HOME > Chowhound > General Topics >


What's your favorite frozen dinner?

  • m

I confess. I was exhausted tonight and in no mood to crank up the stove and cook something. I reached for an Amy's frozen dinner, spinach and cheese enchilada. It wasn't the best meal I've had, but it was hot and tasty and hit the spot. So tell us, if you dare, what frozen dinners do you reach for when time s short?

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. I really don't do frozen dinners....but once in a while I'll have a Mrs Budd's Chicken Pot Pie.

    9 Replies
    1. re: fourunder

      Same here. Mrs. Budd's is the best commercial pot pie I have come across.

      1. re: JMF

        Is this a regional brand? Haven't heard of it before, but will check at the store.

        1. re: pine time

          I've seen it everywhere from NY to ME. In the refrigerated food, not frozen. Usually near the same part of the meat where they have the tubs of BBQ pulled pork and premade ribs.

          1. re: JMF

            And in the event that you can't find it there, check the section where they sell green can Parmesan.

            1. re: mamachef

              Mamachef, where have you found them in the Bay Area?

              1. re: chocolatetartguy

                I bought some at the San Leandro Safeway, so I assume all the stores carry them. And though I've never bought it there, I'd bet the Bowl has them. The thing about items like this is that until someone tells me about them, I never ever look for them, so I don't notice them because I'm so locked into remembering to grab whatever else I'm looking for in any particular section....but if I'm actively looking (generally only when I have time to meander slowly....rare :) I see ALL kinds of things that I never knew existed.

                1. re: mamachef

                  Have you had Bakesale Betty's chicken pie? How does Mrs. Budd's stack up?

                  1. re: chocolatetartguy

                    <Falling out of chair laughing. chocolatetartguy, forgive me. This is what comes from a lifetime habit of speed-reading. My answer was predicated on a line in JMF's post above, and the one word I siezed on was "tubs," which I interpreted as "tubes." My mind swung instantly to yet ANOTHER thread where the subject at hand was the premade TUBES of polenta, and I thought that's where I was!! NOT Mrs. Budd's pies!!
                    I've had BB's pies (and that FC sandwich, which isn't as good as it used to be) and I can't imagine a frozen pot pie is as good. Even though I'll eat them.
                    Better quit my afternoon smoke break. :)

                    1. re: mamachef

                      MMC, what are you smoking? Salvia? Are you Miley Cyrus? :)

                      I've had that tube polenta sliced and fried in olive oil. Not bad.

    2. I really really like, truly enjoy, the Kashi Mayan Harvest Bake and their Lemongrass Coconut Chicken. I also think some of the Lean Cuisines aen't too bad. I keep a couple of those in the freezer at work.

      4 Replies
      1. re: calliope_nh

        I really like the Kashi Mayan Harvest Bake, also. It's a very satisfying vegetarian meal with interesting flavors. What I appreciate about their frozen meals which have chicken is that it doesn't have that terrible spongy processed texture like the mainstream ones...it tastes more like real white meat chicken.

        1. re: calliope_nh

          Seconded (thirded?), on the Mayan Harvest Bake. I'm not vegetarian, but this is better than most meat meals out there. Unfortunately, my regular store stopped carrying it, so I'll need to keep an eye out other places. I hope it's not on its way out!

          1. re: calliope_nh

            When I've chomped too many desserts (not uncommon), I'll have the Lean Cuisine butternut squash ravioli for dinner--not bad at all.

            1. re: calliope_nh

              I lived on that for like an entire summer, it was so good. I kind of got overloaded on it though and couldn't eat it for awhile. Now it's back in the occasional rotation. Color me surprised that not only is a vegetarian entree this good and filling, but it's also vegan. I'm a major carnivore, but this one makes a great, easy lunch.

            2. Pizza.

              Doesn't really matter what brand (usu. it's CPK) because if I'm resorting to frozen pizza for dinner I'm either dead tired, drunk, or both.

              1 Reply
              1. re: ipsedixit

                I was having a hard time thinking of frozen meals I keep other than leftovers, but your post reminded me that I always keep deep dish pizza from Lou Malnati's in the freezer. Not exactly a quick meal since I have to defrost it before baking for 25 minutes, but always a happy one.

