As a teenager, I dreamt of being tall, slender and athletic like Esther Williams. Yep, just gave away my age right there, didn’t I? We were quite poor growing up (cue the handkerchiefs), but my mother always found a way to put money aside to buy me these new-fangled frozen entrées that were supposed to help you lose weight called Stouffer’s Lean Cuisine, plus the regular non-lean Spinach Soufflé that I just loved. Boy, did I eat a lot of Lean Cuisine… without ever losing weight…
The idea of adding a yoghurt cup and a fruit to make it a balanced meal —like all other basic notions about health and nutrition actually— never came to mind. As a result, I was famished all the time. I would eat my less-than-300-calories entrée for supper, then dive face first into the fridge before going to bed. Self-discipline’s so overrated when you’re a teen.
Fast forward to 2015 and the brand new Kilo Solution entrées launched this week, plus the Isabelle Huot Balanced Lunch Boxes introduced last fall. When I received the press release and one of the lunch boxes at home, a PR initiative aimed at Véro Magazine and not this blog, I thought to myself: Right, 2015’s version of a Québécois Stouffer’s. I wasn’t far off. The packaging, the serving size, the calories, it all resembles those lean meals from my teenage years.
I confess, I was biased and ready to diss. But, lo and behold, they’re actually good. Okay, when I opened the curried shrimp and vermicelli lunchbox, there was no doubt in my mind I was about to die from hunger. Don’t let the beauty shot above mislead you, it’s pure advertising deceit: in reality, the pasta barely covers the bottom of the package. You sure won’t have to unbutton your 501s when you leave the table, but with sides of edamame dip (so good I want the recipe!), the crudités and fruit, you’ll feel fairly satisfied. It’s worth noting that the lunchboxes, developed by nutritionist Huot, provide at least 20 g of protein and 6 g of fibre, with no nitrates, preservatives or additives.
Early this week, on the spur of the moment, I decided to try the new Kilo Solution entrées that just landed in supermarkets. The Moroccan Chicken was also developed by Isabelle Huot but cooked by Fleury Michon, a nice brand whose quality I praised here. You microwave it 2 minutes and voilà! the rich aromas of hearty chicken stew, surprisingly flavourful and comforting, with only 240 or so calories to boot. My bias against was sent packing for good. (Of course, the name says it all: Kilo Solution meals are “petite” like you hope to be, so you’ll definitely want to add that yoghurt and fruit I neglected as a teenager if you hope to make it to supper. Or snacktime.)
The Verdict: Against my will so to speak, I liked the food. For a quick lunch at the office, if you overdid it the night before, had no time to prepare lunch or just want to eat more lightly, they’re a nifty choice. Good-tasting, fresh —as opposed to frozen Stouffer type entrées— and, not negligible, Québec-made. My waistline says thank you.
Isabelle Huot Lunch Boxes: Choice of 2 meals, $7.99. Exclusively at IGA.
Kilo Solution Fresh Entrées: Choice of 6 meals and soups, various prices. At IGA and Métro.
* Disclosure: Sobeys is a client. Some product samples were received, others were paid by me. I was not financially compensated for this post and opinions expressed are my own.