I’ve been there. Have you? You see some fabulous coupon match ups on sale items in your grocery store flyer. The items turn out to be free or only cost pennies. The downfall is that they are processed items. They come in a box. It’s certainly a frugal find, but is it healthful?

We all have our own ideas about where we draw the line when it comes to what we put into our body. I’m all for saving money, but I don’t want to do it at the expense of my family’s health. How bad for you are these boxed items? If you look around you’ll notice manufacturers are trying to healthify their products. I’ve seen boxed dinners that contain whole grain and others that state boldly that they do not contain high fructose corn syrup.

It is best for your health to shop the perimeter of your grocery store, as this is where all of the fresh produce, meats and dairy are located. It’s the center aisles where you want to be wary. I’m all for getting free or close to free products so I usually end up in those center aisles sooner or later. As has been mentioned before, everything in moderation. Generally I check the label of the item. If there is something unidentifiable or something I just cannot live with listed then I don’t buy the item. In another season of my life I would just scarf up whatever I could for free or for pennies because that’s where we were financially. If that’s where you are now another option would be to look at the item or items and see if you could whip something up from scratch for pennies by combining whole food products.

While cleaning out and reorganizing my pantry I found a box of healthified muffin mix. I did notice that the blueberries are packed in a light syrup that contains HFCS. Oh well, I’ll rinse the berries. There are some bananas that are almost too ripe on my counter so I will ramp up the nutrition a bit and use the blueberries in half of the batter and mashed up banana in the other half. This will increase the fruit to muffin ratio a bit and probably only result in maybe a more moist muffin. It will also please the blueberry snubber in the house.

These muffins claim to contain whole grain. A better look at the label confirms this, as the first ingredient is whole wheat flour. Unfortunately the second ingredient is sugar. Having made these from scratch I could have controlled that, but then I wouldn’t have free muffins. It’s a give and take world.

Now I’m off to bake them and see how it works out. The calorie count per muffin is 200 using the cholesterol-free instructions. There are 3 grams of fiber, but a whopping 19 grams of sugar. It’s a sweet and it isn’t even Saturday. We’re almost out of bread and breakfasty type foods though, so I’m counting on these muffins to bridge the gap until it’s shopping day. After all, who wants to waste gas at almost $4 a gallon? Also, the less you visit the store, the less you end up spending.

How do you feel about food that comes in a box?