It happens to the best of us, those weeknights when everyone's running in different directions, and cooking dinner is simply not an option. While frozen and packaged foods may have a bad rap, our friends at Dinner: A Love Story are providing us with eight nutritious and totally tasty options for a quick and easy meal that the whole family can enjoy together.
- PJ's Organic Chicken Burritos These burritos are a recent discovery. They’re not cheap — I think each goes for about $7 — but you get what you pay for. Good quality ingredients, fresh flavor, and a variety to choose from. I find them at Whole Foods, but [their] website says you can find them in the freezer section at national supermarkets and natural food stores.
- Black Bean Soup A quick heat on the stove top and a dollop of sour cream, and it barely feels like I’m doing anything extra. Try Latin Style from Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods 365 Everyday Value brand, or Amy’s Black Bean Vegetable.
- Trader Joe's Thai Shrimp Gyoza Dumplings We steam these or sauté them in a little oil and serve with broccoli. I once made a recipe from the Cooking With Trader Joe’s Cookbook, which called for tossing the dumplings into chicken broth with some frozen vegetables and a dash of soy sauce. It took about 10 minutes. I’m not sure why I haven’t reprised that one.
- 365 Everyday Value Organic Vegetarian Chili Organic and affordable. I often open a can of this chili for lunch and top it with chopped avocado and a little sour cream.
- Naked Nuggets These are the unbreaded (so gluten-free) real white meat chicken pieces from the guys behind Blue Ribbon Sushi in New York. I think the genius is that you heat them in a little olive oil on the stove top instead of in the oven. The only problem is that they can be a little hard to find — though their site lists availability at ShopRite and Food Lion, among others. My 8-year-old literally gasps when she spies them in the freezer section.
- Hofmann's Hot Dogs OK, I’ve never actually tried these hot dogs from the family-owned Hofmann, but Yolanda’s franks and beans dinner over on Momfilter sounds so good that I’m determined to remedy this culinary void immediately and stock up. (Slow-cooker owners are encouraged to follow the entire recipe.)
- Amy's Spinach Pizza Snacks There was a stretch when these organic pizza snacks graced the table way more often than they probably should have. For reasons I can’t remember, we called them “Fun Pies” and have had luck with other flavors, too — like Nacho and Cheese Pizza.
- Saffron Road Chicken Tikka Masala There is a whole line of these Indian freezer dinners, and so far, I haven’t tasted one I don’t like. Most take about three minutes in the microwave and come with rice. Add some grape tomatoes or a handful of baby carrots and pat yourself on the back.