Friday, January 7, 2011

Swanson Classics “Boneless Pork”

Its ironic that Swanson meals are run by the “Pinnacle Food Group” as this meal is nowhere near the pinnacle of anything. The target market for this meal is most likely the same people who would buy a McRib. Fortunately for this review I have consumed a McRib, and can tell you that if you were looking for a McRib substitute in TV-Dinner form to keep looking because this meal fails to deliver.

The carrots were the only redeeming part of this meal they tasted exactly like frozen carrots. The potatoes had an added bit of butter/margarine sauce to add some flavor and it did help quite a bit. However, the mashed potatoes failed miserably on a textural level and felt like trying to consume cotton balls. I had to add water back to the potatoes to make them possible to swallow. This is a 180 from the banquet brand meals which often have very soupy potatoes.

The meat, as you can see, appeared to be wallowing in what in reality looked closer to brown gravy than barbecue sauce. The sauce is a valiant attempt compared to most meat-patty sauces. It had a slight amount of spiciness to it along with the piquant note from vinegar as well as a sweetness and smokiness that is expected in most styles of barbecue sauce despite lacking a certain amount of ruddiness. The best way I can describe the taste and texture of the “Rib-Shaped” patty is if you were to imagine what it would be like to eat the illegitimate love-child of the patty from a salisbury steak meal and a Jimmy Dean sausage and cover it with barbecue sauce. Like most “meat patties” for meals in this price-range there is no need to pull out a fork to eat this as a spoon is all you need to cut through the meat.

I would recommend this meal if you were curious about trying it, but it certainly is not a freezer essential like other, more classic meals such as salisbury steak or meatloaf. My overall rating is thus a 66%.

Vital Statistics

Calories: 340

Total Fat: 14g

Cholesterol: 30mg

Sodium: 1060mg

Total Carbohydrates: 43g

Protein: 11g

Kosher: LOL

Time to Cook: 4 minutes for 1.1KW microwave

Suggested beverage pairings: Mexican beers, Coca-Cola, Lemonade

Price as tested: $1.33

Overall Rating: 66%

Banquet Select Recipes “Classic Fried Chicken”

What could be more classic than fried chicken? Nothing. Thats why this is the only banquet meal to my knowledge that uses “classic” as a descriptor. This meal is meant to remind you of all the times your mother would make you a delicious, crispy, batter-dipped chicken.

The meat in this dish is the chicken thigh, which, coincidentally is probably my favorite part of the chicken because it has good flavor and a lot of succulent fat and rarely gets dry and tough during cooking. Its also the cheapest part of a chicken as breasts, and wings command a premium. The price, and not the flavor is probably why the thigh appears in this meal, and really, the meat is quite good. the breading on the chicken leaves something to be desired, however. The breading is chewy, overly salty, and greasier than than the hair of a used car-salesman. Despite this, there was considerably less self-loathing that occurred after eating this meal when compared to that which I regularly experience with fried chicken from Church’s, Popeyes or KFC. I can only to go KFC once or twice a year, because after I eat it I always feel so dirty I have to take a shower. After eating KFC I feel like the only reason I did it was because I hate myself and wanted to be punished. All it takes is sharing a family-sized bucket meal with a few friends and you will know what I mean. However, I’m sure that if you ate three classic fried chicken meals, you would feel this same sense of loathing.

Despite the meal being premium, there is no added quality in the potatoes or corn compared to a standard banquet meal which have been reviewed before. Apparently, premium in this case means that the meat is from a recognizable part of an animal. The bottom-line is that this extra money for a premium entree is probably worth it in the banquet line. The extra $0.69 is well worth the peace of mind that comes from eating a animal part that is identifiable. This is a pretty standard TV-Dinner and one you shouldn't feel ashamed about opening when you have a night all to yourself. It not that good, but not that bad which is why I give it a 81%.

Vital Statistics

Calories: 440

Total Fat: 26g

Cholesterol: 80mg

Sodium: 1140mg

Total Carbohydrates: 30g

Protein: 22g

Kosher: yes

Time to Cook: 5 minutes for 1.1KW microwave

Suggested beverage pairings: Milk, Chocolate Milk, Pepsi products, OE 400/Colt 45

Price as tested: $1.69

Overall Rating: 81%

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Hungry-Man “Roasted Carved Turkey”

You don’t have to spend Thanksgiving alone when you can spend it with the Hungry-Man “Roasted Carved Turkey” TV dinner.

