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Palatable frozen foods

I cook dinner most nights, which I mostly enjoy doing. But sometimes I'm just not really up for it, and would like the option to pull out a TV dinner and toss it in the oven. The problem, of course, is that TV dinners suck from both a taste and nutrition standpoint.

Any ideas for some palatable frozen foods that are fairly widely available? I don't have a Trader Joe's or Costco nearby. Even if it's not the best meal I ever had, something reasonably decent would be fine.

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  1. can you make homemade frozen meals? and just pull it out when you need to? If not some SandraLee dinners as we call them that dont totally suck are
    Tiger Tiger- Butter chicken simmer sauce- it isnt frozen but it is very quick
    Artisan Bistro- is really good
    Amy's- are good
    Cedar Lane- are good

    6 Replies
    1. re: girloftheworld

      Any particular meals that you'd recommend? I thought about asking for advice on homemade frozen, but that's a topic for another board.

      1. re: JonParker

        Check out Freezer Burns for informative and fun reviews. I'm another one who keeps frozen (Ore-Ida, one of the few brands I'm loyal to) fries on hand. I also have good frozen breaded fish (Trident) for "don't feel like cooking" fish and chips nights.

        1. re: JonParker

          Artisan Bistro-- I like all of them except the beef ones because they use grass fed beef..and i dont like grass fed beef..I love the morrocan chicken the best

          Cedar lane- The ministrone soup and wrap and the lasanga

          Amys- the Indian dishes are great

          1. re: girloftheworld

            Where, dear girl, do you buy these things? Supermarket ? WF ?

            1. re: C. Hamster

              Sprouts(all three)
              Whole foods(all three)
              Central Market ( all three)
              Sun Harvest foods ( all three)

              H.E.B: Has Amy's and cedar lane( but it is a local store)

        2. re: girloftheworld

          I concur completely with girl of the world. For some suggestions this is what I tend to do. I prefer to make things that do NOT require microwave heating. I'm sorry but the microwave just changes the consistency of most meals. So along these lines are things I will do;

          Baking pan dishes, eggplant parm, lasagna, baked ziti.
          Pre-cook and freeze chicken cutlets either fried or grilled.
          Soups, pea soup holds up very well, just but into a bowl in the oven or stove top.
          Mac-n-cheese. (make varieties freeze then put in the oven)
          Chicken pot pie
          Sausage peppers and onions

          To name a few.

        3. HeathyChoice

          1 Reply
          1. re: ipsedixit

            I'll second this one -- their meals have come a *very* long way since they were first introduced, and I keep a few in the freezer at work for days I forget my lunch or can't get out ( and the restaurant pickins in the work neighborhood are pretty dire)

            They'll never be gourmet, but they're pretty tasty when you're out of time/money/giveadamn/energy.

            Much as we'd all like to convince ourselves otherwise, and much as we'd all *prefer* to do otherwise, there are just times when you just don't give a shit for any of a number of reasons...and these allow you to eat something that resembles actual food (an at least moderately *healthy* food) without feeling like you're committing culinary suicide.

          2. I'm with you--I enjoy cooking, but sometimes I just want to throw something in the oven and be done with it. So, I keep a bag of Ore-Ida tater tots in the freezer, and lately have been buying Barber stuffed chicken breasts for those nights I don't want to fuss. I loved them as a kiddo and still love them as a kiddo in an adult suit. The broccoli and cheese ones are new to me and yummy, and the chicken Kiev is my very favorite.

            http://www.barberfoods.com/Our-Produc...

            Keep bags of your favorite frozen veggies on hand and you're good to go. By the way, truffle oil drizzled over tater tots is pretty damned delish!

            2 Replies
            1. re: kattyeyes

              I had forgotten about the Barber chicken breasts. Good call. I used to love those. The chicken Kiev was also my favorite. Thanks for reminding me.

              1. re: JonParker

                :) I was pleasantly surprised to find I hadn't outgrown them. Enjoy!

            2. If you want frozen prepared foods, I assume you are willing to eat meals with high salt content. In that case, the Marie Callender line of pot pies is quite tasty. They require an hour in the oven - microwave won't do. Some of the other MC meals can be nuked. It's been many years since I had one so I can't remember what the choices are.

              1 Reply
              1. re: greygarious

                I have a friend who eats them regularly, but I've never tried them. I don't mind waiting an hour -- in fact, I really hate using the microwave for anything.

                I'll give them a shot. Thanks!

              2. That's a tuff one...Micalenas (spelling)in a green box.they are .99 cents. Get 4 to 6 and mix it up. Frozen prepared food is usually too salty for me.(Hungry Man). But these are O.K. I usually eat 2.

                1 Reply
                1. re: wellbaked

                  Michelina's, if memory serves.

                2. We always keep Dr Oetker pizzas in our freezer, as well as Amy's burritos. Also, tons of frozen veggies that we can quickly toss with some pasta or some eggs.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: chefjeannine

                    I don't recall ever seeing Dr Oetker pizzas, but there's a really funny story about them over on the Food Media and News board. Now I want to try them.

                    http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/912890

                    1. re: JonParker

                      I read that article yesterday actually. It's in every grocery store here in Montreal. My go-to frozen pizza, especially the spinach one and the mushroom one.

                  2. I can make a meal out of a large size Stouffer's mac & cheese. I nuke it 4 minutes longer than recommended and it gets nice cheesey, slightly browned crusties in the corners.
                    The frozen Goya ropa vieja is OK but a little pricey, I pick up a few when they are on sale.

