General Mills published a press release last week heralding a new line of Frozen TV Dinners, branded Wanchai Ferry. The lineup includes 5 flavors: spicy garlic chicken, orange chicken, sweet & spicy shrimp, sweet & sour chicken, and shrimp lo mein. Just for fun, we took a look inside the label of the spicy garlic chicken.
What you need to know:
General Mills, best know for its Cheerios cereal brand, is actually a huge food conglomerate boasting many familiar brands such as Häagen-Dazs, Nature Valley, Betty Crocker, Pillsbury, Green Giant, Old El Paso, Progresso, and even organic labels such as Cascadian Farm. In an ever increasing effort to grow grow grow its business (it’s the American Way), its pushing another Frozen meal at us. Too bad.
Here is the (long) ingredient list from the company website:
Cooked jasmine rice (rice, water), cooked battered chicken meat (chicken breast with rib meat, water, enriched bleached what flour [wheat flour, niacin, reduced iron, thiamine mononitrate, riboflavin, folic acid], contains 2% or less of modified food starch, wheat flour, salt, corn starch, yellow corn flour, sodium phosphates, carrageenan, nonfat dry milk, leavening [sodium bicarbonate, sodium aluminum phosphate, monocalcium phosphate], dextrose, wheat gluten, leavening [sodium bicarbonate, sodium aluminum phosphate], extractives of paprika, malted barley flour, xanthan gum), sugar, broccoli, water chestnuts, red bell peppers, carrots, soy sauce (water, wheat, soybeans, salt, sodium benzoate [preservative]), water, rice vinegar, modified corn starch, chili pepper, dried roasted garlic, high fructose corn syrup, white wine, garlic, oyster flavored sauce (oyster extractives, sugar, water, salt, modified corn starch, caramel color, sodium benzoate [preservative]), sesame oil, spice, maltodextrin, salt, autolyzed yeast extract, natural flavor, gum Arabic, citric acid.
The nutrition information is not heartening. 480 calories before adding the oil you’ll need to stir fry the dish, and 610 calories if you’re very careful and use only a small amount of oil. This is relatively ok. The disappointment is 1470 mg of sodium, which is 60% (!) of your daily maximum and 38 grams of sugar (!) which works out to 9 and a half teaspoons of the sweet stuff. How did they get so much sugar in there? A single ray of sunshine here are 4 grams of fiber, but even they can’t compensate for the sugarfest disguised as dinner. The manufacturer also boast no MSG.
Conclusion: If you’re going to spend 14 minutes preparing this dish, using a skillet, another container, and generally working in the kitchen, why not go the extra mile, spending a 35 minutes in the kitchen and preparing the meal from real ingredients? You’ll be able to add much more than “less than 2%” vegetables, you’ll be able to control the
What to do at the supermarket:
Buy chilled chicken breasts, bulk rice, onions, bell peppers, and mushrooms, all unprocessed. Choose a sauce or two from the condiment aisle as well as canola oil. At home, in less than 30 minutes, you can prepare a similar meal with fresh ingredients, no additives, and a much more reasonable amount of salt and sugar.
Help us test our new food comparison tool: alpha.fooducate.com