              2. OMG......You are gonna get my secret! I love to cook! Hate most restaurants because they just don't seem to come up to what I can do at home in terms of flavor and being hot.

                But..my darkside..........I adore Swanson's Fried Chicken Dinners. Something about the crust on the chicken.and the texture of the mashed potatoes.....the rest.......eh.............but it must be something of my childhood that makes it taste so god...and No clean-up!!!!!!!!!

                1. Totino's party pizza for $1. The Mexican flavor was especially satisfying/sickening before they discontinued it. If you folded it in half, it was like eating a Taco Bell chalupa except somehow even cheaper.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: RealMenJulienne

                    I used to keep one of those Mexican pizzas in. Wish they were still around.

                    1. re: calliope_nh

                      Do you remember back then the sausage used to be different? It was this strangely appealing greasy crumble texture. Now it's just the processed pellets that everyone else uses. Looks like the greedy bottom-line-watching MBAs got their claws into the Totino family recipe!

                  2. Stouffer's stuffed peppers or stuffed cabbage rolls are good.

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: mrbigshotno.1

                      High five to the Stouffer's stuffed peppers!

                      1. re: mrbigshotno.1

                        I discovered Stouffers Stuffed Peppers and Stuffed Cabbage only 6 years ago. They are terrific IMO. Especially the cabbage. I could eat a dozen of them in one sitting.

                      2. Anything by Stouffers or Marie Callander does me just fine in a pinch! ;)

                        1. Some of the Lean Cuisines are really good, especially the new 'chef's pick' ones. My staples are the butternut squash ravioli, tortilla crusted fish (I add veggies) and the Thai chicken (add veggies).

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: Kajikit

                            As much as I like to cook and eat, my wife and I eat Lean Cuisine dinners most week nights. Frequently will add a vegetable on the side from the garden. It is about the only way we have managed to control our portions and keep our weight at a reasonable level.

                            I have a very hard time cooking "small" and If I cook it we tend to eat it.

                          2. Stouffer's macaroni and cheese, or spinach souffle. Their lasagna's not bad, though I prefer the vegetable version by Amy's. Back in the day, though, you could always find a Swanson's salisbury steak dinner or 6 lurking in my freezer, usually around exams time. It was a cheap fast hit of salty TVP and msg and beef and dehydrated potatoes and frozen corn and gravy and oh how I loved it. But they've done something to it because I bought one for nostalgia's sake a couple years ago and it was inedible. I was seriously bummed over it, too.

                            12 Replies
                            1. re: mamachef

                              Yes!! Stouffer's Mac & Cheese...the "Larger" size </Shame>

                              ETA: I meant shame for the large size, not the frozen dinner.

                              1. re: kmcarr

                                Awww, have no shame. You'd be amazed at how many of us utilize <gasp> frozen foods.

                              2. re: mamachef

                                Stouffer's mac and cheese with salisbury steak are good, I must admit. But now I make my own salisbury steak and I like it better but I still like their mac and cheese!

                                1. re: boyzoma

                                  I totally agree, 'zoma - I know how you make your Salisbury steak and oh boy does it sound delicious. I've done something real similar and loved it too, but it was missing the fake ingredients taste.

                                2. re: mamachef

                                  mamachef, the leftover spinach souffle is so good in scrambled eggs the next morning!

                                  Stouffer's mac and cheese and spinach souffle are the only two prepared frozen foods I would have chosen, if I were inclined to purchase frozen food. It's stupid, but I feel like I'm cheating if I don't make dinner homemade. ( I was born with an extra food guilt bone).

                                  1. re: jmcarthur8

                                    jmcarthur8, but what a grand idea!! I just might buy some to put into tomorrow's eggs!! An idea for you is to thaw it, and saute up some onions and garlic and mushrooms (you can skip this, but it makes the house smell so good...and really adds to the finished dish...) but anyway, mix the sauteed veg, (or not) w/ the souffle and quick cook buttered egg noodles, and re-bake in a 350 0ven for half an hour. Then, eat the WHOLE THING because you won't be able to stop.

                                    1. re: mamachef

                                      Oh, dear. That sounds delicious! I am going to make it just that way. Thanks, mamachef!

