“Processed Food” I Buy on a Regular Basis

It’s true. I buy processed food all the time. Check it out…

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What you see there is none other than cases of processed Spaghetti Sauce, Salsa, and Canned Black Beans. Processed food, baby. Store-bought, canned, jarred, food right off a shelf.

And you thought you knew me.

But there’s more…


Are those hotdogs? What is this world coming to? Oh, you ain’t seen nothin’ yet:

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This might come as a surprise, but I do not have a maple tree in my yard to tap in an effort to provide our family with this golden pancake and waffle topper. Also – and it might hurt to hear me say this – I don’t always take time to squeeze limes. Indeed, I have stooped so low that I actually buy jars of lime juice to make my Guacamole. Can we still be friends?

Those baked beans though. They are on my shelf ready to be served with the hotdogs you saw above, but you’ve already seen my Beanie Weanies and you haven’t abandoned me yet. Pizza sauce? In a can? Well, thank goodness that at least it is organic.

I’m not even done. There’s more for you to see:

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That there is a box of spaghetti noodles. There are a couple ingredients in that cream that I would rather not know about, and see that cheese? That’s 10 pounds of Colby jack all wrapped up in a package.

So here’s an idea…

Let’s change our thoughts about processed food

Not all processed food is bad.

When I first started making the switch from “bad food” to “good food” I got an idea in my head that all processed food was evil, that I must make everything from scratch in order to be a “good mom” and canned food would never again enter my home.

Eleven years later I have come to terms with the fact that someone else can juice my limes. Having shelves full of canned pizza sauce and black beans in my pantry makes my life so much easier I smile every time I see them. I open and use jars of salsa like there’s no tomorrow but guess what?

It’s all still real food.

It’s all real food!!!! Do you hear what I’m saying? The “processed” food I buy hasn’t been turned into something horrible. The spaghetti sauce in those jars is made from actual tomatoes and spices (and nothing else because I’m careful about the ingredients in my jarred and canned food purchases). These items started as food and ended as food and they help me put Simple Meals on the table like a boss.

This is what we must consider when choosing food from a shelf, a box, a bag, or a can:

Is this real food and does it nourish?

There are all kinds of processed “foods” that I don’t even call food because they do nothing to nourish and everything to harm. If it started as one thing (corn) and came out completely different (high fructose corn syrup), it isn’t real food and it doesn’t nourish. If it took a detailed process to create in a factory (margarine) instead of starting as one thing (cream) and becoming something good for us naturally (real butter), it isn’t real food and it doesn’t nourish.

Don’t be afraid of a box, jar, or can.

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Read the labels. Do your homework. Consider what’s actually inside the container. Ask:┬áIs it real? Does it nourish?

Sometimes these are the foods that help us get through a day in peace and with a smile.

What are the “processed foods” you keep on hand to help make your real food life easier?

P.S. As many of you requested, I am slowly but surely making a list of items and brands of “processed food” I trust and purchase. Don’t hold your breath, but know that you can look for that list in a few weeks.


  1. Rebecca says

    Exactly!!!! I used to make everything from scratch but i would have to spend five or six hrs a day cooking now to keep up with demand. TO make the 7 or 8 loaves of bread a week my family eats (4 of them) would take me six hrs. Every week. I just cant. On top of that my two differently abled kids have major food texture issues and are verry selective eaters. For peace and sanity I have decided not to fight that battle. I would loose hands down. ALDI greek yogurt and organic marinara must haves. I have found a whole wheat store bread that is not junk but not too “textured” that my boys will eat. Hienz organic ketchup and store bbq sauce and organic mayo. Also having Bolthouse Farms salad dressings in the fridge greatly increases the amount of salad we eat. I even buy frosted shredded mini wheats from time to time.


    Laura Reply:

    Honestly, it feels so good to settle on brands you like and feel good about, doesn’t it? Takes away so much stress!


  2. Rebecca says

    Oh the irony. When i read this article the adds are all for mcdonalds drinks ????


    Laura Reply:

    Haha, hate it when that happens. ;)


  3. Joy says

    I make my own salsa because we like it so much better, it is super simple to make, and it is much cheaper. But, guess what is the main ingredient in my salsa. Canned tomato sauce. It makes “homemade” salsa doable. I never got to the hours on end of making everything from scratch. At first there was a little guilt when every other mom (or so I thought) was feeding their family nothing but homegrown, homemade foods. I just wasn’t able to do that and homeschool my two children. I have just used common sense (and some education from various sources – Heavenly Homemakers being one) to have a balanced diet. Guess what? My 19 and 16 year old young adults are healthy.


