-quality foods in order to provide the cheapest price possible for customers.
However, quality has its price and you often get what you pay for. Thus, if you rely on cheap convenience products, chances are that the quality of the ingredients is rather poor.
Meat often comes from factory farming
There is also an ethical concern regarding the use of convenience food since the meat for convenience products mostly comes from factory farming.
However, in this farming practice, animals are often treated quite poorly and suffer quite a lot from adverse and unnatural living conditions.
Thus, in order to make a stand against factory farming, you may also want to refrain from the use of convenience products that contain meat.
You don’t know exactly what’s in your food
When you cook by yourself, you know exactly what’s inside your meal since you initially bought all the ingredients for it from the grocery store. However, if you rely on convenience food, you will not know exactly how the food looked and of what quality it was when it was processed.
Thus, if you want to ensure high food quality and want to know exactly what you are eating, cooking might be the way to go instead of relying on convenience food.
It has been proven in many studies that our body and our brain closely interact and if you consume large amounts of unhealthy food, chances are that your brain may no longer work properly.
Moreover, you might also feel rather unmotivated, which may turn into depression and other mental issues in the long run.
Therefore, refraining from convenience food and going for fresh food instead may be a good idea in order to ensure a healthy mental state in the long run.
Obesity and overweight
Since convenience foods are often rich in calories, chances are that you will suffer from overweight or even obesity in the long run if you consume too much of this kind of food.
Obesity is a serious problem in our rich Western world and it significantly lowers the life expectancy of people.
Therefore, if you want to avoid getting overweight, you might want to refrain from the use of convenience products and may want to go for healthier products instead.
People don’t learn about proper nutrition
Another problem of using convenience food is that you might not learn about proper nutrition if you just reheat your meals. In order to really learn about healthy diets, it is necessary to prepare your meals on your own.
Only then will you inform yourself what to buy and how to cook your meal in order to preserve all the precious vitamins and minerals. Thus, relying on convenience food may also prevent you from learning about proper and healthy nutrition.
Plenty of unnecessary waste
The use of convenience food may also result in excessive amounts of unnecessary waste. If you buy convenience products, they are often packaged in plastic or aluminum. This packaging will be disposed of into the garbage after you finished your meal.
However, this can be regarded to be a significant waste of our natural resources since those resources are just used for a single time.
Therefore, also in terms of resource use and waste production, convenience foods can be considered to be rather bad for our planet.
Cooling chain interruptions may lead to the development of germs
If convenience food is not produced, transported and stored properly, harmful germs can develop, especially if there are temporary disruptions in the cooling chain.
For instance, if a product that contains fish is frozen and the cooling chain is interrupted due to some reason, it will unfreeze to a certain extent and bacteria and other harmful microorganisms may develop, which in turn may hurt our health.
Relying on convenience food does not make you a good role model
If you have kids, you might also refrain from the use of convenience food since your kids will likely adopt your behavior and may also rely on convenience food in their later life since they consider you as a kind of role model.
Thus, in order to be a good role model, you may want to cook with them instead of using convenience products so that they learn about proper nutrition and refrain from convenience products once they turn into grownups.
Convenience food may contain plenty of allergens
Since convenience products are often rich in preservatives and other additives, chances are that they can be quite harmful to people who are sensitive to allergens.
Thus, if you are sensitive to certain ingredients, you might want to refrain from convenience foods in order to avoid allergic reactions or other unpleasant surprises.
Some convenience foods are expensive
Some convenience foods may also be quite costly. Even though the food may be of rather poor quality, producers of those convenience dishes may charge high prices since they know that many people will still buy those products since they often value the high level of convenience and the time-savings more than their money.
Top 10 Convenience Food Pros & Cons – Summary List
|Convenience Food Pros||Convenience Food Cons|
|Convenience food can safe you effort||Convenience food is often rather unhealthy|
|Time savings from convenience foods||Can be costly|
|Valid alternative for people who cannot cook||Large amounts of preservatives|
|Good for people who don’t have a kitchen||Often low-quality ingredients|
|No planning efforts||Mental issues|
|High level of flexibility||Overweight|
|Easy to prepare||Unnecessary waste|
|Cleanup is simple||May contain allergens|
|Less food waste||Support of factory farming|
|Convenient for your travels||No good role model for your kids|
Should You Eat Convenience Food?
Convenience foods are still quite popular since they offer many advantages to customers.
However, as we have seen from the previous analysis, there are also many problems associated with convenience food.
It is on you to decide whether the pros of convenience food outweigh the cons or not.
About the author
My name is Andreas and my mission is to educate people of all ages about our environmental problems and how everyone can make a contribution to mitigate these issues.
As I went to university and got my Master’s degree in Economics, I did plenty of research in the field of Development Economics.
After finishing university, I traveled around the world. From this time on, I wanted to make a contribution to ensure a livable future for the next generations in every part of our beautiful planet.
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