(When I was a kid not much was ready-made. Even the boxed ‘pre-prep’ stuff was just collected ingredients and you still had to do a little work and WAIT and cook the ingredients. There were no pre-made frozen dinners. Only the most adventurous people pre-made dinners and froze them in Tupperware. The most food anyone made ahead of time was for holidays and that was usually a two or three day event.)
I saw all this change over the course of my life but when I was growing up the idea of having fast-food every day was unheard of and restaurants were ALOT more expensive than eating at home.
Ready made snacks were common but they were also expensive so there was no way an individual in a family of seven people could eat a whole box of Twinkies by themselves.
The bottom line was: You could not eat anytime you felt like it. If you wanted to eat it you had to peel it and chop it and boil it or roast it. You had to cut the fat and skin off of it. Snacks were apples and if we were really REALLY lucky me and my sister shared a double-pack single serving of Twinkies two ways.
The way things changed was very slow and insidious. We never thought about it we just lived. When we got to eat out more and more we just liked it more and more. When the stores started selling sweets more cheaply and fruits more expensively we were not unhappy: We LIKED that. When having a glass bottle of Coke, as a treat on a picnic, became having a a liter or two of Coke everyday, out of a plastic bottle, and eschewing the water entirely we did not give it a second thought…
…now we are being forced to take a second look. We have a whole generation or two of fat people with fat kids who, understandably, buy the cheaper, tastier thing over the more expensive healthier thing…indeed it is now to the point where many cannot AFFORD to eat the healthier thing and if they can they have to LIVE in a neighborhood where the healthier thing is AVAILABLE to purchase.
Mom is tired and works hard at Wal-Mart and Dad is a construction worker and they both put in over time and they have to pay rent, electric, several types of insurance, everything the kids need, and everything for the house and they are shopping and pick up some frozen dinners on sale for a dollar a piece so the kids can throw them in the micro-wave after school and the kids pick up all the stuff they like best along the way and everyone stops for the Micky D’s special on the way home and then gets down to the nitty gritty on the net or the X box while mom and dad try to bathe, clean the house and keep order and not be exhausted while they pay bills and get ready to do the same thing all over again tomorrow.
Wait to eat? Mom and dad are too tired from working so hard to cook anything. They do cool stuff on the holidays like buy the pre-made sugar cookies from Pillsbury and do like the magazines say and let their kids add the ‘sprinkles’ ALL BY THEMSELVES! Sometimes the sprinkles even come in the box with the cookies! The shelves of homes are full of easy to grab and eat things. No cooking needed. You can even buy pre-made Pop-tarts and (get ready for this) PRE-MADE PBJ sandwiches! You can eat them whenever you feel like it at any time of the day or night and never have to bother mom and dad and the whole family goes out to Micky D’s every day for a meal, that is the whole allotment of caloric need for the average human being for at least two days and IT IS CHEAPER THAN COOKING AT HOME!
But I remember when mom’s stayed home. I remember when you were hungry half the time even if you had alot of money. I remember when you had to WAIT an hour to eat until it was finished and then WAIT for it to cool and no one ate at night because mom and dad might be busy and you did NOT wake them up to cook you something at midnight when dad had to work the next day! Microwave? Wasn’t that a part of the spectrum from the sunlight?