dining out
A walk through the aisles
Published Thursday, 03-Jun-2010 in issue 1171
Marie Callender’s Home-Style Creations Classic Stroganoff
Description: Part of a line of store-shelf meal “kits” that includes dried noodles, beef strips, mushrooms and creamy stroganoff sauce.
Preparation summary: Add water to noodles in the provided tray and microwave for five minutes. Drain, and then add the packet filled with meat and sauce over the noodles.
Highpoints: Positively none.
Lowpoints: Please, Marie! Add another ounce of noodles to this meal, along with a few more mushrooms and beef bits. And stop passing off the gelatinous, salty gravy as “stroganoff.”
Average Retail Price: $4.29
Availability: Major grocery stores
Emergen-C Super Orange
Description: Fizzy, orange-flavored powder that is rich in vitamins, antioxidants and electrolytes, to be mixed with water. A single serving contains 1,000 milligrams of Vitamin C, plus seven B vitamins and fair doses of folic acid, zinc, magnesium and other nutrients.
Preparation summary: Mix each packet with four to six ounces of water
Highpoints: Tastes like a blend of Tang and children’s chewable vitamins (not a complaint). The drink is thirst quenching, effervescent and seems to take the edge off hangovers.
Lowpoints: Tastes slightly acidic if mixed with room-temperature water. Go with the coldest possible.
Average Retail Price: $7.99
Availability: Trader Joe’s
Fuze Tropical Punch
Description: From a new line of various fruit drinks called “healthy infusions” that contain only five calories per eight-ounce serving and zero sugar.
Preparation summary: Ready to serve
Highpoints: Its label is colorful and pretty, and the drink smells nice.
Lowpoints: The artificial sweetener used here (sucralose) interferes harshly with the “punchy” flavors of dragonfruit, pineapple and coconut. Overall, the drink leaves you thirstier and craving real sugar.
Average Retail Price: $1.49
Availability: Major grocery stores
Trader Joe’s Whole Wheat Cous Cous
Description: One-pound box of dry, instant cous cous made from whole durum wheat semolina.
Preparation summary: Combine one cup of water, two tablespoons of butter and a dash of salt, and bring to a boil. Pour one cup of dry cous cous into the pot, then cover, remove from heat and let stand for five minutes.
Highpoints: Fluffy texture, fast and easy to cook. Lemon, olive oil, herbs and veggies find a good home in these tiny pasta grains, which more than double in volume once they’re cooked.
Lowpoints: Left plain and unsalted, it’s like trying to taste food after a dentist injects your entire mouth with Novocain.
Average Retail Price: $1.59
Availability: Trader Joe’s


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