Frozen foods for kids? It's not much different than many moms' standby of chicken nuggets or fries baked in the oven. Convenience is key on many hectic nights. And in organic's benefits and squeezing in extra vegetables? Now you might be on to something.
So was my mindset as I set out to review Happy Baby and Happy Bites line of frozen foods (in Indianapolis, it's available at Whole Foods). Over a six-week span, we mixed a number of dishes into our diet with mixed results. The baby food was well-received, but the kid line, not so much.
The Happy Baby frozen baby food line was great as a working mom and not much different than cracking open a jar. I tossed a series of cubes into the fridge in the morning, and it was defrosted by dinner time.
The cost may seem high (about $5 a package, but the cost per serving is comparable to other organic baby foods you'd find on the store shelf.
Our taste-tester gobbled up the Super Salmon and Baby Dhal, made hysterical faces at the quinoa (not sure why; he's enjoyed the grown-up version), and would not have a thing to do with the peaches or plums, which he normally likes. (The texture was a bit strange, kind of flaky, which may be a contributing factor).
But better than the baby food for the 9 month old was the "big kid line," Happy Bites. Our littlest tester enjoyed lapping up the dipping sauce (with "hidden veggies" inside) as well as pincher-sized bites of his sisters' fish.
At about $5 a frozen dinner (at Whole Foods), the children's meals are more than I'd usually pay for a frozen meal for lunch, which makes it a bit pricy for everyday use. However, it might be a great back-up on crazy evenings or when the grown-ups just want to eat, well, grown-up food.
Reality bites, and the 3 year old didn't. My foodie fought eating these every step of the way.
I'll admit I couldn't sell it. We generally offer healthy meals including plenty of produce and occasional fish, but these meals were often tasteless and had an unusual consistency and texture. The Fish Bites and Salmon Stix had no flavor (and my daughter loves salmon). The Veggie Tots were unpalatable.
The dipping sauces? A mix of strange brews that resemble baby food (and enjoyed heartily by the baby, who lapped the green ones up). The "Orange Cheetah" cheese sauce tasted like out of a blue Kraft box (not necessarily a bad thing for this demographic), and the "Red Monkey" marinara sauce could have definitely been kicked up a notch.
I give the creators of this line credit for trying to increase the produce in children's diets and expose them to (slightly) new flavors. But the reality is, as a parent, hidden foods are still tough to pull off.