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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Wednesday, March 19, 2003

Quick meals: You just add meat

By Wanda A. Adams
Advertiser Food Editor

Kraft's FreshPrep meal kits are available in several Hawai'i supermarkets.


Yet another entry in the pre-fab meal category is the FreshPrep line from Kraft: six just-add-meat meal kits. I tested a pair of them: Four Cheese Chicken Alfredo and Classic Italian Lasagna.

The kits are meant to allow you to whip up an entree for five or six people in about 45 minutes (15 for prep, 30 minutes in the oven). Each includes no-boil pasta, pre-measured sauce and topping ingredients.

The chicken Alfredo calls for 1 to 1 1/2 pounds of boneless chicken breasts (4 or 5 breasts) and 1 1/2 cups milk. You just stir the milk and a tub of prepared, concentrated cheese sauce in a saucepan, spread the pasta in a baking dish, pour in the sauce, arrange the chicken on top of the pasta and sprinkle flavoring and cheese. Bake 30 minutes in a preheated 400-degree oven.

The dish bubbled over even though I used the size of dish called for; a cookie sheet underneath would have solved this. Otherwise, I was pretty impressed with this dish: The pasta was tender, the chicken perfectly cooked and the flavor wasn't artificial. Try cutting the chicken breasts into halves or thirds cross-wise so they soak up more flavor.

The Classic Italian Lasagna was trickier. It involved browning ground beef and stirring in a prepared marinara-type sauce, then layering hamburger, prepared ricotta mixture and no-boil pasta. But there was too little of the cheese mixture, making it difficult to spread evenly. The pasta was a bit dry and chewy in places because it really needs the cushioning of a thickish cheese layer. One option: Stir a small carton of ricotta into the cheese they give you.

Each kit includes suggested ways to vary the dish. I added garlic and onion to the hamburger. Another way to keep the pasta from drying out would be their suggestion to add a package of frozen chopped spinach. In any case, the flavor was quite nice and my husband eagerly asked for leftovers for his lunch.

If you are going to use meal kits, I recommend these over the ones made with dehydrated and canned ingredients. FreshPrep products retail for $5.49 (on sale) to $7.99.