Don’t Waste Your Money: Tastiest hot appetizers

’Tis the season to celebrate with friends, family and food. And this may be the year to upgrade your usual cheese and cracker appetizers. Consumer Reports finds certain ready-made appetizers can save you time and money.

Consumer Reports tested 18 frozen appetizers, including tacos and taquitos, mozzarella sticks, and spinach pies. Some were really good. Others would be better left at the grocery store.

T.G.I. Friday’s mozzarella sticks often leaked, leaving a lot of cheese on the tray. Of the six cheese sticks tested, five were just so-so. Only one turned out to be very good. The Farm Rich Breaded Mozzarella Sticks were big, cheesy, and tasty. But be aware that all mozzarella sticks have a fair amount of fat and calories.

Mexican appetizers can also be high in fat and calories. The lowest rated in the tests is the Delimex Chicken Taquitos. The filling reminded the testers of chicken liver.

The best of the frozen appetizers were Greek-inspired spinach pies, or spanakopita. All six tested tasted very good.

Costco’s Cuisine Adventures are top rated, with flavorful, fresh-tasting spinach. Another good choice: the spinach pies from The Fillo Factory. The crispy crust surrounds fresh-tasting spinach. Spanakopita is not an easy thing to make at home, so it’s a good thing to buy at the store. And they are a bit lower in fat and calories.

And remember, a light snack before a party can help you avoid overindulging on appetizers. When you’re organizing a cocktail party, caterers suggest planning on serving roughly eight appetizers per person for the first hour, and then about five for the rest of the party. If you’re going to be serving dinner too, figure three to four appetizers a person.

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