Monday, October 11, 2010

Fond Memories of TV Dinners

My mom cut this article out of PARADE magazine for me a couple weeks ago.  While it is about the TV dinners of old (heat in the oven in just 25 minutes – so simple and quick!) and the author’s childhood fondness of the TV dinner culture, one imagines that the sentiment could hold true for today’s frozen dinners, right?

Well, after I read the article and took a few moments to reflect fondly on my own childhood experiences with TV dinners, I considered the connection.  And there is definitely something lost in translation between the oven-cooked foil-packaged frozen TV dinners that became popular in the 1960s and the frozen meals of today.  In trying to put my finger on it, here’s what I’ve come up with:  it is generally not expected that you eat frozen meals *with* anyone.  Why is that?  Well, it seems as though oven-heated TV dinners could be cooked several at a time in the oven.  By contrast, most microwaves will only accommodate one frozen meal at a time and in the urgent, time-pressed world of 2010, most people simply don’t have time to cook two or more meals back-to-back in the microwave and wait for the second meal to finish cooking in order to enjoy the eating experience together.  Indeed, even when individuals at my office decide to eat lunch together, the experience that transpires is a constant rotation of microwave use and a standing and chatting while one person eats, generally finishing entirely before the other person’s meal has finished cooking. 

Is the missing collective enjoyment of frozen meals an indicator of greater ills in our society?  I certainly hope not, but only time will tell…if any of us have time to wait, that is. 

Do you have fond memories of TV dinners?  Please share them in your comments!

An old favorite of mine

I’ve been so busy trying new meals that I haven’t yet gone back to a favorite to write its review.  Today, though, my meal is an old favorite, Lean Cuisine’s Sun-Dried Tomato Pesto Chicken.  Oh, how I love thee!  After pondering it for today’s writing, I believe I like it so much because of the following:

1)   Black olives.  Sure, there may not be many, but you can’t beat the magic of a bite of black olive.

2)   Tomato pesto sauce.  Frozen meals seem to do red sauce the best, but an endless parade of spaghetti-style tomato sauces is a bore.  This one has just enough of the sun-dried tomato flavor to make it interesting.

3)   Cavatappi pasta. There is something about this curly, hollow pasta that makes it a good size and shape for inclusion in a frozen meal – hearty, and never rubbery, in my experience.

4)   Just the right size. This is a lean meal that doesn’t leave me hungry an hour later. 

I have bought this meal again and again, and will continue to do so.  Here are some other details that might help you decide about whether it would be good for you:

Calories: 270
Fat: 9 grams
Notable good nutritional content:  Iron 15%, Vitamin C & A 10%
Notable bad nutritional content:  570 mg sodium
Notes about packaging: black tray, recyclable
Notes on cooking:  4 ½ minutes cooking with one stir after 3 minutes


  1. Here's my fond memory of TV dinners from my childhood - we didn't have them at home. It was an extravagance that we just couldn't afford. However, on the rare occasion that I would get sick at school and have to go home, "home" wasn't where I went. Instead I went to Aunt Leota and Uncle Paul's because they lived just a few blocks from the school. And the best part about being sick was that Aunt Leota always had frozen TV dinners. This was such a huge treat! My favorites were the cultural delights such as egg rolls or the Banquet Mexican dinner. In addition to frozen delights, Aunt Leota usually had Pop-Tarts too!

  2. That's great! Except I didn't know that Aunt Leota ever distributed consumable food. For my generation, it was all bubble gum from Aunt Leota!