The turkey in this meal is instantly recognizable as turkey, which is quite a step forward for most TV dinners. The corn tastes as good as any quality frozen corn you could buy. The mashed potatoes do not have the watery flavor and texture associated with many TV dinner mashed potatoes. Sadly, the gravy and stuffing fail to live up to the rest of the meal. The gravy is sickly sweet for gravy and the stuffing is very dry and almost chewy. Overall there is a definitely higher overall level of quality than seen in the banquet brand dinners but you certainly pay for it in the extra cost. I’m not sure of what to make of the cranberry apple “dessert”. It didn’t really strike me as dessert; it was more like a cranberry dipping sauce. It tasted like cranberry and was good for dipping, but not for eating by the spoonful like most desserts.

This meal makes a lot of sense. For $2.69, you can have thanksgiving dinner in about 8 minutes. There is minimal mess to clean up, no actual cooking skills are required, and it tastes like thanksgiving for the most part. This dinner was made for people spending thanksgiving by them selves. I wouldn’t recommend actually eating this on thanksgiving alone, it is going to be depressing. It’s a good TV dinner, but its no thanksgiving dinner. Despite a pound of food this isn’t going to make you feel like you have to take off your pants and take a nap. You may need 2 of these meals for that to happen and eating two hungry-man TV dinners back to back by yourself on thanksgiving sounds kind of depressing. But, if you love thanksgiving and want a taste year-round and all the convenience described above, this is your go-to meal. I give it a 83%

Vital Statistics

Calories: 560

Total Fat: 18g

Cholesterol: 55mg

Sodium: 1620mg

Total Carbohydrates: 78g

Protein: 19g

Kosher: yes

Time to Cook: 8 minutes for 1.1KW microwave

Suggested beverage pairings: Milk, Whiskey, or anything else that will drown your sorrows

Price as tested: $2.69

Overall Rating: 83%

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Banquet Brand “Cheesy Smothered Meat Patty Meal”

I know what you’re thinking, and the answer is yes. I did actually eat that. Do I regret it? Yes.

Not surprisingly, the worst part of the meal was not the potatoes. The potatoes were standard banquet brand potatoes. They are the soupy, potato-flavored starch granules that you know and love. The first thing that should tell you and most of the animal kingdom not to eat this ever is the bright orange colored cheddar cheese sauce. The second thing that tells you should not eat this is the fact that it looks like someone has vomited on top of a meat patty. I have to say, though, the premise of this meal is probably the most American of all the TV dinners I have come across. If there is one thing America loves, it is meat. If there is another thing America loves, it is potatoes, and if we can add one more thing America loves, it is cheese. Sadly, these elements don’t come together here to make something as great as America itself. Or anything else that involves the trifecta of American cuisine for that matter.

Also of note is the addition of “bacon”. As a connoisseur of bacon and pork products in general, I can tell you with certainty, there is no bacon like what you imagine in this meal. What is actually in this "cheese sauce" is “picnic bacon” which is more like a ham that was cured like bacon and it tough and lean. The meat patty is more than likely meat. It had the faint flavor of white castle, but somehow managed to make that taste entirely revolting. I love white castle, but whatever has happened here is heinous and wrong. The good news about this meal is that you do not need teeth to eat this. The meat patty is softer than a moist and delicious pound cake.

I’m torn up on the inside about how to rate this. This should really be a 0%, but I think I should save that rating for a meal that makes me vomit after I consume one bite. A 10% rating is probably reserved for a meal so bad I cannot manage to eat all of it. This therefore receives a rating of 22% and my seal of disapproval. Do not eat this unless under extenuating circumstances.

Vital Statistics

Calories: 310

Total Fat: 16g

Cholesterol: 35mg

Sodium: 1160mg

Potassium: 400mg

Total Carbohydrates: 30g

Protein: 13g

Kosher: Most certainly not

Time to Cook: 5 minutes for 1.1KW microwave

Suggested beverage pairings: Keystone, Natty Ice, Ensure

Price as tested: $1.00

Overall Rating: 22%

Banquet Brand “Chicken Pasta Marinara”

