Monday, September 27, 2010

Reducing the carbon footprint of your frozen meals

As a result of a little online research, I was pleased to discover that much of the plastic packaging in the frozen meals I eat is indeed recyclable.  In my community of Springfield, Illinois, all numbers of plastic products are recyclable except for #6.  My most recent meal had one of those black plastic trays and it was a #1.  Of course, in order to recycle this tray, I had to clean it.  But even though the meal had some melted cheese involved, the tray still cleaned up rather easily; it was worth it to me to spend a few extra seconds at the sink to get it clean for recycling.

What was disappointing in my findings about recycling was that the cardboard boxes in which most frozen meals are packaged may not be recyclable.  It seems that boxes built for the freezer are sprayed with a plastic coating that protects the contents against freezer burn. (If you haven’t noticed this before, you might want to compare a frozen meal box with a cereal or cracker box and you’ll find this coating to be obvious.)  At any rate, it seems as if the coating makes these boxes unable to break down in the recycled paper pulping process, according to several websites. Prior to this research, however, I’d never been instructed to not include frozen meals boxes in with my other cardboard recycling.  This gives me pause…and hope…about the possibility that perhaps some facilities are able to recycle it.

Click here for information about Springfield, Illinois’ recycling details.  

A high-brow, vegetarian take on an old standard

Today’s meal is the Healthy Choice Roasted Red Pepper Marinara .  I find this to be a healthy, somewhat more flavorful version of the standard pasta-and-red-sauce concoction.  The pasta is a nine-grain cavatelli and it’s consistency is good.  The sauce, while much more pleasing in consistency and flavor than an old-school spaghetti meal, is not particularly challenging to the palette; red peppers do not really permeate the taste.  Yet this meal is part of a line of products that is designed to feel sophisticated.  That said, I would say this is a good meal for a day at the office when you need to give the illusion of sophistication while in reality, you’d rather just open a can of Spaghettios.

At only 270 calories, this meal is not a significant source of particular vitamins and nutrients.  15% of the RDV of Calcium and Vitamin C are the only mentionable nutrients involved (given the parmesan, romano and asiago cheeses, only 15% of Vitamin C is rather surprising).  Some will balk at the absence of meat, but I think it’s great to see vegetarian options available in the frozen meal section since multiple servings of meat daily are not necessary for continued good nutrition.  

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for including the recycling info! I never knew that about the freezer boxes (yikes- I always put them in with the cardboard), and washing out containers has never been a problem for me. I also never knew why lids weren't supposed to be included until I read the post about them getting stuck in the machinery. Makes sense-- I always wondered, because they are often the exact same material as the recyclable containers. I'm learning so much already! Thank you!