Chef Boyardee, everybody's favorite producer of canned pasta products. Look, I'll be honest with you, I am eating some Chef Boyardee right now. I won't spoil which one until the end, though. Out of all the cheap microwaveable food on the market, Chef Boyardee has managed to stick with me all the way into the present day. I think a big factor in this is that nearly every Chef Boyardee can is able to be cooked for exactly a minute and thirty seconds. So fast! There is a downside to this, as usually if I have to microwave something in a hurry it's because I need to eat right before school or right before I go to bed. Chef Boyardee early in the morning or late at night is not a good mix, unless you want to be in bed with an upset stomach. Not as bad as some of those breakfast bowl meals though, I've had days when I had to actively avoid eating the final bite of them lest I risk throwing it all back up. Yikes. Thankfully, the God-fearing Italian-American, Chef Boyardee, only serves canned pasta. And uh, some other stuff we don't talk about. Thankfully, if you eat it at a normal time of day, it is actually a quite (somewhat) fulfilling meal, and can be good if you just want something to hold you off before a bigger meal like dinner or supper. By the way, I'll only be ranking the products I have actually tried before, obviously. I'm already broke from registering the domain for this website, no need to waste more of it on Chef Boyardee.
There is no cheese included in this box. I never make this myself, it's always because a family member decided to pull it out of its slumber from on top of the refrigerator. You know what that family member would always do? Use the most god awful, unimaginably disgusting cheese known to man. You might say, "Oh, but that shouldn't be used against the product!". Riddle me this, if Chef Boyardee didn't want me judging his product based on the cheese, why not INCLUDE THE CHEESE in the box? What makes it even worse, is apparently in ye ancient times, they did include cheese in the box. In fact, a lot of customer reviews seemed to state that it was the most wonderful cheese they had ever tasted from a box. So why take it out!? For this slight against humanity alone, the Pizza Maker (Cheese Pizza) gets ranked at the bottom. This is "the other product we don't talk about" I mentioned from before. Good riddance.
I hate Mondays. I hate Chef Boyardee lasagna. To be fair, I have only had the Chef's can of lasagna once in my life, but that was one time too many. I don't know if it was just that peculiar can, but it tasted atrocious. I don't even know how to describe it properly, but it was easily worse than the other products Chef Boyardee offers. When we got the cans of lasagna, I remember letting that second can rot away in the back of the pantry, forever being ignored in favor of the superior cans. Maybe if I gave it a second chance it could find a place in my heart, or maybe I would just regret wasting more money on canned lasagna.
Look. LOOK. I had some good memories with this can. This was always the variant of ravioli I ate growing up as a kid. But as I have grown, I have realized that this can is simply an inferior product compared to the other raviolis offered. That would be fine and dandy if it was offered at a lower, kid-sized price, but it is not. In fact, it seems that between different stores it is often priced the same or even higher than the beef ravioli. This might be a good choice if you have a little kid that still isn't ready to eat big food yet. Otherwise, run as far away as you can from this scam. If you need ravioli, there's better products worth your money.
This is the first can on this list that I actually still buy and eat on the occasion. Definitely not as much as the top two items on this list, but still enough to where I have positive things to say about it. This is a great little can if you need something quick to fill up your belly before dinner or some other meal is ready. In the past, I would run into a dilemma. My mother is cooking something, and it won't be ready for another hour. But I'm hungry, what do I do? Well, Beefaroni had become my saving grace. I could finally prevent my stomach from growling without having to tell my mom "I'm full!" when dinner is ready. Of course, the downside of this is it might not be a good meal if you want something to fend off your hunger for any longer than an hour or two. Still, it is a great example of food as a utility. Not sure what that means, but moving on...
I was originally going to rank these separetly, but I realized I would be repeating much of the same points in both entries. The biggest drawback against the Overstuffed and Jumbo cans is that you really just get less food per can. For instance, if you get the standard beef ravioli, there are plenty of (standard sized) raviolis to eat. But with the overstuffed ravioli, you get maybe a half dozen or so in the can. Here's the issue, it really does feel like you are just getting less ravioli this way. You definitely finish the can in way less bites, that's for sure. The same applies to the spaghetti & meatballs and what makes it worse is you basically just get less meatballs and more spaghetti. I don't know about you, but I like to eat a bit of the spaghetti, throw in a meatball, and alternate between the two so that up to the very last bite I am not just eating plain old spaghetti. But with the jumbo spaghetti & meatballs, it is near impossible to finish the can without accidentally eating all of the meatballs first. If I did rank these separately, I would place the jumbo spaghetti & meatballs can below the overstuffed beef ravioli can. To be honest, I could even argue against putting these above the beefaroni, although I decided against it because in terms of taste, they do still have the beefaroni beat. But these cans are not something I would want to be a mainstay in my pantry. Definitely more of a "when the time is right"-type of food.
When I think of Chef Boyardee, I think of beef ravioli. The beef ravioli can is a lovely little meal that is both quick to make and tasty to the tongue. There's just the right amount of ravioli in a can to fill up a small bowl, and I have been eating these since I was just a wee lad. I can probably credit these cans for why I like to eat actual, restaurant-made ravioli. Especially considering for most of my childhood I was the little prick that wouldn't eat anything if it wasn't one of a few select "basic" foods. So congrats Chef Boyardee, you provided some variety to a little shithead that needed it. Thankfully, I grew out of that bad habit regardless and now like to eat a variety of foods, like, y'know, 99% of other people on planet Earth.
My days of eating Chef Boyardee spaghetti & meatballs are actually relatively recent, but in that short time I have found myself a new favorite, even better than the beef ravioli. These cans of spaghetti & meatballs have just the right ratio between the two. I think a big issue with a lot of microwaveable spaghetti & meatballs is that they often include too much spaghetti and too little meatballs. I don't have that issue with Chef Boyardee. Between the Chef Boyardee "main trio" of beefaroni, beef ravioli, and spaghetti & meatballs, the latter is easily the best tasting by far. I mean, don't get me wrong, the beef ravioli is really good too, but after awhile you get a little tired of eating the same thing every time. So not only did the spaghetti & meatballs add some variety to my existing rotation of microwaveable food, it also became my new favorite Chef Boyardee can to boot. As I was writing the earlier sections of this article, I was actually eating some Chef Boyardee spaghetti & meatballs, of course, I am finished with them now. All that's left is some of the sauce that's stuck to the sides of the bowl. If this was a tier list, the spaghetti & meatballs would be S tier. S is for Sphagetti.
I've ate Chef Boyardee since early childhood. When I was real young and still lived in Pennsylvania, my family was dirt poor. As such, these sorts of quick, easy-to-make meals were often all we could afford. That isn't to say my mother still didn't put effort into assuring I got a healthy variety of food, but it did mean I saw these sorts of meals a lot more often as a child. Now that I live in West Virginia, (despite what stereotypes would make you think) we now have more disposable income to invest in quality meals. Still, I find myself popping open a can of ravioli or spaghetti & meatballs and gobbling it all up. For someone like me who can't be bothered to take the time to prepare a whole meal, these sorts of cans and TV dinners can be a lifesaver. Thank you, Chef Boyardee.
Side note: In doing research for this article, I found that Chef Boyardee, Banquet, Kid Cuisine, Slim Jims and Hungry-Man are all owned by the same company, Conagra. No wonder they all taste the same... Capitalism, Ho!
All imagery taken from chefboyardee.com
Posted May 29 2023 2:18PM