Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Product Review - Lean Cuisine Chicken Florentine

Like millions of other Americans, I am constantly looking for new ways to eat healthier, save money, and keep up with the growing food trends. I'm also dirt cheap and get tired of spending $50 a week on restaurant food. My good friend The DailyDimwit is also going through a "I feel fat! Must eat in more often!" phase, and my feeble attempts to introduce him to low cost, healthy eating are futile. I have tried to tell him which instant lunches taste the best, but of course, being a man...he doesn't listen.

With that in mind, I went to my local grocery store and stocked up on 'insta-meals': welcome new category!

My freezer's supply is getting low, but in my attempts to keep pinching the poop off the buffalo on a penny I dug around and discovered a loan box, snatched it up, and ate it for lunch today. Then I read the paper, RIGHT after I pitched the container in the trash. Oops.*

Today's experiment was Lean Cuisine's 13.25 ounce Chicken Florentine meal. No preservatives! Here are the nutritional facts they exploit right on the box:
  • Fat - 9g
  • Calories - 410
  • Vitamin A - 70%D
  • VCalcium - 35%DV
  • Vitamin C - 0%DV
  • Dietary Fiber - 24%DV
  • Weight Watchers® Points® 8
  • Vegetable Servings 1
  • Total Carbohydrates (g) 54 - 18% DV

I'm all about the high fiber content at this point in my life, and for a woman my age, that's a bit less milk I have to drink to get my calcium. The sodium content is a bit high at 840 mg, 35% DV, but that is easy to counteract with enough water consumption and eating acidic fruit with the meal. Calorie-wise, if you focus only on that, it isn't much for a meal within a 2,000 calorie diet. However, knowing my system, internal clock, and overall being in tune with my body (as all women need to be in their 20s and up) I knew that the carb content was enough to keep my engine burning through the rest of today. Me + no carbs = zonked out writer with no personality! That equals less reviews for you all. And yes, people do read this...especially my Rooms to Go! The hits on that are astounding!

Moving along...the recommended radioactive cancer forming (also known as microwave) time was about 5 minutes with a stop/stir in between. I chunked mine in my office fridge this morning about 9:30 when I stumbled in, late as always. It sat for about 2 1/2 hours until I remembered I brought my lunch and needed to eat. I nuked this bad boy for about 2 minutes, found the center frozen like a hot pocket, then nuked it for another minute. Give it a stir and off we go!

The pasta noodles are precooked and taste like plain pasta noodles. They aren't crunchy or dry, and retain the spiral shape pretty well. The chicken is impressive -all white breast meat that is tender, juicy, and no sign of frost bite. The veggies are good; the meal doesn't contain enough for my liking, but I'm someone who will sit and eat an entire head of broccoli and puts okra in everything.

The meal loses points for the sauce. With the freezing/thawing/nuking process, the sauce loses the creamy thickness people adore in pasta, and turns into a watery, runny mess. It appears and tastes as if it was made with skim milk, and in further review of the ingredients, my taste buds were correct. This is where the lower caloric content comes into play. I prefer at lowest, 1% milk within the sauce.

My tastebuds are also an the pro-savory side. The sauce in the meal is a bit bland and leans to the sweet side, so I had to season it severely to satisfy my salty desires. I also cracked some pepper over it, which helped.

The portion size for me is perfect (I am 5'3'' and on a good day weigh about 125 pounds; if you tell anyone I'll smack you), but I do supplement with fruit. I also have an afternoon snack to keep me from inhaling cookies or cake that our office loves to provide. It's a birthday! Let's have cake. Retirement! Cake! New hire! Cake! Someone had a baby! Cake! Someone has diabetes! with fruit on top!

Overall, I give this about a 3.75 out of 5 on my insta-meal scale. I will buy this meal again, but now I remember why it always finds it way to the no-man's land of my freezer. However, if you are craving some carbs, pasta, and just something different, rather than a PB&J or pizza, it's worth the $2.50 you spend at the store. Lean Cuisine also provides coupons, which, at this point in the economy, makes the addition of salt seem worth the 40 cent savings.

*Editor's note: I ate this meal despite the news that 3 of Lean Cuisine's meals have been recalled here in my side of Texas. If I die, now you guys will know why!

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