I don’t like to admit it, but I have had my fair share of frozen meals. Now that we’re being honest, how many have you had? Don’t worry this is a safe space. While frozen meals boast to be quick and delicious, they also have the stigma of being unhealthy. But is that really the case? And do frozen meals taste just as good as homemade?
To settle this once and for all, my husband and I stacked three frozen meals against our exact homemade versions. We then fed both the frozen and the fresh meals to one another for a blind taste test. After that we also compared each dish’s nutritional break down.
Stouffer’s Macaroni and Cheese
My husband brought to my attention that the frozen macaroni and cheese was actually two servings. And after we poked our holes into the plastic film and cooked it, stirred it, and then cooked it again, we couldn’t believe how small one serving was. The frozen macaroni and cheese tasted good. The packaging claims “real cheese.” The only disappointment was the macaroni, which tasted over cooked. However, for a quick mac and cheese fix, this isn’t bad at all. But I dare you to only eat half.
Since my husband is from Vermont, he took full control over the kitchen making his macaroni and cheese. When looking at the finished product, his macaroni was not as yellow as Stouffer’s. It tasted very good even though he held back on sprinkling breadcrumbs overtop and baking the macaroni as he normally would for comparison sake. The downfall about making your own macaroni and cheese is the cleanup. Somehow, the flour for the béchamel gets everywhere and then you’re left with a really cheesy pot to clean. But making your own macaroni and cheese is really a blank canvas for utilizing leftover cheese in the fridge and even meats.
Hungry Man Salisbury Steak
As soon as we opened the box, we immediately noticed that this meal would be for a not-so-hungry man. The portion of the steak, mashed potatoes and green beans were small. When we actually tasted the steak, we both agreed that all of the flavor came from the gravy. With that said, the first ingredient on the box was gravy. The consistencies of the patties made us both question the possibility of mystery meat. The potatoes tasted like buttery cardboard and needless to say, the green beans were over cooked. Evidently, it’s a challenge to cook three different things for the same amount of time at the temperature.
Our fresh version was made with lean ground beef, and all its flavor did not reside in the gravy. Because we lost the extra fat in the meat, we added more seasoning to the meat mixture such as soy sauce and Worcestershire. After taking the blind fold off, I compared the two steaks and saw how much meatier the homemade Salisbury steak looked. And might I add that our portion was indeed for a hungry man.
Stouffer’s Chicken Pot Pie
Made with whipping cream, there is a lot of richness in this pie. With nice big chunks of white meat and a decent vegetable-to-chicken ratio, this pot pie’s only downfall is its dry crust. The cream that was added to the filling really binds all the ingredients together well.
What stood out the most to me with our pot pie was how fresh tasting the ingredients were. I could taste each vegetable along with the chicken breast. While the Stouffer’s pot pie tasted very good, I realized that the richness of the filling made everything taste the same. And it occurred to me that people who eat nothing but frozen meals probably don’t know what a fresh carrot or celery truly tastes like—that’s a shame. Similar to the macaroni and cheese, this traditional recipe lends itself to be modified with whatever meats and vegetables you have in your fridge. After all, that’s how these meat pies came to be.