Friday, January 14, 2011

The Comfort that is Lean Cuisine

Today’s meal is the Lean Cuisine Roasted Honey Chicken (of the “Spa Cuisine” line).  I used to buy these Lean Cuisine meals religiously, but ever since I started this blog and expanded my frozen food palate, it feels so odd to me when I do go back to Lean Cuisine for a meal.  Mostly what I mean by that is that most of the Lean Cuisine chicken meals taste very similar to me, whether their flavor is garlic-, sesame-, or lemon-based.  I’m not saying that this is bad, only that they are similar, which might be really familiar/comfortable for many people.  Also, the chunks of chicken in these meals are completely predictable.  Again, not to say that this is bad; they are consistently good-textured chunks of chicken, but I am fairly certain that none of them have been pre-seasoned in any way. 

So today’s meal is honey-based, and honestly, if it weren’t for writing this blog, I’m not sure I could have told you that it was honey-based two minutes after finishing eating it.  The vegetables in this meal are snap peas and yellow beans, with occasional carrots and red onion.  Yellow beans are particularly unusual for a frozen meal, and I appreciate having something different.  The snap peas, however, I found to be particularly stringy, and I had to pull at least a couple long strings out of my mouth because they were unchewable – blegh!  I do have a bizarre homey-like fondness for the whole wheat pilaf that Lean Cuisine produces, so the meal has that in its favor. 

As with most Lean Cuisine meals, I’ll probably buy this again.  And again.  And forget what it tasted like two minutes after eating it. 

Calories:  280
Fat:  4 g
Sodium:  600 mg
Notable good nutritional content:  20% Vitamin A
Notes on cooking:  one 5 minute single shot
Notes on packaging:  black bowl, recyclable

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Let’s Talk About Mac & Cheese

Today’s meal is Marie Callendar’s Fresh Flavor Steamer Smoky Cheddar Mac & Uncured Bacon.  I should begin with a disclaimer: my family doesn’t have a tradition for homemade mac & cheese.  I realize that for many people, this is absolutely sacrilegious.  Well, we’re sorry.  We make many awesome homemade dishes in my family, but mac & cheese just isn’t one of them; the Kraft box was always good enough for us.

That said, though, as soon as I got over the initial childhood shock of mac & cheese that didn’t look exactly like the box variety of which I was accustomed, I have always been able to appreciate a good homemade mac & cheese, when offered to me by another family.  But I have absolutely no expectation for it, so I don’t have particularly discriminating taste for this dish.

As expected, I thoroughly enjoyed the taste and texture of this meal.  But then I got to looking more closely at the nutrition information.  Nineteen grams of fat.  Nineteen!  Most of the meals I’ve eaten for this blog have had 5 or 6 grams of fat.  840 mg of sodium.  Whew!  At a total of 380 calories also, this will not be a meal I’ll buy again in the new year of babyfat-losing resolutions! 
Calories:  380
Fat:  19 g
Sodium:  840 mg
Notable good nutritional content:  15% Calcium / 25% Folic Acid
Notes on cooking:  one 3 ½ - 4 minute single shot
Notes on packaging:  clear bowl and colander, reusable/recyclable

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Stock up now in Springfield!

Happy New Year, faithful readers!

I went to a Springfield Shop ‘n Save earlier in the week and discovered a fantastic sale on some great frozen meals.  Even several of the high-end meals were available for only $2 apiece.  Stop by and stock up!

Today’s meal is the Healthy Choice Roasted Chicken Verde.  This is a new kind of steamer for me.  It’s a bit smaller than the usual steamer package. It doesn’t have the two separate tray pieces for steaming; instead, vegetables, rice, and sauce steam inside a single tray.  It seems like a rather small portion size for a lunch meal, but I can’t say I was particularly hungry afterwards (plus, the packaging does say “Ideal for Lunch!”)

More so than with other meals I have eaten, I truly felt like I was eating a plateful of vegetables, and what better way to start off a new year of healthful resolutions?  This meal contains red and poblano peppers and the poblanos actually packed a little bit of natural heat.  In fact, the flavor and heat of the peppers overpowered the cilantro-lime sauce, and that’s just fine with me.  I was truly impressed with the quality ingredients of this meal, also including whole grain rice and sweet corn. 

Calories:  240
Fat:  3.5 g
Sodium:  500 mg
Notable good nutritional content:  15% Vitamin A / 20% Vitamin C
Notes on cooking:  one 3 ½ - 4 minute single shot
Notes on packaging:  clear, uniquely-shaped (let’s call it a wavy square) tray, reusable/recyclable