Food News

Pre-Peeled Oranges vs. Convenience Foods That Are Actually Worth It

March  8, 2016

When Whole Foods debuted pre-peeled oranges last week, things quickly went sour. Critics condemned the wasteful packaging—especially since oranges come with their own all-natural protective cover—and the sheer laziness that would compel one to purchase such a product.

Because let’s be real: Peeling oranges just isn't hard. It’s a single-serving food that requires no equipment and minimal mess. Plus, we have to get our finger exercise in somehow—how else will we tone our thumbs for ice-cream-in-the-air pics this summer?

Needless to say, the product was quickly yanked from shelves. But it got us thinking about the convenience items that do find their way into our grocery carts. We’re not talking about finished products, like bread or pasta sauce—just ingredients that have been given a little help along.

Like bottled lemon juice. Think about it: Juicing a lemon requires a knife, a press (or a tolerance for really sticky fingers), and a bowl to collect the drippings. That’s a lot of dishes for just a tablespoon or two. True, the bottled stuff never tastes as fresh, and many chefs advise against using it. But while you shouldn’t be dumping whole cups of pre-squeezed juice into your lemon bars, it probably won’t ruin a soup that just needs a splash to brighten things up.

And while I’ll gladly peel an orange, I can't say the same about prepping a pineapple. I sure do get tired of mincing garlic (and subsequently smelling it on my fingers) at almost every meal (and hey, even the author of Koreatown says we shouldn't be afraid of a jar of the pre-minced stuff). And I know pre-shredded cheese might pale in taste and texture compared to its fresh-off-the-block brethren… but it’s so easy to add to an omelet.

We took to Twitter to find out which convenience foods you love, and you agreed: 50% of you said that shredded cheese finds it way into your grocery carts.

Do you agree? What staples would you add to this list?


Terry M. March 9, 2016
Would never, ever use anything but fresh citrus and would never buy pre-grated cheese or prepared, minced garlic. I do, however, keep cans of garbanzo, white and black beans and boxes of low-sodium chicken stock in my cupboards and a jar of Better than Bouillon in my fridge.
Drew March 9, 2016
disagree on the lemon juice, personally. And the pre-shredded cheese. both of these sacrifice quality imho. But love the pre-cut onions/carrots/celery at trader joes! A good soup is just moments away! And butternut squash as other have said.
Patricia S. March 9, 2016
Peeling an orange with one hand is not as easy as one might think...<br /><br />
Jo S. March 9, 2016
I agree. Nothing is easy with one hand. Opening a package of pre-peeled oranges for example... Are you now really using your handicap as a valid argument to contribute to the plastic soup? Anyway, if you ask me to peel an orange for you, I'd gladly help you out.... By the way, great paintings!
Rach March 9, 2016
Ok Jo Switten that was ableist and asinine. You could have just not responded. I know many people who "contribute to plastic soup" with their disabilities with things like motorized wheelchairs, prosthetics, etc. We all do what we need to get through the day.
Jo S. March 10, 2016
Sorry Rach, but you are missing the point. I was not bringing up any disability in the first place. No argument is valid to contribute to the plastic soup. I am just asking you to consider changing lifestyles and stop littering. By the way, an electric wheelchair can be perfectly recycled...
Jacquie P. March 9, 2016
As for having extra halves of lemons or limes around, I keep a jar of each juice in my freezer, adding to it bit by bit with any extra juice. Lemonade, key lime pie bars, lemon tarts... all without buying much fruit for the project!<br />
Jo S. March 9, 2016
Coolio! Another golden tip, I stock the squeezed halves in the freezer to make lemon water when needed. You don't even need icecubes :)
Jacquie P. March 9, 2016
Wha! How did that never occur to me?! Brilliant!
Jo S. March 9, 2016
YW :)
Jo S. March 9, 2016
Your argument about the lemon juice is ridiculous. You take a lemon, slice off a part, squeeze it with your hands and the rest you put upside down on a little plate in your fridge. Did you ever hear about composting stuff? The peels don't go into the trashbin, they go onto the compost heap. Me and my wife have only six trash bags (40 liter) per year. You really should think twice before posting such a nonsense. Sorry, I don't want to offend you personally, but please please please rethink your views about the world.
Jo S. March 9, 2016
Have a look at this:<br />
Jo S. March 9, 2016
And meanwhile whole oceans become a plastic soup... Buy local, buy fresh, use your own shopping bag. You do not need al the extra packaging. If you need help peeling an orange, ask a neighbour or a friend to help you. Less waste and restored social contacts...
Ellie March 9, 2016
The large knife-scar on my thumb from trying to peel butternut squash reminds me to buy cubed whenever possible.
Jo S. March 9, 2016
Roberta March 8, 2016
I often buy pre-julienned carrots. (shame) They're so convenient for stir frying and soup! I also buy peeled and cubed rutabaga and butternut squash. But I would never used bottled lemon juice when fresh lemons keep so well and look so pretty. We pick our own priorities.
Margaret March 8, 2016
I buy the "convenience" fruits and veggies. Lazy, a bit. But I'd rather be lazy and eat healthy food rather than junk.
Panfusine March 8, 2016
There's something about prepping that mesmerizes me, the more complicated the fruit, the happier I get!..Pomegranates , Pineapples , and the mother of all 'painful' prep.. a WHOLE, love it!
Lindsay G. March 8, 2016
If you have a good garlic press (recommend the $9 one from Ikea - super easy to clean!) there is no reason to buy pre-minced garlic!<br /><br />That said, we usually have bottled lemon and lime juice around. I hate keeping whole lemons and limes in the fridge when I don't have something specific to use them for because they almost always get forgotten and turn into sad, hard little husks.... but I like to have the juice available for when the mood strikes for a tom collins or a classic G&T.<br />
Christopher C. March 8, 2016
Beets w/ out a doubt are better pre-prepared.
Author Comment
Embry R. March 8, 2016
YES. I stock up on TJ's steamed baby beets every time I go. The steamed lentils too!
Jo S. March 9, 2016
No! Prepare them in advance in your home. Pre-prepared beets also contain chemicals and extra sugar. You are just plain lazy...
Jo S. March 9, 2016
And what are TJ's steamed baby beets? A recipe should not be a commercial.... Only in America. I hope that vague doesn't come to Europe...
Shelley M. March 8, 2016
Canned artichoke hearts
Jo S. March 9, 2016
There is no big problem with canned foods, as long as the packaging can be recycled. The problem is that we all are creating a massive plastic soup out of our oceans. Monsanto is killing bees and we are killing whales... Way to go....<br />
andyandollie March 8, 2016
I don't want to be "that" person (and I'm certainly not supporting Whole Foods' usage of wasteful packaging, or the ridiculous pricing), but I hesitate to generalize that buying pre-peeled oranges is purely out of laziness. Folks with arthritis or that lack fine motor skills may find such a convenience item helpful for them. Again, I'm sure Whole Foods didn't have that target market in mind when they started selling the oranges, and the pricing was ridiculous, AND the packaging was wasteful, but I think everyone can try to have a little empathy and consideration for people who don't have it as easy as others and not throw the term "lazy" around.<br /><br />Also this is not an attack specifically on the writer of this post; the "lazy" labeling has been used all over comments on this subject on various articles.
Lindsay G. March 8, 2016
Really great point, songsaboutjade.
Sarah J. March 8, 2016
That is a really good point. NPR had a smart article with a similar sentiment:
Jo S. March 9, 2016
I truly think this is a better point....<br />