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Marie Callender’s Three Meat and Four Cheese Lasagna

Product Description:  “Marie Callender’s® delicious lasagna is prepared by layering freshly made, tender pasta noodles, creamy ricotta, mozzarella, Parmesan, and Romano cheeses, and a hearty marinara sauce made with Italian sausage, pepperoni, and beef.”

Calories: 380


Fat: 15g


Sodium: 1260mg


WW Points Plus: 10

First Impressions: Whoever Marie Callender’s gets to do their box art photography is a GENIUS. There is no other explanation as to why their meals look so good on the box. They certainly don’t look like that once you’ve cooked them!

Gustatory Impressions: My first bite was spicier than expected. Ah, two of the meats are Italian sausage and pepperoni. That would explain it. Nowhere on the front of the box does it list which meats are in the thing, so I was a little surprised. The sauce looks terribly watery at first, but once you cut it up and it soaks in, it’s not so bad. It’s got a decent flavor and there are bits of “herb” all through it. The cheese is good, but other than the ricotta, it’s not particularly distinguishable that there are multiple cheeses.

Summary: This one tastes okay, but I don’t really like spicy lasagna, so I won’t be getting it again. Also, it’s got 1260 mg of sodium in it, more than twice what a Lean Cuisine usually has. Ouch! It’s filling, though, so if you don’t mind those two things, you might want to give it a try!

Rating: 3.5 out of 5 forks

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Marie Callender’s Cheddar & Bacon Potato Bake

Product Description:  “Oven-roasted red potatoes smothered in a flavorful bacon-cheddar cheese sauce with scallions, all sprinkled with shredded cheddar cheese.”

Calories: 340


Fat: 17 g


Sodium: 860mg


WW Points Plus: 9

First Impressions: Another Marie Callender’s, because they were on sale. Definitely not a diet meal with 17g of fat, but not a total killer in terms of calories. It looks… yellow.  Ms. Callender, your meals are no beauties.

Gustatory Impressions: At my first bite, I am struck by how much you can taste the bacon in the cheese sauce. It tastes smokey and meaty and quite good. And for once, there is enough cheese in a meal to satisfy me!  The scallions are not my favorite, but they’re fine. Some of the potato bits were a little mealy, but also mostly fine. There was a little bit of extra cheddar on top of the thing, but once you stir it, it’s pretty indistinguishable from the sauce.

Summary: Cheese, cheese, cheese and bacon. Very filling. If you’re not a fan of cheese, skip this one. But if you like cheese sauce… here you go!

Rating: 4 out of 5 forks

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Marie Callender’s Savory Chicken & Rice Comfort Bake

Product Description:  “Tender white-meat chicken with white and wild rice and vegetables smothered in a creamy mushroom sauce, sprinkled with cheddar cheese.”

Calories: 280


Fat: 8 g


Sodium: 990mg


WW Points Plus: 7

First Impressions: So, this isn’t really a “diet” meal per se, but Marie Callender’s were on sale so I picked up a few of the lower calorie options. First up is this Savory Chicken & Rice thing. I took it out of the package and cooked it and stirred it and at no point in the procedure did the meal look ANYTHING AT ALL like the package art. If I were giving out prizes for the meal that looks least like its box, it would be this one. (Now I’m imagining a box strutting across a stage with a little red sash reading “Miss Disingenuous” on it. I digress.) Well, at least it smells good!

Gustatory Impressions: The chicken is surprisingly tasty. There isn’t a whole lot of it, but that’s okay. There are peas in this, and you can sort of see them in the picture. They are nothing special. The white and wild rices are good. The sauce is very much like they just dumped some cream of mushroom soup in the tray. I like cream of mushroom soup, so that’s fine for me. There is some cheddar cheese, but it’s not so much sprinkled, since as soon as you stir it, it just gets mixed in with everything else. And it’s not very good cheese. When I got a bite of it, it tasted weird, like cheap lowfat cheddar.

Summary: The best thing about this meal is that it’s very filling. It doesn’t taste bad, but it’s not visually pleasing in the slightest. The ingredients are all good except for the cheese though, and as long as the look of the thing doesn’t put you off, I’d recommend it, if it was on sale.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5 forks

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Evol Teriyaki Chicken

Product Description:  “Grilled white meat chicken, brown rice, red & green bell peppers, snap peas, carrots and broccoli–All topped with an insanely tasty teriyaki sauce.”

