Friday, October 29, 2010

A note on the pricing of frozen meals

I am finding that the pricing of these meals is all relative.  Each time I walk into the grocery, some brand of frozen meals is on sale.  Watch those sales.  In order to maximize your spending, don’t have your heart set on a particular brand during a store visit, but know which meals you like from a variety of product lines and then buy whichever brands are cheapest during a particular trip to the store. 

So far, I have not spent more than $2.50 on any meal reviewed in this blog.  A few have been significantly cheaper than this, but $2.50 has been my top price, and most have seemed to land on or just under the $2.50 mark.  Judging from the price tags seen during my last few store visits, I should be able to maintain this top price and still have *plenty* of meals to review in the months to come.

Best chicken meat consumed so far

Today’s meal is the Healthy Choice Café Steamers Sweet Sesame Chicken.  This is a steamer in the same packaging style as my favorite Marie Callendar’s line; it cooks in a single shot, not even requiring the puncturing of the top film, and the bowl and colander are reusable or recyclable.  What was immediately notable about this meal was that instead of small chunks or strips of chicken (frequently the delivery method for chicken in a frozen meal), this meal contained just three fairly sizable pieces of chicken.  I believe it was the steaming cooking technology that gets credit for heating these sizable pieces sufficiently and for keeping the chicken moist and tender.  It really didn’t taste like chicken from a frozen meal!  I will have to eat more of this line to determine if the hefty-sized chunks of chicken are the norm or if it was just a fluke of this particular package.

I was less impressed, though not entirely disappointed, by the vegetables and the flavor of the meal overall.  The snow pea pods seem as though they’ve been intentionally flattened by an iron and they definitely have a “wet noodle” quality to them.  The carrots were fine.  The mushrooms were quite flavorful, though they were tiny, tiny button mushrooms (not sure I’d ever seen mushrooms that small before).  And in terms of flavor, the photo on the box clearly shows the meal swimming in sesame seeds, but I couldn’t identify any sesame seeds in my meal and the flavor of the sauce was not particularly distinctive, though not unpleasant. 

All in all, this was a good meal and I would buy it again just to enjoy the chicken again.  I noticed on the box that it represents 30% of the RDA of vegetables, so that even without too much in terms of vitamin content, it is still a pretty “healthy choice”. 

Calories:  340
Fat:  6 g / 0 g trans fat
Sodium:  330 mg
Notable good nutritional content:  40% Vitamin A / 25% Vitamin E / 20% each Niacin, Folic Acid, and Phosphorus
Notes on cooking:  4-5 minutes, single shot
Notes on packaging:  clear bowl and colander, reusable or recyclable

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