Sometimes you just can't make it into the kitchen to cook. Dr. Gourmet has reviewed over 800 common convenience foods, ingredients, and restaurant selections so that you know what's worth eating - and what's not. View the Index of all Dr. Gourmet's Food Reviews

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Just Tell Me What to Eat!

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Dr. Gourmet's Food Reviews

Udi's Gluten Free

Penne & Cheese with Uncured Bacon and Penne & Cheese

Udi's four new frozen meals

I recently read that people are consuming fewer and fewer frozen meals. Some of the data indicates that people are put off by the additives and high sodium content of foods. While I hope that this means people are cooking for themselves, we do realize here at that folks are going to use convenience foods and we want to help you get your money's worth if you are going to buy out of the freezer case.

This week we found two new meals from Udi's. Our reviews of their products have been mixed, but they do have good bread products, including their multi-grain rolls and hamburger buns.

Most everybody likes Mac & Cheese and they have two new ones on the market. We started with the Rich & Creamy Penne & Cheese with Uncured Bacon. We chose this in spite of the 710 mg of sodium per serving. That's a lot, but there are not as many alternatives for those eating gluten free and the additional salt seems worth it.

The smell is great coming out of the microwave with smoked bacon and rich cheese aroma. The cheese sauce does not disappoint and may be one of the best we have tasted in a frozen meal. It is rich and creamy just as the package promises and the pasta is perfect. Usually reheated pasta is gummy, especially gluten free macaroni. This is perfectly cooked with just the right amount of bite.

Unfortunately, the bacon is a let down. There is not all that much of it, and with the additional fat, calories, and salt, it is just not worth it. The flavor of the bacon barely comes through and the small bits are too tough to chew.

Tasters thought that the Rich & Creamy Penne & Cheese might be the answer. It seemed to make sense that this meal would be the same as the one with bacon but simply without the bacon.

It isn't.

The sauce is soupy and far too thin to be satisfying. It doesn't have the rich, sharp cheese flavor, and the penne is underdone. That could be an accident, but even if it is, this meal fails to deliver. It looks OK on paper at 430 calories, 480 mg sodium, and 3 grams of fiber, but the sauce is too bland and the penne inedible.

Mac & Cheese is really easy to make and can be so much better for you than either of these. Here's the Dr. Gourmet Creamy Mac & Cheese recipe, and using quinoa based gluten free penne will give you a gluten-free Mac and Cheese that's darn near perfect.

Reviewed: March 28, 2014