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Boxed, frozen meals

i
Ima Foodie Mar 25, 2009 09:49 AM

Here's a challenge for everyone: have you found any really good, packaged frozen meals? Sometimes even a foodie needs something super convenient. I just tried the Kashi lemongrass chicken and was surprised at how good it was. Perhaps there have been improvements in frozen dinners since I last attempted them.

  1. s
    schrutefarms Apr 1, 2009 03:45 PM

    I really really like Mrs T.'s frozen perogies. I boil them, fry them with butter and onions, and top them with sour cream.

    1. Will Owen Mar 30, 2009 04:23 PM

      Mrs. O and I share an abject weakness for Kid-Food Grade Mexican, and have been known to take home any kind of frozen enchilada platter, along with a few assorted individual burritos or whatever. Now that we're surrounded by Trader Joes - something like eight within easy driving distance! - Banquet "Mexican" is just an embarrassing memory. We'll get two each of two kinds of tamales, a platter each of two sorts of enchiladas, then whatever else strikes the fancy (like canned refried beans) plus green salad fixin's. Nuke everything and chow down. Not so much anymore, of course, as we seek to shed a bunch of excess avoirdupois, but those moments of weakness still occur...

      One thing we COULD get in Nashville for a very short while was frozen chicken enchiladas Suizas from Van de Kamp. They were damn near as good as my own (of which I'm quite proud) and not expensive, but our Kroger stores carried them just long enough to get us addicted. And apparently VdK doesn't do this kind of thing anymore at all.

      1. r
        rdnnyc Mar 30, 2009 04:00 PM

        I'm a fan of the Tandoor Chef brand. Some of their main courses don't include rice though, so that may mean preparing a little extra something to go with your meal.

        1. k
          KevinB Mar 29, 2009 11:28 PM

          In Canada, we have a generic product line called "No Name". The sliced turkey dinner has turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing, gravy, peas, and cranberry jelly. I think it's pretty tasty, and it only costs $1.99! The roast beef isn't bad either, but the chicken nuggets are horrid and the Salisbury steak is awful. I always have a couple on hand for those nights when I just don't feel like cooking. I don't know if they're any healthier than a Whopper, but at half the price, they're a very good value.

          1. b
            byeCalihelloBahamas Mar 28, 2009 07:26 PM

            I just had Huxtable's New American Kitchen Beef Enchilada Casserole and it was surprisingly very tasty.

            Not a meal for one (4-5 serv.), but the leftovers were good too the next day.

            1. operagirl Mar 28, 2009 03:00 PM

              http://www.heateatreview.com has a five star rating system for microwaveable meals. They've reviewed tons of different products, and you can sort the reviews by rating, brand, reviewer . . . perhaps that'll help!

              2 Replies
              1. re: operagirl
                Boudleaux Mar 28, 2009 08:39 PM

                Thanks for posting this link. Even though I just composed a post saying how bored I am with frozen meals and how I want to get away from them, sometimes I can't help it. It helps having a frozen meal (or 5) handy for the office. This seems like a great site.

                1. re: Boudleaux
                  operagirl Mar 29, 2009 07:59 AM

                  You're welcome! In addition to being useful, the reviews are often pretty humorous . . . Abi's review of Kid Cuisine's fish sticks meal begins with, "This meal wasn’t so much a lunch as an act of vengeance." She also videotaped herself [trying to] eat that one.

              2. q
                Querencia Mar 27, 2009 06:26 AM

                In general, no, with few exceptions, most of which seem to be in Trader Joe's frozen food counters. Not in a box but in see-through plastic, for quick and pretty good, try TJ's crabmeat-stuffed filet of flounder. Also TJ's gorgonzola gnocchi; gyozi; risotto; many good others. I would have to say that 95% of the frozen stuff I buy from mainstream grocery stores turns out to be awful, but what a person happens to find tasty is an individual matter, ie if he happens to like Stouffer's Macaroni & Cheese or Marie Callender's Chicken Pie. Or even a Banquet Mexican Dinner. It's a free country.

                1. s
                  Sal Vanilla Mar 26, 2009 08:16 PM

                  I love the Kashi ones too. The only one I have tried that I thought was barfy was the pasta pomodoro. Blech! My favorite is the Sweet and sour chicken with pilaf and edamame. It is so good! I buy them at Costco - unless they are mixed with the pomodoro ones.

                  Have you tried the honey chicken at Costco (freezer section)? The pieces of chicken are breaded. The chicken is real white meat - not smooshed together whatsthismeat. Really good quality. The sauce is very good. I cook the chicken in the oven and it comes out very crunchy, yet moist. It is a total bargain. Rice and broccoli and there is a meal without the fuss.

