REVIEW: Banquet Select Recipe Chicken Parmesan

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 didn’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
Price: $1.50
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.

23 thoughts to “REVIEW: Banquet Select Recipe Chicken Parmesan”

  1. Sounds decent…maybe I’ll grab one to irradiate on the night shift sometime. I should eat less fast food, anyhow, and this has fewer calories even if it’s still unhealthy.

  2. I never knew that white meat chicken was considered “gourmet”. Banquet meals and myself have a long personal history that dates back to the transient “rent by the night” rooms that I used to live in. God, I’ll never forget the night that I was drunk and left my Banquet chicken in the public oven until it smoked out the other residents. Banquet has been with me through the roughest of times….

  3. It looks like there are french fries under the chicken. Mmm…french fries and chicken would make a craptastic Banquet Select Recipe meal.

  4. I ate a lot of these when I wasn’t doing so well in life. I still keep ’em stocked in my freezer….eating them is strangely comforting.

  5. I like their spaghetti and meatballs meal but, I don’t eat the meatballs. I’m sure the pasta is okay but I just can’t swallow the Banquet’s idea of “meat”.

  6. I too have a soft spot for Banquet. A couple of years ago when I was seriously broke and recently divorced, Banquet used to give me the illusion I was actually eating a proper meal. I used to be fond of their fried chicken meal.

    It was also a nice break from my staple diet of the time – tuna sandwiches and coffee. Good times (not).

  7. angry bob hates when grimy hobos laugh at his stinginess so he briefly considered trying these things. Then he realized it’s still cheaper to just dump their bodies in the ocean. That’ll show them who’s stingy.

  8. Banquet makes a chicken nugget meal with french fries, but you don’t want that one. The nuggets have zero chicken flavor.
    So aside from your pretty decent rating of this meal, I don’t really believe any Banquet chicken meal can taste like chicken.

  9. You cheap skates. Isn’t it cheaper to buy pasta at a dollar store and splurge on a decent jar of sauce at a store? On the other hand, it is Banquet, and their greasy chicken nugget meals have kept me happy as a wee brat, so I’ll give them props for trying something classy.

    And say what you will about Banquet, but I liked their chicken nugget meal with fries and corn. Didn’t they also do a half-way decent swedish meatball thing as well? Or was that someone else?

  10. Red Icculus – Would it shocked you if I said that the Homestyle Bake you made looks trashily tasty?

    Chuck – I understand about taking it one step at a time, but maybe switch to Lean Cuisine from fast food if you want to spare the belly some cals.

    Captain Needa – Be fair, any frozen dinner will elicit that response if you actually look at it.

    bikerbabeee – I don’t know about improving, but definitely prolonging (or shortening, depending on how much you eat).

    Lex – Yeah, but you guys probably walk and enjoy each other’s companies on the street. Here, we just barrel down freeways to get away from each other.

    Alex Lifeson – I am afraid to use the microwave when I’m drunk, I can’t imagine tossing something in with non-radioactive heat.

    Marvo – Banquet already has chicken fingers with fries, which they somehow make less wholesome than it already is in real life.

  11. ultradave – Yes, comforting in that masochistically nostalgic kind of way.

    K.C. – I actually kind of like their meatballs. It has a spongy texture not seen in real meatballs, but it makes me feel like I’m in some type of cheap, Italian kitchen. I’m not sure why I enjoy that.

    liz – I’ve never seen their swedish meatballs, but I like Michelina’s so I’d probably like that one too.

    Alisha – As previously stated, any frozen dinner is disgusting if you actually look at it when you’re eating.

    StephanieS – That doesn’t sound like a very balanced diet, but I’ve probably been eating worse for most of my life.

    angry bob – That seems like a lot of unpleasant labor to go through to off a hobo. I wouldn’t want to carry one of them around for any amount of time.

    mooo – Banquet: the only meal that costs less per ounce than uncooked rice.

    skibs – I actually like those, but only because I drown the nuggets in ketchup. They stopped making it here, though, they replaced the fries with mac and cheese. The bastards!

    Reprobate – Yes, but cooking pasta takes a pot, a stove, and boiling water. All luxery items to readers of The Impulsive Buy.

  12. It’s not so bad if the hobo in question is already hanging out near a dock, cliff, etc. and you’re adept at rolling things with a stick. Check the pockets for booze before you start rolling them, though.

  13. Banquet. is. filthy. Period…
    I think if we sent Banquet meals to the starving children in Africa, they’d still die of malnutrition. And say, where’s Sally Struthers? Betch ate all my rice!

  14. Really…and a microwave isn’t a luxury item? Besides, one can cook pasta in a microwave if one is so inclined. Like ramen noodles…although ramen noodles are “pre-cooked”, I’ll give it that.

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