                                      1. re: jmcarthur8

                                        It is So much more than the sum of its' parts. And just a bit Sandra Lee-ish, but oh well.

                                    2. re: jmcarthur8

                                      jmcarthur8 wrote: "mamachef, the leftover spinach souffle is so good in scrambled eggs the next morning!"

                                      I absolutely cannot, even in my wildest dreams, imagine having leftover spinch souffle! What in the world is wrong with you? '-)

                                      1. re: Caroline1

                                        I know, darlin'. I almost wrote "buy an extra spinach souffle for breakfast...". The only way to have leftover is to bake a couple of them. And I have actually saved some aside just for breakfast, even though I would have been perfectly happy to polish it off at dinner.
                                        It's like the old saying about Jello.."There's always room for spinach souffle".

                                        1. re: jmcarthur8

                                          I thought the same thing. I scrape that plastic container so hard the dog won't even lick it.

                                          1. re: jmcarthur8

                                            Since writing this, I've been thinking... hmmm... what would happen if I bought a couple of Stouffer's spinache souffles, a box of phyllo, and a pound of butter... could I turn them into a lovely spanokopita??? Could I eat just one??? <sigh> Who was the idiot who invented calories? Damn him!

                                    3. Amy's Indian - chana masala and saag paneer.

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: sydthekyd

                                        +1 on the saag paneer. Have tried lots of recipes (and ate it nearly every day for 2 months in India), but at home, Amy's is the best.

                                      2. There is a brand called TaDah Foods that I have only ever seen at Whole Foods. They have only one line -- frozen wraps featuring falafel that are actually, genuinely delicious. The "Lemony Roasted Garlic Hummus" is my favorite. It does not taste like frozen, microwaved food.

                                        For more of a meal, I like Trader Joe's Cod Provencale with Ratatouille and Rice.

                                        1. Marie Callender Chicken Pot Pie. Yum!

                                          1. Oh, I am so guilty here. I definitely reach for these yummy chicken steamed buns when tired/hungry/don't feel like cooking. I do heat them up in a bamboo steamer, does that make it OK? LOL http://www.philamfood.com/MANILA-IHAW...

                                            1. Wow..i checked that website and there are so many wonderful varieties of steam buns....is there an easy way to tell,/translate what each of the names mean?

                                              2 Replies
                                              1. re: FriedClamFanatic

                                                Lean Cuisine Glazed Chicken has been a favorite of mine since high school, though the portion size is pretty small for a meal. I also like Stouffer's Escalloped Chicken and Noodles, Trader Joe's Diner Mac and Cheese, and Trader Joe's Tarte D' Alsace. Once in a great while, I'll also pick up some Totino's Sausage Party Pizzas.

                                                1. re: FriedClamFanatic

                                                  The buns that I've bought are printed in English as to the contents (e.g, chicken, vegetarian). Also according to the package the product is manufactured in the USA and all natural (whatever that means). If you live near an Asian market, they will usually have these buns. BTW this is embarrassing but I've tried most of the frozen buns sold around here and this brand is my favorite . . . YMMV!

                                                2. Can't go wrong with Ben and Jerry's! LOL

                                                  1. Michelangelo's eggplant parmesan is really good.

                                                    1 Reply
                                                    1. re: bitchincook

                                                      Ooh, thanks for the reminder! There was _something_ I got a few times from that brand that was really good. I don't remember if it was eggplant parm or something else, but I'll be on the lookout now!

                                                    2. Stouffer's Lasagna or Stuffed Peppers. Their welsh rarebit over toast, tomato and bacon if I am feeling really indulgent!

                                                      1. I like the Healthy Choice steamers, although I usually have those for lunches vs dinner. I also like the Trader Joe's "no guilt" baked Ziti.

                                                        Also a pretty big fan of the Digiorno rising crust pepperoni pizza... on occasion.

                                                        1. I'll admit to keeping a couple frozen dinners on hand. My current favorite is chicken makhani
                                                          from Lean Cuisine. I enjoy it with a little Chobani mango salsa on the side.

                                                          2 Replies
                                                          1. re: ferventfoodie

                                                            +1 one of the better frozen indian foods on the market.