    Laura Reply:

    Wanna email me your salsa recipe? :) (laura@heavenlyhomemakers.com)


  4. Jessica says

    Tomato sauce!! We go through so much sauce in a week I could NEVER EVER EVER make enough to keep up and still do everything else that needs to be done, lol:) I do use Muir Glen organic sauce simply because it is the one that we like the best. I also buy bread from the store (time saver!) and I do make some at home, but not like I used to. I buy canned beans when I need them because we don’t eat a lot of them. There are other “processed” foods I buy from the store simply because they are a timesaver and we all need more time in our days!!!!


    Laura Reply:

    Yes! I used to make it myself too, but now we go through so much that it’s not worth the effort. Plus we don’t grow enough tomatoes to fill all the jars we’d need! :)


  5. Susan says

    No kidding. As a single mother of 3, I work to much to just pay the rent. What little time I have with them, I don’t want to spend in the kitchen, making everything from scratch.
    That being said, I also can’t afford the brands you buy. So I do buy canned tomatoes to make pasta sauce in the crock pot. I cook a bag of beans in the pressure cooker for the week. And when I get my beef at Sam’s Club or Costco, we always cook the whole 5 lb up and portion it after cooking.
    We spend an hour or so in the kitchen on weekends, and still have fast meals during the busy week.


    Laura Reply:

    Sounds like you’ve got a wonderful system worked out for your family and you’re feeding them great real food! I was just talking to a single mom last week and feel like giving all of you a big high five for your awesomeness.


  6. Birdie says

    Keep these wonderful posts coming Laura! We only have so much time in our day, check labels, rinse the canned good if salt is added, watch the level of sugar, and saturate fat, STOP turning food into “salvation” food. Fresh and homemade (with some processed food to help along the way) will help us stay healthy. Many live in small town and city; not like the Amish. Do your best, keep it simple, and you will have peace, 8-)


  7. candace says

    I still save and freeze bones of all sorts to broil, boil, cook pasta in (I have a pasta maker and occasionally make ravioli but I like store bought whole wheat noodles). Beans in a can – of course when I want some beans in a veg soup, but not when I just want a big pot of beans and have time to soak etc. Salsa – in a jar – I love it. Squidgie fruit – throw it in the freezer and occasionally toss it in the slow cooker to make a yummy jam. Tiny garlic dill pickles to eat with hummus – Nalley has good ones. and speaking of hummus – Sabra – I love it, make it? NOPE! AND – probably unlike most of the readers, I’m retired and active in my community but not raising children and working as I used to. And YES – read the lables!!!


  8. Alicia says

    Laura! This is fantastic & so matches me right now. We have 5 children, ages 3 to 12, and are several months into major house addition/remodel. (Deep breath.) I like to be with my kids, & read with them, & take them swimming, & by golly I like to *rest and be still* from time to time. I am spending a couple days this week filling our freezer with food which will save my skin when we start school in a few weeks. And I’m using a cream of soup which I found & feel decent about, because you know what, I just don’t have it in me to make it. It seems there are seasons when these things ebb & flow. When we buy frozen waffles & boxed mac & cheese & applesauce pouches & granola bars(I will stop there but my list could def go on!), because momma needs to *let some stuff go* for her own well-being!(: Love this, and appreciate your sharing it!


  9. Kristin says

    Ohhh, Muir Glen pizza sauce is the best, well, not as good as homemade pesto on pizza, but certainly more convienent. I’d rather spend my time making homemade pizza dough. Last month, my 6 year old saw a frozen pizza in someone’s cart at the checkout line. She laughed and said is that a pizza? I then had to explain what frozen pizza was, LOL I too buy salsa and sandwich bread as well as English muffins, to save time. Like you said, it is all about reading ingredient labels, to find brands you can live with.


  10. says

    Thank-you! This is why I’ve always loved your blog, Laura, and kept with it (you’re the first blog I’ve ever signed up for, even before I started one myself). You have a wonderful, freeing balanced attitude about health and real food that resonates with me.

    I also use some of the products you mentioned above. I love making my own stuff and often dream of making everything homemade, but the reality of life is there’s only so much time.

    I also use a lot of frozen produce (fruits and veggies), so I can always keep something on hand. I buy my cheeses already grated in bulk to save time and effort of grating them by hand. I agree with and endeavor to read labels, rather than just believing the front or advertising part of a product.


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