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Taste test: frozen burritos

Anyone with teenagers in the house knows the burrito is often considered one of the five main food groups. Burrito restaurants are a big draw for the teen crowd and a favorite lunch meal. Local grocery stores have plenty of frozen burrito options as well. We sampled five brands with beef as a main ingredient, warming all in the microwave oven according to package directions. Afterward, our judges decided the drive to a Mexican restaurant is probably worth the effort.

Kathy Saunders, Times correspondent


(out of 100)
Trader Joe's 42El Monterey 34Reds 34

The tortillas on this burrito were flecked with appealing spices and the meat was "nicely wrapped," said one judge. She appreciated the amount of steak in the burrito. A couple of judges said they would have preferred the wrap with much less cumin. "It's overpowering," said one. "Nuke one of these up and it will take you to a 7-11 at 3 a.m.," said another. Overall, though, judges liked the taste and said they could make this a quick snack or lunch in a pinch.El Monterey's burritos were kind of messy with shredded beef spilling from the tortilla and sauce squirting out from the edges. "There are way too many layers of tortilla," said one judge. "The burrito is positively sludgy with refried beans and cheese and flecks of meat." She said the flavor was "not bad," but gave the burrito a bad rap for its bad wrap. The Reds burrito was described by one judge as "very blouse-y looking and loosely wrapped." Judges tasted black beans and corn but not enough beef. A couple said it was heavy on oregano. "It's a well-done mix of corn and rice but with a huge bite of spice," said another.

they buy?
One of the four judges said yes.None of the four judges said yes.None of the four judges said yes.
Shopping information$3.39 for a 16-ounce burrito.$1.19 for a 5-ounce burrito from Target.$3.49 for an 11-ounce burrito from Target.

Also sampled: PJ's Organic ($3.19 for a 6-ounce burrito from Sweetbay, 33 points) and Patio (59 cents for a 5-ounce burrito from Publix, 33 points).

Panelists: Nan Jensen, registered dietitian; Wayne Conery, manager of the R-Bar on Treasure Island; Jeff Jensen, public information officer for the city of Treasure Island; and Laura Reiley, Times food critic. All foods were tasted blind.

Send suggestions for product testing to: Taste section, Tampa Bay Times, P.O. Box 1121, St. Petersburg, FL 33731 or email them to Please put TEST SUGGESTION in the subject line. To read past Taster's Choice columns, go to

Serving sizeOne burritoOne burritoOne burrito
Fat/Fiber9g / 6g9g / 0g 13g / 12g
Sugars/Sodium2g / 1040mg1g / 510mg 4g / 610mg
Carbs/Protein63g / 16g38g / 14g 80g / 21g

Taste test: frozen burritos 01/29/13 [Last modified: Monday, January 28, 2013 5:46pm]
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