5 On Your Side

Frozen dishes from popular restaurants worth a try

Posted December 30, 2013

Frozen dinners can be found throughout the freezer aisle – many from popular restaurants such as California Pizza Kitchen, TGI Fridays, Boston Market and P.F. Chang's.

Consumer Reports recently tested the microwavable version of their popular dishes and compared them to their restaurant counterparts.

The toppings on California Pizza Kitchen’s frozen BBQ recipe chicken thin crust are similar to the restaurant version – and at $6 is less than half the price.

“Our tasters found that the frozen version is worth a try, but the strong barbecue sauce overpowered the flavors,” said Maxine Siegel, product usability and foods manager at Consumer Reports.

Tasters liked the frozen version of TGI Fridays’ cheddar and bacon skins. The restaurant version cost twice as much and has three times the calories and fat.

P.F. Chang’s frozen shrimp lo mein resembles its restaurant counterpart in price and appearance, but the frozen shrimp were noticeably small and lacked flavor.

Boston Market’s frozen chicken pot pie costs a little less but it’s a lot different. Small cubes of spongy chicken are in the frozen version versus large chunks of rotisserie chicken at the restaurant.

But testers really liked the frozen crust.

Boston Market’s popular meatloaf and mashed potatoes also had noticeable differences. Tasters described the frozen version as akin to Salisbury steak and instant potatoes.

Overall, Consumer Reports found that many of the frozen choices were pretty good and worth a try.

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