Consumer Reports: Checking the steam behind frozen meals

Consumer Reports: Checking the steam behind frozen meals

CONSUMER REPORTS -- Want a healthy dinner in a snap? What about a microwavable, steam-cooked meal?

The packaging suggests they’re better for you. But ,is it truly a cooking revolution or just a lot of hot air? Consumer Reports put 10 steam-cooked meals to the test from Kashi, Lean Cuisine, Healthy Choice and Marie Callender’s.

Cooking with steam can be healthy, but Consumer Reports found that these meals weren’t very different from frozen meals that have been around for years. And, if you’re watching your waist, read labels carefully. Of those tested, the Marie Callender meals were highest in calories and fat. Roasted Garlic Chicken weighs in with 17 grams of fat per serving!

A lower-fat option is the garlic chicken from Lean Cuisine which stood out for its flavorful veggies and large white chicken pieces. Kashi’s Sesame Chicken is also quite tasty and offers a nice mix of multi-grains, veggies and white meat.

But, there’s a caution with almost all the steamable meals. Consumer Reports found that the meals didn’t cook very evenly. At times in the chicken dishes, the chicken was dry and in the pasta dishes, sometimes the pasta was hard. The tastiest stuffed pasta is Marie Callender’s Three Cheese Tortellini. It has a soft filling and a decent tomato sauce.

While steamed meals might not be innovative, throw in a salad and some fruit and you’ve got a fast, tasty and healthful dinner.

Most meals ranged in price from $2.50 to $4.50 per serving, but frozen meals are often on sale. So shop around, and stock up when you come across a good deal.