O level Notes : Food Technology Design - Convenience Foods

Convenience foods are foods that are partly or wholly prepared by the food manufacturer such that they are ready to eat or require minimal preparation by the consumer. However, in recent years they have gained popularity due to a variety of reasons among them are the fact that more women now go out to work and so have less time to prepare food.

There is now less leisure time being spent in food preparation, the influence of advertising on food habits has made them eager to try products that are entering the market. Convenience foods can be developed through processing and preservation.


Developing convenience foods using locally available resources Convenience foods can be made from locally available resources. Resources that exist naturally  or  from  food  obtained  through  farming, hunting and  gathering.  In Zimbabwe, we rely on agriculture to earn a living. In other parts of the country, people still rely on hunting to obtain a source of high biological value protein though nowadays it is a serious offence to hunt, as it tends to be a practice that destroys the local species of animals.


  • Substantial groups  of  people  own  a  backyard  garden  where  they  plant vegetables. These vegetables if in excess are picked, washed, shredded, boiled and sun dried to provide a supply when they are out of season. Dried vegetables are very convenient though they tend to provide more dietary fibre than low biological value protein. The water soluble vitamins in vegetables are lost when they are first boiled before sun drying. The heat sensitive vitamins are also lost however the lost vitamins are complemented through the addition of peanut butter to the dried vegetables hence in turn we prepare our dried vegetables in peanut butter sauce, a nutritionally sound convenient dish can thus be prepared.


  • During the rainy reason, it can be noted that the fungi type of a vegetable called mushroom begins to exist. However, its existence is not permanent therefore there is need to safeguard it so that we enjoy it throughout the year. This can be achieved through drying the mushroom and storing it for future use. Mushroom is a very delicious vegetable that can be used in the preparation of a variety of dishes for instance; it can be used in the preparation of starters like mushroom soup. It can also be used as a relish in peanut butter sauce, a very tasty meal for vegetarians and other individuals who love it.


  • There are also various types of flying insects that are a rich source of high biological value protein. For instance, edible crickets, termites, caterpillars and locusts. These are very convenient. Termites can be fried and consumed later. Edible beetles are also a valuable ingredient that supplies first class protein. Mopane worms are usually dried and made available throughout the year.

  • In Zimbabwe the possession of livestock is an indication of wealth hence many households have cattle, goats and sheep. The meat obtained from these sources can be preserved and made into biltong. Biltong is dried meat that can be kept for months in the pantry, in an airtight container where there is no moisture. This type of meat is very convenient in the sense that the meat is readily available and its nutritive value is not adversely affected by the method of preservation. Biltong can be ready to eat as a snack. It can also be used as a main dish as it provides high biological value protein. Peanut butter can also be added to it in the preparation of biltong in peanut butter sauce.


  • In most part of the country, there are dams and lakes, where we obtain fresh fish that is both big and very small. Fish can be smoked, it can be frozen and it can be dried. Fish can be used in the preparation of anchovy that is very useful in the preparation of savoury sandwiches. Fish when harvested can be filleted, frozen, and sold as fish fillets that are in turn used in the preparation of meals like fish in batter. Dried fish can also be used as a relish in the preparation of meals as it supplies first class protein. The small fish can be frozen and sold as fresh kapenta or it can be dried and sold as dried kapenta commonly known as matemba.


  • Milk is yet another source of protein. Upon rearing domestic animals, it can be noted that during a particular period the size of the heard doubles and the availability of milk increases. The question now is how the milk can be enjoyed for a greater period. Homemade cheese can be made and kept in the refrigerator for future use. Some milk can be made into sour milk that is in turn used in the preparation of sour milk scones. Home-made milk can be used in preparing macaroni cheese.Milk can also be dried and sold in packed satchets as powdered milk.



  • In domestic farming, it is a common practice that farmers plant grain like groundnuts, round nuts and other grains. The groundnuts are picked, boiled and salted and then dried this is a very tasty and nutritional snack with no additives added that can be enjoyed throughout the year. The groundnuts can also be roasted and eaten as a snack too, the roasted nuts can be used in the preparation of cakes, biscuits, deserts and decorations. The nuts can also be roasted and ground into peanut butter a very useful ingredient in food preparation.



  • Potatoes are a very common type of vegetable that fall under the tubers family can be conveniently turned into a variety of interesting dishes. Potatoes are picked, washed, peeled and cut into chips. The chipped potatoes are parboiled to kill the enzyme's, they are then cooled and frozen so that they are convenient chips upon deep fat frying. Potato crisps and potato sticks are available in shops throughtout the year and these are tasty snacks (ready to eat).


The table below illustrates the types of convenience foods made from locally available resources.











Mushroom, dried fish, biltong, kapenta, dried vegetables like black jerk, chaumolia, cabbage and Nyevhe. Mopane worms edible dried insects.

Ready to eat


Roasted, boiled and salted nuts. Roasted maize. Baobab fruit powder, mbwirembwire, dried mango, peanut butter.




Fish, vegetables like potatoes and a variety of mixed vegetables.


Marmalade jam and pickles.

Guidelines on the use of convenience foods

Convenience foods are very handy as they are quick and easy to prepare thus saving time and fuel. They are easy to store and can be kept for emergencies but however great care should be taken by learners who wish to choose the convenience foods as part of their test. Truly speaking the convenience foods have their drawbacks as well. Besides being expensive, the colour, texture and flavour of food is adversely affected hence a clever learner should always introduce some fresh food into the meal to complement both texture, colour and flavour.

Here is what we discussed in this topic

Convenience foods that are locally available include the following: dried vegetables, dried fish, dried mushroom, mopane worms, termites, edible crickets, caterpillars, edible beetles, mice, crabs, biltong, flying ants, wild honey and other fruits like the African chewing gum and the baobab fruit just but to mention a few.