Dining Deals

Can a Whole Foods Dinner For 2 Substitute As a Home-Cooked Meal?

After a long week of travel, there's nothing like a home-cooked meal. There's also nothing like not having to actually make that meal yourself. Unfortunately, upon returning from a recent trip, I had no way to get either of these things.

Fresh off the plane and completely sick of fast food, the fiancé and I took to Whole Foods for a quick dinner. We were about to attack patiently wait our turn for the trusty salad bar when an auspicious-looking display of brown paper bags caught my eye.

I'd been wanting to try a WF's Dinner For 2 for some time...and what better time than when you're delirious and slightly hungover after a long flight and a few too many miniature bottles of wine -- amiright?

The bag was filled with Chicken Scallopini, Fettucini with Roasted Tomoatoes, and Caesar Salad. Since Dave usually spends $13 on just cottage cheese and peaches alone at the salad bar, the $14.99 price tag didn't seem too shabby. We grabbed it to go and hoped for the best.

Inside was a surprisingly nice portion of panko-crusted chicken, fettucini in olive oil, and a salad packed with crisp romaine, croutons and an inordinate amount of shredded parmesan cheese. Each dish was deeper than it looks above, making the meal as a whole certainly enough for two.

The package even came with instructions written on the back of its menu: Heat up the chicken and pasta in either the oven or the microwave; enjoy the salad cold (Oh, really? Thanks, Whole Foods!).

Even with my passing hangover, I knew I could handle this. Since I'm a bit of a texture snob, I baked the chicken in my toaster oven to keep it nice and crisp. The pasta, on the other hand, I was fine microwaving.

Pro-tip: Taste dressings before dousing your salad in them.

The packet of Caesar dressing that the salad came with was a little too tangy for my liking, which I realized after I had poured it all over the salad. Rookie mistake. Dave enjoyed it, but I would use a bit less and/or some oil and vinegar next time.

My chicken-in-toaster-oven trick worked like a charm -- the panko crust was perfectly crunchy -- and the chicken stayed surprisingly moist for being reheated. But the best part? There was way more than enough of it; I cut the giant strips into bite-sized chunks and tossed them with the pasta to serve.

Which brings me to...

Pro-tip #2: Next time, before reheating, I'd put aside a few strips for lunch the next day; they'd be perfect for a salad, wrap or just as is dipped in honey Dijon.

The pasta, while not earth-shattering, was pretty tasty, with roasted tomatoes, yellow bell peppers, olive oil and fresh parsley. Sadly, my favorite part, the roasted vegetables, were few and far between. I considered being a total bitch and sneaking a few more onto my plate, but in the end I couldn't do it. I mean, if that's not love, I don't know what is.

Since the salad had so much parmesan, I scooped a bit off the top and threw it in the pasta (Pro-tip #3 -- God, I'm good).

In the end, Whole Foods' Dinner For 2 was a satisfying Sandra Lee-esque semi-homemade meal. It felt light, had great portions and was perfectly easy to "make" at home.

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Brooke Viggiano is a contributing writer who is always looking to share Houston's coolest and tastiest happenings with the Houston Press readers.
Contact: Brooke Viggiano