Frozen meals can sometimes get a bad rap. Many have overly small portions, while others sit far too heavy--but the worst are the ones that simply don't taste very good, or like much of anything at all. Frozen burritos--specifically frozen bean and cheese burritos--defy all frozen food fears, though, sating diners with well-portioned, savory meals that won't hurt your wallet or your diet.
Frozen burritos have long been a part of the American diet. Invented by Duane R. Roberts in 1956, their long shelf life and delicious taste made them a hit amongst both students and school administrators. Today, they line shelves of grocery stores across America.
Although certain brands seem permeate more than others--with Amy's sometimes the only offered choice--there's now more variety than ever when it comes to bean-and-cheese burrito flavor profiles.
Read on to see which burritos we preferred.
Amy's Cheddar Cheese, Bean and Rice Burrito
This delightful little burrito is our pick of everything we tried. It's the Amy's version of a bean burrito, filled with creamy pinto beans, gooey cheese, and rice that melts into the rest of it. The seasonings were hearty without being overwhelming, and the 6-ounce portion size was just right to make the burrito filling without weighing me down. (For the celiac and otherwise-intolerant people amongst us, Amy's also makes this burrito with a gluten-free tortilla.)
The only drawback was the tortilla itself, which tasted flour-y and undercooked, never matching the warm temperature of the filling inside. It did, however, hold the burrito together without making much mess, which is important in its own right.
Amy's Southwestern Burrito
While Amy's Southwestern-flavored burrito didn't quite match up to it's simpler cousin, the addition of corn, tomatoes, poblano peppers, and jack cheese did up the flavor quotient considerably. If there was any problem, it was that the combination of flavors made the composite dish a bit overwhelming. (In my opinion, this many ingredients need to be distinguished by their various textures, which is simply not possible in a frozen-style burrito, like a fresh version.)
However, in a surprising turn, the whole-wheat tortilla was significantly better than that of the regular Amy's cheese burrito. Thinner and fresher than its cousin's tortilla, it amplified rather than overpowered the ingredients inside.
Trader Joe's Bean, Rice and Cheese Burritos
Oftentimes the only offerings found at the grocery store in the frozen burrito aisle all hail from Amy's, but what if you're shopping somewhere else--somewhere like Trader Joe's? Thankfully--and not surprisingly, given their roster of groceries--TJ's carries a number of frozen burrito varieties, including Carne Asada Burritos, Chicken Chile Verde Burritos, and Bean and Cheese Burritos, all at the store closest to me. While each option sounded delicious, I opted for the bean and cheese variety to keep in alignment with our other taste tests.
Although the taste and texture of their burrito interior was intriguing (and simple, filled with only pinto beans, cheese, brown rice, and their mild chile-based sauce), it fell a little flat. A closer look at their ingredients suggest this may be because all included dairy is either low- or no-fat. Additionally, while the flavor of the encasing tortilla was right, the ratio of tortilla to filling was WAY off-- the ends bunched with tortilla and no filling, leaving your mouth with an unpleasant, dry, and rather tasteless ending to the meal. ("It tastes too much like a layered Pillsbury biscuit," my husband commented.)
Sweet Earth's The Peruvian Burrito
Sweet Earth's Enlightened Foods is a California-based company committed to creating a variety of ready-to-eat dishes made from plant-based protein. The Peruvian is one of three varieties of bean, cheese, and rice burritos they offer, the others being the Anasazi Burrito and the Southwestern Burrito (the latter being the most traditional of the trio). This burrito was certainly the healthiest of any of the others I tried; packed with three grams of fiber and 17 grams of protein, it kept me full from lunch until dinner without snacking at all. The Peruvian burrito is "Inca-inspired" according to the packaging, meaning that the fillings are primarily foods that are native to South and Central America, including quinoa, sweet potatoes, and black beans.
However, like some of the other burritos we explored, with The Peruvian the ratio of filling to tortilla was off. Although the burrito kept its shape well, I would have preferred a bit of mess to the tightly wrapped, tortilla-heavy burrito I heated up. While the mixture of ingredients had a good taste and an excellent texture, the spice blend was deeply earthy, rather than savory or piquant. While this may appeal to those, especially those of are trying to eat specifically healthy or those who are tired of the same-old, this burrito was the least favorite we tried.
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