We averaged 35 minutes on weeknights cooking dinner, so if you are in a pinch, there are frozen meal alternatives. Consumer Reports decided to test frozen steamable meals to see how well they deliver.
Want a healthy dinner in a snap? What about a microwavable, steam-cooked meal? The packaging suggests they're better for you, and that the flavors are "unlocked by steam!" Some even cook in a separate steamer basket. 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 we found that these meals weren't very different from frozen meals that have been around for years," said Linda Greene with Consumer Reports.
If you're watching your waist, read labels carefully. Of those tested, the Marie Callender's meals were highest in calories and fat. Roasted garlic chicken weighs in with 17 grams of fat per serving! Product 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. Steamable meals -- but there's a caution with almost all the steamable meals.
"We found that the meals didn't cook very evenly and at times in the chicken dishes, the chicken was dry and in the pasta dishes, sometimes the pasta was hard," said Greene.
Product shot the tastiest stuffed pasta is Marie Callender's three cheese tortellini. It has a soft filling and a decent tomato sauce. While steamed meals may not be innovative –– throw in a salad and some fruit and you've got a fast, tasty, and healthful dinner.
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