I don’t usually buy frozen packages of Lean Cuisine, Healthy Choice, or similar products because most have only meat options and I am vegetarian. The other day at the grocery store I saw a Healthy Choice that didn’t have any chicken, seafood, or any other ingredients that I wouldn’t eat and it looked pretty tasty as a quick option for lunch, so I decided to try it out.
Packaging, Price, and Preparation
The price was very reasonable at only $1.87 for a one serving box of 9.4 ounces (266 grams). The box is mostly white with lots of green. The Healthy Choice logo is near the top in green lettering and a picture of the meal prepared on a plate is near the bottom of the front of the box. It claims to be all natural with no preservatives.
The meal came in a cardboard box containing a plastic tray topped with a plastic film type material that can be peeled off. To prepare the food you can use the microwave (which is the quickest option and the one I chose) and heat for several minutes after puncturing the plastic film, or you can pop it in a conventional oven on a cookie tray for about a half hour.
On the box it cautions to keep the meal frozen until ready to prepare, and to be sure the food is cooked thoroughly by reaching an internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit.
The Portabella Spinach Parmesan is a “9 grain penne with baby portabella mushrooms, spinach and tomatoes, topped with parmesan cheese.” One serving contains 270 calories (of which 70 calories are from fat).
Total fat in the meal is 7 grams, with 2.5 grams of saturated fat, no trans fat, 1 gram of polyunsaturated fat, and 3.5 grams of monounsaturated fat. There is 10 mg of cholesterol (3% of the daily value) and a large amount of sodium: 580 mg or 24% of the daily value! On a good note, there is also 5 grams of fiber (20% of the recommended daily intake) and 12 grams of protein.
This meal has a decent amount of vitamins, including 15% daily value of vitamin A, 15% for calcium, many B vitamins, and other important vitamins and minerals.
This meal is equivalent to 5 Weight Watchers points, or 2 starches, 1 vegetable, and 1 fat, according to the American Diabetes Association and American Dietetic Association.
The flavor of this frozen meal from Healthy Choice is pretty good on its own, although I did add a touch of garlic powder to it. It has a hearty Chablis sauce flavored with onion and garlic puree, and salt, of course, as noticed in the nutritional information. I could see chucks of red peppers, spinach, and plenty of mushrooms in the meal. I think it could have omitted the cheese and some of the sodium, and added a touch more spinach and tomato, as I think it could have been much healthier and it would probably still taste almost identical.
I was satisfied with the taste of this frozen meal and it did fill me quite well. I felt it was a reasonable portion.
I liked this meal and would pick up a few again for those times when I am running late for work and need to grab something quick, but with the high sodium content I am certain I could make healthier choices with my own cooking. This has inspired me to cook pasta ahead of time and perhaps different sauces to mix and match for work and to take that with me instead of a processed packaged frozen meal. I will add more vegetables and less salt to my food and it will taste just as good.
I was most impressed with the price of this product as comparable items can be over $3.00 or $4.00 for one serving, and that’s much too high for me to spend on a quick meal for lunch. I would like to see more vegetarian and vegan options offered for frozen lunches at reasonable prices at the local grocery store.
product packaging and labeling