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Microwave Matchup #2 - Chicken Fettuccini Alfredo: Smart Ones vs Lean Cuisine

WeightWatchers "Smart Ones"

Smart Ones Chicken Fettuccini Alfredo

VS

Lean Cuisine Favorites

 

W.W. Smart Ones - Chicken Fettuccini

 Appearance - 4.0

Smart Ones Chicken Fettuccini Alfredo Frozen  Smart Ones Chicken Fettuccini Alfredo Cooked

This pasta was pretty much what I'd expect and look for in fettuccini alfredo: creamy, thick, saucy, well-cooked noodles.  It's arguably a little heavy on the sauce, and it might look just a touch oily, but overall I was pleasantly surprised how it turned out post-stirring.

The flakes of green (parsley? no idea) and specks of cracked black pepper add an inviting touch to the appearance.

 

Aroma - 2.5

The first hit you smell as you pull it out of the microwave is... "hm, alright."  The aroma is light, not cheesey at all, and not buttery, either.  On the one hand, it isn't very discernible, but on the other, it isn't something that would cause your coworkers to flock to your cubicle and predictably ask, "heeeey, whatchu got there?"  Which could be a good thing.

 

Texture - 3.5

Not bad at all.  The noodles are done, but not really soggy - they aren't al dente, but, come on.  It's a microwave meal!  Specifically, it's a sub-$3.50 microwave meal that targets health and low calories.  So, to that end, the chicken is a bit spongy, but it's firmer than what you'd get from, say, a can of chicken noodle soup.  And you know you love canned chicken noodle soup no matter how much you deny it.

Yeah, you do.  It's okay.  We know.

 

Taste - 3.0

Just a reminder - a 3.0 means it is spot-on for what you'd expect.  It means that you could eat this whenever, wherever; it's a solid go-to that fits the bill for your busy schedule.  It's not buttery-cheesy-rich by any means, but it isn't necessarily bland, either.  You will definitely recognize it as fettuccini alfredo with your first bite.

 

Quantity - 2.5

My general rule is that a 3.0 for Quantity means, "It'll suffice curb the hunger, but I would need to eat two for me to feel stuffed."  That said, a 2.5 simply means, it doesn't quite deliver enough to stand alone as a significant part of the lunch meal.  It's not bad, but it wouldn't give you that "full-for-the-afternoon" even if you ate two of them (and that would be approaching $7 for 2x of this one).  This means I'm probably going to be rummaging around my desk later for something edible.

You'll definitely want to pick up one or two other sides to go along with this, unless you have the metabolism of a sleepy kitten.

 

Value - 3

At $3.19, the price isn't too bad, and given some of the positive marks above, it's definitely a solid buy.  I almost wanted to give it a 2.5 since the quantity was a little lacking, but I was pleasantly surprised by the texture and overall taste, so this definitely gets a 3 for value.

 

Total Score - 18.5

Overall, I was generally impressed with WeightWatcher's Smart Ones Chicken Fettuccini Alfredo.  It had better texture and taste than I was expecting given its pricepoint.  Sure, there are some shortcomings, but I think if you offered a bite of this to anyone and told them it cost you about three bucks, they'd say, alright, where do I buy one for myself?  It's worth picking one up to see if it's up your alley.

Food Pairing:  A nice Riesling, obviously.  But if you can't get one of those from your office fridge, bring a little extra black pepper and, if you're like me, a pinch of smoked chipotle pepper powder.

 

Lean Cuisine Favorites - Chicken Fettuccini

Appearance - 3.0

  

Lean Cuisine's fettuccini is oversauced for sure, but it still has that chunky-edible-goodness to it.  The green flakes (again.. parsley? I can't find it on the ingredients!) are hard to find, and the black pepper flakes are like Where's Waldo, but overall it still looks creamy and appetizing.

 

Aroma - 3.0

Solid.  When you take this out of the microwave, it smells like fettucini alfredo.  There's maybe a hint of chicken (which would be nice if it were more pronounced), and overall it's pretty nice, and it'll make you more hungry than you were the moment prior.

 

Texture - 2.0

Watery.  That's the first thing I think when I take a bite.  The pasta has that whole soggy mouthfeel thing going on.  Perhaps I cooked it too long, though I did follow the instructions down to the second, and then I let it cool down as well.  The chicken was a tad spongy (see: chicken soup reference above) but was a little firmer than Smart Ones' so that's a plus.

But, that sauce.  It's just a bit too watery.  It's sort of the theme of the meal, honestly.  Note to Frozen Microwave Food brands: the way to win points is to make us forget that we just nuked your meal with electrons.  

 

Taste - 2.0

On a positive note, the chicken does sometimes have a note of that grill/sear flavor.  It's subtle, but it's there.  The sauce is lacking that cheese/cream combo you're looking for in an alfredo sauce, and I found that the more I ate, the less I cared to eat any more.  But perhaps it was starting to get cold.

 

Quantity - 3.0

I would definitely need more than two to fill up; however, considering it was only $2.16, I definitely can't knock it.  I could buy three of these things and still be under $7.  Okay.  Got a snack to go along with it?  No?  Buy another one.  Who cares.

 

Value - 2.5

Although the quantity score was a solid 3.0, the texture and taste kept this one from getting higher marks for value.  Yes, it's cheap.  No, you aren't going to look forward to eating another.  It's essentially just cheap enough to get a free pass for being a 'quick bite.'

 

Total Score - 15.5

Full disclosure: I tried the Smart Ones' fettuccini alfredo first.  Yet still, I think if anything, that should have made it easier to enjoy alfredo-soaked pasta for the rest of the meal.  Instead, I found myself thinking, this one isn't quite as good.  I would definitely pay the extra $1 and get something I enjoy a little more.

That said, if money isn't the issue and you just want something tasty-enough to fill the void between your snacks, you really can't go wrong with the Lean Cuisine Chicken Fettucini Alfredo.  It's a decent quantity, it looks and smells good, and you can scarf it down quickly and be done with it.  And, it's pretty decent healthwise to boot.

Food Pairing:  A nice Riesling, obviously, again.  But if you can't get one of those from your office fridge, bring a little extra black pepper, salt, and I would of course recommend some smoked chipotle powder.  Or, a light dash of lemon.

 


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