The Trouble with Convenience Meals

No, not their “nutritional value,” although there’s certainly that.

No, the trouble here is that for being “convenience meals,” they’re not always all that convenient. A sandwich here and there, maybe, but if I try to buy a TV dinner to eat on my lunch break, I am almost guaranteed to find something in it that I simply won’t eat.

Veggies

Veggies are probably the biggest “I don’t want this” problem of TV dinners. Corn I’ll eat, though after it’s been in the microwave it really needs something added to make it palatable. This even with dinners known for overloading absolutely everything with salt.

But as for the other types of veggies in your typical TV dinner? Honestly, I’d rather just eat a salad.

Potatoes

“Roasted” potatoes I can manage, especially as the meals that contain these usually have some kind of sauce to go with them. (Usually the “steamers” variety in which everything is mixed together.)

Mashed potatoes… eh, I like them, but just like with the corn, microwaved mashed potatoes need something extra. A few meals include gravy for the potatoes, but as these heat everything up together, the entree ends up soaking up most of it. And for those that don’t include gravy…. those potatoes are really dry once all the cooking is done.

Here’s a hint: when I buy the Hungry Man meals with the honey bourbon dipping sauce, I’m not using it as dipping sauce. Onto the potatoes it goes!

Entree

Most of the entrees I’ve gotten are fairly decent–they are the reason for selecting a particular meal, after all! But sometimes even these leave something to be desired.

Have you ever noticed how, when you microwave a meal, anything you want to be dry comes out soggy and everything you want moist comes out dry?
Maybe that’s just me, but that’s my experience with some of these entrees. Venting doesn’t seem to matter, it happens no matter what. Case in point, the Hungry Man meal with three pieces of bone-in chicken.

Now, one of those pieces is white meat, which tends to be a bit drier than dark meat anyway. But we’re still heading back into the “I need to add something” territory, and the whole point of buying a TV dinner is so that I don’t need to pack something extra for my lunch break.

Dessert

Yup, gonna pick on Hungry Man again. 😉 (I do like their meals, they just happen to be so…. convenient to use as an example of the problems I’m describing.)

Many convenience meals aren’t going to come with desserts. That’s okay.
Some, like certain of Hungry Man’s product line, do come with them. That’s also fine.

But what they have for dessert is the problem.

See, that meal with the three pieces of chicken comes with a brownie. Another of HM’s meals, the “Selects” variety with ham and a piece of boneless chicken, comes with some apple/cranberry concoction.

I want the ham and chicken meal (that’d go right back to my comment about the dipping sauce and the mashed potatoes), but I’d rather have the brownie.
Not because of a sweet tooth for chocolate, though I do have that.
Not because I don’t like apples–I’m not terribly keen on cranberries, and I’m not so sure about a frozen-then-cooked dessert involving apples, but I do quite like apples themselves.

But as of a few years ago, I’m also allergic to apples.
Oddly enough I can have certain things made with apples. I can still enjoy apple cider and quite a number of foods that have apple juice or dried apples as an ingredient (those jiffy mix “blueberry” muffins that don’t actually use blueberries come to mind). That’d be Oral Allergy Syndrome for ya.
But I’m fairly limited on what new things I’m willing to try that involve the fruit, and this particular dessert does not appeal to me enough to add it to that list.

Summary

To make a long story short, convenience meals certainly are convenient if I’m looking for a quick meal that doesn’t require much in the way of preparation.
But for that convenience, I must sacrifice the ability to pick and choose which foodstuffs I actually want to eat, which means some of the food ends up going to waste.

So my readers…. what convenience meals do you prefer? What foods would you like to eliminate from these meals, and what would you like to swap in if you could?

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