Calories: 260


Fat: 3 g


Sodium: 560mg


WW Points Plus: 6

First Impressions: Nope, the photo isn’t backwards. It’s “evol”, and I haven’t had one of these before, but a co-worker who’s gone off frozen dinners gave it to me to try. It smells really good, but it doesn’t look much like the package art. There don’t seem to be as many veggies, the colors aren’t as vibrant, and the chicken is pale with only the tiniest hints of grill marks. (Also, the “compostable bowl”, which I’m sure is a selling feature for some people, came out pretty floppy.)

Gustatory Impressions: The broccoli is overdone. The peppers are good, although there aren’t many of them. The snap peas are fantastic, and the little peas inside burst nicely when you bite into one. The brown rice is pretty good. As for the “insanely good” sauce, there’s not much of it, and it doesn’t taste like much. The chicken has a weird texture. It’s fine, but you wouldn’t confuse it with something you made for yourself.

Summary: It’s just okay. The weird chicken and lack of sauce were its biggest problems. Nothing tasted bad, but it’s not something I could rave about, either. I will have to see if I can track down a few more of this brand, though, before I write off their whole line.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5 forks

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Lean Cuisine Honestly Good 100% all natural Pomegranate Chicken

Product Description:  “Whole grilled chicken breast filet, whole grain pilaf with currants, green beans, yellow beans, ribbon cut carrots, and a pomegranate glaze in a separate pouch.”

Calories: 390


Fat: 9 g


Sodium: 430mg


WW Points Plus: 10

First Impressions: Look at this fancy new thing from Lean Cuisine. Trying to win back some of the Kashi crowd, huh? Well, okay. Before I’ve cooked anything, it does all look like food, except for the frozen little sauce pack. I have to defrost that in a cup of cold water. It doesn’t say for how long, but I guessed for the first 4 minutes you have to cook the main meal. Then you have to squeeze the semi-defrosted goo onto the chicken, and cook it some more. It does smell awfully good. And after it’s finished cooking, it looks a lot like the package art, except that the sauce is darker and there seems to be more of it.

Gustatory Impressions: This tastes almost like something you made from scratch. The vegetables are just a tiny bit… squeaky. They taste fresh, though the texture is just a bit off. The whole grain pilaf is yummy, especially if you get a bite with a currant in it, or if you mix a bit of the sauce in it. The chicken tastes really good. Moist and not a bit of fat that I found. The sauce is yummy and after I was able to put out of my mind how weird it looked before cooking, I really enjoyed it.

Summary: This thing costs five dollars at my grocery store, and it’s 390 calories. So maybe wait for it to go on sale, and save it for dinner instead of lunch. But it’s pretty fantastic tasting. I can’t wait to see if the other meals in this line live up to this one. I would definitely get it again (once it’s on sale, of course.)

Rating: 5 out of 5 forks

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Smart Ones Smart Chicken Strips & Fries

Product Description:  “Crispy breaded white chicken meat patty strips with ranch seasoned french fried potatoes.”

Calories: 310


Fat: 15 g


Sodium: 510 mg


WW Points Plus: 8

First Impressions: This is just sad.

Gustatory Impressions:  The fries were okay. Not crispy, but surprisingly not awful. The chicken was NOT crispy and was in fact rubbery, with a big piece of gristle in the middle of one tiny “patty”.

Summary: NO.

Just.

NO.

Rating: 1 out of 5 forks

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Kashi Spinach and Artichoke Pasta Steam Meal

Product Description:  “Our 7 Whole Grain Penne Pasta Steam Meal is made with spinach, artichokes, roasted red peppers and hearty cannellini beans topped with a parmesan cream sauce and a hint of lemon.”

