Since Lean Cuisine showed up 30 years ago, the number of diet-wise frozen meals has continued to expand. Now The Biggest Loser TV Show is has put its label on a line of Simply Sensible refrigerated entrees.
Weight Watchers is expanding its Smart Ones frozen line with more breakfast and dessert items.
I tried several of the BL Simply Sensible entrees. The Zing Chicken was great — slices of boneless chicken breast with a sweet-and-sour sauce, with ginger giving it a spicy “zing.” One package actually offers about two servings at 230 calories each. But since each serving is just one cup, it might be easy to eat the whole 17-ounce package in one sitting. You get 16 grams protein and three grams dietary fiber, and a fair amount of vitamin A, vitamin C, calcium and iron per serving. I also liked the Beef Tips and Rice, which had a rich beefy flavor and brown rice. Neither dinner tasted diet-y.
To me, a major drawback is that the meal components are in separate plastic pouches that you vent, microwave and then combine. So if you’re taking this to work as a lunchtime meal to pop in the microwave, you'll need to bring along a bowl or plate. Also, you are supposed to add one cup of fresh steamed vegetables in order to make it a meal. I had some shredded cabbage in the refrigerator, and it worked great mixed with the Zing Chicken’s Asian-flavors.
But the reason a lot of people buy a “healthy” entree is to get some vegetables in their diet without having to peel, slice or cook them. If you’re taking this as a workday lunch, you’d have to pack veggies and cook them in the company break room. I suppose it’s hard for these dinner manufacturers to keep broccoli or asparagus looking appetizing in a refrigerated sauce. But I really think more veggies should be included in these entrees.
Simply Sensible’s $6.99 suggested retail price seems steep, although you are supposed to get two one-cup servings, which makes it about $3.50 per serving.
Weight Watchers’ new Morning Express meals include French Toast with Turkey Sausage for 280 calories and 14 grams of protein — seven points in Weight Watchers’ new PointsPlus program. The Egg Sausage and Cheese Wrap of scrambled egg whites, sausage, vegetables and cheddar cheese in a soft tortilla is 240 calories, 11 grams of protein, and a PointsPlus value of six. The suggested retail price of these is $3.09. I tried the WW brand Chocolate Fudge Brownie Sundaes, which have chunks of real-tasting brownie, for 140 calories and 2.5 grams of fat per serving. Each serving has a PointsPlus value of 4.
WW has a variety of other products — muffins, string cheese, crackers and cookies, etc. If you’re on the Weight Watchers program, the advantage of is that the “points” are already calculated for you. The drawback is that they are pricey, unless you can find them on sale.
My main complaint with so many “healthy” meals and desserts — Healthy Choice, Lean Cuisine, SmartOnes, and so on — is that the portions seem so small! And the entrees are usually heavy on starches, and lighter on veggies and protein. But there are recent improvements, such as more meals with brown rice or whole-grain pasta, and some boast that they offer two full servings of veggies. And, most of these go on sale fairly regularly. I wouldnt' buy them otherwise.
Two of my favorites are Lean Cuisine's meatless Butternut Squash Ravioli, and Chicken With Basil Cream Sauce. But, I rarely eat any frozen entrees now that I'm working from home.
I’d like to hear what everyone else thinks — what’s your favorite frozen entree?