Tuesday, February 8, 2011

My Call to the Lean Cuisine Corporation

A couple months ago, an interesting thing happened to me; I might even daresay that – given that I write this blog – it was an ironic thing.  I opened a box of Lean Cuisine’s Spinach, Artichoke, & Chicken Panini only to discover that the panini was missing both its plastic wrapping and its silver REVOLUTIONARY GRILLING® tray.  That's right - the two halves of the sandwich were just sitting there in the cardboard box, sort of embarrassed by their nudity.  As the writer of this blog, I had to take a photo of the naked panini and also seize the opportunity to CALL THE LEAN CUISINE CORPORATION to see what recourse I had.

The customer service representative with whom I spoke apologized for the manufacturing flaw and took all kinds of product details from me.  She also asked for some demographic data so that I could be mailed a coupon for a free future Lean Cuisine meal of choice.   The best part, though, was that she said “We do recommend that you not eat the product” about six times before the conversation was done.  Time after time, her bland tone indicated to me that she was reading the sentence from a computer screen. 

A couple weeks later, my coupon arrived.  I was surprised, actually, to only receive a voucher for one free meal.  That only replaced the meal that Lean Cuisine “recommended that I not eat” and required me to go to the grocery store to replace it.  I was hoping for a whole windfall of Lean Cuisine coupons, much like the flood of formula coupons I received after the Similac baby formula recall in the fall. 

Humorous incident aside, I am surprised to find that in at least this particular panini, there is a surprising amount of nutrition:  30% of Vitamin A, 30% of calcium and 20% of iron.  As evidenced by earlier posts, frozen meals just really don’t reflect the epitome of nutrition, so it’s always pleasing to me when a meal boasts a significant percentage of more than one nutrient.

I don’t particularly care for the idea of a frozen sandwich as a meal, but I think I’m pretty alone in this opinion.  Many readers and friends have made verbal and posted comments to me about how much they love these Lean Cuisine paninis.  While each of them generally includes at least a couple of vegetables in the ingredients, they just don’t feel like a complete meal to me (of course, no one ever said you couldn’t add other items to create a fuller meal).  But additionally, REVOLUTIONARY GRILLING® tray or not, a microwaved sandwich just lacks a little luster for me. 

Calories:  310
Fat:  9 g
Sodium:  660 mg
Notable good nutritional content:   Vitamin A 30% / Calcium 30% / Iron 20%
Notes on cooking:   2 minutes and 45 seconds
Notes on packaging:  cardboard and plastic wrap, grilling tray not recyclable


  1. Lean Cuisine is stingy. Abby gets hosed on vending-machine soda all the time. Coca-Cola always sends her coupons for two free beverages. This calls for a revolution.

  2. I remember when I was a kid my mom bought Grasshopper cookies. They were vile. They were so bad we wrote to the company to complain. They sent us about a dozen coupons for Grasshopper cookies. C'mon, Keebler!!!

  3. That is awesome. No...it's terrible. No, awesome! Aw heck, I can't decide!

    Silly customer service representatives!

  4. That's disappointing, because I'm one of those people who LOVES the Lean Cuisine paninis, especially the ones with chicken.