General Question

jlm11f's avatar

What are the best TV dinners/frozen meals available?

Asked by jlm11f (12340 points ) February 10th, 2009

Rate them based on taste, price and nutrition. Are there any recent good ones that have come out? Which are your favorite? Both microwave and oven dinners are acceptable answers.

To avoid “you shouldn’t eat that” comments – I know that TV dinners have very low nutritional quality, I rarely eat them and cook often often enough. But this is for the days where you just don’t have the time to whip up something or don’t have the resources for it such as a kitchen.

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35 Answers

jonsblond's avatar

You can’t go wrong with a Stouffer’s Pot Pie. The price is affordable, and it’s a bit of a comfort food for me.

eambos's avatar

Ramen is the best friend of every college student ever. Super cheap, super easy, super good tasting. You can’t go wrong with something so simple and inexpensive.

I know it’s not a TV dinner, but it’s from the same vein.

swingliner's avatar

If you have Trader Joes in your area, they seriously have the most amazing frozen food section. Stuff that would otherwise take a half hour or so to cook can be whipped up in the microwave in like 7 minutes.

Here is a list of their frozen food options:
http://www.traderjoes.com/Attachments/QuickMeal.pdf

My recommendations:
-Any of their burritos
-Any of their pasta dishes, particularly the Gnocchi alla Sorrentina, Penne Arabiatta, and Pasta Italiano.
-Their “Tasty Thai meals” – these suckers come in a black plastic bowl ready to go.

All of these you can just throw in the microwave, and all of them are way healthier than hot pockets/stouffers/ramen/cup o noodle (Trader Joe’s is notorious for being mindful of the ingredients that they use) , and just as cheap. Each meal is about 2–5 bucks.

TJ’s all the way. Take this from a guy who HATES cooking and hates crappy unhealthy frozen food just as much.

marinelife's avatar

If you must go down the frozen road, I have been relatively happy with Amy’s Kitchen products.

elijah's avatar

I really like lean cuisine
-turkey and sweet potato
-butternut squash ravioli
-honey dijon chicken
And the flatbread thingies are pretty good too.

psyla's avatar

If you can find DiGiorno’s pre-sliced Meatball & Marina frozen home-bake pizza, you must live near the DiGiorno’s CEO because he only allowed 2 of those pizzas to escape.

sdeutsch's avatar

@swingliner is right about Trader Joe’s – there’s very little in their freezer section that isn’t tasty, and most of it is very reasonably priced.

I’m a big fan of Amy’s frozen dinners too – they’re a little pricey, and some of them are a little weird-tasting (mostly the ones involving soy cheese – I’d stay away from them), but overall they’re very good. I especially like the Indian dinners – there’s a fabulous Matar Paneer dinner, and a Palak Paneer, and a few others – all very tasty.

DrasticDreamer's avatar

Healthiest are Lean Cuisine, Smart Ones and Healthy Choice. While Stouffer’s tastes really good, it’s really bad for you – as are Marie Callender’s and Banquet.

Lean Cuisine has some tasty options. I get them sometimes, when I’m too broke or lazy to make anything. Here’s their website if you feel like browsing what they have to offer: http://www.leancuisine.com/Products/

Healthy Choice has a lot that looks good to me, but as far as I remember, I stayed away from them because they’re more expensive than Lean Cuisine. http://www.healthychoice.com/products/products.jsp

psyla's avatar

Stouffers pot pies? I can eat 10 of those & I’d still be starving. They don’t fill you up. It’s like Quiznos Subs. Delicious. Still starving. Give me 10 more. Maybe it’s the MSG.

swingliner's avatar

Also, let us know what you ended up trying and how it was! I’m interested too, as someone who genuinely despises all cooking without a microwave.

psyla's avatar

Now Stouffers Lasagna will fill you up if you eat the whole thing in 1 sitting.

elijah's avatar

The healthy choice french bread pizza is good, but only in the oven. It gets soggy if you microwave it.

