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Homemade Trials

The Homemade Trials: Frozen Burritos

by Nick

Thanks to everyone who sent me emails, tweets, and facebook messages over the last few days asking how I was doing.

The surgery went really well and I’m well on my way to a full recovery.  I’m already off the pain meds and getting around decently on crutches.

Before I had surgery I made four different frozen meals for me and Betsy so neither of us would have to worry about cooking for a week or so while I was recovering.  They all turned out really great so I figured I would share them with you all this week.

That’s right.  This week is Frozen Week here at Macheesmo.  Every post will involve some sort of dish that’s made to freeze.

To get things started I made a rather large batch of burritos for us to eat.  I’ve made frozen burritos in the past so I thought it would be fun to send this batch through The Homemade Trials and compair it to two popular store-bought frozen burritos.

If you aren’t familiar with The Homemade Trials, I make a popular dish that can also be purchased in the store and then compare them in the areas of TIME, COST, NUTRITION, and TASTE.  I hope that my version wins, but sometimes it doesn’t.

Let’s see how burritos stack up.

My Burritos

I kept my frozen burritos pretty basic because the frozen varieties tend to be basic as well.  I went with a rice, bean, and cheese variety.

Yield
10 burritos
Prep Time
Total Time

Just a moment please...

Print Recipe Green Chile Rice and Bean Burritos

Ingredients

  • 10 large tortillas
  • 1 1/2 cups medium grain white rice, uncooked
  • 2 15-ounce cans black beans, drained
  • 1 14-ounce can diced tomatoes
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1 1/4 cups green chile sauce (I like 505 brand)
  • 10 ounces pepper jack cheese, grated
  • Salt and pepper

Directions

1) Add white rice to a large pot with recommended amount of water and cumin and a pinch of salt.

2) Add diced tomatoes to rice, bring to a simmer, cover, turn heat down to low, and cook until water is evaporated (this time will be different depending on the rice you are using).

3) Once rice is cooked, add in black beans and season with salt and pepper. Then let rice and bean mixture cool slightly.

4) To make a burrito, lay out a large burrito, top with 1 ounce of grated cheese. Top with 1/2 cup (about 4 ounces) of rice and beans then add two tablespoons of green chili sauce.

5) Wrap burrito tightly. Then wrap it in foil tightly.

6) When all the burritos are done, stick the wrapped burritos into large gallon-sized freezer-safe plastic bags and freeze them.

7) You can either reheat burritos in the microwave for about 4 minutes (turning halfway through) or for 30 minutes in a 400 degree oven, also turning. I prefer the oven just because the tortilla gets nice and crispy, but both work great.

I used a basic rice and bean mixture for my burrito base.  Basically, I just simmered some rice with some canned diced tomatoes and a pinch of cumin.  When the rice was cooked, I stirred in a few cans of drained black beans and seasoned the whole pot with salt and pepper.

You might have leftovers. They are good on their own.

There’s not any rocket science to the actual burrito process, but if you want a step-by-step, check out the printed recipe.

I actually measured out my ingredients for this version just so I could have accurate nutrition and cost information, but normally I just throw everything together.

If you do measure it though, you should end up with approximately a 9 ounce burrito which is a pretty large burrito.

burrito

Niner.

I made ten of these and just wrapped them all in foil and then froze them in large freezer-safe plastic bags.  I had a lot of rice and beans left over also which was great to eat on its own.

There are two ways to reheat these guys:  1) Microwave them for about 4 minutes, turning halfway through or 2) in a 400 degree oven for 30 minutes.  The benefit of the oven method is that the tortilla gets nice and crispy.  The obvious benefit of the microwave is that it takes four minutes.

I use both depending on time.

Let’s get down to the fun part though: The breakdown.

For this trial, I’m comparing my homemade version to two very popular store-bought varieties:

Let’s see how they stack up!

TIME

You might think that this is a shoe-in for the store-bought version, but it really depends on your buying habits.

Let me explain.  I made ten burritos that are in my freezer and accessible now any time I want.  When I used to eat store-bought frozen burritos a lot for lunch, I would go to the store every day and buy two of them.

This wasn’t efficient at all and I guarantee you that if you do that you waste more time over the course of the week than the amount of time it took me to make these.

BUT, I’ll assume that most people aren’t as silly as I am and buy their frozen burritos in bulk.  If that’s the case then you save some time buy buying them over making them so I’ll give TIME to the store-bought versions.

COST

This one is fascinating and maybe the most distinct cost difference of any homemade trials I’ve done.  Keep in mind that one of the smaller EVOL burritos is 3 ounces so it takes three of them to equal one of my homemade burritos.  The Amy’s burrito is 6 ounces so you would need 1.5 of those burritos to equal one of my homemade versions.

Also, the Evol burritos were on sale.  They are normally $1.49/burrito which is just ridiculous for how small they are.

So, the cost per burrito for my homemade version is about 93 cents per burrito.  That still beats the store-bought versions, but the real shock is when you look at the cost per ounce.

The mark-up on store-bought frozen burritos is one of the worst I’ve seen.  COST goes to homemade burritos by a longshot.

NUTRITION

As always, I wasn’t really sure how my burritos would stack up nutritionally.  Again, it’s important to do an even comparison so I just rounded up everything to a nine ounce serving which means three of the small burritos and 1.5 of the Amy’s burritos.

As soon as I finished these calculations, I noticed something had to be wrong.  Frankly, the Amy’s version was just too healthy.  I looked at the packaging and noticed that it was a non-dairy product which means NO CHEESE.

