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Just Tell Me What to Eat!

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Dr. Gourmet's Food Reviews


Great Value: Lean Chicken Parmesan and Lean Spaghetti & Meat Sauce

Dr. Gourmet reviews the Chicken Parmesan from Walmart's Great Value line

Two weeks ago we reviewed two meals from Walmart, with results that exceeded our admittedly low expectations. This week we have round two of two meals that retail for $1.88 each.

We started off with the Chicken Parmesan, which has 320 calories, 600 milligrams of sodium (a calorie-to-sodium ratio of 0.53), and an impressive 6 grams of fiber.

The microwaving instructions could hardly be easier (5-6 minutes on high, allow to rest 1 minute), but the first thing we noticed as this meal came out of the microwave is that "it looks like something you'd get from the Lunch Lady," as one panelist remarked.

The chicken parmesan from Walmart, after cooking

A featureless piece of breaded substance lies on top of what is not actually spaghetti: it's linguine. Or maybe fettuccine. But it's not spaghetti, which by definition has a round cross-section. These strands of pasta are flattened, making them most definitely not spaghetti. Be that as it may, the sauce here might have bits of oregano - and certainly the sauce does taste of oregano - but the sauce is so acidic, even vinegary, that it's a bit off-putting.

The breaded chicken might be a scant centimeter thick (including the breading) and have "a fairly decent chicken flavor," but the texture of both the breading and the meat is that of mush: "one might be slightly thicker mush than the other," admitted another panelist. Even the pasta is fairly mushy. Leave this one on the shelf "unless you'd like to experience a blast from the 1960's-high-school-cafeteria past."

Dr. Gourmet's tasting panel reviews Spaghetti with Meat Sauce from Walmart

The Spaghetti & Meat Sauce was a welcome surprise: with 290 calories, 550 milligrams of sodium (0.52 ratio of calories-to-sodium), and a far less impressive 3 grams of fiber, the flavor is far better than the Chicken Parmesan.

Once again Walmart substitutes linguine for spaghetti, but for some reason the pasta holds up better, being just slightly beyond al dente. Although the dish smells pretty strongly of basil as it cooks, the reality is that the flavor of basil isn't overwhelming and is actually fairly well balanced with the oregano and sweet tomato.

Walmart's Spaghetti & Meat Sauce as it comes out of the microwave for review by the Dr. Gourmet tasting panel

Panelists reported "a good, meaty flavor" to the sauce and most agreed with a panelist who said that "I've had worse spag-bol in Italian restaurants."

Don't buy the Chicken Parmesan mush, but have the Spaghetti & Meat Sauce with a little salad or at least a piece of fruit.

Read all reviews of meals from Walmart »

Reviewed: March 16, 2018