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Always Read the Label

Updated on March 16, 2011

 When my high school chemistry teacher asked my class if any of us read the labels on the food we buy, none of us raised our hands. Perhaps this is because we were too young to be making the buying decisions at the time. However, it is important to read some parts of the labels at the very least before you buy, the first of which being the expiration date. Most stores are vigilant in pulling expired goods from shelves and even offer discounts on certain items a day or two before their sell-by date, but there are others that slip through the cracks. It may only be a few items that don't sell that get much attention, but it's better to take the time to check for yourself so you don't have to face a nasty surprise when you get home.

Remember the recall of Spaghetti-O's a few years back? The sign on a local shelf explained that a batch of Spaghetti-O's with meat balls had accidentally been put in cans labeled for regular Spaghetti-O's and warned consumers allergic to soy not to buy the product until the issue was resolved. Can we not infer from that that the meat balls (and by extension, the sliced franks) are actually tofu? This is why it is also important for people with allergies to read the list of ingredients, let alone the nutrition facts. Please feel free to correct me if I am wrong.

Once you have the product home with you and are cooking it, you may or may not find that even if you follow the instructions you may not get the desired result. Most products allow for a margin of error in cooking time, especially given elevation and microwave wattage. However, there can also be personal preference and experience involved. For example, Bagel Bites and Ellio's Pizza recommend a cooking time of at least ten or eleven minutes, but I've found that they are less burnt and easier to scrape off the baking tray after only nine minutes. Furthermore, if you are looking for ways to cut back on cholesterol, you can do this by adding less butter to Kraft Macaroni and Cheese. Depending on the shape, most boxes call for four tablespoons of butter or margarine. You really only need one, with the exception of the types that call for half a tablespoon or one and a half tablespoons. To make it even healthier, add vegetables if you wish!


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