Frozen dinners hold an interesting place in American culinary lore. Once heralded as a marvel of modern technology, today they are generally despised by self-styled “foodies” while still selling quite well to everyone else. Love them or hate them, there’s one fact that’s unavoidable: they’ve not very pretty to look at.
The first TV dinner was unveiled in 1953 by Swanson, and consisted of turkey, cornbread dressing, frozen peas, and sweet potatoes. With all the individual components in their own tray section, the invention was nothing short of revolutionary. No more washing dishes! No more cooking individual main and side dishes! By the time microwave-safe trays were marketed in 1986, forget about it — why would anyone even want to eat anything else?
While the convenience factor of microwave dinners was always certainly its biggest selling point, the actual flavor has always left something to be desired. The vast majority of frozen meals are inoffensive-tasting, geared to please as many people as possible, but nobody is ever going to pop a frozen turkey dinner into the microwave and enjoy a revelatory dining experience unless they’ve been marooned on a life raft for the past month.
Thankfully, the overall state of frozen dinners appears to be improving. Options are becoming more varied, and companies like dcuisine are turning out legitimately tasty, creative frozen dinners with options including beef short ribs, Pacific seafood stew, and lobster and corn chowder (however, these are boil-in-bag and cost on average $15).
Meals that you take out of the freezer and put in the microwave will most likely never look especially appetizing. But they’re inexpensive, fill you up, and are still super-convenient. Unfortunately, they tend to look gross. Read on for some solid evidence.
At least the veggies have grill marks!
Banquet Country Fried Pork Meal
This looks so frightening that even the breading is hiding.