Convenience Cooking: Is it Really Worth it?

I hate to admit it, but, as a single person who was never into cooking in the first place, I occasionally turn to TV dinners for my evening repast. More often than not, after consuming one, I vow that I will never again resort to eating such indescribably tasteless concoctions no matter how convenient they may be to prepare. Of course, I never keep that vow.

I remember back in the 50’s when TV dinners first were introduced. To most overworked housewives and working gals, they must have seemed like the answer to a prayer. Swanson’s chicken and meat loaf dinners, complete with potatoes and veggies, could be popped into the oven and placed in front of hungry spouses and children in a matter of minutes. They were relatively inexpensive, costing as little as 98 cents. Cleanup was a time saver, too. After eating the contents, the aluminum tray could be tossed into the trash. Unfortunately, the meals were skimpy. "I’m still hungry" was a frequent cry in my house, and they all tasted somewhat alike, containing lots of pepper but little flavor. To this day, I don’t think they’ve changed much in those respects.

Forty some years ago there came a proliferation of recipes for casseroles that contained tuna or chicken and noodles swimming in rich, beige gravy. Then Cheez Whiz came into the picture and still other gooey combinations were invented including cheese fondue, a staple at every party. Fondue pots sold then like Foreman grills do today.

And who can forget the thousands of recipes a person could make from one box of Bisquick? The fact that most of them tasted alike did not take away from appreciating how easy they were to throw together. Bisquick’s arrival and box cake mixes indicated that we had been freed forever from that clumsy sifter we had once been forced to use.

The fifties were indeed a turning point in our lives, releasing us from long hours in the kitchen. But sadly, someone has yet to come up with a frozen TV dinner or box mix that tastes as good as the cholent my bubbie used to make. When they do, you can be sure I’ll be the first in line to buy it!

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