Kroger has jumped into the diet game with their Perfect Fit Meals. Available for pickup in the store or online ordering and home delivery, they have created a variety of single portion pre-prepared meals for breakfast, lunch and dinner. They were sampling the meals in the store where I shop and I stopped to hear the pitch yesterday, picked up their brochure and a couple of the meals.
Assuming the brochure reflects the entire menu, they offer four breakfasts including an omelet, oatmeal, a scrambled egg, meat and vegetable dish and pancakes and range in price from $2.99 to $4.99. The lunch/dinner selection includes eighteen entrees ranging from fish to chicken to beef and one vegetarian dish and range in price from $4.99 to $7.99. There are also ten selections listed as snacks or sides that range in price from $1.99 to $3.99 and include muffins, vegetables and a few desserts. The entrees range from 190 to 360 calories each with the majority falling in the 300 calorie area. The snacks range from 60 to 190 calories each. The brochure helpfully denotes dishes that are gluten friendly, dairy friendly, vegetarian and kid friendly. The store representative told me that the meals could be expected to last 4 to 5 days in the refrigerator and could be frozen in the plastic containers in which they come.
I decided to try two of the entrees and began perusing the nutritional information for each selection. The first thing I noticed was that the majority of their choices are quite low in fiber, averaging about 3 grams each. Assuming that the calorie and fat counts are in the allowable range, I always check the fiber content of pre-packaged meals first since that's what keeps you feeling full. There are only six meals out of the eighteen total that have more than 3 grams of fiber and only 2 that have more than 6 grams. I like to shoot for 5 to 6 grams of fiber per meal so that narrowed my choice appreciably, presenting a real problem if I chose to follow their meal plan exclusively.
Misreading the label, (darn my aging eyes!), I chose the chopped chicken salad, which has only 2 grams of fiber (320 calories, 41g protein, 19g carbs, 9g fat) and the southwest turkey with 9 grams of fiber (360 calories, 34g protein, 35g carbs, 11g fat). As an aside, it would be difficult to follow a low carb plan using these meals. Both meals were delicious. The chicken salad came with a blueberry balsamic dressing that I found particularly yummy.
Realizing that my main diet issue is portion control, a few months ago I began eating Lean Cuisine and Healthy Choice meals almost exclusively and that has worked pretty well for me and is a lot cheaper than going with other pre-packaged meal plans like Nutrisystem or Jenny Craig. I like the Lean Cuisine and Healthy Choice meals and usually have a spinach side salad to round out my dinner portion.
So how did the Kroger meals line up against the plan I am already following? I like both meals so that criteria wasn't helpful. The Kroger meals are significantly more expensive than the Lean Cuisine and Healthy Choice meals, which run around $2 to $2.75 per meal at my store. The Kroger meals are fresh, as opposed to frozen and I know that should be important but I have a hard time getting worked up about it. There are more higher fiber choices in the frozen food aisle and that's important to me. The other issue I had with the Perfect Fit Meals is the container in which they are packaged. Although it's neat that you can freeze the meals in their existent containers, those container have no recyclable symbol on them. If the containers are truly not recyclable, that's a huge problem. I have enough trouble with my choice to eat meals that come in plastic containers, I certainly don't want to be eating meals in plastic containers that can't be recycled.
So in conclusion, I'll probably stick with my Lean Cuisine and Healthy Choice meals but occasionally supplement with these very tasty Kroger meals. If you shop at Kroger or have one in your area, give them a try and let me know what you think!