I saw single serving Spam the other day. It was a neat, foiled packed slice of ground meat product worthy of launching to low earth orbit and enjoyed by astronauts on the International Space Station. It put me in a spin around the grocery looking for other, supposedly convenient, “single serving” items. Raman Noodles, Cup a Soup, various oatmeals and cereals, meal bars, tuna (and all of its attendant “lunch pack” variations), vegetables, pizza, entire frozen meals and of course everybody’s favorite, 100 calorie snack packs (or as I like to call them…”bites”).
There is a dizzying array of “single serving” items in our groceries and markets. They are the very definition of the three “P’s”: processed, packaged, and pricey.
Some are, obviously, meant for quick meals such as lunch at work. However, more and more these items are being marketed at those of us who live solo or in pairs as staples…hence the Spam.
First, we have single serving complete meals for any time of the day. Frozen is the norm but there are non froze as well:
Then we have pop in the microwave single serving products for breakfast, lunch and dinner. There are almost too many to count but check out just a few examples:
I am not, necessarily, an advocate of Spam, or really canned meat in general, instant potatoes, or canned vegtables. However, the day I can not as a self respecting adult figure out what to do with a small can of Spam or tuna is a sad day indeed.
There are three primary issues with buying in single serving:
- It is pricey
- It is bad for you
- It degrades our life style
The pricey argument is obvious. The packaging alone on 5 crackers and a bit of tuna that is measured in milligrams probably costs more than the food. With convenience packaging (just add water, put in the microwave, etc) it doesn’t even save space.
The “it is bad for you” argument is almost as self explanatory. There isn’t a single one of these foods or “ready to eat” concepts that doesn’t involve all the kind of things nutritionists tell us to avoid: fat, sodium, sugar, corn syrup, and a host of preservatives to numerous (and confusing) to list.
Pricey and “bad” are really leading to:
It degrades our lifestyle. The reason why we ate as families growing up and in our active child raising is because that is what people do around food. They sit down, put things on a plate, talk or read, and eat. None of that process requires large groups of people and certainly doesn’t need a prepackaged thin slice of Spam. Not once while I was growing up did I unwrap my food like a Marine sucking down an MRE on patrol. Nor did I squeeze my food from a premade handy container. Except camping. I did it then but I also ate S’mores by the campfire which strike me as not “single serving.” Nobody eats S’mores alone.
Granted, it is sometimes fun to sit down in front of the High Def and binge watch Dr. Who on Netflix with a frozen pizza or bowl of Ramen Noodles. I get it. But that is a TREAT, not a meal.
Consider that most food is actually “single serving” to begin with. Fruit, eggs, vegetables, and even some meats all fall into the small serving category. For the record the very first food we humans ever got into trouble over was single serving…I am referring to apples, of course. Below is a range of natural foods that come “single serving.”
Any decent deli will not even blink if you ask for smaller quantities. There is no reason to get anything individually wrapped. Just ask the deli for a quarter or half pound of good cheese (and you can even get mozzarella) sliced thin and take that instead of the dreaded cheese sticks.
We have been trained to think in pounds (since that is how the pricing works) but a meat counter will put a third or half a pound of hamburger in a package for you. If you are smart you can vacuum seal it up and have a freezer with some “single serving” staples ready to go. Finally, there is a wide variety of container options available today that help with storing things for the smaller family. In your department store check in the kitchen aisle or “food storage” in your mega mart.
So, if you want to make a New Year’s Resolution make this one: never buy anything that says “single serving” or “individually wrapped”. Buy food. If you want a “snack pack” go to the deli and make your own. Buy a WHOLE can of Spam, if that is what you want. Slice a couple of hunks of said Spam, fry it in a non stick skillet until it is crispy, unwrap two “individually” packaged eggs, cook them the way you like, and enjoy breakfast. I will leave what to do with the rest of the Spam to your imagination.