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Home-made? Really?

In a recent ad on TV, a food company described heating a can of soup as making a “home-made” meal for your family.  A can of soup and a sandwich is not much of a meal (OK maybe a lunch).   And implying that taking an item (already assembled) home to bake it or heat it does not make it “home-made.”  But arguably it may be a strong selling point for a busy Mom or Dad, a guilt reducer.

To me, “home-made” means made from scratch; made by me as I place each ingredient into a pan, bowl or skillet.  Home-made means that I actually know what is going into my dish; I am not a chemist and have no desire to add lactic acid or caramel color.

There are several concerns I have about prepared products (Yes, I do use them at times).  Many prepared products contain too much salt (sodium chloride) and/or sugar (high fructose corn syrup).  I read labels to find ketchup that doesn’t have it, tomato sauce that doesn’t have it, and barbecue sauce without it (my preference is more tang and less sugar).  A friend once told me that shopping for products without high fructose corn syrup (her husband was diabetic) took much longer than it used to before she found out about how many products it is found in.  What is troubling about this is that gradually Americans are getting used to sweet spaghetti sauce, sweet ketchup, etc which suits the corn folks just fine.  If I need corn syrup for a candy or frosting, I can buy it and use it.  In can goods, there is no choice.

As I watch cooking shows, I notice that they season and taste as they cook.  So when I cook I add a bit of salt as I go along but final adjustments can be made by those eating my dish.  Diets of reduced sodium are still prescribed for health reasons and finding canned goods labeled “reduced sodium” are easier to find.  But in general, these products cost more.  Foods high in salt are lunch meats, bacon, sausage, dill pickles, salad dressings, soy sauce, canned soups, cheese, and many more.

My solution is to cook my own meals from scratch.  Start this process 1-2 days a week and plan ahead.  Fresh vegetables just taste best so take advantage of summer produce at the Market.  Use prepared meats sparingly; buy foods without high-fructose corn syrup so the real taste shines through.  Use fresh fruits for the sweet finish to a meal.

Home-made, really!!! Janean Bowen

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