We all experience times when a "home cooked" meal just is not possible. You get caught at the office and have to stay late, your kids have a football or hockey game that goes into double overtime, or you just don't feel like putting much energy into cooking. It's times like these when having quality quick prep products on hand can be very beneficial. Instead of ordering that pizza or swinging by the drive through, consider keeping a couple of these products on hand. Any of these would also be great for people trying to be animal friendly and having a "Meatless Monday."
Garden Lites: Frozen egg souffles chock full of vegetables. I've only tried the spinach, but when paired with a slice or two of toast it makes a complete and very filling breakfast, lunch, or super for one. Each package contains one souffle that is big enough to be split between two small kids if needed. The best part is that all the ingredients are pronounceable. At approximately 140 calories (2 points) per souffle, these are perfect for people watching their weight; especially if they are doing the new Weight Watchers Points Plus program.
Buitoni Ravioli: We tried the Mushroom Agnolotti and they were scrumptious. They were so flavorful and rich they do not even need sauce. But a drizzle of leftover pizza sauce did a nice job of adding a little moisture to the edges of our ravioli. Each package contains 2 servings which range in calories from 250 to more than 340 for most of the cheese versions. Convenience wise they cook up in 4-6 minutes which is just enough time to pop a bag of frozen broccoli in the microwave. My only complaint is that their products are a little pricey. They range from $3-$8 depending upon the filling and number of servings per package. For larger families they may not be a great choice as a main course, but could work as a side dish.
Trader Joe's Indian Fare: Shelf stable packages of 'traditional' vegetarian Indian dishes. We tried the Madras Lentils a while back and served it with TJ's frozen Naan and a vegetable; of course. Thankfully I had some dry lentils on had that I quickly cooked; otherwise the 2 serving package would have fed only one of us. We were both very impressed. The flavor was great and at $2 a pouch they are very affordable. Each serving contains just over 200 calories, and is low in fat. As with most packaged products their sodium is a little high at just over 600mg, but I let that slide since they have more than 6g of fiber and no added sugar. Too cook, either immerse the pack in a pot of boiling water, or empty the contents into a microwave safe bowl and heat for 2 minutes. Soon we will try their Punjab Choley and I have a feeling I will be adding a can of chickpeas/garbanzo beans to stretch it. The frozen Naan is delicious and thaws/bakes in approximately 1 minute. Now this is what I call fast food! For people who do not like traditional breakfast foods, these would be a great stand in.
Prepackaged foods are not always the best options...some fast food burgers have fewer calories many of the TV dinners lurking in the freezer section. However, if you do a little looking and read the nutrition labels there are some great buys out there.