Calories: 280


Fat: 9 g


Sodium: 620 mg


WW Points Plus: 7

First Impressions: Steam meal, quite easy to prepare. Dump it into a bowl and… WOW. I have literally never seen a meal match the picture on the package as well. And both look great. Massive points on this alone.  ;p

Gustatory Impressions: The whole grain penne is, I’m not gonna lie to you, just a touch cardboard-y. No more so than many boxed brands, but if you’re used to white pasta, this might not be to your taste. The artichoke tastes more like canned than fresh, but artichoke is tricky, and it’s not bad, really. Everything else about this meal is great…. the spinach isn’t too overdone, the peppers are nice and fresh-tasting, and the beans add an interesting texture, if not a whole lot of taste. The sauce is fantastic, it’s creamy and cheesy which just a slight aftertaste of lemon and garlic.

Summary: Easily one of the best vegetarian frozen meals I’ve had, though to be fair, I don’t eat a lot of them. This might be just a touch too “crunchy” for people who aren’t used to Kashi products, but if you like them, this is right up your alley. It’s surprisingly filling, too.

Rating: 4 out of 5 forks

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Smart Ones Smart Creations Chicken Carbonara

Product Description:  “White meat chicken in a creamy parmesan sauce with turkey bacon, basil and garlic over a bed of linguini.”

Calories: 270


Fat: 5 g


Sodium: 520 mg


WW Points Plus: 7

First Impressions: NOW, MORE AUTHENTIC RECIPE! I don’t know what the old recipe was like, but that’s nice that they’re trying, I guess. The meal doesn’t look much like the box, but on the box is looks sort of gloppy and gross, so I don’t mind. The sauce is much thinner than I expected. It does smell quite nice.

Gustatory Impressions:  The chicken is pretty good. Only one tiny bit of gristle in the whole thing, not so bad for a Smart Ones. The noodles were not horrible and gluey, though they do look like they might be. They were only a little overdone, so I was pleasantly surprised. The peas were a fun little addition and tasted nice and fresh. Hardly any “bacon” in evidence, however. The cheese sauce was thin, and not particularly flavorful, but it was fine.

Summary: I was dreading this one because it just doesn’t look appealing to me. But it wasn’t bad. I would probably not pick this one again, but it was filling and not terribly boring so I think it’s at least worth a try!

Rating: 3 out of 5 forks

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frozendietmeals:

Smart Ones Classic Favorites Lasagna Bake with Meat Sauce

Product Description:  “Curly, bite-sized lasagna ribbons in a rich meat sauce with mozzarella.”

Calories: 250


Fat: 5 g


Sodium: 570 mg


WW Points Plus: 7

First Impressions:  I wonder why there are so many Italian-style frozen meals. Tomatoes and pasta must be cheap? Oh well, here is another one.  Smells good out of the microwave. Not as vibrantly colored or saucy as the box art, and the noodles are substantially curlier. That’s okay, thought, I like my noodles curly.

Gustatory Impressions:  Not much to say about this one. The meat sauce was fine, the sauce was fine, the taste of the noodles was fine. I was shocked at how close to al dente they managed to get the noodles on this one, and happily so. The only down side here is that there is not much cheese. That’s not even saying it as a person who really, really likes cheese. There is hardly any, and what there is somehow managed to migrate to the bottom of the meal.

Summary: This is a good lunch. Pretty boring, but tasty and filling. At 250 calories, you could probably add some more cheese and make it slightly better than good.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5 forks

Had this one again today. This one had even LESS sauce, and if I’d graded on this box, it’d have been a 3 out of 5.

Source: frozendietmeals
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Smart Ones Smart Creations Meatloaf

Product Description:  “Classic meatloaf with gravy and garlic-herb mashed potatoes.”

Calories: 230


Fat: 6 g


Sodium: 640 mg


WW Points Plus: 6


First Impressions: It doesn’t look much like the box, or even very appetizing, after I’ve cooked it for 5 whole minutes. Smells okay.

Gustatory Impressions: The “meatloaf” is more like a Salisbury steak. In fact, this might be the exact same meat patty in their Salisbury steak meal. The gravy is thin and the main flavor of it is “salty”. The mashed potatoes are very thin and the herbs in it are about the only flavor

Summary: I thought I had found the most boring Smart Ones meal yesterday, but boy, was I wrong. Again, it’s not a bad meal per se, but it’s just so, so, so forgettable. I ate it all, but in a few hours, I’ll have to check the blog to remember what I had for lunch.

Rating: 2 out of 5 forks