Son of Grok

Lean Cuisine… yum

February 15th, 2010

I am not sure what is meant to be lean on these things.

Lean in that the portions are so small?
Lean in taste and flavor?
Lean as in lean forward as your gut drags you around?

Whatever the reason, the Lean Cuisine name makes it sell. It is crazy how well these things sell.

I brown bag my lunch most days. I bring an insulated lunch bag with an ice pack to keep my lunch cold. It isn’t that we don’t have a fridge at work…. Its just that there is no room in it. The fridge AND the freezer are literally packed to the brim with Lean Cuisines. This is not an exaggeration… they are completely full with the little cardboard boxes. With the exception of an occasional egg-o waffle box or Marie Calendar pot pie, 90% of these cardboard boxes say “Lean Cuisine”. It is crazy.

Now I am not going to lie. There have been times in my life where I lived off little freezer boxes. Michellina’s and the generic cheapies were sometimes all I at 3 meals per day. They were cheap and easy to make. They were VERY cheap and VERY easy to throw in the microwave.

Occasionally when they were on sale I got the Lean Cuisines too. You know what? They were terrible! I think I once ate the cardboard box that it was in on accident because it indeed did taste as good as the meal. That and it doesn’t really matter how many of these gross little meals I ate, I was inevitably still starving afterwards.

Now on to the speed and convenience of Lean Cuisines. The simplicity of opening the box and tossing it in the microwave is completely negated at my work. Come lunch time, there is actually a line the forms at the microwave. People queue their food up and actually tell each other “Your turn” as they retrieve their heated plasticy cardboard contraptions. Considering that each meal takes 3-5 minutes or so to heat up, it can easily be 20-30 minutes before it is your frozen cuisines “turn” to get fried. Me? I whip out my lunch bag and dive into some delicious egg salad, nuts, pork rinds, veggies. No wait… instant delicious gratification.

Ugh and the smell of these things. It doesn’t even smell like food. During the Lean Cuisine Queue at lunch, an awful aroma fills the office. It is funny because sometimes I do bring leftovers that need reheated. Once I heat up my meatloaf etc., I usually get quite a few people coming by my desk asking what that “Delicious smell” is and also frequently get told “did you bring enough for me?” Funny, though Lean Cuisine appears to be bountiful enough for all, no one really seems to enjoy eating it.

27 Responses to “Lean Cuisine… yum”

  1. Heather Lackey

    >> I think I once ate the cardboard box that it was in on accident

    Ha. The picture on the box does look tastier than what ends up being inside.

  2. Ben Owen

    In the same boat here! I worked with a woman who was a slave to CW, and ate a lean cuisine pizza EVERY DAY. Gross.
    Btw- still waiting on that enchilada recipe!

  3. gharkness

    I feel your pain! I have my personal microwave at my desk and I foolishly offered the use of it to my close co-workers, not knowing they’d be cooking these horrible, foul-smelling Lean Cuisine concoctions every day! Gross! And they have the nerve to complain about the smell of my brussels sprouts – food of the gods!

  4. SheZug

    I love the shocked and jealous look people have on their faces when they discover the wonderful smell of my brown bag lunch of leftovers. If I had a nickel for every time I heard, “Did you cook that?!” I am not fond of the early out specials offered at my work’s cafeteria.

  5. frankifries

    OMG, I was just telling my coworker that I hate going out the 1st floor exit for lunch because it always reeks of those psuedo-italian/chinese lean cuisine meals. what is in that stuff to make it so pungent?

  6. Amy

    Thanks for the lunch rant! My thoughts exactly. I always look forward to my lunch since ditching packaged food. Today – a macintosh apple, almonds, and leftover pot roast, yum!

  7. Son of Grok

    Glad everyone agrees with me. Calling it “Cuisine” doesn’t make it fancy. Heck, it doesn’t even necessarily make it edible!

  8. steez

    I was just telling my wife yesterday…for all the lean cuisines (and other diet mico-meals) that get eaten ’round here there sure isn’t a lot of lean going on.

  9. Carla

    It’s so true! At the last place I worked, the biggest woman in the office lived off these things. I used to always ask her why didn’t she just make real food!

  10. Beatle

    I’ve done the lean cuisine lunches too. I’d bring a bunch and leave them in the freezer. Surely enough, I would usually need to eat 3 of them to feel full. I dunno about some of you, but I remember enjoying some of these, probably the pizza ones. But anything that included pasta was just crap.

