- Teal blue Apr 1, 2004 09:48 PM
OK maybe totally opposite of what a chowhound stands for, but are there any frozen (aka TV) dinners that you actually like and would buy on a regular basis? Point being I'm a busy guy and when I come home I just wanna throw something in the microwave or oven and eat!
Back when I was in college, (some 18 years ago) I'd exist mainly on the frozen Italian foods made by Celentano. The eggplant parmesan, in particular, was a standout.
Although I was studying at The Culinary Institute of America, we still had to fend for ourselves for one meal a day. And, even then, I was somewhat snobby about what I ate. This company's products appealed to me for their all-natural ingredients and homemade flavor. Somehow, baked Italian entrees seem to lend themselves to freezing, and even microwaving, with minimal loss of flavor or consistency.
Their calorie counts (and dietary exchanges) also were fairly sane for such flavorful items.
As far as I know, Celentano was a family-run business out of Verona, New Jersey. In a recent conversation with my college roommate, I was led to believe that Celentano may have been sold to another company. And while my friend still thought the Celentano products were good, he suspects that the recipes may have changed slightly from the originals.
He now favors Michael Angelo frozen entrees, available at several of the warehouse clubs. Hope this is helpful to you.
I too loved Celantano eggplant parmesan and raviolis while I was going to school on the east coast. I later moved to the west coast and found Celantano products both hard to find and not quite as good as I remembered them. Your email explains why!
As my habit continued, I too found Michelangelo's eggplant parmesan - there's a package in my freezer right now. I cannot make eggplant parmesan as good as Michelangelo's. Further, the time savings is huge. Costco dropped the Michelangelo's line about half a year ago. Now I buy them at Smart & Final. Safeway carries Michelangelo products in smaller serving sizes and you will pay more per ounce for this convenience.
To answer your question, are there "any you like": No.
There are so many quick options out there. I have two kids under two years old and have to cook fast. I have yet to run out of 10-minute meals. Just buying a bag of wooden skewers and familiarizing yourself with your oven/broiler opens weeks worth of opportunities. Monday I threw some beef chunks in a bottled marinade (Soy Vey brand) in a zip lock bag. In the time it took me to cut a pint of baby portobello mushrooms, an onion and some fresh brussels sprouts in half, the beef marinated sufficiently. 4 minutes on each side and it was a meal. One pan, one knife, one cutting board, one plate and one fork to throw in the dishwasher.
I also love a thin crust Boboli brushed with olive oil, with chopped roma tomatoes, loads of garlic, some prosciutto, fresh mozzarella, mushrooms and shredded fresh basil. 400 degrees for 8-10 minutes and it's as good a pizza as I can get within 10 miles of house. Again, minimal cleanup -- one knife and a cutting board.
On colder or rainy days, I pick up a quart of pre-made gourmet soup from the grocery store. Heck, I'd take most canned soups with a chunk of artisan bread over frozen dinners. And I won't even go into the world of sandwich opportunities. Just get a little creative in the deli, bakery and condiment aisle.
Resist the temptations of the Dark Side! Use the force!!
I also keep a stash of frozen dinners in the freezer for when I'm out of leftovers or just plum out of energy- see name above ;-) Healthy Choice isn't too shabby. For those times when you really want something quick though and don't want to give in to what a previous poster referred to as the "dark side", might I suggest scrambled eggs or a cashew butter sandwich? So quick yet yummy and filling. Also, the rotisserie chickens from grocery stores, or any kind of fish popped into the oven for 10-15 minutes is not a bad way to go.
....the Thai is very good, and so is the barbequed chicken. Steer clear of the Jerk Chicken. Not jerk-y enough. They make a Potato and Rosemary, evidently, but I've never actually seen it for sale anywhere...too avant-garde for Jewel/Albertson's or Dominick's/Safeway, I reckon.
I am a new mother of a 9 mo old & many times find myself w/o leftovers or the strength even to skewar, marinate, chop & cook things - esp since babe is climbing on top of everything. I am partial to the Amy's line of frozen meals. It's an organic line that makes a wide variety of meal items such as Mac n Cheese, Shepards Pie, Palak Paneer, Enchiladas, and more. I always have an assortment to choose from depending on what my mood is. I am ususally satisfied w/the taste & texture of each that I have tried.
Hope you find what you're looking for.
I haven't had it in awhile but I really like Stouffer's Country Fried Steak. Sometimes it used to be a treat on a lazy weekend night. It was so trashy yet so comforting.
I usually keep a couple of Swanson's Turkey dinners in the freezer. Both the "Hungry Man Size" and regular size. I occasionally eat their Mexican style dinners too.
I also keep a DiGiorno small pizza in the freezer.
I tried some of the "better" frozen foods, but did not like the serving size (A Marie Callendar's pot pie is two servings) and some of them are high in fat. In order for prepared food to taste good, sometimes it is high in fat/sodium.
For a fast inexpensive dinner, I like Campbell's chunky soups with bread. Another easy dinner is tuna on toast with canned chili beans as a side dish. I keep bread in the freezer.
Note: I don't eat a lot for dinner, my main meal during the week is lunch.
Speaking of soup... I like Tomato soup heated simply with some cream to thin it out, maybe toss in some basil for extra flavor but I'm generally a purist. Add a loaf of crusty bread on the side, or sometimes I toss in some croutons. Very comforting.
For pot pies, if you don't mind the calories and fat, Stouffer's are better IMHO than Marie's. Don't know why. Marie also introduced some flavored pot pies, like honey roasted and some other, but I tried them and I thought they were inedible. I hope I don't get persecuted, but I also like Stouffer's Vegetable Lasagna and their spinach souffle. Maybe they're too salty for some, but I like salt.
Finally, I like to keep some baked potatoes frozen. Take one out, defrost in micro, put in toaster and crisp them. Top as you like!
i really enjoy the Goya frozen dinner, Ropa Vieja. We find it in the ethnic frozen section at publix. They make a few other meals that i'm not wild about, but this one is awesome.
After being away from Chowhound for a month or two, I come back, and lo, here is a thread on frozen dinners! LOL
Disguised in your frozen dinner request is the comment "when I come home I just wanna throw something in the microwave or oven and eat!" I don't know what part of the country you're from, but even in the northeast, you can buy a decent 1/2 pound steak for 3 or 4 bucks, poke some holes in it with some salty tenderizer (or not!!), and throw it in the broiler oven for 7 or 8 minutes a side (don't forget to preheat...), buy a few chips or something for a "starch", grab some carrots, celery, or cucumbers and have a real man's meal.
That being said, a Marie Callender (ugh, spelling...) meal is palatable.
In my area, Bi-Low carries a frozen 2 pack of scallops St. Jaques. In shells even! Anyway, I get those and 2 portabello mushroom caps and dinner is in 15 minutes. Thaw the scallops and scrape out the stem and those mushroom undergarments (what do you call that, fronds?) and then scrape the scallop stuff from the shell and into the mushroom cap. Add whatevery spices or extra cheese you wish. Bake at 350 for about 15 minutes.
If you enjoy steak, I suggest NighHawk frozen steak dinners. They have entrees that are low in Carbs, maybe 9 grams of carbs per serving. The taste in good and for a quick meal it's well worth it. You can pick them up at Walmart Supercenters.