Frozen Meals I Feel Good About

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Disclaimer: I received four LYFE Kitchen frozen meals from the company for free, but with no expectation of a review. I only accept samples of products I would purchase with my own money.

As a Chick in the Kitchen reader you know I’m a big fan of making extra when I cook, and freezing everything from soup to meatballs to smoked brisket to grilled chicken so I can easily pull healthy, homemade food out to eat later. That’s the best kind of convenience food, I think! I love our vacuum sealer, which helps me keep the food I make safe and secure until we’re ready to eat it again. So, I’m already a believer in frozen food. Especially when it’s my food.

As a blogger, I get a lot of pitches to try new products and I almost always say no. I have no reason to accept a free sample of a partially-hydrogenated oil spread when I would never buy or use one on my own. So yes, I’m picky — even about what I’ll try for free. I was intrigued by LYFE Kitchen‘s frozen meals, however. They are everything I try to do with the food I feed my family: no high-fructose corn syrup, no hydrogenated fats, nutritionally dense, and reasonable salt levels (each meal has less than 500 mg sodium). The beef, chicken and turkey LYFE uses have all been fed a an all-vegetarian diet, without growth hormones or antibiotics.

I also try not to microwave food in plastic, so I was won over by the paper pouch LYFE uses to package their meals. There are none of those sad black plastic trays here; no pulling back a plastic film to stir your meal. Instead, you place the unopened paper pouch on one of your dinner plates, and then the food cooks en papillote, with the bag puffing as it cooks. Once it’s done, slice open the end of the pouch and slide your food onto the plate. It’s easy and so much more visually appealing than a tiny meal contained in a plastic dish. Also, there’s no chemical smell of plastic while it microwaves.

We tried four meals from LYFE:

Chicken Chile Verde with Polenta and Black Beans was my favorite meal. Polenta feels like a treat to me, as it’s not something I ordinarily cook. The verde sauce tasted very fresh, like it was full of herbs, and it wasn’t a far stretch to think I had heated up leftovers of my own cooking. This meal felt the most special to me, and plated beautifully as it slid out of its pouch.

Whole Grain Penne Pasta with Turkey Meatballs My 9 year-old son taste-tested this meal, and he gave me a bite so I could report back as well. He gobbled it down. The sauce is slightly sweet and fresh (not that deep, overcooked flavor), and the pasta is al dente — no mushy noodles here. The turkey meatballs were just the right texture. My son’s main complaint was that the serving size wasn’t large enough. (It is if you add a salad, but he could not be convinced.)

Farmer’s Market Frittata with Sweet Potato Hash and Garden Salsa was nice for a lunch with a salad on the side, though I can’t see eating something this elaborate for breakfast. There are layers of heat here, and I liked that spice. The eggs were bit too dense but the tasty herbs and goat cheese in them compensated for the less-than-perfect consistency.

Orange Mango Chicken with Whole Grains, Kale, & Broccoli was my least favorite of the batch. Although the sweet sauce wasn’t gloppy, it was too sweet for my taste and I found both the grains and greens too plain. It reminded me most of those diet frozen dinners I avoid. However, the chicken stayed tender and didn’t get that rubber-like texture than can happen when poultry is microwaved.

I was really thrilled to be able to pull some of these LYFE Kitchen packages from my freezer last week, when our daily highs hit 100 degrees and I was low on my own home-cooked frozen meals. I would consider buying them again as a convenience food, though they would supplement and not replace my own frozen meals. Locally, you should be able to find LYFE Kitchen at Shop Rite in Croton and Thornwood. Let me know if you give them a try!