guide to TV dinners
a.k.a. Microwave Meals. If you can't toast it, nuke it!
Frozen foods found their way to market in the mid-1900s when Clarence Birdseye envisioned a way to flash-freeze food while he was on a chilly trip to the Arctic. A savvy businessman, Birdseye found a market for housewives who sought healthy vegetables for their family meals during the winter months. As the 60s gave rise to double-income families and less time for meals, complete frozen dinners became a staple for some who were terrible cooks and didn't have the time or inclination to learn the skills needed to take them out of cooking-for-one woes. Frozen food even became something of a fad when astronauts, upon return from landing on the moon, ate prepared frozen entrees and side dishes.
Fortunately, the freezing process has been perfected and recipes revised to the point where alot of these "TV dinners" are not only nutritious, but pretty tasty too! Since I'm such a connoisseur of frozen food these days, I thought I'd share my findings with you. Bon Appetite!
Fun Fact: First National Frozen Food Industry Convention & Exposition is held in San Francisco with 7,000 in attendance.
This is one of my favorites from Healthy Choice. The pork patty, like the meat in most of the reduced-fat dinners, is processed. But it still tastes OK, and the sauce is always somewhat tasty and keeps the meat from drying out. Healthy choice separates its food into different compartments, so everything doesn't run together. I like that. This dish comes with some wild rice, which is tender and filling, and cooked apple. The apple isn't very sweet, but tastes more natural--like applesauce with chunky slices of apple.
I haven't had any luck with this brand at all. Let me know if you've found one you like! I've still put some reviews below....
At 960 calories, 320 from fat this is not a recommended dish. Not only is it high in fat, but it's super salty too! That aside, if you like really buttery, salty tuna casserole, the dish cooks up nice. The crispy part stays crisp, and the noodles stay moist (except for a couple near the top.)Honey smoked ham steak with macaroni & cheese, green beans, and carrots
This one was a mere 490 calories. The packaging promised me something I didn't get. The ham steak was way smaller than the picture, making the dish mostly macaroni & cheese. Marie Callender gives you dinners in one, non-segmented tray, so everything runs together. The pinnapple sauce for the ham made the macaroni way too sweet and the vegetables really mooshy. The ham was very grisly. I didn't like this one very much. But it was better than the tuna casserole.
Turkey with mostly white meat
Let's see, I need to review this one. But for now, here is a link to The University of Washington Daily's review "Turkey TV dinner probe yields hands down winner."
I recommend this one. I bought the reduced fat version. The ham is salty, but then, that's ham for you. The eggs are NOT rubbery, and the cheeze is yummy. The muffin was a little limp due to the microwave, but certainly not as soggy as it could have been. On the other hand, I do NOT recommend the fat version. It didn't cook as well, for some reason. Maybe my microwave was having a bad hair day, though, so you might want to comprare the two for yourself. Hmm. Now that I look at it, the "ham" may actually be called Canadian Style Bacon. If there's an actual ham version, maybe that's why they taste different.
Bleah. This one is not as good as the version above. The biscuit doesn't fare well in the microwave at all. The sausage was all rubbery too. I would skip this one, unless you want to experiment with your cooking by not following the directions on the box. Maybe if you cook the sausage first, then melt the cheese and cook the egg on top, then warm up the biscuit by wrapping it well in a paper towel. It just might make for a less rubbery meal.
Dinner Direct - when you're expecting company or want to treat yourself
Yay gardenburger! My favorite is the mushroom. It has a bit of something that looks like cheese in it. I buy wheat buns to go with them, and get Green Giant frozen corn ears to go with. Microwave the corn for about 5 minutes -- it works best if you wrap a wet paper towel (2-ply doubled up) around the corn to keep in the steam. Plastic wrap doesn't work as well. The gardernburger needs a mere 30 seconds on each side -- place it on a paper towel, but don't wrap the towel around it. I toast my buns in the toaster over and add some mustard relish. My favorite microwave meal!