psyla's avatar

To stay slim, they say “Don’t eat white at night”. ...or was that Bram Stoker who said that? No, it was Pamela Anderson.

lollipop's avatar

I like Stouffers lasagne, Marie Callendars pot pies, and Digiorno’s pizza if I am going to buy the frozen dinner stuff. I used also like some of the Weight Watchers meals but they have changed so much from when I used them I don’t really think they are as good anymore.

poofandmook's avatar

Bertolli’s pasta for two things are easily microwaveable and they’re great. If you go to Target, around here in Jersey at least, they’re $6. Otherwise they can range up to $9 but you get plenty of leftovers and there’s no funky TV dinner taste.

Otherwise, my favorites are Lean Cuisine’s chicken florentine, and Smart Ones rigatoni & broccoli.

andrew's avatar

I also cast my vote for Trader Joe’s/Amy’s Kitchen! Yum yum!

janbb's avatar

I like the Amy’s Kitchen Indian meals and some of the Lean Cuisine as well.

(But I sure am a sucker for pot pies as comfort food. Brings me back to my childhood when my folks wre going out for the evening. We loved them Swanson T.V. dinners too.)

Ashpea9288's avatar

I agree with the others who have mentioned Amy’s Kitchen. I haven’t had any of their Indian meals, but I love their lasagna, Mexican casserole, pizzas, macaroni and cheese, and burritos. It’s all organic, and many have tofu and are even gluten and/or lactose free if you’re into that or have gluten/dairy issues or are vegetarian/vegan. But if you aren’t much for tofu or soy cheese they have non-tofu and real dairy meals also. They’re pricier than your typical Stouffer’s meals, but it’s worth it for the food quality and taste.

Personally, I can’t stand Lean Cuisine. And with all the salt put into them, they really aren’t all that better than Amy’s Kitchen or Stouffer’s. That said, I absolutely love practically anything Stouffer’s makes…the macaroni and cheese and vegetable or five-cheese lasagnas are my favorites. But you’ll have to eat something else with it, because one package alone probably won’t fill you up.

Lean Pockets are great too. The spinach artichoke chicken kind is the best.

chyna's avatar

Marie Callendar pot pies are good and just one fills me up.

TaoSan's avatar

I love the Boston Market frozen ones, their Beef Sirloin and Noodles actually taste like a home-cooked meal.

It’s the only frozen/microwave meal brand I eat.

Used to like Hungry Man, but for some reason their quality went down the drain :(

Allie's avatar

Marie Callendar pot pies are good, but I find that sometimes they don’t cook all the way through. (The dough part I mean.)
I like frozen pizzas. California Pizza Kitchen makes delicious ones. Mmm…

Likeradar's avatar

Like a bunch of other people said, Amy’s really are delicious and filling. The pesto pasta one and the brown rice with veggies & tofu (add a sprinkle of soy sauce) are amazing. And they are organic too! I pretty much live on them.

missb778's avatar

I know Traders Joes has great products…didnt know they had frozen stuff there—I am going to go there for sure now to pick up some!

andrew's avatar

@missb778 Oh, they’re SO GOOD.

artificialard's avatar

I’m always drooling at Heat Review. They actually try different instant heated microwave-type dinners from all-over the place and give witty reviews. Trader Joe’s and Amy’s Kitchen get typically high marks.

augustlan's avatar

Along with what others have said, I have to add one of my perennial favorites: Stouffer’s French Bread Pizzas. Cook them (in the oven) for about 2/3 of the time listed, then add extra cheese (shredded cheddar or mozzarela or grated parmesan – or a mix!) and finish cooking. Yummy.

poofandmook's avatar

I second the Stouffer’s French bread pizzas. They’re soooooooo good.

jlm11f's avatar

@everyone – Thank you so much!! I was afraid I would find out that I am the only Flutherer who eats frozen dinners haha. Good to know I am not supporting the industry by myself :) Lots of lurve to all of you!

