Contrary to a review history which leans towards a diet based exclusively around breakfast cereal and fast food, I do not hold anything against the vegetable food group. I count Larry the Cucumber among my favorite recording artists, have been known to munch on frozen peas as if they were beer nuts, and might, according to my grandmother, even transform into a vegetable one day thanks to hours spent watching college sports on TV.
So no, I’m not a veggie-phobe by any means, and I certainly wouldn’t spurn the chance to nosh on a salad that could increase my lifespan.
But here’s the thing: vegetables are complicated. Buying them, cooking them, and even knowing which part to eat are all tricky. Also, if I want to add a totally chic “lean protein” to the salad, I have to wield a knife and totally risk salmonella with my careless Millennial kitchen hygiene habits (not to mention risk chopping off a finger).
Of course, I could go the convenience route, but that can be expensive. Last I checked, Panera had a rockin’-looking Asian chicken salad. But $7.09 plus tax is pricey. I mean seriously. That’s like seven and a half small Wendy’s Frosty desserts forgone. If you really want me to eat my vegetables, then get me something cheap, not complicated, and something which won’t go bad should I, you know, put off the whole veggie eating thing in favor of those Frosty desserts for a few days.
Lean Cuisine meals might not be aesthetically pleasing, but they aren’t complicated. Taking something out of the freezer and heating it up in the microwave oven is, based on numerous test runs, pretty simple. A head of lettuce? Well, aside from exercising restraint and resisting the cereal aisle at the grocery store, that actually seems relatively painless as well.
Also, ‘Asian style’ food isn’t complicated. I’ve never been one to even try to understand what separates Korean, Chinese, and Japanese cuisines, but throw some carrots and broccoli in there, dress it up with something gingery and soy-based, and my white person American taste buds are totally basking in the idea of ethnic food.
Lean Cuisine’s new Salad Additions look to engage my yearning for de-complicating veggies by combining the miracle of refrigeration with some good old fashioned step-by-step heating instructions, all the while keeping me well away from knifes.
After keeping the ethos of Asian-style and picking up a head of green leaf lettuce and some spinach at for a combined $2.73 at my local Lotte plaza, I made sure to follow the directions by placing my sesame-ginger vinaigrette in room temperature water to thaw. It didn’t. At least it didn’t within the three and a half minute microwave window the box told me to nuke the vegetables and chicken for, and it still didn’t thaw completely after I stood around and inhaled the smell of bland lettuce for five minutes after that.
This was a most disheartening wait given that the vinaigrette passed from a consistency bordering on root beer float popsicle to that of diarrhea, all the while waiting to be drenched on a hodgepodge of cut up colors that provided little truth in advertising to the juicy pieces of pineapple and grilled chicken breast that the package photo displayed.
Finally reaching a vinaigrette consistency that might fool you for an actual vinaigrette, I decided to make my salad pretty. Despite an art background which includes numerous preschool awards for staying within the lines, I was unable to make my salad appear exactly as it was on the box. The salad tastes like what you’d expect from a mediocre fast food attempt to make a similar salad.
The chicken doesn’t really taste like chicken, but with ten ingredients to make “cooked white meat chicken,” that might be expected. The chicken strips ranged from gummy to dry and were mostly salty with a bit of that gelatinous gunk you sometimes encounter with canned chicken.
The broccoli and edamame would best be described as terribly bland. However, I can accurately report the orange and yellow carrots tasted like absolutely nothing. Compared to absolutely nothing, bland might as well be chocolate cake. I believe, but cannot confirm, I received one or two small slices of pineapple, which tasted canned and were cloying, like the dressing. However, I do appreciate that dressing as well as the crunchy noodles. Together they contributed salt, sweetness, crunch, and a bit of fat, albeit in a very McDonald’s salad kind of way.
Lean Cuisine’s new Asian Chicken Salad Addition is not very complicated, not very Asian, and not very good. But because it’s also not very expensive and not very horrible, it leaves me feeling significantly less guilty about my purchase than an overpriced and not very good salad from say…McDonald’s. It also leaves me less likely to purchase something that will significantly decrease my lifespan, and leaves me with a buttload of leftover lettuce. And you know what they say when life gives you a bunch of lettuce?
Yeah, I don’t really know either. I just hope it doesn’t involve buying more Lean Cuisine Salad Additions.
(Nutrition Facts – 260 calories, 80 calories from fat, 8 gram of fat, 1.5 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 25 milligrams of cholesterol, 510 milligrams of sodium, 400 milligrams of potassium, 30 grams of carbohydrates, 3 grams of fiber, 16 grams of sugar, and 17 grams of protein.)