                                                            1. re: RetiredChef

                                                              i'm going to have to look for that one!

                                                          2. I miss the hell out of Morton's single-serving mac'n'cheese - it was SOOOO good and SOOO cheap. Stouffer's is not bad, and I don't mind having seconds right there in front of me, but Trader Joe's has sort of taken over that category for me. I also really love all of TJ's frozen Mexican things, except for the chiles rellenos which are just okay. The green chile-cheese tamales make me really and truly not miss meat.

                                                            1 Reply
                                                            1. re: Will Owen

                                                              TJ's cheese enchiladas are a staple in my freezer. And if I have half an avocado sitting on some lettuce with TJ's Goddess dressing on it along with those enchiladas, there's a fine meal.

                                                            2. For me, it's a tie between the Lean Cuisine southwestern rice and beans, and a brand of Indian frozen dinners called "healthy tiffin" that I buy at my local Asian grocery store. The latter has rice, Palak paneer and dal makhani, and doesn't have many weird chemicals in it, so I don't feel too guilty eatin got. It's spicy, too!

                                                              1. There used to a Swanson mexican tv dinner that was pretty awesome. It had an enchilada (I think), something that was probably supposed to be a burrito, refried beans, some salsa conconction and rice, but those burrito wannabe things were good!

                                                                Those 40 cent Swanson pot pie things can hit the spot sometimes too.

                                                                1. I'm partial to some of the Fresh and Easy Eat Well frozen dinners. The butternut squash ravoli, the tortilla crusted fish, and the chicken potstickers are favorites. The calories and nutritional content is reasonable, the food is tasty, and you can't beat the $1.99 price. One of those meals and a simple green salad and I'm set for dinner.

                                                                  1. There is one "frozen entree" that is always in my freezer, and that's Ajinomoto's Vegetable Chow Mein. I guess you could say it's a very upscale version of ramen. The noodles are SOOOOO much better, and it has tons of full size real veggies like frozen but not freeze dried edamame, Chinese pea pods, water chestnuts... well, there are at least a dozen vegetables in it. It's good "as is," but I usually add a dash of shaoxing wine and a bit of sesame oil. And sometimes some shrimp or other protein. And SOMETIMES I keep a box of Ajinomoto frozen pot stickers in the freezer too. But I can't seem to eat just a few, so I try not to keep those on hand all the time! I get both at Sam's Club. You can see the chow mein here:

                                                                    4 Replies
                                                                    1. re: Caroline1

                                                                      Sounds like a must-try. Love the name. "MSG presents: Veggie Chow Mein!!"

                                                                      1. re: mamachef

                                                                        EXCEEEEEEEPPPPTTTT.... There is NO monosodium glutimate listed anywhere on the ingreident list, and they even give a complete breakdown of the ingredients of things like the flour in the noodles, and the ingredients in the soy sauce they use, and stuff like that. Seems to me there was a time when there was an "MSG Free" blurb on the label, but it's not there now. Just no MSG in the ingredients. It's good stuff!

                                                                        1. re: Caroline1

                                                                          Caroline1, that's good to know, though I haven't any personal feelings about MSG - wait; untrue...I like MSG and it doesn't give me a headache. Anyhoo...I used to live next door to a Buddhist temple, and they held teriyaki dinners for the public every few months or so, as a fundraiser. They'd block of the street, and string up paper lanterns which were labeled, "Ajinomoto," and it was there that I learned that it was another name for the oft-dreaded white sparkly flavor-elevating substance.

                                                                      2. re: Caroline1

                                                                        I like several of the Ajinomoto Asian frozen meals, their don and teriyaki are quite good.

                                                                      3. I will never knowingly eat frozen dinners. The amount of junk chemicals and artificial crap will never cross my doorstep!!

                                                                        1 Reply
                                                                        1. re: Nanzi

                                                                          Not all of them have those things.

