I can't cook, but I sure can Nuke!

T.G.I. Friday’s Prime Rib Stroganoff $3.79

T.G.I. Friday’s Prime Rib Stroganoff

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  • Taste
  • Nutrition
  • Honesty in Advertising
  • Green Packaging
  • Value

High marks to TGI Friday’s for making tasty food, but low marks for what they put in it. There’s a reason I don’t eat there…

TGI Friday’s is a great place to watch a game and grab a drink. And while their food is great, it’s heavy, so I tend eat elsewhere. Somewhere along the line they outsourced a line of frozen meals to H.J. Heinz, a company that is well-established in the frozen foods market (they’re behind Weight Watchers SmartOnes, for example). In my opinion that wasn’t a great idea, because now it’s not only heavy, it’s also full of stuff that doesn’t need to be there.

First the good news. The flavor is really quite good, especially the big chunks of meat. And if you’re a fan of mushrooms, there are plenty in there without being overloaded. I was particularly surprised by the pleasantly-pronounced flavor of black pepper. I didn’t really expect that in a stroganoff, and it might be a tad spicy to some people, but I loved it. The noodles and sauce were pretty much what I expected – not bad, but a bit heavy. And I felt the portion size was just right – plenty big enough for a lunch, for example.

Now the bad news – the ingredient list will be a definite contender for our 2011 award for “Most Ingredients in a Single Serving.” There are at least 149 ingredients listed on the label, which beats our previous contender, Marie Callender’s Turkey Breast with Stuffing, by 25 ingredients. There is just no excuse for that. Some things add a lot of ingredients just because they’re complex (like Worcestershire sauce), but others are a little hard to explain. There is something called “Beer Flavor” in here – ya, I’ve had plenty of macrobrews that seem to be made of that, whatever it is. High Fructose Corn Syrup appears multiple times, as do multiple soy and corn-based “things” that aren’t easy to identify. I actually felt a little unwell after eating this, like my body had said, “What the heck do you expect me to do with this??”

The nutrition label isn’t great either. Calories are lower than I expected, but still somewhat high at 390. Fat, saturated fat, cholesterol, and sodium are all probably higher than they could be, although they could be worse too. There is actually a little fiber (16%DV) and surprisingly no trans fat, which I was happy about.

So if you just gotta have some TGI Friday’s food, my recommendation is to go to the restaurant instead. You’ll get a fun atmosphere and enjoy yourself, and you’ll ingest half the ingredients of this frozen entree.

Calories per package: 390 (Caloric Density: 1.15)

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