FreshDirect, a purveyor of yuppie Meals on Wheels, and EatingWell magazine have partnered to launch a line of vegetarian 4-Minute Meals. The microwave-ready $7.99 entrees aim to “blend bold flavor with perfect portions of protein, grains and vegetables for deliciously well-balanced meals that pack fewer than 500 calories each.” Hmmm Of the eight EatingWell options, half are vegan. This doesn’t seem like a big deal until you notice that they are the only vegan 4-Minute Meals offered by FreshDirect! (Well, eveyone’s gotta start somewhere.)
Hoppin’ John with Vegetarian Chorizo: Even though it tasted like only tomatoes and salt, three of us felt this was still the best.
Indian-Spiced Lentil & Quinoa Ragout with Roasted Vegetables: Despite its name, the seasoning of this dish left more to be desired; it wasn’t quite Indian enough.
Balsamic-Roasted Seitan with Beets, Basil & Farro Pilaf: We all agreed this was pretty good, as you can’t really go wrong with seitan. We especially liked the fresh basil seasoning and the inclusion of raisins in the farro pilaf.
White Beans, Pearl Pasta & Artichokes with Roasted Tomatoes & Rapini: We couldn’t fairly judge this one, as it seemed to have gone bad two whole days before its expiration date. This was very disappointing because it looked tasty. It would have been devastating had we actually purchased it or bought the meal to work for lunch in a neighborhood without good veg options. Grrr!
Overall, we felt the EatingWell 4-Minute Meals had quite a few things going for them. Unlike most convenience meals, these were never frozen. The vegetables looked and tasted fresh. The meals also made very good use of a variety of interesting whole grains and beans. The price seemed fair. We also liked that they come in #5 plastic containers, which can be recycled through the Park Slope Food Coop.
Was this enough to make us go online and order the 4-Minute Meals along with other groceries? Though the meals don’t fit into our lifestyles as vegans with limited budgets, decent cooking skills, and an interest in avoiding disposables, we concluded that we’d buy them if we were housebound by a full body cast and didn’t have friends to cook for us.