                                                                        2. I buy a few lean cuisine/smart ones/healthy choice meals as grab and go lunches. some of our favorites:
                                                                          LC beef and macaroni
                                                                          HC chicken with sweet potatoes
                                                                          SO swedish meatballs, tuna noodle gratin, rigatoni with chicken and broccoli

                                                                          I've tried several of Amy's and they were generally good, but too high in calories to fit into my weight watchers point scheme. :)

                                                                          1. Are there any favorites that don't have a lot of sodium?

                                                                            1. Since I'm cooking for 1, have tried several prepared/frozen dinners/entrees... when I had a good coupon. Some were passable, others fails. Remember Dad buying Meyers chicken pot pies on occasion. They were big enough that 2 would make a meal fro him and us 3 kids... with a salad on the side. Remember seriously BIG hunks of white meat chicken HIDING under that crust. Ya had to decide which side you wanted, sight unseen" and hope you were rewarded... sometimes a winner, sometimes the goat. Meyer's still makes them but they're only about half as deep. Bought ONE a while ago and NO "prize" inside.

                                                                              I totally steer clear of any of those chicken, meal in a microwave bag things!?! The texture and flavor of the "chicken" is just WRONG?!?

                                                                              1 Reply
                                                                              1. re: kseiverd

                                                                                Forgot this... but it's apparently among the "food that's not around anymore"?? Stouffer's USED to make big shells, stuffed with all white meat chunks of chicken, smothered iin a yummy cheese sauce. Haven't seen it in YEARS! If I ever DO find it again, would be tempted to pack every nook & cranny of freezer, but would try ONE to see it's the same as I remember.

                                                                              2. I'm a fan of most Amy's frozen dishes, and most Kashi frozen dishes. I love Amy's tofu lasagna... I mean, I actually think it's delicious for lunch, not just passable. I used to eat it, and a whole wheat roll, every day. I also used to love one of her tofu brown rice bowls, but they've changed it a bit so I don't like it as much.

                                                                                Kashi makes a tasty chicken florentine... I hadn't eaten the Kashi in a while, and they seem to have discontinued some and added new varieties, which I haven't tried. There used to be some sort of southwest meal - similar to the southwest chicken, but without any meat, which might have been my favorite.

                                                                                I think the Kashi meals in particular actually make decent bases for more elaborate "real" meals. You can add more veggies (frozen or fresh), pasta, or rice, to extend the frozen meal a bit. Or, you can just add a side salad and a piece of bread.

                                                                                1. Another vote for Amy's here. The spinach lasagne and regular lasagne have both been entrees for my small family (have to cook 2 to feed the 3 of us) on more than a couple of occasions. When I was pregnant and not watching my calories as closely, I ate a lot of Amy's frozen meals and found almost all of them to be very good.

                                                                                  1. CP Shrimp Wonton Soup with Noodles

                                                                                    They're done in a few minutes in the microwave, and really quite tasty.

                                                                                    I'm also quite partial to Marie Callender's Chiken Pie...

                                                                                    1. Tried both Wanchai Ferry Beef & Broccoli and Orange Chicken, and they were pretty good. I liked P.F. Chang's Mongolian Beef, but then I found a recipe and made my own and liked it much better.
                                                                                      TGI Fridays Steak Fajitas were not bad, but I had to add cheese, lettuce and salsa to approximate a complete dish.

                                                                                      1. Call me irresponsible, but the only lasagne I will eat is Stouffers frozen!

                                                                                        5 Replies
                                                                                        1. re: chocolatetartguy

                                                                                          Why is that irresponsible, ctg? That's some gooooooood stuff!! Oh nooooo.....please don't tell me Stouffer's is eeeeeevil for some right-wing agenda or icky (you can read this however you want, but remember I live in your area, so it kinda defines my politics) political contribution. Oh, no...no more mac n cheese? No more spinach souffle?
                                                                                          If I have to boycott, then boycott I will but dammit, now I'm kinda craving something of theirs.....
                                                                                          And it's likely I won't actually boycott. Instead I'll eat their products with a proper mixture of shame, grief, rage, and helpless yum.

                                                                                          1. re: mamachef

                                                                                            MC... I admit I have tried Marie Callenders' chicken pot pies and Stoufers stuffed peppers...but they were eaten under duress..Many years back my former mother-inlaw attempted some roasted fish with a baked sauce on top....problem was she used spoiled heavy cream and the dish was in-edible....since we had chinese the night before, I went out and bought thoses for the next nights' diner ...they were acceptable....I haven't desired them since...but I think now that we are talking, I am going to pick up a variety and put them into the weekly menu this summer, perhaps once a or twice a week for about 4 weeks....I hope Mrs.Ph doesn't kill me.....

