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Food Review: Lean Cuisine Szechuan Shrimp Stir Fry

Though I sometimes eat Lean Cuisine products in a pinch, I'm not usually a fan of processed frozen food. But when these Lean Cuisine meals arrived at the office the other day, I recognized the Spa Cuisine Classics box from the 100 healthiest supermarket foods list. (The Chicken With Peanut Sauce was named best frozen dinner.) Better yet, the box proclaimed that the meal was preservative free, so I decided to try it.

I had the Szechuan Style Stir Fry With Shrimp, featuring whole-wheat noodles, baby corn, sugar snap peas, carrots, and bell peppers. After I zapped the meal in the Sugar HQ kitchen, several passersby said it looked delicious. To find out if it actually tasted good,


I'm not sure how a frozen meal can be preservative-free, but it's true: there was nothing troubling on this ingredient list, aside from "caramel color." Mostly, it was shrimp and veggies, plus soy sauce, garlic, and seasonings. Though the box promises a "spicy Asian-style sauce," this dish wasn't at all spicy but actually rather sweet and mild. I was sad to find very few snap peas in my box, but the entree redeemed itself with flavorful shrimp and tender pasta that tasted fresh.

Flavor and texture-wise, the Spa Cuisine Classic impressed. Although some co-workers said the portion looked small, it filled me up quite nicely, and with just 240 calories and 2.5 grams of fat, it was a very healthy lunch. Unfortunately, like many frozen meals, this one is very high in sodium: It contains 760 mg, or 32 percent of your daily recommended intake. But if you're looking for a healthy, fast frozen lunch or dinner, this one is better than the average microwave meal, and I appreciate the lack of strange-sounding chemicals in the ingredients.

Have you tried these? If so, what flavor do you like?

