"Now restaurant chains are jumping on the bandwagon, putting versions of their dishes in the supermarket freezer case.
Consumer Reports ran side-by-side comparisons to see how they measure up.
From the restaurant to your freezer: Many of America's most popular chain restaurants, including California Pizza Kitchen, TGI Friday's, Boston Market, and P.F. Chang's, are now selling frozen versions of their best-selling items. But are they worth staying in for? According to Consumer Reports … sometimes!
Consumer Reports found that there were some remarkable differences in price and nutrition between the frozen and restaurant versions. Take California Pizza Kitchen's Frozen BBQ Recipe Chicken Thin Crust. It's topped with similar ingredients as the restaurant version, and at $6, it's less than half the price. Tasters found that the frozen version is worth a try, but the strong barbecue sauce overpowered the flavors.
Consumer Reports' tasters were pleased with the frozen version of TGI Friday's Cheddar and Bacon Skins. The restaurant dish costs twice as much and has three times more calories and fat.
P.F. Chang's frozen shrimp lo mein resembles its restaurant counterpart in both price and appearance. However, the shrimp in the frozen version were noticeably small, and they don't have much flavor.
Boston Market's frozen chicken pot pie costs a little less than in the restaurant. But it's noticeably different: large chunks of rotisserie chicken in the restaurant dish vs. small cubes of spongy chicken in the frozen version, although testers thought its crust was tasty.
Another frozen dish that Consumer Reports says is worth trying is TGI Friday's buffalo wings. They're smaller than the ones you buy in the store, but they cost less and proved very tasty.
Consumer Reports also says if you hope to enjoy Boston Market's popular meatloaf and fresh-tasting mashed potatoes at home, you might be disappointed - the frozen version is more like Salisbury steak and instant potatoes.
I'm Martha Koloski and that's today's On Your Side."
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