Update added 10/28/2015 from the Chef Ernesto Facebook page: Would you like more vegan choices at the Dollar Tree Store? I know a way that you can help make this happen. Could you please email our Managing Director. If he receives enough positive feedback he can show the Dollar Tree store! Dollar Tree needs to see that people come to the Dollar Tree store for Chef Ernesto! This is your way to help bring more vegan food to those who have found the cruelty free food way. Thank you so much! Here is the email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
I was recently contacted to try samples of a new line of Chef Ernesto products. I was informed that they are presently available in select Northeast Dollar Tree Stores and that the Chef Ernesto products are in the beginning phase of a nationwide rollout of their all-natural high quality frozen food line. The products are offered at a discounted price.
I was interested to try some samples because Chef Ernesto is a 100% vegetarian frozen food brand and is advertised to use “ingredients you know and can pronounce.” The press released informed me that their food is comparable with products you can find at high end grocery stores. The line consists of three products: Battered Mushrooms, Vegetable Samosas, and Veggie Burgers and they are all vegan!
Now if you know me, my preference is to prepare meals at home, from whole, minimally process, organic plant foods. But we had just finished our big fundraising event. We were exhausted and there was not much energy for cooking. These samples came at an ideal time. Here is my take on these products:
The Good Points!
1. All 3 products, Battered Mushrooms, Vegetable Samosas, and Veggie Burgers are vegan! This is something to celebrate. I support any kind of vegan food product, whether it is healthy or not, because it can be used in place of a similar product made from animal, which I don’t support.
2. These products are fast and easy to prepare.
3. These products are unbelievably inexpensive.
4. All of these products are spicy and full of flavor.
Now for the not so good points!
1. Too salty! Typically a prepared food should have about the same number in milligrams (mg) of Sodium as it has in Calories. All these products have more than double the sodium that I think is necessary or healthy.
2. The product is not organic and may contain genetically modified ingredients, it is not clear if they do or not. The “edible vegetable oil” listed could be from soy or corn that is GMO.
I think these products are best for a treat. They’d be great as appetizers for a party. I love that they are vegan, inexpensive and easy to prepare. These are not products I would want to eat everyday – since they are too salty, too oily, not organic and may contain GMO ingredients.