Making a Fancy Meal out of Frozen Food: Hacking Your Way to Being a Passable Chef

When it comes to dinner, it is a sad irony of modern life that we have more choices than any people who have ever lived, but less time to enjoy our meals. What started at the drive-through window has crept into our kitchens, and it seems like speed is the secret ingredient of every recipe. From electric pressure cookers to the army of meal prep services competing for your subscription money, there are a lot of ways to spend less time in the kitchen and more time doing what you love. The problem is that no one can afford to eat prepped meals every day, and instant cookers are only fast until you factor in the time you spend prepping and trying to scrub those puppies clean. For those of us who want to eat like adults but don’t have time to become a chef, Caesar’s Kitchen is here to help.

Frozen meals have come a long way from the “TV dinner” wasteland you remember from your younger days.  We’re using real braised, sautéed, roasted and simmered ingredients. Then we freeze it to seal in the flavor. Frozen food is everywhere now, and it’s crazy good. We hate to break it to you, but chances are the food you’re eating in a restaurant has spent some amount of time already frozen. That’s great news because it means even you–the person who Googled “toaster oven  fire help help help”–can eat restaurant-quality meals with basically no effort. Here’s how:

  1.  Get on your phone, play something from the workout mix you never listen to. Loud.
  2.  Grab a Caesar’s Kitchen entrée of your choosing. (We know that there are other brands, but we tried them, and frankly they aren’t that great.) Throw that bad boy in the microwave and start the timer. That countdown on the microwave is all the time you have to MacGyver something delicious using only the stuff hanging around in your kitchen. You can do this!
  3. You may not know this, but if you put lettuce on plate with any kind of bottled dressing, you have made a salad.  Try it. Congratulations, your meal is now officially two courses.
  4. Slice up that avocado you saw when you were getting the lettuce, put it on your salad and you have yourself what we foodies call a “healthy fat.” If you don’t have an avocado handy, chiffonade your lettuce for an extra fancy salad.
  5. Remember the spice rack you got as a gift from someone who believed in you? Find it!  Pick one. Our recommendation? Try some red pepper flakes on your Buffalo Style Chicken Mac & Cheese or some Rosemary on your Chicken Lasagna.  Were you ever curious what “herbs de provence” tastes like? Buckle up, because tonight is the night we find out.
  6. When the timer beeps, pull your Caesar’s Kitchen meal out of the microwave.  Taking care not to burn yourself, scoop or slide the entire contents of the package onto the fanciest dish you have. This is the most important step. If you’ve ever seen even one episode of a cooking show in passing, you know that taking a towel to wipe up your messy splatter around the edge of the dish can turn any meal from lunch-lady sloppy into a culinary masterpiece. Try it now, thank us later.
  7. Time to find your garnish. Don’t think you have one? We beg to differ. Open your junk drawer and grab a couple of those parmesan packets from your last pizza delivery to sprinkle on top of your Chicken Lasagne. Grab a lemon wedge (the kind you threw in your last cocktail) and zest some of the rind onto our Asiago and Mushroom Penne. Worst case scenario, mosey on over to the cutie next door and ask to borrow some Basil. We promise, they’ll be impressed.
  8. Using your hand, gently pat yourself on the shoulder. You did it!