Confession about my diet. Probably not the best, nor the cheapest way for me to eat my lunch. I am so rushed in the morning that to slap together a sandwich with a side of carrots or apple, really seems like it just takes too long. I am good taking leftovers, they are just in a container, which I dump in my lunch bag and go.
In lieu of leftovers (considering I might have just had that leftover for supper the night before, I might not be too into it so soon), I find I like to get frozen dinners for lunch. I usually go with what is on sale and I try to buy the "healthier" choices, or the "dieting" choices, such as SmartOnes, Michaelina's Lean Gourmet, or just Michaelina's Budget Gourmet. I can't stand Swanson. I tried Kashi once. It was okay, but not spectacular. I suppose it was without preservatives and healthier. I'm betting the sodium is still high, but I don't have high blood pressure, so I figure I'm okay there.
I rarely get Lean Cuisine, because I figure $3-4 is expensive for a frozen lunch. However, if I forget lunch, then I spend $5-7 going out for lunch, not to mention the gas if I am going someplace. I suppose I should know better, and that the more expensive frozen dinners are still going to be less than my take out.
Recently, Lean Cuisine was about $1.50/meal ($1.50 is cheaper than the kids' school lunches at $2.35), so I bought a whole bunch and a huge variety. It's been ages that I've gotten it. I've had three different ones this week. Shrimp and Angel Hair Pasta, Lemongrass Chicken, Thai-style Chicken.
I have to say, this stuff is pretty darn good.
Usually frozen meat is tough and chewy and lacking meat flavor. Usually the vegetables taste nothing like vegetables and look funny. The only saving grace is usually the sauce on it. I've eaten many a Lean Gourmet or Budget Gourmet and thought, well, that was just okay. I suppose I'll go back to left overs.
Lean Cuisine chicken is very tender, better than I can do at home. The shrimp I had was not precooked. I could tell, because it wasn't red, it was gray and frozen at the top of the container. It cooked right up during the microwave process. Today, the Thai chicken actually had a red sauce that reminded me of being in a Thai restaurant. It wasn't incredibly hot, but it was delicious. Seriously.
Sodium is still a little high in these dinners. I rarely add salt to my own cooking (although I know canned tomatoes and beans I use often have way too much), so I figure a fair enough trade off. It claims it doesn't have artificial flavors or preservatives. I'm not sure, what is potassium chloride, calcium lactate, and lactic acid? And the chicken tenderloins have "chicken flavor" added with a long line of different and strange ingredients.
Despite that, it was tasty. I'm thinking they might have earned some brand loyalty from me. We'll see how this goes. Considering that it is cheaper than eating take out, and, potentially, could be cheaper than my kids' lunches, then I'm doing pretty good. At least it can be a nice break from the leftovers and just as easy to pack. Open bag, throw in frozen dinner and a fork and voila! Instant lunch!