Tuesday, June 16, 2009

My First Frozen Entree Review

Hello there! My name is Dan, the "Freezer dude." I eat a lot of frozen food. Some would commend me, some would condemn me. Regardless, I find myself eating more frozen food than anything else. I figure as long as I'm eating everything known to come out of a freezer, I may as well help out others by telling them whether or not I recommend something; after all, another opinion never did anybody any harm.

I'll kick off my reviews with a Healthy Choice meal. Now I ordinarily don't nitpick about whether a frozen item is healthy or not, I usually just buy it if it looks good. I like to be conscious of what I eat, not regulatory. I have no bias either way, I just eat what looks good, so you health food and junk food activists can relax.

So here's the preliminary specs on this meal:

Serving size: 1 Meal (10 oz.)
Calories: 280
Calories from fat: 60

Amount/Serving %DV*
Total Fat (6 g) 9%
Saturated Fat (2.5 g) 13%
Trans Fat (0 g)
Cholesterol (15 mg) 5%
Sodium (600 mg) 25%
Vitamin A 10%
Calcium 20%
Total Carbohydrates (39 g) 13%
Dietary Fiber (7 g) 28%
Sugar (6 g)
Protein (13 g)
Vitamin C (2%)
Iron (10%)

So far, so good. This meal is pretty healthy; the ingredients list has actual familiar words in it, and the sodium and fat content is pretty under control, however, if it tastes like cardboard, I'm not on board. So I put it in the microwave for a minute longer than the directions said (because my ghetto microwave is from 1986), and the intoxicating smell erupting from the direction of my kitchen was heavenly. Upon opening the microwave and inspecting the meal, everything was steamy and looked well heated and perfectly cooked.

I usually find "healthy" frozen food lacking that special something that "unhealthy" frozen foods seem to have (Fat? Salt? Partially Hydrogenated Palm Kernel Oil?). However... This Tomato Basil Penne rocked my face off. It was so damn good! Usually frozen pasta entrees come out of the microwave with pasta that feels, looks, and tastes like plaster. This pasta was surprisingly firm and not at all overcooked and gummy. The pasta sauce was exploding with flavor, with noticeable pieces of tomato and onion. The mozzarella cheese added was a nice compliment, and it didn't end up rubbery and chewy like so many low-fat cheeses added to these healthy entrees.
Overall, I was very surprised and impressed by Conagra's effort here.

The rating results:

Price: 3 entrees for $9.00 (8)*
Preparation: Easy (8)*
Texture: Good, slightly off textured tomatos (7.5)*
Taste: Fantastic, onions only slightly overpowering (8)*

Overall: Recommended (8)*

(#)* rating

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