I wasn’t always the adventurous eater that you’ve now come to grow and love (or hate). There was a time in my life when I was broke, lived with other bachelors where our freezers were filled with cheap microwaveable meals. Now I’m just broke, live with a beautiful family where our freezers are filled with ice cream, ground beef and chicken breasts.
Back then, my diet consisted of ramen, Progresso soup, Natural Light, cheap vodka and Banquet frozen dinner meals. Most of that is still the same; ramen is stocked as is Progresso, Natural Light is in our spare fridge, I’ve upgraded vodka but Banquet is nowhere to be found.
I decided to revisit the Banquet meals and see how they’ve stood the test of time. My Dillons had them at 4 for $5 and there were six different dinners to choose from. For what its worth, Banquet’s website has 21 dinners to choose from. (I know what I’m asking for Christmas this year) I went ahead and purchased all six meals and went home with a big smile on my face. THIS WAS GOING TO BE FUN! I don’t think anybody at home shared my enjoyment and enthusiasm though.
I looked at the directions on the back of each box. The instructions were fairly similar: cut a slit, heat, stir, keep heating. There was an oven option but I didn’t have time for that nonsense.
Here’s a quick recap of everything I experienced.
Banquet’s Description: Savor our homestyle Turkey Meal, including rich gravy and dressing, tender sweet peas, and mashed potatoes made with real cream.
The turkey had the most rubbery texture I’ve ever tasted. My daughter loves to chew on this rubber like pizza she received for her birthday. I was tempted to give her this turkey to see if she would love it or be grossed out like myself. I strongly dislike peas so my bias was plenty present. And the mashed potatoes had a powdery aftertaste to it. Epic fail and the worst of the six meals I tried.
CHICKEN NUGGETS WITH MAC & CHEESE
Banquet’s Description: Savor a delicious meal of breaded chicken nugget patties with rib meat, macaroni in a rich cheese sauce, and a chocolate brownie.
OK, the mac & cheese wasn’t half bad by frozen meal standards. It was creamy and had a softer texture to those Easy Mac meals. It was the highlight of the meal as the nuggets were super soggy. One of the kids actually enjoyed the brownie, then again he’s 11 and loves all things chocolate. From an adult perspective, it was VERY dry.
SWEET AND SOUR CHICKEN MEAL
Banquet’s Description: Savor every bite of our Sweet & Sour Chicken, made with lightly breaded, 100% natural chicken breast tossed in a glaze, and served atop vegetables and fluffy white rice.
SALISBURY STEAK MEAL
Banquet’s Description: Enjoy our savory Salisbury Steak, smothered in gravy and served up with hearty sides of creamy mashed potatoes and sweet corn, and a Cinnamon Apple Dessert.
It was described as sitting on a hearty side of creamy mashed potatoes. The mashed potatoes had an odd film over the top of it. Kind of like when you let grease sit out on a plate overnight. The corn was as you’d guessed, dried out. The salisbury steak was at best, decent. The cinnamon apple dessert received mixed reactions. It was very mushy but if you could get over it and enjoy apple and cinnamon, it could be for you.
SPAGHETTI & MEATBALLS
Banquet’s Description: If you like classic Italian, you’ll love our Spaghetti with Meatballs in a delicious, made-from-scratch Marinara Sauce.
I love classic Italian and not sure this compares. I was tempted to grab one of the meatballs and toss it on the ground. Pretty sure the meatball would have bounced back up in my hand. Aside from the that, the noodles themselves were reminiscent of Chef Boyardee which to some people might be a good thing. All in all, this would have been an alright meal without the meatballs.
BACKYARD BBQ MEAL
Banquet’s Description: Enjoy backyard BBQ flavors anytime with this rib-style patty made with pork and chicken, served with sweet corn and creamy mashed potatoes.
Dry corn and powdery-like mashed potatoes aside, this was easily the best of the six meals I tried. The rib-style patty and sauce was like a poor man’s version of the McDonald’s McRib. If we had any buns lying around the house, I would have put the patty in it and made a burger. The sauce had an addictive, guilty pleasure aftertaste. Dare I get another one?
So did the Banquet meals stand the test of time? It’s probably been 15+ years since my last one. While I can joke that I might get one again, it probably won’t happen for another 15 years.
What I do need right now though is a strong laxative.
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