This is slightly cheating. Store bought muffins is such a broad category I can’t pretend it’s a single product. Maybe some store-bought muffins are quite good and wholesome, but for the purposes of this blog I’ll be referring to Stop & Shop packaged muffins because this is a little close to home.
I do not mean to offend Stop & Shop, and believe me, if I did I would go after something other than their muffins. Now to start off, their muffins taste pretty good. They have a tall muffin top that is both appealing to look at and to eat, and the muffin itself stays moist for about five days if not more. The taste is fine, varying depending on the type of muffin, but you always get what you expect: a run of the mill packaged pastry. Price-wise each muffin is a little over $1 and can be purchased in a package of 4 for $4.49 at Stop & Shop, give or take depending on where you live.
So if the muffin tastes fine where do I take issue? The ingredients list is long enough to be a novel and each muffin is 3x the serving suggestion.
A good taste tends to hide a few unsavory nutrition facts and ingredients, especially in large scale commercial food. For the apple spice muffins, the ingredients start off pretty normal: enriched bleached wheat flour, sugar, water, soybean oil, eggs, apples, modified corn starch. Everything else is 2% or less of the muffin. From the basic ingredients the only thing I take issue with is the modified corn starch. What’s it modified with? Why did it need to be modified at all? How is it modified? There’s no answer on the box.
Then we get to the 2% or less section: partially hydrogenated vegetable shortening (followed by a list of oils it could be a mixture of just to cover themselves in case of an allergic reaction), soy lecithin, BHT and citric acid as preservatives, emulsifier (with a long list of unpronounceable words to explain what’s in the emulsifier), and the list continues for another 5 or 6 ingredients before moving on to what’s in the sugar coating. To try not to bore you with the rest, the basic premise here is that if an ingredient needs a list of ingredients to explain what it is, it’s not worth buying.
I’m not trying to preach at you or tell you what to buy or not buy. What you buy is ultimately your choice. I’m not trying to promote my own products as a comparison either. Maybe I have a grudge against pre-packaged food because I make my own, who knows. All I know is that there are tons of muffin recipes which are quick and easy to make and are a whole lot healthier than buying store bought. Cheaper too.
Save yourself the trouble of taking a magnifying glass and a dictionary with you the super market and make your own muffins. Believe me the taste is far better and you know what’s in it.