Saturday, October 12, 2019

Eat! Southwestern Style Vegetable Burrito Bowl (Dollar Tree)

Not a bad way to go for $1.
As I have mentioned in a previous review, Eat! is a frozen meal company that, as far as I can tell, seems to exclusively supply Dollar Tree stores. The products are manufactured by Bellisio Foods, a factory located right here in Ohio; the combination makes sense, considering Bellisio also makes the name brand single serve frozen meals that Dollar Tree carries. Is Bellisio eventually going to pull the name brand products from DT stores and replace them with these private label products instead? It's a complete guess on my part, but one that makes potential sense; only time will tell.

Technically, this dish is doomed to me from the beginning, because I don’t much care for beans, nor rice, and those two items make up about 50% of this entrĂ©e. Obviously, however, I’m taking a look at it for what it is, rather than my own personal affection for it, if that makes sense. Which it doesn't. Either way, I was in the mood for something different, something I wouldn't normally get, and this fit the bill quite nicely.

I don’t think there’s a nice way to say this, but upon heating it up, this dish looks like someone ate beans and rice a little too soon after drinking a large quantity of alcohol, and then regurgitated their stomach contents into a small cardboard tray, where it was flash-frozen to preserve freshness and placed on store shelves. I mean, seriously—that weird white sauce on top (which I have just learned is, in fact, cheese, despite having the consistency of something that’s not cheese) certainly doesn’t help, especially when everything is mixed together. It’s quite an unappetizing appearance.

But you know what they say: never judge a book by its cover, and so I ignored my own stomach’s pleas for mercy, loaded up my fork with a bite, and crammed it into my mouth…

…and it’s really not that bad. It’s certainly boring to my palate, with a muted, monochrome flavor profile that’s expected of a bean and rice combination, but the weird cheese “sauce” (that’s much thicker than my definition of what constitutes a “sauce”) does give it an extra kick in the tastebuds that makes you wish there was more of it to go around. Meanwhile the “corn” is in there just to fulfill the absolute minimum requirement for something mass-produced to be considered “southwestern”…it really doesn’t add much to either the flavor, nor the texture, and is a pointless inclusion overall. In fact, I didn't even notice them at all as I was eating the dish, only realizing they existed after taking a closer look at the packaging.

If you are a fan of beans and rice, you're a boring person. But you might also quite like this. Ditto for fans of the “southwestern” flavor profile, which is in noticeable abundance here. It’s another example of America taking ingredients that are naturally healthy, and overcheesing and salting it to ridiculous extremes, but it does have an interesting combination of flavors that's outside my norm, and that managed to hit the spot. And for only $1, the price isn’t too shabby, either.

There's “only” 7.5 oz. of food in here, which is on the lower end of the Dollar Tree frozen food spectrum for similar meals (which are usually in the 8-9 oz. range), but it's not enough of a drop-off to really affect the value proposition all that much, and there's enough here that those with smaller stomachs should feel full afterwards; for everyone else, it should suffice as a satisfying snack.

Overall: 6/10. For the third time (at least), I’m not a big fan of beans and rice, but wanted to give this a chance because I was in the mood for something different. And I'm certainly not upset that I did: It’s expectedly boring in flavor to me, save for the cheese sauce, which adds a much needed kick in the tastebuds, but the overall combination of flavors and spices was a welcome change of pace. The rest is about as you would expect, and while the $1 price point isn’t really all that noteworthy (most frozen meals at major supermarkets can be had for the same price), it certainly isn’t bad. For a quick meal on the go, you could certainly do worse, especially inside the Tree.

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