There used to be a TV ad for jarred tomato sauce touting how good it was, with an Italian nonna having the last word, as she added more ingredients: “that’s a good place to start”.
Inspired by comments on the Trader Joe’s thread, what commercial prepared foods (meant to be consumed on their own, as a meal) sold in supermarkets do you use without ANY tweaking?
Me: Though Panera cafes only offer their Autumn Harvest Squash soup seasonally, supermarkets sell it in refrigerated pints year-round. Heat it up and eat it up. In summer, it would also work as a cold soup.
I guess you’d need to define “tweaking”… does seasoning count? I like a number of Progresso soups, Mezzetta/Lucini marinaras, and some frozen meals (Amy’s/Marie Calendars/etc.). I also remember various tubs/packages of BBQ meats/ribs from Lloyds and Jack Daniels brands that were pretty good in a pinch.
Marie Callenders Chicken Pot Pie use to be a good stand by for us on a busy work night. Then several years ago it went down hill. Got smaller and the real chicken pieces turned into a type of Subway processed chicken chunks. And fewer of them. I miss the old MC CPP’s.
I just have to get around to trying that Panera soup. I think you’ve mentioned it before and I’ve been looking for some cold soups lately, anyway.
I like Texas Chili, a refrigerated product out of Fort Worth. You can doctor it up but don’t have to and I rarely do (other than crackers or some bread on the side - assuming that doesn’t count as tweaking the product itself). Always have some on hand for emergencies.
HEB carried 3 varieties of these Vietti products but doesn’t any longer. I liked the Ancho chicken with beans and porter ale and the Pork green chili w/o beans. The first is really chili beans with chicken meat but that’s okay. I did not care that much for the Buffalo style chicken w/beans. Those were the only 3 I ever saw.
The company has a lot of other products I’d like to try.
I eat most Progresso soups without altering but I get tired of them and stop buying them after a few times.
There are many products I use just as is but not those intended to be a meal in itself. I don’t make much alterations to a lot of those products because I know what I’m getting and it is about convenience.
I have lots of condiments that I use more for balancing than actually flavoring a dish. For example, I love to use San J Tamari, not because it is a good tamari. It isn’t. It is a great salty brine full of umami. I add it by tasting but I am not looking for the flavor of the tamari itself, but the sense of balance and body. Anchovies in my mayos. Sherry wine vinegar. Calabrian chili paste. My myriad Sichuan-style chili sauces and hot oils, etc
All these food are perfect for what they do well. But they can overwhelm a dish easily.
Yes to some things, like the TJ’s rice mentioned on that thread. No to others. Just depends.
Ramen -yes, frozen dumplings-our own dipping sauce (does that count?)
We don’t have a microwave so our frozen selections are typically heated in a skillet, which makes “doctoring” easy.
Chef Boyardee Ravioli. Some sht ya don’t mess with.
I remember going to a Marie Callender’s for my mom’s birthday. She said I’ll LOVE the pot pie. I was doubtful. I was impressed by the freshness of the veg, the not-so-heavy gravy in there, and the bread bowl was great. Still haven’t tried a frozen one. Hate to blow the original sensation.
Purchased or homemade, the roomate adds blue cheese salad dressing or mustard or catsup to everything. Marinara or other red pasta sauces get blue cheese dressing added, whole grain or spicy brown mustard to everything else. My potato salad (which already has 2 mustards in it)? More mustard! Tuna salad will get mustard AND catsup in addition to the dill pickles, dill weed, celery and mayo. Egg salad or devilled eggs? Mustard and catsup again, (I already have chives, Durkee’s dressing, mayo, dill and or paprika) in it. Everything gets a good squirt or two of mustard and/or catsup. At restaurants, other people’s homes,too. Maybe an IV is needed.
As I said on that TJ’s thread, most of the frozen dishes I buy (occasionally) don’t need any doctoring: Indian, Korean (except fried rice), Greek, flatbreads (in the pizza section), and tamales.
I don’t consider saucing things that would typically be sauced (dumplings for eg) tweaking.
Elsewhere, Whole a foods used to make a frozen Pad see ew that was pretty good if you reheated it correctly, but it must not have been popular, because they only have the Pad thai now. The WF branded frozen samosas don’t need any adjusting (re OP “meant to be eaten as a meal” — I have eaten a few as my meal )