Item: Lean Cuisine Asian-Style Chicken Salad Additions
Purchased Price: $2.00
Size: 7.2 ounces
Purchased at: Weis Markets
Rating: 3 out of 10
Pros: No fuss vegetables. Tasty vinaigrette. Noodle strips. Cheaper than most ‘Asian-style’ fast food salads. Fitting in with the middle aged women at the office lunch table. Forces me to buy lettuce. Turning into a vegetable via too much college sports watching.
Cons: Gives vegetables a bad name. Insipid two-carrot mix. Not very many vegetables. “Grilled” chicken that doesn’t taste much like chicken, and contains nine ingredients which aren’t actually chicken. Vinaigrette looks like frozen Dr Pepper.
13 thoughts to “REVIEW: Lean Cuisine Asian-Style Chicken Salad Additions”
I’ve tried all 4 of these, the “Southwest” kind is definitely the best of the 4, the dressing is nice and spicy and the beans/corn don’t turn to mush when you cook them.
The rest I would certainly not buy again!
I generally like Lean Cuisine’s and the like, but when I first saw this it seemed like a really pointless idea. And now I haven’t really heard anything good about them. And really, if you’re going to take the time to defrost and microwave all of the different elements … it’s not that hard to just put together a salad on your own. I wish LC would put their efforts into making more of those “Chef’s Picks” meals. Now those are pretty tasty.
I didn’t know having ‘white person American taste buds’ prevented one from googling the differences between Japanese, Chinese and Korean cuisine.
Here’s a start.
I suggest that you grill your own chicken marinated in lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper.
Make your own dressing with grated ginger, soy, lemon, olive oil.
Get canned pineapple tidbits and a bag of hot steamfresh veggies
Throw all together a simple salad. Yes more prep but worth it
I had this yesterday and it was really gross. I ended up throwing it away and taking a quick trip to wendy’s for a salad.
You FOOL! You’ve doomed us all!
That side was supposed to be kept down!
I definitely appreciate all the comments against. I actually tried my first one yesterday and my second one today. I actully liked them both and didn’t have any problem with the sauce. I kneaded it for a couple of seconds then stuck it in some warm tap water while the rest was in the microwave.
I like that they are quick and easy, but on the weekends when I have more time, I will definitely try Alex’s recipe because it sounds delicious.
I ate it once and I wouldn’t do that mistake again. I’m not saying it’s disgusting, but it really reminds me of McD salads (as you’ve mentioned). It’s simply tasteless. And I think it’s always better to sacrifice 20 minutes or half an hour to prepare a fresh tasty salad. Besides, you know what you’re eating.
Anyone purchasing a microwave meal should not be expecting gourmet dining quality. With that said, I actually really enjoyed both of the ones of these that I have tried thus far(Southwest Style & Cranberry); the Southwest chicken being the better of the two.
I didn’t have to work that hard at kneading the dressing packet under warm water to make it a decent temperature and consistency either.
I tried the chicken bistro and was not a huge fan of the bacon vinagrette dressing. But I loved the asian chicken variety! The dressing was amazing and I just took it out of the freezer an hour before I ate it and let it sit out. It thawed out just fine. I actually liked it so much I saved the leftover dressing to use on another salad. The chicken in the salads is much better quality than I expected and I felt everything cooked up nice. Veggies are bland, but veggies are veggies unless you season them. Not sure what others were expecting… It was quick and easy and I got them on sale at a fair price so I would continue to try the other varieties and definately will be buying the asian chicken one again.
Lean Cuisine salad additions was a waste of money IMO. If you’re into tastier time savers you could go the bagged salad route (tastes rather strange to me, but people do like bagged salads), pre-grilled chicken breast strips, cherry tomatoes, pre-shredded carrots, a bottle of Asian ginger salad dressing — and- get real crazy by slicing up a red or orange sweet pepper! An even nuttier option? hard boil a couple of eggs. There you are, two day’s worth of salad. It will be far tastier than the LC which also tasted odd.w
I just finished (well, mostly) the Asian chicken salad. Blech!! I’m glad I had a 75 cents off coupon – which was doubled – but I will NEVER purchase any of these again. I would much rather spend a few extra dollars and get a decent salad at Wendy’s or McDonald’s, either of them would be much tastier than Lean Cuisine. Oh well, back to prepping veggies when I bring them home from the grocery store.
Really disappointed, because I like most of their other products.
I can not find them in our area I have checked every store.. my zip is 16335.
Comments are closed.