                  1. annagranfors Mar 26, 2009 05:24 PM

                    And to take this to its perhaps inevitable Trader Joe's direction, I love their Mac & Cheese and their Butter Chicken, although the latter seems variable. (But still a good enough batting average that I get it every time I'm there.)

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: annagranfors
                      coney with everything Mar 30, 2009 07:06 AM

                      second the butter chicken for me and the mac/crack and cheese for my son.

                      1. re: annagranfors
                        CoryKatherine Mar 30, 2009 04:30 PM

                        it is of course inebitable.
                        my bf really REALLY likes TJ's frozen mandarin chicken. i think it's a little bready but the flavor is good

                      2. c
                        cheesecake17 Mar 26, 2009 07:44 AM

                        I like the Amy's frozen meals. Some are a bit high in sodium, but I rarely eat them.

                        16 Replies
                        1. re: cheesecake17
                          chowser Mar 26, 2009 05:05 PM

                          They're my fall back because you get a decent amount of vegetables in the indian meals. I don't have them often either but they're nice to have around when you have nothing around.

                          1. re: chowser
                            goodhealthgourmet Mar 26, 2009 05:20 PM

                            you can also make frozen meals more filling/satisfying (and increase their nutritional value) by adding extra frozen veggies if you have some on hand.

                            1. re: goodhealthgourmet
                              c
                              cheesecake17 Mar 27, 2009 06:10 AM

                              I usually keep a few bags of Steamfresh veggies in the freezer for times like that.

                              1. re: cheesecake17
                                goodhealthgourmet Mar 27, 2009 08:22 AM

                                a frozen meal hasn't made its way into my freezer in at least ten years, but i always have frozen broccoli, chopped spinach, peas & green beans on hand in case i have absolutely no fresh veggies in the house (which is rare, but it does happen). i used to pretty much exclusively buy Whole Foods organic frozen vegetables...until i found out they were from China. now it's either TJ's or any sale-priced organic.

                                1. re: goodhealthgourmet
                                  c
                                  cheesecake17 Mar 27, 2009 08:27 AM

                                  I keep one of the Amy's meals on hand for an emergency- every once in a while I get home from work after my husband. If he's hungry, he knows there's an Amy's meal and frozen veggies in the freezer.

                                  I'm surprised WF frozen veggies are from China.. never noticed it before.. but I don't usually buy frozen stuff from there. The TJ's veggies always get great reviews on the site, but unfortunately, I've never had them since they're not kosher. Most of the time I buy fresh veggies that cook quickly, since my freezer space is insanely limited. Fav place- Chinese grocery. Everything is always very fresh and so cheap.

                                  1. re: cheesecake17
                                    goodhealthgourmet Mar 27, 2009 09:08 AM

                                    i hope you don't think i was passing judgment or being snooty with my comment. i just don't like frozen meals, and i live alone so i don't have to worry about feeding anyone else unless i'm having guests!

                                    1. re: goodhealthgourmet
                                      c
                                      cheesecake17 Mar 27, 2009 10:17 AM

                                      Not at all! We typically don't eat frozen meals, but in a rare circumstance, my husband would rather eat an Amy's bowl than go pick up takeout. Usually I freeze leftovers in a disposable aluminum container, but it takes 45min+ to heat.

                                    2. re: cheesecake17
                                      s
                                      shoelace Mar 31, 2009 08:32 AM

                                      some of the tjs veggies do have hashgachot on them, and as for the rest of them most people hold that if its a straight veggie, no additives, which is the case with a lot of the great tjs veggies, youre fine with frozen veggies

                                      1. re: shoelace
                                        c
                                        cheesecake17 Mar 31, 2009 08:40 AM

                                        Thanks! I've only looked at a few of the packages, but it seems that everything I look at doesn't have a hashgacha. I'll check again after Pesach.

                                    3. re: goodhealthgourmet
                                      chowser Mar 27, 2009 11:10 AM

                                      You really have to read the labels on food these days. And, it can be hard to find in all the packaging. On the rare occasion that I do have a premade frozen meal, I'm normally too busy or tired to add anything, even frozen vegetables. Or lazy. :-) No excuses, I use them when I choose to for the convenience.

                                      1. re: goodhealthgourmet
                                        j
                                        jay27 Mar 28, 2009 02:37 PM

                                        I can't believe whole Foods frozen veggies are from China! Do you know if their frozen fruits are from china also? I suppose I will have to keep buying them anyway because Trader Joe's doesn't exist where I live and if WF is buying from China, I don't even want to know where my Kroger store is buying veggies from :(

                                        1. re: jay27
                                          goodhealthgourmet Mar 28, 2009 06:18 PM

                                          i couldn't believe it either, until i pulled some of the bags from my freezer and saw "Product of China" printed right there on the packages. i honestly don't know how i never noticed.

