Assessing gourmet frozen meals.

How to be the best consumer you can be.
March 29 2005 7:27 AM

Cold Case

Are the new frozen dinners any good?

(Continued from Page 3)

Another Ethnic Gourmet; another bust. The nutritionists gave it a few points for being fairly healthy, with "lots of spinach; fiber is in the rice," and tasters gave kudos for some "spicy" and "garlicky" flavor. But the texture was off—"chicken is slimy, wet, and slick."

Taste and presentation: 2.5
Nutrition: 3.2
Would you buy this: 2 ("I actually do buy this")
Value: -0.79
Total: 6.91

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Chicken Fiesta Quesadillas (Archer Farms)
Price: $2.49

A bright spot on the horizon: Archer Farms is the in-house food brand of Target. Most found these "exactly what quesadillas should look and taste like," thanks to "nice southwestern flavor" and "grown-up spice." It fell down a bit on nutrition, given the cheese and lack of vegetables, and it lacked sophistication: As one taster put it, "I could easily make this myself."

Taste and presentation: 3.6
Nutrition: 3
Would you buy this: 2.5
Value: +0.58
Total: 9.68

Linda McCartney Butternut Squash Ravioli
Price: $3.69

Linda McCartney's legacy lives on in her line of frozen vegetarian food, which she launched in 1994. The nutritionists were mostly pleased: "Good yellow vitamins; lots of carbs, though." And everyone agreed that the "flavors are not typical of a frozen dinner; like the sage sauce." One taster went so far as to say you "could serve this on a plate and no one would know it is a frozen dinner."

Taste and presentation: 4
Nutrition: 2.5
Would you buy this: 5
Value: +0.23
Total: 11.73

Organic Seven-Grain Pilaf (Seeds of Change)
Price: $3.69

Surprise, surprise. This may "look like weirdo vegetarian food," but tasters found it "ends up tasting pretty good," with its "good parmesan and almond flavors" and "hearty, risotto-like presence." The nutritionists were in heaven, applauding "lots of vegetables and whole grains" and "lots of broccoli!"

Taste and presentation: 3.7
Nutrition: 4.1
Would you buy this: 4 (both "no" votes were "because of the raisins")
Value: +0.06
Total: 11.86

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