Frozen dinners have evolved from fat-laden, salty, bad-tasting concoctions that only single men would eat because they didn’t have anything better, to healthy, fat-free, low-sodium, delicious, and nutritious gourmet meals. The choices of good frozen food entrees are numerous. This article discusses the top five frozen dinners offering the most nutrition and the best taste.
Nutrition experts have set guidelines on what to look for in a healthy frozen dinner. You will need to do some investigative work by reading the panel of every frozen dinner to determine what each dinner contains. Do not determine nutritional value by the picture on the box!
The best frozen dinners have the following information:
Total fat: 10-18 grams (less than 30% of calories)
Saturated fat: 4 grams or less
Sodium: 600 milligrams or less
Fiber: 3-5 grams
Daily vitamins and minerals: 10% of recommended amount
Protein: 10-20 grams
Also watch serving sizes (especially men). Smaller serving sizes can leave you hungry. Good additions to your frozen dinner are fruit, low-fat dairy such as cottage cheese or yogurt, or a small side-salad.
To boost your protein grams, consider adding beans (1/2 cup) or a small amount of nuts.
If you look for your frozen dinners among the brands that are known to contain lower fat and sodium, you will give yourself a head start in keeping within the recommended guidelines. Brands such as Kashi, Lean Cuisine, Weight Watchers, Smart One’s, and Healthy Choice all provide nutritious meals that taste good. However, you must read the label for each entrée to stay within the guidelines.
There are dozens of good choices of frozen dinners that meet the guidelines for a nutritious meal. Some of these are higher in calories, but lower in total fat grams or lower in calories, but higher in sodium. However, they all fall within the guidelines listed above. It was very difficult to pick the top five frozen dinners, but these are the five recommended in this article:
Kashi Mayan Harvest Bake contains plantains with black beans, roasted sweet potato, and kale. The sauce is spicy ancho, garnished with pumpkin seed that is served over Kashi’s seven whole-grain polenta with amaranth. Nutritional facts: 340 cal, 9 g fat, 1 g sat. fat, 380 mg sodium, 8 g fiber, 9 g protein.
Healthy Choice Cajun Style Chicken and Shrimp is bits of tenderloin chicken and shrimp over rice and vegetables covered with a spicy, Cajun sauce. Nutritional facts: 260 cal, 4 g fat, 1 g sat. fat, 570 mg sodium, 3 g fiber, 15 g protein.
Lean Cuisine Sundried Tomato Pesto Chicken contains white-meat chicken with zucchini, cavatappi pasta, black olives with Parmesan cheese in a pesto sauce of sun-dried tomatoes. Nutritional facts: 290 cal, 9 g fat, 2 g sat. fat, 570 mg sodium, 4 g fiber, 18 g protein.
Healthy Choice Pumpkin Squash Ravioli is ravioli pasta that is stuffed with a combination of pumpkin, asparagus, butternut squash and Granny Smith apples, all covered with a sauce of butter and sage. Nutrition facts: 300 cal, 6 g fat, 2.5 g sat. fat, 600 mg sodium, 6 g fiber, 9 g protein.
Smart Ones Thai Style Chicken Rice Noodles is a frozen dinner with breast of chicken and rice noodles covered with a spicy, peanut sauce with carrots, red peppers and chives as an accent. Nutritional facts: 260 cal, 4 g fat, .5 g sat. fat, 570 mg sodium, 2 g fiber, 14 g protein.
If you will consider this a lesson in reading the nutrition panels on frozen dinners, you will make a healthy and delicious choice every time you shop. There are many other choices out there. Happy hunting!