Join The Conversation
Glittersniffer Glittersniffer 8 years
The Lean Cuisine pizzas are actually really fabulous. I was very impressed. I let the sodium issue slide, I just up my water intake by a full Nalgene (32 oz) or two for the day. I figure there are worse sins than extra salt.
erielly38 erielly38 9 years
The butternut squash ravioli spa cuisine is delicious!
joanna-shue joanna-shue 9 years
awwww. It looks really good!! I thought Szechuan food are really spicy though. I guess I can put some spice myself to make it hot enough
cravinsugar cravinsugar 9 years
I didn't know lean cuisine made butternut squash ravioli...I went to an italian restaurant for a business lunch one time, and ordered butternut squash ravioli...they made their pasta fresh in the restaurant, and it was the most amazing dish ever....i will have to try this now and see how it rates as a frozen dish
baciobisou baciobisou 9 years
butternut squash ravioli is my lean cuisine indulgence.
MindayH MindayH 9 years
I just went to the store and they are sold out of this dinner! I think this posting has something to do with it, or it is just really popular!
juju4 juju4 9 years
Cravin -- good for you for taking active steps to be healthier! Good luck to you!
ShePirate2010 ShePirate2010 9 years
if it wasnt pre packed...but im drooling im hungry
cravinsugar cravinsugar 9 years
thanks juju. I have been doing the boring sandwhich thing, but will be sure to pay attention to what my body is telling me until the stockpile of frozen entrees i bought (lol) is gone. I may go back to sandwhiches and healthy snacks like I was doing after all, but I still get cravings regardless unfort.
juju4 juju4 9 years
Cravinsugar -- This is just my own personal experience, but I find that frozen dinners really kept me from achieving my fitness goals. I used to eat them almost every day for lunch, but I never really felt that satisfied afterwards. I'd have afternoon cravings almost every day. Keep in mind that I did not enjoy most of the meals with chicken (I'm picky about my chicken...I had too many run-ins with gristly narly bits of meat) so I stuck to the paninis, pastas, etc. Once I switched to bringing what I considered a basic boring lunch, I found my cravings went away. I stick to lunch meat sandwiches on whole wheat bread with pretzels and an apple. Sometimes I will build a wrap (small tortilla, some broccoli slaw, avocado, fat free ranch, and some turkey), or have some low sodium soup, but for the most part I stick to sandwiches. I think having some kind of produce on the side(carrots, fruit, celery, etc.) and on the sandwich at each meal has really helped me to feel satisfied and I don't get the cravings in the afternoons that I used to when I ate frozen meals. But that is just my experience.
Asche Asche 9 years
But be warned: Lean Cuisine is preservative-free, however Healthy Choice is everything but!
Asche Asche 9 years
To all those too high and mighty to stoop to eating frozen foods: I eat a very healthy diet. Nothing fried, processed, very little sugar, little to no alcohol, and I almost always go organic. With that said, I occassionally eat Lean Cuisines when I'm short on time. However, I never, EVER eat them as-is. To boost the vitamin factor, I always add a handful of seeds (normally sunflower, sometimes pumpkin), and add leftover steamed veggies that I usually have sitting in my fridge. Depending on the dish, I may throw in a few cubes of goat cheese and eat it with a nice, hearty multi-grain roll. After I'm finished jazzing it up, the lean cuisine is always a pleasure to eat it!
sfbutterfly24 sfbutterfly24 9 years
Thank you everyone for the comments you have answered all of my questions regarding lean cuisine(and other brands)frozen meals!!
AMP AMP 9 years
I don't do microwave meals.
WorldTrekker WorldTrekker 9 years
mpaint19 - I understand fear of meat in processed meals. This used to be a BIG hang up for me. My friends and co-workers would make fun of me about it. I would usually only buy vegetarian frozen meals because of this. I finally caved in and tried the Chicken Primavera Lean Cuisine a couple weeks ago. I can honestly say that the chicken was surprisingly good. It was cooked perfectly - not that weird soggy and limp texture that I fear, no nasty pieces. It was just like someone had cooked up a chicken breast on the grill and cut it up into chunks for my meal. I have since tried a couple other types of Lean Cuisine meals with chicken and have had a great meal everytime. They won me over.
mpaint19 mpaint19 9 years
I haven't tried these, but they sound good, and a nice solution for those of us who struggle with portion control *ahem*, anyway - I'd love some feedback on the quality of the chicken in these meals. Every time I've tried a prepackaged meal with meat, the meat always grosses me out. Does the chicken seem really processed, or have you come across any nasty pieces? Thanks!
cmill38 cmill38 9 years
I love a good italian meal full of carbs so I opt for the spaghetti with meat sauce. It's no masterpiece but it does the trick in satisfying my craving and hunger with only 290 calories. I'm sure that's a lot less calories than if I ate a spaghetti in a resturant.
MissMeow MissMeow 9 years
green_bean, I agree about the Healthy Choice Cafe Steamers - they're not too many weight watchers points for me, and they seem to be a better serving size. I'm going to start eating those regularly now that I'm dieting again. I'll have to try out these Lean Cuisine dinners now too - I don't have the time to fix three whole meals a day, and when I'm dieting this is a great way to regulate my portion sizes. I'll just have to drink extra water to balance out the sodium.
jduffey jduffey 9 years
I eat the smart ones & lean cuisines every day for lunch...people in my office give me a hard time about all the sodium...I can't help it I like the portion size & I'm just not into cooking these days.
yellowshoe yellowshoe 9 years
The SPA CUISINES are my favorite! Very tasty, and I love the brown rice with the pecan chicken (or whatever it is called) and the lemongrass chicken. Very tasty! Yes, they are small portions, but then I can have a snack mid-afternoon :) By the way, has anyone tried the Healthy Choice Cafe Steamers?? Not too bad...
gabiushka gabiushka 9 years
Not a fan of prepackaged stuff...
Francoisehardly Francoisehardly 9 years
I don't like most prepackaged foods. I do like some of the Amy's Organic dishes and some of those are low in sodium.
chicchick chicchick 9 years
I eat Lean Cuisine for lunch just about every day. I usually eat ones that are 5 Weight Watcher points or less. They fill me up and then I have an afternoon snack. I drink tons of water so I haven't noticed any negative effects from the sodium...
mondaymoos mondaymoos 9 years
I'm going to have to agree with Fit's coworkers... I hate Lean Cuisines because the portions are TINY. 230 calories doesn't really hold me over for lunch. I'd be ravenous by dinner time.
terrormisu terrormisu 9 years
I'll eat the spa cuisines. The sesame chicken stir fry, ginger garlic chicken stir fry, shrimp, lemongrass chicken are all good and have whole grains. All but the shrimp have two servings of veggies too. The butternut squash ravioli is actually something I CRAVE but alas its not made of whole grains...I'll still eat it every now and then.
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