The pros: Trader Joe's Shells with Brie and Asparagus is a decent variation on mac and cheese.
The cons: Watch the calorie count here. This package is considered 2 servings, so if you are bringing this for lunch just be aware you will be consuming over 600 calories in this one package.
The verdict: Confession time: During the month of January I tend to reach more for packaged foods. Why? I don't have to calculate the calories at all. I know whether or not I am doing ok in terms of my annual New Year's resolution. However, if you are dieting, you probably should not be reaching for this unless it is a cheat day.
I found the nutritional information of this package to be slightly deceptive. When I picked it up in the store I looked right at the calorie count. I said to myself, "Oh, that's not bad," and placed in my cart. Upon arriving home, I looked a bit closer. This small package is actually 2 servings. Now, after making this, I'm pretty sure most average people would consider this something closer to one serving. Which means if you weren't looking and assumed this is one serving then you are getting 680 calories and as an added bonus 98% of your daily saturated fat.
So, you have been warned. Now, if you eat things because they sound good, then this is an average shells and cheese dish. It wasn't anything that wowed me. When I did peel back the package after being in the microwave there was a slight wow because you could see the slice of brie that was placed in this package. After that the wow became just average.
I prepared mine in the microwave because well, isn't that what these cute containers are for? My microwave tends to be like Chernobyl, so I actually stopped mine about 15 seconds short of the 4 minute mark. What came out was fully cooked shells, melted cheese, and shriveled asparagus. While I loved the visual of the brie and the creaminess that it added to the dish, I still found the shells a touch too soft for my liking. The asparagus did not appreciate the trip in the microwave as they seemed a bit dry and stringy.
Perhaps I would have gotten better results in the oven. For $3.69 this wasn't outrageously priced compared to other frozen entrees. It did not taste like cardboard either. But in the world of shells and cheese, it did not blow me away either. There was an obvious attempt at quality ingredients. But as a flavor combination and finished product I would rather reach for Trader Joe's seasonal Butternut Squash or Truffle Mac and Cheese since the taste was vastly superior as was the justification for the calorie consumption.
Here is the visual run down of what you get if you buy this product:
The package of Trader Joe's Shells with Brie and Asparagus:
The nutritional information, the ingredients, and how to prepare:
After being cooked you get:
Give this a good stir and you get:
Would I buy this again? No, I would not buy Trader Joe's Shells with Brie and Asparagus. It was nice to try, but for me there are just too many calories. Besides, it did not taste good enough to justify this as nearly 100% of my daily allowance of saturated fat.
Want to see more items I've reviewed from Trader Joe's? Click on Thoughts & Reviews of Trader Joe’s for a searchable list.
Did you try it? Let me know what you think in the comments section!