Thoughts on Pre-Packaged Food


Campbell’s V8 Soup in a Box (Step 1: Cut a hole in a box… Step 2: Put your soup in that box…): Butternut Squash Flavor

It tastes very, very good. Like I said before, I don’t have the old Select box to compare ingredients to, but I think they added milk. It’s pretty expensive, though. In that Brandweek write-up that I linked to, they blame consumer desire for health over restaurant quality as why they weren’t selling much in the Select line, but frankly, $2.99 is a lot to pay for a box of soup for one person. Yes, it’s healthy and tasty, and yes, it’s the same price as a hamburger and cheaper than a frozen entree, and true, you could sometimes pick them up at Target for $2.49 (or pay more at fancier grocery stores like I did), but these boxes are sitting on the shelves next to “homier” brands of soup, often organic, in boxes twice the size for less money with flavors just as enticing and frequently exotic (although some not quite as hearty).

I have had soups from Pacific Natural Foods and Imagine Bistro, and they are much better deals for the money. Plus you get flavors like Ginger Cashew and Red Lentil. Not all of their flavors are great, but they are all adventurous and for the price and quantity you damn well better be experimenting! (Just skip the Pacific Butternut Squash. It’s weak and unappealingly spiced. It tastes like warmed-over Thanksgiving.)

I am now officially flagging this new product as something to watch the success or failure of. Granted, I have a couple literature degrees and still can’t predict the events of story arcs in serial television and I have absolutely no marketing education or experience, but I’ll analyze the crap out of this. I have been recently validated by the Wall Street Journal, you see, and I’m going to ride this thing sky-high!

Pasta Prima (Frozen) Spinach and Mozzarella Ravioli
I buy giant bags of this stuff at Costco for nine-something dollars a bag. It comes with these little packets of “Italian Herb Cheese Sauce Mix” and they have made more good dinners at the last minute than I can count.

Tonight I boiled up some of the ravioli, drained and rinsed it in cold water, and tossed it with diced tomatoes, sliced celery, cilantro, part of the cheese sauce packet (it’s a powder), and olive oil. I served it room temperature to a little warm and it was fast and delicious. If I’d thought of it I would have added walnuts, but the celery gave it a nice amount of crunch. I was inspired by a more complicated serving suggestion on the back of the bag, which involved red peppers and garlic and which is just as good (but not as fast). I’ve served this tossed with just the cheese powder, I’ve served it with marinara sauce, and I’ve had it just with butter. My only complaint is that you really can’t microwave it… the noodles get a little stiff. That doesn’t mean that I haven’t microwaved it and found it palatable, but I only do that when I’m in the mood for a lot of pasta sauce, and I heat them up together.

The Original Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Bites (Covered in Dark Chocolate)

The fancy grocery store has had a bunch of variations on this candy in a bin priced at a more or less enticing four boxes for a dollar. I’ve been staring at them for a while, so I caved and bought one.

They are OK. They taste of dark chocolate, they taste of chocolate chip cookie dough. I don’t hate them. I won’t buy them again.

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