REVIEW: Morningstar Farms Meal Starters Veggie Meatballs

Morningstar Farms Meal Starters Veggie Meatballs

I am an unapologetic carnivore. Steaks, ribs, loins, legs, wings, cheeks – bring it on. To my mouth, I mean; not to a cheerleading competition. My arteries are far too clogged by a lifetime of red meat for me to have the strength or motivation to climb a human pyramid, even if it is made up of sexy underaged girls in short skirts.

That said, I’m willing to keep an open mind about veggie-made foods that are supposed to taste like meat, or at least, a close enough approximation that non-meat-eaters can pretend like they’re not completely missing out on delicious, delicious animals.

Admittedly, I’ve only eaten veggie meat once – I was in college, and like any good Liberal Arts student, I was into Eastern philosophy, which culminated in a ten-day trip to the Shambala Center in Boulder, Colorado. While there, I learned things like ikebana, maitri, the fact that I could rock the Lotus position better than most of my peers, and how to make a bong out of an apple. That last one was not a University-sanctioned activity, but it was educational nonetheless.

It being Buddha Camp (my name for it, not theirs), there were meat-eater and vegetarian options available for every meal. I passed on almost every veggie dish, mostly out of animal-eating defiance and a general distrust of tofu, but on the day of our very last breakfast I had reached Enlightenment and decided to try some not-made-from-a-once-living-thing fake bacon (fakon?) and breakfast sausage (fauxsage?)

The fakon was like a delicious bacon-flavored cracker strip, but it could not hold a candle to the real thing. The fauxsage, however, was spot-on, and I had to admit that, if I ever watched a documentary about the inhumane treatment of slaughterhouse-destined animals that was horrifying enough to turn me off of meat, I could say goodbye to Jimmy Dean and be pretty satisfied with some fake sausage links to go with my organic free-range chicken eggs and the grapefruit from my local pesticide-free community garden.

It is with this experience in mind that I opened my chakras to Morningstar Farms Meal Starters Veggie Meatballs.

Morningstar Farms Meal Starters Veggie Meatballs Frozen

Each box comes with 15 meatballs, which gives you “about” three portions, according to the box. I’ve never been great at math, but dividing five into 15 should give you exactly three portions, unless someone’s being a ball hog. The Buddha frowns upon ball hogs.

The microwave instructions couldn’t have been easier: put five meatballs on a paper plate, cover, cook on high for two minutes, flipping after a minute. I’ve had Hot Pockets with cooking instructions more complicated than that.

Morningstar Farms Meal Starters Veggie Meatballs Microwaved

The results, however, were what you might expect from two minutes in the microwave: they were kind of squishy, and not at all crisp on the outside. Despite the sponginess, however, I was pleased with the flavor – there was a definite meatiness to it, and the spices were plentiful. Although the list of ingredients only specify onion, onion spices, tomato paste, garlic powder, and “natural spices”, I swear I could also detect some fennel and sage in there, which were welcome additions.

Morningstar Farms Meal Starters Veggie Meatballs Oven

I decided to try them using the oven instructions also, despite my aversion to actually having to cook anything. The directions here were to preheat to 350°F, spray a cooking sheet with cooking spray, plop down five meatballs, and cook for 17-18 minutes, flipping after 8 minutes.

I am, in case you hadn’t noticed, I am lazy bastard, so I long-ago learned the trick of placing a piece of foil on top of the baking sheet for easy clean-up. This ingenious “trick” backfired on me for obvious reasons: they tell you to use cooking spray to keep the meatballs from sticking when you flip them. My balls stuck to the foil like testicles to the thighs of a man going commando on a hot summer day.

I couldn’t unstick the balls without losing some meat, a sentence that I’m sure just made some male readers uncomfortable, but flipping them directly back onto the stuck parts prevented further meat loss, and the entirety of the meatballs’ surfaces actually turned out nice and crispy.

Morningstar Farms Meal Starters Veggie Meatballs Inside

I found that the veggieballs cooked in the oven had a firmer texture on the inside and got some nice crunch and browning on the outside, making them less spongy and more meat-like.