                    1. If anyone does have ideas for meals I can make and freeze, I started a thread on the Home Cooking board just for those.

                      http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/913174

                      1. I totally understand your desire but I just can't interest myself in purchased frozen meals. I prefer to have thing on hand I can very quickly prepare in virtually the same time as it would take to nuke a meal. For instance, frozen individually packaged cod fillets (from Costco), thawed in water, then pan cooked with various seasonings. My mini Forman grill can "grill" zucchini slabs or fat tomato slices in minutes. I have portioned rice in the freezer.

                        1. I really think a lot of the Stouffer's meals are decent. I like the Spinach Souffle, and until my body decided it didn't like bell peppers, I liked the Stuffed Peppers.

                          Also like their lasagna in a pinch.

                          1. If I've had to do much in the day I can't cook dinner as well, so we eat frozen stuff a lot more often than we used to. I hate healthy choice. The texture is good but it has no flavour whatsoever. (and I normally love plain unseasoned vegetables!) I do like some of the Lean Cuisine 'chefs choice' and 'spa' varieties, but I only buy about six. My favourites are the Chicken mahkani, tortilla-crusted fish, the spicy beef with sweet potato mash, and any of their spring rolls for a snack. I add extra frozen vegetables before I heat them.
                            We had a bertolli frozen risotto the other day and it was very good. They freeze the sauce in seperate blocks so the rice still had a good texture and wasn't total mush. (never ever eat the birdseye 'risotto'. It was glue!)

                            1. Stoeffers stuffed cabbage and stuffed peppers.
                              Boston Market turkey medallions w/ stuffing.
                              Jamaican beef patties (the ones made in NYC)
                              The regular frozen cheese ravioli from Costco, (cover with your favorite jarred sauce and bake)

                              1. The Michaelangelo's line of Italian frozen entrees are quite good. Best frozen lasagna by far, in my opinion. I think Target carries them most places.

                                1. I like the Kashi frozens. the chicken enchilada is good, as is the spicy black bean. they also offer steam bags, garlic chicken farfalle and chicken fettuccine are the only 2 I've had but they offer a few more. a little lower in the sodium count than some frozens.
                                  https://www.kashi.com/our-foods/entrees

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: grumpyspatient

                                    I rarely eat frozen dinners, but I do enjoy Kashi's Lemongrass Coconut Chicken served on a red quinoa pilaf. You can actually taste the lemongrass and herbs in the sauce.

                                  2. I don't eat them, but my SO likes the Birds Eye Voila! skillet meals for when I'm not around. They are 2 servings, although he usually eats it in one sitting.

                                    I also really enjoyed the Amy's pesto tortellini bowl.

                                    1. I always have some of the Barber frozen chicken and a Willow Tree chicken pot pie in the freezer. With some microwaved veg it's dinner on nights I'm tied up or obsessed with a project.

                                      1. I love Lean Cuisine's Rigatoni & Meatballs. They put some yellow and orange carrots in the sauce, which is different but good too.

                                        Actually, frozen meatballs in general are pretty good, especially the turkey ones. You can warm them up quickly with some sauce then throw them under the broiler with some cheese on a crusty roll.

                                        Chili reheats well, if you make a large batch and portion it off. You could throw it over a microwaved "baked" potato, top with some shredded cheese and green onions and have a side salad with it.

                                        1. If you're feeling soupy, check out Kettle Cuisine Soups.
                                          http://www.kettlecuisine.com/
                                          I like minestrone and Greek orzo best, but they all look pretty good. Great for nights when you just want a hunk of crusty bread and soupy goodness. I get it at Super Target.

                                          1. I keep frozen veggie burger patties i made in the freezer, (or i buy sunshine burgers) no micro here so i reheat in a pan while making a quick salad, add a chunk of crusty bread.
                                            I keep frozen edamame on hand and add to a pasta with veggies for a quick meal.
                                            I had a not terrible frozen pizza/flatbread from newman's own, and if you're on the east coast "tabachnik" frozen soups are better than most.

                                            The make ahead and freeze your own meals would be the best way to have delicious meal.

                                            1. Alexia frozen vegetable/potatoes are good.

                                              1. I've been pleasantly surprised by innovasian meals. Which are basically frozen chinese take out, but nut free, so Awesome for those of us missing take out cause of allergies! It seems to be a newer brand. I found it randomly in my regular Rainbow freezer thing. Just go easy when adding the sauce. the general's chicken sauce pouch is enough for 3 meals, so I buy one of the frozen meals, and a pouch of tyson nuggets and we now have 3 meals. . .

                                                1 Reply
                                                1. re: autumm

                                                  I had the InnovAsian version of Beef & Broccoli with Noodles last night, a freebie from Safeway as a promotion this week on my club card. Regular price: $6.99.

                                                  The reviews I read online on this product were sort of okay, but all seemed to reference an 18oz. size. The box I picked up weighed 16oz.

                                                  This isn't anything I'd buy again, especially for $7. The nutrition panel said it contained 3 servings at 200 calories each, but there was barely enough inside the box to fill a normal-sized dinner plate with a reasonable serving. I'm not a huge eater overall, and had both breakfast and lunch yesterday (though not huge portions for either), but I was still hungry after I finished eating all three "portions".

                                                2. They are salt bombs, like all frozen foods but Bertolli frozen pasta dishes are quite good.

                                                  1. California Pizza Kitchen and DiGiorno pizzas are acceptable. +1 on the Barber stuffed chicken breasts.

                                                    1. Rosina frozen meatballs.

                                                      1. Chung's spring rolls
                                                        https://www.google.com/search?q=chung...