Friday, June 5, 2009

Whole Foods Meal Deal, Part 2: It Lacks Appeal

Posted By on Fri, Jun 5, 2009 at 6:34 AM

click to enlarge GenTsao.jpg

Yesterday I reported on the purchase of an uncommonly economical value meal from Whole Foods, which included General Tsao's chicken, red cabbage, brown rice and a large salad, all for $14.99.

There's good news and bad news about the General Tsao's feast, which is marketed as a meal for four.

Good news? It could have fed a lot more than four people.

Bad news? That's because nobody liked it very much.

A few observations about the meal:

1. Forget the instructions that say to place the tray, covered in foil, in a 350-degree oven for 10 to 15 minutes. It takes a good 30 minutes to get that dinner up to temperature. If you are reheating the meal for hungry people, multiple that extra 15 minutes by a factor of, say, 4, because it will feel like at least an hour of bitching.

2. Rice does not reheat well, particularly if there's not a lot of liquid to help it along. Think about it--have you ever actually eaten the rice in a carton of leftover Chinese food when you weren't drunk, hungover or trapped in your house due to inclement weather? No, because it tastes like pebbles.

3. In the words of one taste-tester, they left out the flavor packets. QED.

Now, given that I admitted to (unintentionally) stealing two cookies from Whole Foods when I was purchasing this bland bounty and that my whole value meal--including the excellent $7.99 salad--cost $14.99, I feel like I'm looking a gift horse in the mouth. But with a generously priced and portioned meal so close to my grasp, I can't help but offer constructive criticism. I have no doubt the Whole Foods team can fine tune this meal to perfection.

Meanwhile, now that I've discovered the value meal, I'm sure I will fall for its charms again soon. I'll just assume General Tsao was an anomaly.

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