                                          not quite *all* their organic vegetables are from China, but these are the ones that ARE: asparagus, broccoli florets, bell peppers, edamame, spinach, sugar snap peas, okra, Asian stir fry, Asparagus Stir Fry, California Blend, California Stir Fry, Chinese Stir Fry, Thai Stir Fry, Vegetable Stir Fry, and Green Beans with Phad Prik Khing Sauce.

                                          interestingly, the only conventional ones they get from China are broccoli, edamame & fava beans.

                                          oh, and don't worry about the fruit - NONE of it, conventional or organic, is from China.

                                          FYI, the country of origin may be listed on the packages at Kroger, so take a look the next time you're there.

                                          1. re: goodhealthgourmet
                                            c
                                            charmedgirl Mar 31, 2009 06:24 AM

                                            Huh. Like most others I eat fresh produce almost exclusively, but I always have a bag or two (or three) of frozen vegetables in the freezer "just in case." Whole Foods frozen vegetable mixes are my go-to. I love love love the asparagus mix. Had no idea the stuff was from China. Lots of people seem bummed about this, so I ask in all sincerity -- how come? Is it the "eat local"/support American farmers thing? Or is there some reason to think the labor standards aren't good or they use harmful pesticides? I'm really not trying to be snarky. It's just that my first reaction was kind of "eh, I'll still buy it" but when so many people chimed in with their dismay it made me start wondering if there was a piece I wasn't seeing.

                                        2. re: goodhealthgourmet
                                          FoodChic Mar 31, 2009 07:05 AM

                                          I didn't know that Whole Food's frozen veggies are from China.
                                          That's almost as depressing as finding out Haagen Daz started using HFCS.

                                  2. re: cheesecake17
                                    pikawicca Mar 28, 2009 06:29 PM

                                    If I don't have the time to make a from scratch lunch, this is what I eat.

                                    1. re: cheesecake17
                                      CoryKatherine Mar 30, 2009 04:29 PM

                                      I like Amy's burrittos

                                    2. ipsedixit Mar 25, 2009 11:21 PM

                                      Do Eskimo Pies or Klondike Bars count as "meals"? What if you ate like 3 of them at one time? Meal?

                                      2 Replies
                                      1. re: ipsedixit
                                        mrbigshotno.1 Mar 26, 2009 06:13 AM

                                        Works for me once in a while.

                                        1. re: mrbigshotno.1
                                          LaLa Mar 28, 2009 06:12 PM

                                          Lol sometimes I have a chocolate frozen banana for breakfast...he its fruit!

                                      2. l
                                        lergnom Mar 25, 2009 02:26 PM

                                        If you follow the microwave instructions, a frozen package of White Castle burgers tastes exactly like White Castle burgers.

                                        1. m
                                          mpalmer6c Mar 25, 2009 01:58 PM

                                          The mail-order site Home Bistro
                                          has many meals that I would rate
                                          as very good to excellent, among them
                                          salmon scallop tagine, tarragon
                                          chicken, jambalaya, baby back
                                          ribs, bacon-wrapped scallops,
                                          chicken with biscuits, short ribs,
                                          crab cakes and pub sausage.

                                          http://www.homebistro.com/

                                          1 Reply
                                          1. re: mpalmer6c
                                            chicgail Mar 30, 2009 03:45 PM

                                            My experience with Home Bistro meals is that they are convenient, edible and reasonably nutritious.

                                            "Very good to excellent" didn't show up for me, but maybe I just had the wrong stuff.

                                          2. mrbigshotno.1 Mar 25, 2009 10:21 AM

                                            Stouffers stuffed peppers are good.

                                            3 Replies
                                            1. re: mrbigshotno.1
                                              kchurchill5 Mar 27, 2009 11:19 AM

                                              I have to agree. I usually keep one in the freezer. It's the perfect 11pm meal :)

                                              1. re: kchurchill5
                                                LaLa Mar 28, 2009 06:11 PM

                                                I third stouffers stuffed pepper.

                                              2. re: mrbigshotno.1
                                                s
                                                schrutefarms Apr 1, 2009 03:41 PM

                                                Good! I have some in the freezer right now, and have yet to try them!

                                              3. goodhealthgourmet Mar 25, 2009 10:20 AM

                                                positive reviews of some of the offerings from Organic Bistro from a fellow CHer:
                                                http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/529123

                                                and you could check some of the reviews on the websites discussed in this thread:
                                                http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/597531

                                                one more:
                                                http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/571201

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