So Amy’s is the healthiest, but it’s not exactly fair because if you remove the cheese from my burritos and the EVOL burritos then we would be on pretty equal footing.  Just as an example, my 1 ounce of cheese has 112 calories in it, so if you subtract that from my burrito, the calorie count becomes very similar.

There’s really only two variables that I could think of to make up for the fat differences between my burritos and the EVOL burritos: The cheese ratio used and the tortilla used.  If you were truly concerned about nutrition, you could probably find a healthy tortilla option and use slightly less cheese and really improve on my nutritional information.

I like my burritos to be cheesy and delicious though so I guess that means I lose the nutrition category.  I’ll give the NUTRITION area to the STORE-BOUGHT brands.

TASTE

taste

Tasty!

To be honest, all of the burritos were good.  I actually really like Amy’s burritos even if they will put a pretty large dent in your wallet.

That said, my burritos won the TASTE category.  I tried to be as unbiased as possible, but mine were cheesy, slightly spicy, really filling, and I thought my tortillas were better.

Again though, the nice thing about homemade is that you can make them exactly to your tastes.  If you walk into a store, you have to choose from what’s there.

So I’ll give the TASTE category TO HOMEMADE!

Conclusion

This one is a tie.  Store-bought won on TIME and NUTRITION (slightly) and homemade won on COST (largely) and TASTE.

This one comes down to money versus time.  Is it worth it for you to spend around an hour making burritos and save roughly $20?  For me, it is.

That said, if you’re time-crunched you shouldn’t feel bad buying the store-bought versions mentioned above.  They are reasonably healthy (for burritos) and taste great.

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18 comments on “The Homemade Trials: Frozen Burritos

  1. I need to make these–my kids would eat *anything* if it was rolled up in a tortilla! I probably would add some ground turkey or something just to bump up the protein (they don’t always eat all of their lunch at school so breakfast and dinner matter a lot more). Thanks!

  2. I might have to try this, if for no other reason to get the husband off the pre-made frozen burrito train (as he cannot always be trusted to spend the extra few bucks on the healthier ones like Amy’s ;) )
    And SO GLAD to see 505! Did you know you can get their salsas in exciting little single-serves for camping/hiking/roadtrips? I learned about them from the wonder that is the Packit Gourmet and am now hooked.
    Glad to hear you are up and around so quick. But don’t push it!

  3. Excited for frozen week – I’m on the hunt for frozen things for after I have my baby! These look good!!

  4. I love it! I just spent the last 45 minutes reading through all your Homemade Trials (I’m new to your blog) and was really enjoying it! I just wish there were more ;)

  5. Web hugs to you for this recipe. It just dawned on me after reading your post this is what my kids are living on with 2 in college. I’ll make them and the next time the come home I’ll send them back by the frozen bag full! No more Roman Noodles!

  6. Hello, glad to hear all went well in the surgery. I needed some frozen meals for the busy weekdays, too. But do you cook the tortilla before you add the mixture?

    1. Hey Melissa, I usually warm them for like 10 seconds in the microwave just so they are easier to work with. that’s it though.

  7. In all your efforts to be objective, I think you stacked the deck against yourself, Nick! I would guess 90% of frozen burritos sold (or more) are bought 1-2 at a time in convenience stores and gas stations. I guarantee that you win on nutrition against any brand you would find in those locations, and you win on time when you consider that convenience store/gas station burritos aren’t bought in bulk.

    Great recipe. I make a variation on your breakfast burritos (http://www.macheesmo.com/2009/05/burritos-now-and-later/) every 2-3 weeks.

    1. Yea… good point man. I should’ve used a gas station burrito for one of the comparisons. I agree that I probably beat that one… ;)

  8. I love making frozen burritos to take to work. My personal favorite is sweet potato and black bean burritos. You just cook your sweet potatoes (I just throw a few in the oven on a foil lined pan at about 400 for an hour, or until soft) then saute several cloves of garlic, throw in the cubed up potatoes, a can of rinsed black beans, and your favorite taco seasoning (I generally make my own, but I have used the stuff in an envelope when cooking away from home) and smash it up roughly and let it heat through. Then just throw in your tortilla shell with a little cheese. It is yummy, healthy, and extremely filling. I know it sounds a little crazy at first, but even my picky-eater friends approve!

  9. I agree with the Bill who said you maybe stacked the deck against yourself in your efforts to be unbiased. I appreciate that about you. Still, I’m gonna guess doing them yourself is a good way to go. My husband loves these in his lunches and he’s pretty picky about what is in them, so I sometimes can’t even find them in stores that he will eat. I don’t know why I never thought about making them myself, so THANK YOU thank you for the great idear.

  10. I loved this post. I am going to make burritos this week to freeze. Thanks for the idea and the inspiration to make things and freeze them.

  11. Glad you’re doing well, and LOVE the idea of “Frozen Week!” Great ideas for us, great ideas for things to prepare others who’re going to be out of commission for a while – looking forward to your recipes.

  12. Do you make your own tortillas? If so, do you have any tips? I can never roll mine out properly. If not, that makes me feel better — I always buy mine after my failures to make them!

  13. Thank you so much for sharing this. I was looking for an easy lunch idea that my husband could just grab out of the fridge and go and this was perfect. After a few runs trying different “Mexican” flavor combinations, we’ve started changing the contents and favors to try and keep Inge exciting. I highly recommend adding chickpeas and curry to the basic rice recipie for a change of pace! Yum. Thanks again for sharing.

  14. I used to make these but when I heated them in the microwave the tortillas turn to
    leather. What am I doing wrong?

  15. I cannot afford to eat amy’s every day and I can’t (thankfully) eat regular frozen store bought burritos due to allergies. The time is really worth it for my family because in reality it takes at least an hour to make dinner or lunch. Totally worth it.

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