Premade Dinner That’s Cheap, Fast, Delicious and… Healthy?

I actually don’t hate cooking.
But when I get home at 6:45 and my husband has to be at rehearsal at 7:30 and my kids need to start getting ready for school the next morning it takes a lot of the fun out of making a warm healthy meal.

That’s when I do it.

I reach for the freezer.

Or a box from the pantry.

And a little part of me hates myself for feeding all of us this unhealthy food (Annie’s might be organic but it’s still mac and cheese) and part of me is just too exhausted to care.

So I was intrigued when I heard about Maggie’s Conscious Vegan Cuisine gluten-free meals.  We aren’t gluten-free (you can read about my gluten-free attempt here) and we aren’t vegan, but a plant-based diet has many health benefits which is why I often cook vegetarian or choose a vegetarian option when dining out.

The concept behind this “fast food” sounds too good to be true.  A warm, hearty, filling meal that is low in calories and actually good for you, made from locally sourced fresh vegetables and herbs, suitable for many people with allergies and sensitivities (including gluten and nuts), GMO free with no added sodium, sugar or oils.  Sold in a 32oz BPA free jar, you can store it in the freezer, thaw it during the day and pop the entire jar in the microwave and serve over rice, quinoa or on it’s own for a quick and easy dinner.

The cost?  About $3 per serving.

Chef Maggie RadzwillerIt sounded a little too good to be true, so I visited Chef Maggie Radzwiller at the new Southern Seasons store for a little taste test.

I taste tested 5 different meals which are inspired from different types of cuisine from around the world:

Tuscan White Bean, Kale, and Tomato, The Green Life, Thai Lentils, Super Saag, & Mexican Style Chili.

I’m a fairly adventurous eater, so it wasn’t surprising to me that all of these flavors sounded delicious to me, but what did surprise me is how fresh these all tasted.  It didn’t taste like a microwaved meal at all.  Nothing was mushy or sloppy despite being frozen a heated in a microwave.

As I talked food with Maggie I could tell this came from what can only be described as perfectionism when it comes to food. While other flavors and varieties were in the works, she wasn’t willing to put out a product that wasn’t perfect first.

A few other women walked up to the tasting station at Southern Seasons peering at the food and the jar, slightly hesitant.  One woman was “allergic to everything” another wasn’t so sure about trying something new.  Maggie chatted up the customers serving them small cup of Tuscan White Bean, Kale and Tomato.  The woman was allergies was thrilled, after checking the ingredients she could eat any one of Maggies creations. After only 3 of the 5 varieties, the hesitant tester was asking to try all 5 flavors, after loving the first three.  Each taste tester made a bee-line for the frozen food section (so much so that when I went to grab one for myself the Israeli-inspired Green Life was all sold out the most unique of Chef Maggie’s meals).

MCVC_stacked_300-1Not vegan?
If you have a little time, you can spice up your meals by adding chicken to the Thai lentils, red meat to the chili, Italian sausage to the white bean and kale or shrimp to the saag.  But truly the meal doesn’t need it.

Chef Maggie’s Conscious Vegan Cuisine is available in the frozen food section at Southern Seasons.
One 32oz jar serves 4 people at $12 each.