Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Vegan TV Dinners!

When I was kid, frozen TV dinners were such a treat! My mama cooked dinners at night, but in the summer, when my me-maw would watch me, I'd heat up frozen meals for lunch. I always loved helping my mama pick them out at the grocery store. Kid Cuisines had just hit the market, and I loved the ones with the little brownie for dessert. Also loved twice-baked cheesy potatoes, frozen cheese pizzas, anything by Lean Cuisine. That was as good as homemade to me and twice as much fun.

Before I went vegan in 2004, I was still living on frozen meals — cheese pizzas, frozen alfredo noodles, cheese lasagna. Right after going vegan, I tried living off Amy's vegan meals for a time, but I soon realized it was way cheaper to cook from scratch. And I'd always loved to cook anyway.

But truth be told, I still find such pleasure in a good frozen meal. Something about unwrapping that steamy plastic to uncover hot food tucked into separated trays is just as fun as opening a gift. When Veestro, a frozen plant-based meal delivery service, asked if I'd review their meals, I jumped at the chance. They sent me six meals to try!

First up was the Red Curry with Tofu and Vegetables. 

After one bite, I knew all these meals were going to be winners. It was perfect. The curry sauce was flavorful. The tofu had that delightful frozen-and-then-thawed, spongy texture. Even the brown rice tasted as if it had just come off the stove. If you've plated this up all pretty, I'd have no idea it was a frozen meal.

A couple days later, I baked the Enchilada Casserole in the oven.

The casserole came dry with a separate packet of sauce. So I baked the casserole, and I heated the sauce in the microwave. Then in the last few minutes of baking, I poured the tomato-y sauce on top. Again, you'd never know this was frozen. It had layers of tortilla, peppers, and a cheese-like crumbled tofu mixture. Freezing didn't alter the texture one bit.

The Kale & Quinoa Salad with Tempeh Bits didn't even require heating!

The instructions said to let this thaw for a few hours. Since it's a salad, it's supposed to be served cold. There's a tahini dressing in a separate pouch, and you're supposed to pour that over the quinoa, kale, and tempeh salad. Honestly, there was about twice as much dressing as I needed. So I used half and saved the rest for another salad. I loved the tempeh bits! They had a smoky bacon flavor. And believe it or not, kale freezes very well. You couldn't tell this had been frozen.

The Risotto with Butternut Squash and Kale was pretty good.

Out of all the meals, this one may have been my least fave. But it was still delicious. The risotto came out a little liquid-y, but the flavor was spot-on. It even came with a little walnut garnish. The squash was yummy, but the kale wasn't really seasoned much. I added some sriracha after I snapped this picture.

The Savory Croquettes with Veggie Hash was probably my favorite of them all.

These are like tofu crab cakes, but they don't have a faux fishy taste. I like my vegan crab cakes to look like crab cakes but not actually taste like crab since I never was a seafood fan. They are breaded and fried, and the tofu has a great crumbly texture. There was a red dipping sauce on the side and a sweet potato/potato veggie hash that was wonderful!

Finally, I tried the Beefless Beef with Broccoli Stir-fry.

Wow! I've never had faux beef quite like this. The texture was something between Soy Curls and the wheat meat sold at some Asian restaurants. It was very tender and beefy. Could probably fool an omni or two. Very well-seasoned and great with the brown rice.

These were all entrees, but Veestro also sells frozen breakfasts, desserts, soups, and appetizers. And they sell fresh juices. You can order individual meals, and they range from around $6 to $12. Honestly, for my budget, that's a little out of my price range. But let's face it — I'm a reporter, so I fall on the low end of the income bracket. You can also order a pack of 30 meals for $250, which would be great for someone who doesn't want to shop or cook (and has a little expendable income).


Chubby Vegan Mom said...

I love seeing how "modern" veganism is becoming! What an awesome idea, will have to look into it!

Adi Robles said...

That enchilada looks so good! Everything does, actually! I ate some frozen dinners for about a year once and then I started to cook more. It's been almost three years since I've eaten one!


Barb@ThatWasVegan? said...

How fun! Even if they're a bit pricey, it could be great to have a couple on hand for when you don't have time (or energy) to cook!