@swingliner – I do indeed have a Trader Joe’s nearby and was inspired by your answer to shop there this weekend. Will let you know when I like something! Thanks!

@Marina et al – I have never heard of Amy’s Kitchen! I looked them up and apparently Giant Eagle has products by them. Next time I shop there, I’ll be sure to check it out. Thanks for the info!

@artificialard – Perfect site for this question, I have added it to my bookmarks. Yay! Thanks!

I finally went grocery shopping this weekend and here’s what I bought from Trader Joe’s:

Penne Arrabbiata
French Onion Soup ~2.50
Chicken Chile Verde ~4.50 (but big quantity)
Butter Chicken w/ Basmati Rice ~ $3.50

I also got a pack of tortillas to go w/ the Chile Verde.

Let’s see how this goes….

jlm11f's avatar

I also wanted to answer the Q with my own fav. frozen stuff:

Stouffer’s Skillet meals are pretty amazing. I like their Chicken Alfredo one the best. Dump stuff from packet into pan, heat for 16 min with occasional stirring and presto, yummy food! Any kind of Italian dish (even just spaghetti) can be accessorized well with Garlic Bread

Hotpockets are good when in a hurry or on the go. They make a quick breakfast too. I like the 4 cheese one the most.

The LeanCuisine meals are decent, their Herb roasted chicken is pretty fantastic, but the portion size is not enough for me.

For frozen pizzas, Digiorno is probably one of the best options.

Quick frozen food snack for a group of people that is good – TGIF’s mozzarella sticks w/ marinara sauce.

Ethnic frozen foods that are awesome:
Indian:
Mirch Masala’s Dum Aloo ~$3.50 (also a Deep product)
Any Deep products
especially their spinach and cheese samosas
Found in any Indian grocery store.

Typically, to find the best ethnic food frozen foods, you need to go to it’s special store and they have the best selection. I also go to our local Chinese grocery store and their selection is good too!

And that’s all I can think of for right now…

artificialard's avatar

I have intense cravings for Stouffer’s Mac & Cheese. It’s just so cheesy, gooey, and creamy and somehow manages to develop a little ‘crust’ on top even though it’s microwaved.

But then I looked at the Nutrition Facts – one serving consists of 25% of your recommended daily fat intake and 34% of your daily sodium. And I didn’t even notice the small print: there’s 2 servings in a box which means that one of these little dinners serve to be more than half of your recommended daily salt and fat intake!.

sdeutsch's avatar

@PnL – I see you’re shopping at Giant Eagle – are you in Pittsburgh? If you are, the East End Food Co-op has a huge selection of Amy’s dinners – I’ve started buying them there because GE and TJ’s both have a much smaller selection to choose from.

The Co-op also has a lot of really good prepared foods (like soups and such) that you can take home and keep in the fridge for a few days – they’re even better than the frozen stuff! =)

jlm11f's avatar

@sdeutsch – No I am not :( live in Ohio. Too bad, because that store looks really neat. Thanks for the suggestion anyway! I can check it out next time I go to Pittsburgh for some tax free shopping haha

sdeutsch's avatar

@PnL – Too bad – the Co-op is a great place to shop, but not really worth the trip from Ohio… ;)

WestRiverrat's avatar

The best frozen meals are the ones I make myself. When I make enough to have leftovers, I usually package them as single meals in either ziplock bags or tuperware containers. Label the outside of the package with what it is and the date.

Then I can just heat and eat when I don’t have time to cook a full meal.

BKSPEDIGREE's avatar

I personally love Stouffer’s meals (Baked Chicken w/ Mash, Monterrey Chicken, Lasagna, Stuffed Peppers and their Garlic Pasta Skillet Meal.) I am a very picky eater, as well as a former Culinary student and Sous Chef. I have a serious pet peeve with biting into a gooey or chewy piece of meat. I trust Stouffer’s meals, because they usually have all white meat chicken that tastes real and is not all fat. I am not one to count calories, I can actually afford to gain some weight. With that being said, I am curious about Boston Market.

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