Morningstar Farms Veggie Meatballs are called a Meal Starters; presumably, this means they are a means in which to start your meal, which in this case, would obviously be spaghetti and meatballs. Oh sure, I could have cooked up some whole grain pasta and got a jar of veghead-friendly sauce, but I took the phrase “Meal Starters” literally and ate them like an appetizer.

Morningstar Farms Meal Starters Veggie Meatballs Sauced

Oh, who am I kidding, I ate them with a plastic fork and a cup of Domino’s Marinara Sauce I found in my Drawer of Orphaned Condiments. I didn’t bother putting the oven-cooked balls on a plate or even leaving the kitchen. I again blame my laziness on the lethargy caused by eating too much real meat.

While Morningstar Farms Meal Starters Veggie Meatballs didn’t convert me to a vegetarian for life, I appreciate whatever dark arts they use to turn soy and spices into a meatless meatball that I would gladly eat if one of my filthy hippy friends invited me over for dinner. While the microwaved balls fell short in the texture department, the oven-cooked ones were quite pleasant, and the spices used were well-balanced, warding off any ideas of blandness.

These veggie meatballs get my Buddha Camp seal of approval. I’d try to sit Lotus in their honor, but I’m afraid my knee joints would pop because I am no longer a young, spry college student and my Enlightenment flew out the window once I started putting words like “synergy” and “dictation” on my resumé.

(Nutrition Facts – 5 meatballs – 130 calories, 40 calories from fat, 4.5 grams of fat, 0.5 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 2.5 grams of polyunsaturated fat, 1 gram of monounsaturated fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 390 milligrams of sodium, 180 milligrams of potassium, 8 grams of carbohydrates, 3 grams of dietary fiber, less than 1 gram of sugar, 14 grams of protein, 4% calcium, and 8% iron.)

Item: Morningstar Farms Meal Starters Veggie Meatballs
Purchased Price: $4.99
Size: 8.5 ounces (15 meatballs)
Purchased at: Safeway
Rating: 8 out of 10
Pros: Very well-spiced. The word “fauxsage”. Easy cooking instructions. Youthful college-Buddhist enthusiasm. Oven-cooked balls had a nice, crispy outside.
Cons: Spongy texture when microwaved. Being too old and rickety to sit in the Lotus position. Sticky (meat)balls. Ball hogs.

12 thoughts to “REVIEW: Morningstar Farms Meal Starters Veggie Meatballs”

  1. Sounds like a nice product–but why oh why do these alternative, non-meat products cost more than the meat versions?!?

  2. Thumbs up for the Drawer of Orphaned Condiments!

    Mine is actually a (partial) Pantry Shelf of Orphaned Condiments.

    1. The best part about the Drawer of Orphaned Condiments is that you’re sometimes pleasantly surprised at what you find in there. The worst part about the Drawer of Orphaned condiments is when one of the packets randomly goes “splort” all over the other orphans.

  3. Their veggie burgers are also surprisingly good. They were on sale at Target and I was feeling the after-effects of a very piggy weekend, so I figured why not? And easy too, you cook them right from frozen in just a few minutes. I might even do meatless Monday today.

  4. Since I am also majorly carnivorous, I really appreciated this review. Nothing wrong with cutting back on all that saturated fat and cholesterol when you can find a tasty way to do it. And by the way, also being lazy, the trick is to microwave these types of things to almost done, then pop them in the toaster over for a few minutes. Quick and crispy, all at the same time.

  5. “underaged girls” Expect a visit from the FBI. You could have at least said “barely legal” and we would have understood you.

    1. That…kind of would have ruined the reference, what with the high school and the cheerleading and oh heck I’ll just explain it to the FBI when they get here. Maybe I’ll get lucky and there will be a Kirsten Dunst fan among them.

  6. i am going to blame the fact that you are a meat eater on that score of eight. those things are disgusting. i have been vegan/strict veggie for twenty one years and i have had pretty much every fake meat type and brand out there. these, these are just not it. morningstar farms makes a goddamned fine veggie crumble and sausage crumble though.

  7. I run a vegan and vegetarian restaurant and have been looking for a substitute to making my own Lentil “meat”balls from scratch and came across this review. I laughed outloud multiple times. Kudos to the author for making boring veggie food sound hilarious.

Comments are closed.