You have me playing a dangerous game, dear readers. A dangerous game, indeed. Preparing these particular bagged, frozen meals in the office microwave is not a feat to be taken lightly. You know that of which I speak. The horrible, pungent odor of steamed broccoli is not the first thing hungry, cranky co-workers want to encounter while trying to salvage a few minutes of their lunch break in their soulless cubicles. What is the deal with this vegetable? Why does it stink so much? I hate to admit it, but maybe George H.W. Bush was onto something. The risk of committing a terrible olfactory crime is great when cooking these broccoli-laden meals. And Iâ€™ve had to do it twice. Good thing the meals themselves came out all right.
The Smart Ones Satisfying Selections line includes several hearty meals, including the delicious Chicken with Broccoli & Cheese and the decent Chicken & Broccoli Alfredo. The main question any curious shopper will ask is if the meals live up to the promise so boldly stated on the packaging: Are these selections satisfying?
These new Satisfying Selections do in fact come in larger portions than regular Smart Ones frozen entrees. For comparisonâ€™s sake, the Smart Ones Classic Creamy Rigatoni with Broccoli & Chicken comes in a 9-ounce package, while the Satisfying Selections Chicken & Broccoli Alfredo tips the scales at 11.7 ounces. Thatâ€™s a pretty good start.
The flavor of these two Satisfying Selections and their overall ability to satisfy my ravenous lunchtime hunger would be the real test. Good news for me, the Chicken with Broccoli & Cheese meal was actually pretty darn tasty. There was a lot of rice in the package, but the grains had a nice texture and didnâ€™t come out glue-like and overdone. Also, the chunks of white meat chicken were plentiful and, thankfully, not slimy like chicken chunks tend to be in these types of meals. The broccoli was, wellâ€¦ like your typical broccoli, but astonishingly, the specially-designed microwave steamer packaging seemed to contain the offending aroma of cooked broccoli to the extent that I couldnâ€™t smell a thing. Alas, I would escape the wrath of my murderous office associates and live to microwave lunch another day. Last but not least, the cheesiness of the Chicken with Broccoli & Cheese meal is very nice. Itâ€™s mixed with a light and creamy cheese sauce. Subtle, but delicious.
Unfortunately, the same canâ€™t be said of the Alfredo sauce on the Chicken & Broccoli Alfredo. Itâ€™s sort of globbed on there, muting the peppery seasoning on the chicken breast. On the other hand, the broccoli is almost perfectly steamed, and the rotini pasta actually comes out al dente rather than limp and soggy. The Chicken & Broccoli Alfredo is a little blander than the Chicken with Broccoli & Cheese. Not its fault, of course. I mean, as far as Iâ€™m concerned, Alfredo sauce is involved in a perpetual uphill battle against plain old (delicious) cheese sauce. I say, there is a time and place for butter and a time and place for cheese, and right here, right now, dear readers, itâ€™s cheese time.
So, it looks like my risk-taking did not go unrewarded. I was able to enjoy two lunches without creating a malodorous catastrophe in my office space, and yes, they were satisfying. Appetite-wise at least. My fellow drones couldnâ€™t be happier.
(Nutrition Facts â€“ 1 meal â€“ Chicken with Broccoli & Cheese — 340 calories, 8 grams of fat, 4 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 1 gram of polyunsaturated fat, 2 grams of monounsaturated fat, 65 milligrams of cholesterol, 730 milligrams of sodium, 37 grams of carbohydrates, 6 grams of sugar, 3 grams of fiber, and 31 grams of protein. Chicken & Broccoli Alfredo — 300 calories, 4 grams of fat, 2 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0.5 gram of polyunsaturated fat, 1 grams of monounsaturated fat, 50 milligrams of cholesterol, 660 milligrams of sodium, 39 grams of carbohydrates, 3 grams of sugar, 4 grams of fiber, and 28 grams of protein.)
Item: Smart Ones Satisfying Selections (Chicken with Broccoli & Cheese and Chicken & Broccoli Alfredo)
Price: $2.94 (on sale)
Size: 11.7 ounces
Purchased at: Target
Rating: 8 out of 10 (Chicken with Broccoli & Cheese)
Rating: 5 out of 10 (Chicken & Broccoli Alfredo)
Pros: Satisfyingly big portions. Cheese Time. Living to microwave lunch another day. Not having to eat anymore broccoli because youâ€™re the goddamn President of the United States.
Cons: Globby Alfredo sauce. Tempting fate by cooking broccoli in an office full of ravenous cubicle jockeys. Broccoli stench. Eating lunch in the office.