Supermarkets are a great place to get your dinner. Duh. No Kidding? Isn’t that what they are for? Well yes, you can get all the bits and pieces you need to make a dinner. Yes, they have your meats or non-meats as you prefer, bins and bins full of fresh produce, rices, pastas, salad fixings, and desserts both ready to eat and in pieces waiting for you to create them. But today’s mega-marts also have their own salad bars, hot foods lines, and prepared dishes. Sort of semi-healthy fast food alternatives.
My most often visited market has taken to packaging some of their more common selections into grab-and-go choices sized for one. They have each package, in fact the entire section, labeled “Meals For One.” It’s nice and handy and it saves the single shopper like me the embarrassment of asking the attendant at the prepared food counter for the ridiculously small portions only one requires. I can’t tell you the number of over-the-glasses-glances I’ve received after asking for a quarter pound of orange chicken and one egg roll. It’s nice to be able to take refuge at my own cooler of prepackaged loser portions – err, solo selections.
But they still don’t have a good handle on how much, or more appropriately how little only one eats at one meal. It’s not often that I’ll want to eat one pound of rigatoni in meat sauce at one sitting. Nor do they yet have a grasp of what makes a meal. At my last visit to the market I noted packages of the aforementioned rigatoni along with chicken marsala, stuffed shells, baby back ribs, chicken wings, and General Tso chicken with a choice of rice or lo mein. Except for the inscrutable general, none of them included anything other than the protein. No veggies, indeed no sides anywhere in site. Your mother would not approve.
They mean well. They just have to temper their desire to sell, sell, sell with the single consumer’s wish to save, save, save. Still, I grabbed a packaged chicken marsala knowing I could augment it with pasta and a nice salad after I got home. That’s when I saw it. Proudly labeled Meals For One there was a pound of fried mozzarella sticks. With marinara. Back in went the chicken and into my cart when the cheese sticks. Hey, it’s not my place to argue with professionals about what makes a meal. And a tomato is a vegetable. Our government said so.
That’s what I think. Really. How ‘bout you?