RANT: Packaged Meals

I worked around 110 hours a week and I gained like 11 pounds in the first month of my medical training.  I didn’t even notice because I was so exhausted—plus, the scrubs we wore, allowed you to,  unknowingly go up 4 sizes, and still fit in to your cinch-able scrub pants.

My diet consisted entirely of individually wrapped graham crackers and peanut butter tubs (which were free in the resident lounge) and frozen dinners.  Because there was no time to grocery shop, cook, or even think about washing or cutting a vegetable, I would load my freezer with about 50-60 Lean Cuisines: Swedish meatballs, Chicken Carbonara, and my favorite, Chicken in Peanut Sauce. The few hours a week I was at home, and not sleeping, I was wolfing down these various frozen dinners;  every second was precious.

lean cuisine

What I also didn’t have time to do was look at the ingredients.  OK, Lean Cuisines are better than most and have come a long way since then, but most frozen dinners have 49 ingredients are LOADED with Sodium, and worse, they have all kinds of crazy ingredients like sodium benzoate, potassium sorbate and ETDA to “preserve freshness”. Ain’t nuthin fresh about a frozen dinner, BTW.

These days, I usually take last night’s left-overs for lunch, but occasionally I have a day when I need a quick grab-able something I can take to work or send with my left-overs-snob husband as his lunch.  Fortunately I have found some great healthy options, which include:

ANNIE’S frozen meals:    can be more expensive, so I buy them by the truck load when they are on sale

KASHI Frozen Meals:    still check the ingredients on some of these, can be a long list

Trader Joe’s INDIAN FARE:    MY FAVE because they are in expensive and don’t have to be frozen!

jaipur vegetablesjaipur vegetable ingredients

Sure, I’d rather us all pack a vegetable laden organic salad for lunch, but when that’s just not possible, do yourself and your health a favor, and at least choose a packaged meal with REAL ingredients!

Published by


Madeleine Vanstory attended Duke University and began her post-graduate journey at The Elaine Clark Center working with special needs children. She went on to work as a Clinical Research Scientist running clinical trials for the CDC and developing medical devices for Welsh Allen, Abbot Labs, Roche and Johnson & Jonhson Her work included non-invansive cervical cancer detection, continuous diabetic glucose monitoring, non-harmful infant bilirubin level detection and studying Vitamin C's anti-aging effects on the skin. Madeleine attended Medical school at The Brody School of Medicine at East Carolina University and completed a residency in Family Medicine at Moses Cone Hospital in Greensboro NC. Dr. Madeleine Vanstory is a board certified Family Physician who has practiced all over the world. She has lead medical missions in Kenya and Honduras. She has participated with Operation Smile in Russia, she has patients in North Carolina, Maine, Oregon and New Zealand. Dr. Vanstory has worked the medical tents in the Marine Corps marathon in Washington DC and at the Kona Ironman World Championships. And Dr. Vanstory has marched with the Surgeon General promoting "Exercise is Medicine" at the World Congress Sports Medicine Conference. Disillusioned by the current health care system and armed with the realization that culture, nutrition and emotional well-being have a profound impact on health, Dr. Vanstory now motivates clients and patients to discover the healthiest versions of themselves through humor, counseling in her "Upgrade Your Health" Wellness Program.

3 thoughts on “RANT: Packaged Meals

  1. We have a motto at our house: “If it comes in a cardboard box it is not food!” I used to live on “Healthy Choice” meals — they are better than most frozen meals, but they are a long way from ideal. Fortunately, I have a small refrigerator sitting next to my desk at the office — and I keep it loaded with fresh fruit and bottled water.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s