Monday, July 13, 2020

Meijer Macaroni Salad (Meijer)

As far as store-bought macaroni salad is concerned, this stuff is very good.
Macaroni salad is one of those things that should be on my grocery list a lot more than it actually is...I just completely tend to forget it exists. It's one of those foods that's not one of my absolute favorites, but also not one that's so far down the list that I remember to avoid it, and so it just gets lost in the shuffle of the trillions of other foods and side dishes available in any given store.

Well, for the first time this year, it randomly just popped into my head at the last second as my wife as heading out on a recent grocery-shopping expedition, and I made sure to add it to her list with a loud exclamation of "macaroni salad!" as she was heading out the door. (Hey, whatever works!) I'd never had Meijer's version of the popular American side, and I was pretty eager to see if it could satisfy my inexplicable, sudden craving.

Oh man, this is some pretty solid stuff for being store-bought. The macaroni noodles are perfectly soft—not mushy, nor too hard—giving them the great, slimy texture that apparently is what one looks for in a mac salad. The accompanying veggies (celery, carrots, and green onions) are diced in very small, uniform pieces but in a complete shocker, the celery and carrots actually offer up a “fresh” level of crunch more akin to a homemade salad. They don't add much to the flavor, and the green onions don't really seem to add anything, but they're at least there in spirit, adding some color to the bland wasteland of neutral shades that the dressing and elbow macaroni provides.

Speaking of "dressing", that's the main star of any good macaroni salad...it's the one ingredient that makes or breaks the rest. And a great dressing should have an “edge” to it, like a well-dressed businesswoman, quiet and reserved on the outside, who hides a wealth of tattoos underneath her suit and has a motorcycle waiting for her out in the parking lot. Let's face it: macaroni salad looks pretty darn boring, but it shouldn't taste boring, and considering the tame, dull nature of everything else (macaroni noodles are among the most plain things ever made and celery...c'mon, that's like the vegetable equivalent of water) is the only thing carrying the flavor.

Meijer's version of this classic dish hits the nail on the head in this regard, delivering a creamy mayonnaise-based foundation that offers up a nice, strong kick of tangy flavor that's missing from other store-bought versions. It's not only edible, but addicting: once I got my first bite, I had a hard time putting it away, eventually finishing off the whole 16 oz. tub in just three sittings (although it was closer to two, as my last serving was a disappointing three or so bites).

That leaves just one area to account for: value. After all, where's the value in an expensive dish? When you pay a lot for something it's supposed to be good; the best values are things that taste expensive, without actually being expensive. Coming in at $2.39 per 16 oz. tub when not on sale (or $5.99 for the 3 lb. tub) doesn't make it a particularly strong value, but I also wouldn't consider it overpriced...especially given how delicious it is. Even at this rate, I would grab it again, although a sale would help entice me into getting it more often (or into trying some of their other "deli" sides).

Overall: 8/10. This is a great store-bought macaroni salad that's one of the best I've had thus far (although my research is fairly limited). The texture is “great”, with soft macaroni noodles covered in a very tangy, delicious mayo-based dressing that's hard to put down once started (I put “great” in quotes because the texture of macaroni salad is actually kinda gross if you think about it; the noodles become almost slimy in texture when covered in the dressing, but this is the standard expectation when eating the dish, and thus the “correct” texture.) There are also little celery and carrot chunks scattered throughout that somehow maintain their crunch, giving it a more “homemade” vibe (even though the bits are so small, they don't actually add much to the flavor). Meanwhile, a 16 oz. tub retails for $2.39 at full price (with a 3 lb. option going for $5.99), which doesn't make it a value king, but is reasonable considering the solid flavor. I'd definitely snag this again in the near future.


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