Season 11 Episode 11

Is Convenience King of ALL Our Food Choices?!

Convenience food has come a long way since the ready meals of old, but there’s still some negative stigma hanging around it. Is it a bit naff, or is it a great way of saving time and effort? In today’s episode, Ebbers and James join Mike to talk about how things have moved on since Mike’s days of microwaving bacon. The chefs share some of their staple time-saving products and we discuss what we millennials want from our food nowadays – how might convenience food change as we become more aware of health and provenance? What other innovations might appear? And we want to know… what is the coolest tinned or frozen food product you know about? Comment below and share it with us!


Best soundbite:“I get the jitters if I haven’t got a bag of frozen peas in the freezer” – Ben Ebbrell

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Something to make you think...

55% of millennials say convenience is a top driver when buying food. But what are we willing to sacrifice for this convenience?

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  1. Pavioml

    I think I have a different opinion on what classifies as “food.” To Ben’s point, ingredients that you would not consume on their own are not food and therefore not convinence food in my opinion. An apple could be a convinence food as it is ready-to-eat, though it also can be an ingredient. I feel that convinence food is ready made, or nearly there. Picking it up from a “convinence store” like a Seven Eleven, Lawsons, and the like. Microwave dinners are convinence food as well. These tend to be awful for you as they are unbalanced nutrition high in salt, fat, and the like.

  2. Annie1962

    Nothing wrong with convenience food, it’s up to us to make choices as to what’s healthy.

    as a ‘boomer’ (born in ’62) here’s my priorities

    Nutrient density
    Plant based

    I’ve gone away from the middle aisles and stayed true to real foods like veges/fruits and meats. With convenient time saving kitchen gadge (like pressure cooker etc) it makes it easy to bung into a cooker and press ‘pressure cook’
    Also it’s well known that tinned food is more nutrient dense than frozen James.
    Microwaving food retains more nutrients than boiling the living shit out of something
    I always have frozen spinach as it’s bloody cheap, and quickly defrosted in the pot .. I use jarred ginger and agree with James that jarred garlic is nowhere near as good.
    I buy this curry paste which is AMAZING. I’d rather do that than buy umpteen spices etc to make it myself
    Nescafe made this tube of sweetened condensed milk mixed with coffee to take on camping trips Ben.. omg so good, haven’t seen it lately.

    Another reason for the use of convenience which I don’t think you discussed is convenience for reasons of a disability. the inability to spend time in the kitchen cooking and preparing food.

    • Sorted

      It sounds like you have a very healthy diet. We will get Ben to look into that Nescafe paste – thanks for the tip!

      Now you mention it, we did miss that out, along with the importance of pre preprepared frozen veg for a lot of people.

  3. Taheera

    Mike clearly did not binge listen to Feast Your Ears and has forgotten that in a early season, Ebbers did a truth or lie in which his truth was about the first instance of canning….anyways…

    I find it hard to believe that people will sacrifice flavor over convenience in turns of making food at home, but maybe I’ve just been lucky to always have an abundance of tasty food. If I’m going to make that “sacrifice” of convenience, I’d sooner order a takeout from a local place than make food at home. However, I do have a freezer shelf full of chilies and soups and other hearty dishes for those days when I know I’ll need food NOW, but don’t have time to make or even pick up something. I prefer to use that type of convenience food over ready meals; however, alternatively, when I’m camping, one of my favorite meals is a shop bought sauce with pasta….so I guess it’s all about balance then!

    • Sorted

      You sound super organised when it comes to food, we love that! Having food ready to go in the freezer to avoid convenience food is much healthier, cheaper and sometimes tastier too. Bravo!

  4. jillrichards85711

    What I do to make a convenient dinner is prepping for 3x as much as you want and cook 1 and freeze 2. This gives you 3 meals for the time of prepping for 1. Label each of containers with the meal and date made. When you do need a convenient meal all you have to do is take out a prepped meal in the morning and throw it together.

  5. Sunanda_K

    I’m actually a bit surprised at the poll results. I wouldn’t have though that convenience takes the top spot for millennials , though of course it matters. But then I also come from a country that spends more time cooking than most others ( Indians spend, on an average 13.5 hours/ week cooking as compared to the global average of 6.5hours /week), so perhaps I’m more conditioned to placing taste and nutrition over convenience. And as an Indian millennial who grew up with home made garam masala ( memories of black cardamom, cassia sticks, coriander seed, cumin seeds and peppercorns laid out on an old bed sheet on the terrace, drying in the hot sun are still quite clear in my mind) : having ready made powders and sauces is ABSOLUTELY a convenience . Does it taste as good as grandma’s garam masala? No. But then, grandma did not work outside the house and I have a 6 day/ week job.

    But you know what I’d consider the biggest convenience ? Pressure cookers, food processors and dishwashers. And all the gadgets that make working in the kitchen so much easier. Otherwise, we’d be stuck with making our chutneys in a pestle and mortar….. as someone with limited upper body strength and time, not recommended. There’s no compromise on taste there either….. my elders may have scoffed at me using (gasp) a dough hook , but they ate my rotis without complaint anyway. 🙂

    • Sorted

      You’re right, we hadn’t really considered this, All these gadgets making our life easier, especially when it comes to convenience.

      Haha, we bet they wouldn’t have known unless you told them!

  6. nroundtr

    Still listening but had two thoughts I had a moment to share:

    1) Ready meals saved my lunches. I needed something between open-and-eat and a full cook and the ready meal bridges that gap. I microwave my meal and make myself a side salad while I wait. I feel like I get a better balance when I do that instead of just browsing the cabinets for the lowest-effort snack.

    2) Bagged spinach used to be the worst, but I’ve learned how to help it last longer and I thought I’d share in case it helps anyone. I line a food storage container with a paper towel, pour the leaves into the container, cover with another paper towel, then put the lid on. The bag used to last a day maybe two; with the container it stays pretty fresh for up to a week!

    • Sorted

      That’s such a good tip for the Spinach – thank you!

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