    People should just make a giant vat of Kraft dinner and freeze the stuff for their lunches. It would be even cheaper and just as nutritious as those Lean Cuisine dinners

  11. Dave Ridarelli

    I used to load up my freezer with ‘Healthy Choice’ Dinners back in college – quite the oxymoron in hindsight…

  12. Geoff Aucoin

    I swear the combination of that pseudo-food and the plastic makes the smell linger that much longer, like microwave popcorn. Sounds like your work needs more microwaves, or educated people like yourself that bring real food.

    We banished the microwave from our house years ago and we don’t miss it one bit, until my parents visit and they’re just dumbfounded…

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  14. Blair

    I could not agree more. Even before making the lifestyle switch I found frozen meals disgusting and completely unappetizing.

    Every day on my floor without fail I have people come sniffing around my lunch looking for what not only smells like real food, but is actually delicious and usually includes real meat.

  15. Troy

    Ever notice that most of the people eating these are not lean? Just sayin’

  16. TrailGrrl

    You are right, they aren’t usually Lean or Healthy. But they wash it down with a 20 ounce Diet Coke. Let’s talk about the other perennial office “healthy” portable lunch… the ubiquitous non-fat fake-flavored YOGURT. Or even better, the “carb conscious” non-fat yogurt.

    I think I was better off as a kid when my mom would pack Kahn’s balogna on white Butternut bread, Grippos barbecue chips, and Hostess Ho-Ho’s. The ho-ho’s were a lot better back then…

    People look at you funny when I microwave just leftover bacon or a piece of steak… anybody notice this???? I’m not sure if it’s the fact that it’s not cereal or yogurt, or the fact that they no longer know what steak even looks like.

    Gotta love the new Health Choice Steamers.



  17. mom of sog

    When SOG was in elementary school classmates would want to trade their $$$ fruit funs and other prepackaged ‘goodies’ with SOG’s carrots.
    Imagine kids knowing what was good for them?

  18. Son of Grok

    I certainly don’t remember that. I remember me trying to trade other kids to get thier chips or pudding cups.

    The SoG

  19. Newbie

    I live where I work and enjoy tormenting people by having the slow cooker on…. they *always* ask what’s in it. I had 4 death threats the day I did a smoked ham hock stew :D

    And yet half these guys bring in their plastic pots of junk… :/

  20. Rob

    Something like this:

  21. arlojeremy

    I sometimes have to sub on till at the grocery store that I work at and it breaks my heart when a pretty, but very overweight, girl comes through and her cart is full of all of this packaged junk that we’ve been lead to believe is not only healthy, but will help us lose weight.

    Wish I could help, but it’s kind of impolite to imply that a customer is on a diet (ie: fat) and that everything they are buying is crap. :/

  22. TPSW

    I, like newbie, have a 1.5 Q (little bitty) in my office that I use almost every day to warm up my lunch. I usually have some kind of meat that I have stewed with some kinds of vegetables and it draws questions daily. One of the other advantages it gives me is that I have to commit to my own lunch at least an hour in advance (it only cooks on low) so I have a great reason to say no to any eating out offers. Saves me money, gut and everything tastes better cooked normally instead of nuked.

  23. Dusty Grantz

    Very good article, thank you!

  24. Ika

    Hahaha everybody at my work lives off lean cuisine’s too…and I ALWAYS get the “what is that DELICIOUS smell??? Did you bring extra???” whenever I heat my food up. And my fianee says the same thing happens at his work when he heat up the lunchs I make him LOL ;)

  25. Jim

    I never heard of these things till about two years ago and my DR warned me about them. Let me give you a little back ground. In 2004 I was in a large explosion in Iraq. That gave me what is called a MTBI (Mild Traumatic Brain Injury). Unfortunately it was not discovered until early 2009 when my wife swore up and down I had PTSD. Both have roughly the symptoms. The only way to tell which one you have is by a test. Anyways when my Doc told me I had an MTBI he advised me on several things obviously one of them being my diet. He warned me of the meals by showing me what they make them out of. Do you wonder how they get them to have such low calories but what most would consider “acceptable” taste? The cook the food until all of the nutrients and flavor is gone and then they re-flavor it with highly refined petroleum. That’s right petroleum. The same crap that goes in your gas tank only very highly refined. That is probably why they smell so great when they are cooked as well. But now because of my injury I’m Paleo and I feel great, and I can remember alot better as well.

  26. ppi insurance claims

    I posted about this earlier on my own blog. Your article has really given me some food for thought, I feel you have made many very intriguing points. I wish I might found it earlier, previous to writing my very own post.

  27. P Courtney.

    Surprisingly tasty meals. Usually when you think of cutting calories out of food the taste suffers. Not in the case of Lean Cuisine ready meals.
    Combine these with exercise as part of a healthy diet and you’re on to a winner :-)

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