Banquet holds a special place in my heart, and not just in the cholesterol-filled regions either. For as long as I can remember, Banquet has been cranking out meals that rarely go above the rate of one dollar. Even as gas prices have risen to the point where I regularly consider skipping important things like school and frat parties just to save a little scratch, I know I can find a cheap frozen meal that will do a decent job of filling me up.
With the introduction of their Select Recipe line of meals, Banquet is looking to be more than just stop-gap chow for broke people. They are now looking to compete with brands like Marie Calendar’s in terms of flavor and heartiness. While they don’t exactly succeed, they would earn themselves a trophy if the frozen food market was like one of those self-esteem boosting little leagues for weenies.
Select Recipes differ from other Banquet meals because they offer up more vegetables and generally more “gourmet” ingredients such as white meat chicken in this Chicken Parmesan selection. The chicken is still emulsified and processed to the depths of Hell, yes, but it is white meat nonetheless. The result is a slightly inflated price of $1.50 per box, which is still cheaper than anything the government should legally allow you to eat as a meal.
Predictably, the broccoli turns into green mush once it touches your teeth. Those spoiled by those fancy steam-cooked microwave vegetables will be sorely disappointed. You can salvage it by smothering it with cheese whiz, but I doubt you’ll feel good about yourself afterwards.
The chicken, however, surprised me by not becoming too soggy even after being cooked on top of the sauce and penne pasta. It actually had a decent amount of flavor despite without tasting too salty. Pasta often turns into a gummy paste after being nuked in the microwave, but it managed to stay reasonably firm and completed the surprisingly edible meal. Cheapskates, heed my call: you may miss your fifty cents now, but even the grimiest of all hobos would laugh at your stinginess if you didnâ€™t give these meals a try.
(Nutritional Facts – 1 meal – 350 calories, 140 calories from fat, 15 grams of fat, 3.5 grams of saturated fat, 20 mg of cholesterol, 870mg sodium, 37 grams of carbs, 8 grams of dietary fiber, 4 grams of sugar, 17 grams of protein, 6% Vitamin A, 30% Vitamin C, 15% Calcium, 15% Iron, 10% Vitamin E, 15% Thiamine, 15% Riboflavin, 10% Niacin, 10% Vitamin B6, 10% Folic Acid, 30% Phosphorus, and 10% Magnesium)
Item: Banquet Select Recipe Chicken Parmesan
Purchased at: Stater Bros.
Rating: 7 out of 10
Pros: A decent serving of vegetables to help curb your malnourishment. Chicken and pasta maintain a nice texture even after being microwaved. Now made with white meat chicken.
Cons: Chicken is still processed. Broccoli is way overcooked and soft. 50% more expensive than the regular meals. Letting gas prices control your life.