It’s hard to believe that just a few years ago I subsisted on a diet rich in processed foods and Olive Garden takeout. As a new college graduate, I found cooking dinner during the workweek especially challenging. By the time I got home from the office and pulled a meal together, I’d be close to passing out from hunger. And the reward for all my hard work? Eating the leftovers for dinner e-v-e-r-y night for the rest of the week. Oh, the joys of cooking for one.
Back then, I had a few quick standbys–deli turkey sandwiches, blue box mac and cheese, and rotisserie chicken quesadillas, to name a few–but, my specialty was cheese ravioli, steamed broccoli, and Texas toast. From the depths of the freezer to depths of my belly in 5 minutes flat. When I was especially tight on time, I’d often turn to prepackaged freezer meals to fill the void. Somedays, I’d have a Lean cuisine for lunch and another for dinner. I was partial to the pastas, pizzas, and paninis, though it wasn’t the taste that made me opt for the frozen entrée route–it was the low price and the low-calorie counts displayed on the packages.
Three years ago (right around the time I started this ole blog), I reached a breaking point. I was sick of feeling tired and weak and wanted to make strides toward living a healthier life. I started paying attention to ingredients listed on the boxes (instead of zeroing in on the calorie counts), and I became a batch cooking machine, prepping fresh healthy meals for the workweek in bulk.
Earlier this month, I received an email from DailyBuzz Food asking if I’d like to try some of the new Chef’s Choice varieties of Lean Cuisine. It has been years since I last ate a Lean Cuisine–but I see dozens of them every day in the office cafeteria. Admittedly, I was sort of curious. If everyone else is eating these things, they must be kinda good. Right?
At the store, I selected my Lean Cuisine without looking at the nutritional stats or ingredients list–just as I did when I ate them regularly. Mushroom Mezzaluna Ravioli seemed like a solid choice since I love ravioli, spinach, and peppers.
I can’t lie, it was really nice to have dinner on the table within 5 minutes of walking in the door. Plus, the ravioli smelled and looked pretty appetizing. But after a few bites, I came to the gross realization that the spinach sauce had a disturbingly similar color and consistency of a juicy loogie. Green. Slimy. Slightly chunky…
The meal left me feeling queasy and so unsatisfied that I ate a peanut butter sandwich just 30 minutes later. So much for that sub-300 calorie meal!
According to the label, there were no preservatives in this variety, but the ingredients list is shockingly long:
Not to mention the measly meal contained 28% of the recommended daily sodium intake.
I wish I could say I’m glad I gave this product a shot and that it tasted great and I felt great after eating it. Unfortunately, that’s a big fat negative on all accounts. In the time it took to nuke this dish, I could have thrown together a monster 300-calorie salad, a grilled cheese with some steamed broccoli, or a whole wheat wrap with hummus and veggies–all of which would have satisfied my belly, my body, and my brain.
Recently, this variety of Lean Cuisine was recalled after three separate customers found glass shards in their ravioli. Luckily, the ravioli I sampled was glass-free. For more info on the recall, click here.
I have partnered with Lean Cuisine through DailyBuzz Food to help promote their new line of Chef’s Pick products. I have been compensated for my time commitment to work with this product. However, my opinions are entirely my own and I have not been paid to publish positive comments.