So how good are Crazy Plates meals? Maclean’s asked the toughest audience we know: our sister publication Chatelaine. Here is Food Editor Monda Rosenberg's report:
To survive in such a highly competitive area, today’s frozen dinners have to be a snap to prepare, quick to heat, full-flavoured, good for you and competitively priced-definitely cheaper than order-in. We put all the Crazy Plates meals through a dinner run in the Chatelaine Test Kitchen. And since this product is aimed at busy people with sophisticated palates but basic cooking skills, we asked 25 of our colleagues to home-test them as well.
in our Test Kitchen, the large Crazy Plates boxes took up much more valuable freezer space than if they had come in flexible bags. The large-print directions on the packages, however, were easy to read and follow. All Crazy Plates dinners are designed for the stove and come with four or five pouches to open, stir in, sprinkle on, etc.; there are no microwave directions. Cooking times on the packages run from 10 to 20 minutes. Some must rest for a few more minutes before you can dig in.
When the Test Kitchen staff got to the tasting stage, the non-mushy texture of the pasta, rice and veggies drew top marks. The downsides included rather bland flavour in all the
dinners, unnecessary and off-putting sweetness in the two rice-based dishes and definitely not enough food to satisfy three people. All packages state three servings or two huge ones. A couple of our home testers happily ate the whole package at one sitting.
Since the Looneyspoons gals are known for healthy creations, we surveyed the nutrient profiles, based on one-third of the box as a serving. Fat content swung between 1.1 g for the Wowie Maui Chicken to 9.9 g in the Worth Every Penne pesto pasta. The Stir Crazy chicken stir-fry has 4.7 g. But if you wolf down half the box instead of the one-third that the package’s nutritional analysis is based on, the fat content for the stir-fry jumps to seven grams. To earn the low-fat label, the fat grams per serving cannot exceed three.
Our home testers gave a collective thumbsup rating of seven out of 10 for the overall texture and taste of the dinners, but when asked if they would be willing to hand over $9.95 for a box, 73 per cent said no. As one tester said: “I can make my own pasta almost as quickly at a fraction of the price with a lot more taste.” The bottom line: $10 may seem pricey when supermarkets offer a range of more flavourful frozen dinners that simply require opening a single package-and microwaving without babysitting.
The story you want is part of the Maclean’s Archives. To access it, log in here or sign up for your free 30-day trial.
Experience anything and everything Maclean's has ever published — over 3,500 issues and 150,000 articles, images and advertisements — since 1905. Browse on your own, or explore our curated collections and timely recommendations.WATCH THIS VIDEO for highlights of everything the Maclean's Archives has to offer.