During the shorter, colder days of winter, we often find it hard to opt for lighter meals when we’re cravings something warm and comforting. So we were eager to try Simply Sensible entrees, healthy “TV dinners” from NBC’s weight-loss reality show contest, The Biggest Loser. The meals, which are available to the contestants on the 11th and current “Couples 4” season, can be found in the refrigerated section of SuperTarget stores and regional grocers now and at Walmart next month.
Choices are pot roast with mashed potatoes, lasagna with meat sauce, sweet and spicy “Zing Chicken” with brown rice, beef tips with brown rice and Mediterranean chicken with bow-tie pasta. The meals, which are certified by the American Heart Association as low in fat and cholesterol, are slow-cooked inside a sealed bag, a method known as sous vide. This technique allows for extended shelf life with less use of salt and no preservatives. The sodium content of Simply Sensible lasagna, for example, is 440 milligrams per serving (18 percent of the USDA Daily Value) compared to 600 mg (25 percent DV) and 540 mg (23 percent DV) in similar frozen meals.
Each package ($6.99) contains two fully cooked servings, with calorie counts between 200 and 250 per serving. The meals contain less than 6 grams of total fat and 2 g of saturated fat. Harris Food Group’s research and development chef, Calvin Harris (who has developed such healthy menu options as Arby’s Market Fresh salad and Burger King’s veggie burger and salads), created the meals.
We’ve sampled some of Harris’ previous creations while looking for healthful fast-food choices, so our expectations were fairly high. We were pleased to find that the chicken was tender and bathed in tasty sauce. The sauce also ensured the meal didn’t dry out in the microwave, as frozen entrees can. Though the large pieces of pepper depicted in the photo on the box were a bit smaller in reality, we were impressed with the flavor. We also tried the Mediterranean chicken, and we felt like we’d eaten a real meal, instead a “light” option that left us unsatisfied.
We like that the packaging uses recycled materials and is designed to reduce environmental impact by taking the usual plastic tray out of the equation. Though two servings per package likely cuts down on packaging — and makes sense for the couples theme of this season of The Biggest Loser — we recommend having a container handy to save the second portion if you’re dining solo.
Do you think this will kick off a trend of healthful, prepared refrigerator meals?