Watching college students try to grocery shop by themselves for the first time is always something I look forward to when I go to the Old Town Hannaford. These are struggles I can relate with – in the aisle asking yourself questions like “Do I trust myself to cook a piece of chicken without giving myself salmonella?” and “How much really is a week’s worth of food?”
Although if there’s one thing college students know to put on their shopping lists – it’s frozen food. Probably the best inventions for single and lazy eaters are pre-prepared frozen dinners or frozen fruits and vegetables. These frozen staples are a savior to college students who are crunched on time, money, and actual cooking experience.
But, there are so many options for frozen meals – how is anyone supposed to navigate through what’s worth it and what’s not? Look no further than my personal favorite Instagram account, @paulaeatsleancuisines.
Even though the handle name-drops Lean Cuisines specifically, Paula reviews a wide range of truly iconic frozen food brands such as Stouffer’s, Martha Stewart’s, and Hot Pockets. Scrolling through her account, there’s definitely a recommendation (or cautionary tale) of a frozen dinner for every taste.
Not only are her reviews very thorough – each post has slides explaining and rating taste, appearance, and overall experience – Paula is hilarious. I’m sure being in the frozen food review field requires some sense of humor, but even if your parents taught you how to cook before college you’ll get a kick out of Paula’s writing. Besides her reviews, you’ll also find classic videos on her page such as “Lean Cuisine Fettuccini Alfredo Ingredients If It Was Filmed by Wes Anderson” written, edited, filmed, and directed all by Miss Paula Eats.
Behind the account is Paula Skaggs, a Chicago-based writer and comedian. I was able to reach out to Paula directly (when she responded to my Instagram DM I was starstruck) to see what inspired the phenomenon of P.E.L.C; “I started Paula Eats because I was bringing frozen meals to work every day and pretty quickly realized that some of them were….really awful, so I started the Instagram account to share my deeply strong frozen meal opinions.”
From what may have just started as an outlet for Paula and her mealtime adventures has grown to a community of like-minded frozen food comedy enthusiasts, “Paula Eats has been a really fun way to meet other people who have the same sense of humor as me – plus an excuse to try some of the weirdest things in the frozen meal aisle that I’d never have an excuse to buy otherwise.”
Besides @paulaeatsleancuisines, you can also find her co-hosting the ‘Being Earnest’ podcast and her feature contributions for the satirical news site, The Onion. If Instagram isn’t your thing and want to receive her reviews in your email inbox, sign up for the Paula Eats Newsletter. Her personal Instagram and Twitter handle is @paulaskaggs for both platforms – just for the extra clout that she deserves.
Currently sitting at 1,540 followers, Paula may be considered a micro-influencer, but she’s had an immeasurable amount of influence on me. I think there is also something to be said, in the age of photoshopped influencers promoting diet-suppressants and “flat tummy tea,” about the refreshing authenticity of Paula and her reviews. Finally, there is a woman on Instagram others can actually relate to and laugh with about the commonalities of eating shitty frozen dinners – I bet you won’t see Kylie Jenner ever review a Lean Cuisine in the name of the people! Maybe Paula can help expand your horizons on what you pick up – or stay away from – in the frozen food aisle, or at the very least she can make you crack up with her infectiously funny writing and skits.