Convenient and relatively inexpensive, frozen meals come with the reputation of being an unhealthy, unwholesome option for your dinner. While perhaps not the best thing you could be eating this evening, it is hard to escape the ease of removing the box from your freezer, throwing the tray on a baking sheet in the oven or popping it in the microwave, for a quickly served hot dinner that requires no real thinking. When life gets hectic, the frozen entrée can save you stress in the kitchen and valuable time. That simplicity doesn’t necessarily have to come at the cost of your health.
By following a few basic guidelines and carefully reading the packaging, you can navigate your way through frozen entrées with ease, and select the best bet for dinner. To be a savvy shopper, know what you need a frozen meal to have before you go to the grocery store in order to pick the ready-made meal that won’t wreck your diet and health.
Kathleen M. Zelman, MPH, RD, LD, writing for WebMD, categorized frozen meals into two categories: “light meals” and “regular” dinners. For the first, Zelman says to keep the meal under 300 calories, and with less than 8 grams of fat. The second should not have more than 25 grams of fat, and you’ll want around 360 to 400 calories per serving.
Sodium can quickly balloon out of control when frozen meals are involved, and there are two main ways to approach controlling for sodium. The first is to find meals that do not contain more than 800 milligrams of sodium in a serving. If that is even too high for you, you can divide the amount of sodium you aim to have in your diet each day by three, and find meals that fall under that amount.