                                                                                            1. re: mamachef

                                                                                              Call me irresponsible again, but I also have loved for years the chicken and escalloped noodles (gone?) and the turkey tetrazzini. It's the buttery bread crumb topping. When Andronico's closed I loaded up to Stouffer's products. Don't do it much, but it is such a treat for me to have Stouffer's for dinner.

                                                                                              I think food crosses political lines. Otherwise how could we left coasters ever eat that fine Southern cooking. Is there an organized boycott?

                                                                                              1. re: chocolatetartguy

                                                                                                That's what I was asking YOU!! Because at no time did I ever say or imply that you were irresponsible!!

                                                                                                1. re: chocolatetartguy

                                                                                                  The chicken and escalloped noodles are still around. Walmart carries the larger family size.

                                                                                            2. i am also a fan of most of the marie calendar's items - especially the fried chicken cutlet with gravy (it has been a while since i last had it). also lean cuisine pumpkin ravioli and the veggie potstickers (i add sriracha as it is pretty sweet) or the healthy choice asian meals like the sesame chicken in noodles are very good and decently filling. i tend to have extra veggies on the side.

                                                                                              1. I don't think I have ever tried any frozen dinner except for Lean Cuisine years ago. They must be more common in the U.S. than here in Canada. Some of these descriptions actually sound quite tasty!

                                                                                                7 Replies
                                                                                                1. re: chefathome

                                                                                                  Now....that brings up an interesting question/quest.......what do people in countries outside the US go and get that's frozen/all-prepared? When we lived in the UK, I know Marks and Sparks had quite a line of prepared stuff......one neighbor, it was about all she ever served...even with company! Not Frozen per-se, but just heat & serve.

                                                                                                  I know when we used to visit my son who was living/working in Barbados, there were lots of interesting things in the Supermarket......but we ate out a lot

                                                                                                  Any specials to Canada? Elswwhere?

                                                                                                  1. re: FriedClamFanatic

                                                                                                    I'm wondering that myself. Whilst grocery shopping in other countries I see far more variety in frozen dinners than I see in our grocery stores here.

                                                                                                    There are no special frozen dinners in Alberta that I am aware of but to be honest I breeze on past that section in our stores. I am familiar with a few brands from looking at flyers (i.e. Swanson, Amy, Lean Cuisine, Hungry Man) but the only one I ever recall trying is Lean Cuisine when I was on a diet kick years ago.

                                                                                                    1. re: FriedClamFanatic

                                                                                                      I'm in Southwestern Ontario, Canada. We actually have a whole chain of stores focused on frozen foods. It stared out with just meat, hence the name "M&M Meat Shops" but they have all sorts of entrees, appetizers and desserts. http://www.mmmeatshops.com/en/index.asp

                                                                                                      President's Choice, carried in many grocery stores across the country, also have an extensive selection of frozen meals. They discontinued my favourite: Bankok Chicken, but there are some other decent offerings.

                                                                                                      1. re: Blush

                                                                                                        Alas.it tried to access the M&M site.but they want a postal code from Canada........what's a good one ot make up? (Sorry.US fool here......but once had a UK postal code)

                                                                                                        1. re: FriedClamFanatic

                                                                                                          Haha, I had the same issue. I used N5V 0A2.

                                                                                                          1. re: Rilke

                                                                                                            rofl.that worked....unlike my UK postal code!

                                                                                                        2. re: Blush

                                                                                                          Oh yes, of course. I completely forgot about M&M. We have one here and I have never been inside! It does not cross my mind to buy frozen dinners but perhaps they would be convenient at times.

                                                                                                          PC does have a lot BUT I have celiac and must eaten gluten free therefore cannot eat any of those I am afraid. M&M does offer some gluten-free options I believe.

                                                                                                    2. Many of the Buitoni frozen meals are good, the Grilled Vegetable & Goat Cheese Agnolotti W/white Wine Sauce was superb but I think it was discontinued.

                                                                                                      And for a guilty indulgence Stouffers French Bread Pizza is pretty darn good too.