Now as someone who runs a site called “Clearance Cuisine”, one would assume that I’m probably extreme couponer, but I’m actually a sucker for in-store and online contests. This also saves me from scissor-induced Carpal Tunnel Syndrome and aggravating grocery store cashiers on a daily basis. Not wanting to pass up a chance at winning something, I ended up playing an instant win game on the Stouffer’s Facebook page back in February, and hey, I happened to win a free frozen meal (well, a coupon for one that arrived a couple of months later).
We’re happy to let you know that you’re a winner in the STOUFFER’S Stuffed Melt and Soup Match ‘Em Up promotion! You’ve won a coupon good for a free stuffed melt and soup combo, which has an approximate retail value of $3.69. Congratulations! There’s nothing you need to do except look for your prize within 8-10 weeks.
After getting the coupon in the mail, I picked up the meal on a shopping trip with my dad to the local military commissary (hooray for dependent benefits) in March and it’s been aging nicely in the freezer since.
The front of the box proclaims “Bakery Fresh Taste IN MINUTES” (5 and 3/4 to be exact), but that’s a tough claim to back up for a frozen meal. The sad fact of the matter is that I live within 3 blocks of both a bakery that makes tasty goods AND a soup shop that makes an infinite amount (literally) of delicious, fresh soups. However, I must do my duty as a food writer/experimenter and try this concoction. Good thing the best before date is March 2012!
The instructions call for peeling off the top cardboard part of the box, microwaving only the plastic-covered soup first for 90 seconds, then popping in the “stuffed melt” with the requisite crisping sleeve with the soup for the remaining 3 minutes and 15 seconds (in my case, I just did three minutes out of laziness and the high probability the extra fifteen seconds wouldn’t make or break the meal). The inside of the box also had a special code, most likely I had the winning box for three lifetimes worth of Stouffer’s meals.
As many of the popular reviews I also spotted for this product (The Impulsive Buy, Freezer Burns, Brand Eating) also mentioned, the “stuffed melt” is less of an artisan meat and cheese bistro treat (“Herb-Topped Focaccia Bread Filled with Beef Steak, Onions and Mushrooms in a Swiss Cheese Sauce”) and more of a small, pretentious Hot Pocket. The filling was almost the exact same filling as a Philly Steak and Cheese Hot Pocket, but just a little tougher. The cheese sauce even spurted out while microwaving in traditional Hot Pocket style.
If I haven’t had read the box, I would have never guessed there were mushrooms also in the melt. Everything stuffed in there had the same texture. The watery cheese “sauce” had gooey cheese chunks as well. It’s also pretty small for a sandwich that’s half of a 400 calorie meal (see the photo with my little hands/diameter of the plastic soup bowl for reference).
The soup was just as disappointing – a viscous, orange solution with some bits of broccoli (most of it being the stalk, the least tasty part). I nibbled on some of the broccoli, trying to justify it as “eating healthy”, though most of it went back in the freezer to harden it up into an ice puck to toss in the trash later.
As a meal, you’d be more satisfied to whip up your own Hot Pocket (Lean Pocket for the ladies) or Campbell’s and pairing them together. You’ll probably save some calories too. At around $2.50-$3.99, you can do it for much cheaper as well.