I have to admit, I was more excited about eating this meal than most meals. The biggest problem Banquet dinners have are their sides. They are terrible for the most part, but this meal had pasta, which made me feel more optimistic about it. The pasta and it was good. The sauce did have a hint of zestiness and Italian herbs and spices, but like a lot of banquet sauces it had a watery flavor at the same time. The chicken was well seasoned, but the texture of the meat left much to be desired. Furthermore, the chicken was an ice cube in the center after the full extent of recommended cooking. The cooking directions explicitly state to get the inside of the chicken to 165F. I am sure that this did not happen. I am unsure of what is going to happen to my body because of this. Overall this was pretty satisfying for a banquet TV dinner. It is certainly more classy than most banquet TV dinners and perfect for dinner dates. However, be careful, because food poisoning doesn’t help make a good first impression. Overall rating: 73%

Vital Statistics

Calories: 290

Total Fat: 14g

Cholesterol: 15mg

Sodium: 570mg

Potassium: 410mg

Total Carbohydrates: 28g

Protein: 12g

Kosher: Yes

Time to Cook: 3 minutes for 1.1KW microwave

Suggested beverage pairing: sparkling mineral water, dry white wines

Overall Rating: 73%

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Banquet Brand “Chicken Fingers Meal”


The most appalling part of this meal is not the fact that this they are serving a part of a chicken that doesn’t exist, the fingers. That said, still the meat the “fingers” are made of is unidentifiable and we are just going have to take their word on it actually being chicken because it sort of tastes like it. No, the most appalling part of this meal is the macaroni and cheese. I was looking forward to s side dish that wasn’t corn or mashed potatoes. Part of the problem was that the macaroni couldn’t even be considered “warm”, despite the cooking directions being followed exactly. It was bad enough that it was cold, but the flavor probably would not be improved at all if it were atomically hot.  The brownie tasted like all tv dinner brownies do, so if you like them you’ll like this brownie. Personally I like these well enough, however, I hope it doesn’t stick to my innards as badly as these things stick to the spoon.


If banquet were to make a dinner that consisted of only the macaroni and cheese, it would receive my stamp of disapproval. The stuff is nasty, it doesn’t taste like macaroni, it doesn’t taste like cheese. Its watery. So far, all of the banquet dinners offered elements that weren’t good, but at the same time, they weren’t bad. This macaroni, however, is bad. If this meal came with potatoes or corn, it would probably get a 76%, but the macaroni is that bad, so it gets a 62%.


Vital Statistics


Calories: 490

Total Fat: 20g

Cholesterol: 50mg

Sodium: 730mg

Potassium: 470mg

Total Carbohydrates: 59g

Protein: 18g

Kosher: Likely

Time to Cook: 2.75- 3 minutes for 1.1KW microwave

Suggested beverage pairing: Hi-C, Hawaiian Punch, wine coolers

Overall Rating: 62%

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Rating and Reviewing Critera

I thought it would be helpful to in the early stages of this adventure set some guidelines for ratings and determining what is actually a TV dinner.  My ratings essentially is a measure of how well does this diner meet expectations. Hence, the experience you expect from a TV dinner in general will receive an average, 70%, rating.  An above average rating will be a dinner that meets or exceeds some expectations and dinner reaching the 90% plus range will have to exceed all expectations. It’s hard to quantify my personal expectations, but hopefully this guide will help.


Rating, Points




If this was served to you on a plate you might have suspected it came in TV Dinner form, but are not totally certain. “Must Try” to “Highly recommended”


Highly Recommended.


This is the TV dinner that probably pops into your head when imagining one. Recommended.


Recommended with hesitations.


“Recommended with hesitations” all the way to “Do not eat, ever”


As far as what is a TV diner and what is not a TV dinner is concerned and my reviewing standards, I have arranged a bulleted list.


-       The dinner must be cooked in the microwave

-       The dinner itself must give the impression that it alone is all you need to have a satisfying dinner for one.

-       Nothing may be added to the dinner to make it more palatable before and during consumption. No salt, butter, sour cream etc.

-       It must be self-contained. So things like adding your own water to the dish in order to cook it is strictly forbidden.

-       The meals should come in some sort of plastic or cardboard tray. It may or may not have a divider.

-       Things that are strictly forbidden from being a TV dinner include, pizza, Hot-Pockets, meals in bags, and breakfast items. Frozen Pizzas and hot –pocket like devices should really have their own websites. Comparing frozen pizzas to TV dinners and most other things that are strictly forbidden above is an apples to oranges sort of comparison in my mind.


Hopefully this will help you make better sense of the rating system and understanding what I actually will and will not review for this site.