TheBUZZ Frozen meals—are they really healthy?
WHAT THEY’RE SAYING
Frozen dinners are convenient and healthy, making them popular choices for singles, busy families, dieters, older people, and office workers. With newer health-focused entrées available, they can be a healthy choice for consumers.
WHAT WE KNOW
No time to cook? No worries. Just stroll down the frozen food aisle and choose from many mouth-watering entrées such as Chicken Florentine, Chicken and Broccoli Alfredo, and pumpkin squash ravioli … all ready in just minutes. It’s no surprise, frozen dinners are so popular–they’re fast, convenient, inexpensive, easy, and pre-portioned to avoid overeating!
While frozen meals are a convenient way to eat a balanced meal, it’s easy to be led astray–they’re also known for being packed with sodium, calories, and saturated fat, making moderation important. With the correct guidance, however, frozen meals can be part of healthy eating plan!
Frozen dinners don’t have to be omitted from your balanced diet. The challenge is to find healthy frozen meals that taste good, satisfy your hunger, and won’t sabotage your healthy diet. The number one rule: Find frozen meals that are centered on fruits and veggies. Read About the Half Your Plate Concept
In general, look for frozen meals that include …
- One or more servings of fruits or vegetables—the more servings, the better
- Whole grains
- Lean meat, fish, or poultry, and beans (i.e. avoid fried and battered forms)
- Between 300-500 calories
- Total fat less than 30% of total calories
- Less than 7% of calories from saturated fat …the less saturated fat, the better!
- Less than 600 milligrams of sodium
- At least 10% of daily fiber
- At least 10% of the majority of vitamins and minerals
Skip frozen meals with …
- Cream sauces, gravies, or fried foods
- Desserts—have fruit instead
How To Make Your Own Frozen Dinner
- Cook your meat or protein dish all at once and portion it into containers, freeze some for later.
- Make extra homemade soup or chili and freeze the extra.
- Focus on frozen shrimp and other seafood.
- Use frozen, fresh, canned, or dried fruits and vegetables as side dishes.
- Look at your canned goods way back on the shelf … forgotten. Which would make a good side, or even a main course?
- Search your freezer for fruits and veggies—just add and heat with your meal!
- Don’t forget … beans are a great source of protein too!
Want more nutrition? For more vitamins, minerals, and beneficial compounds, pack a quick side salad, grab some fruit, or make a quick trail mix with dried fruits and nuts to have with your frozen meal. See Recipes