Want Fast, Cheap, Healthy Food? Try Your Local Asian Market

Asian market grocery store

See if this sounds familiar. It's 5:30, getting close to dinner time, and you're monumentally uninspired. You don't have the time or energy to cook a big meal, and the idea of eating another pizza turns your stomach. You could always go the convenience food route -- mac and cheese is quick, and pot pies are easy -- but you're worried about the mess of unfamiliar chemicals and unpronounceable additives that seem to fill the frozen food section of your supermarket.

If you find yourself caught between a rock and a hard place -- or, more accurately, the freezer section and takeout -- there may be another solution: your local Asian market. In addition to bottles of soy sauce and bags of rice, most Asian markets have a solid selection of low-priced convenience foods that are more flavorful, more interesting, and healthier than many mainstream offerings. As an added plus, unlike American convenience foods, which often sport a long, confusing list of unpronounceable chemicals and additives, Asian convenience foods are often a bit easier to figure out.

This isn't to say that Asian convenience foods are completely healthy. Like their American counterparts, they tend to be very high in sodium. What's more, some labels are only printed in non-English languages, which means that you may be flying blind when you pull something off the shelves. But with low prices and hundreds of intriguing options, chances are good that you'll find something you like.

Here are a few of my favorites:


Bruce Watson is DailyFinance's Savings editor. You can reach him by e-mail at bruce.watson@teamaol.com, or follow him on Twitter at @bruce1971.