I know how easy it can be to grab a frozen pizza for dinner, but with so many healthy frozen entrées on the market, you can choose a nutritious and delicious dinner that cooks with little effort, but still tastes good. I would never want you to sacrifice flavor just because something is good for you. Use these tips and handy tricks for finding healthy frozen entrées that you’ll want to eat because they taste so good.
1. Check the Calorie Content
You know that eating too many calories translates to weight gain, if you can’t burn them off. No, downing an entire frozen pizza once in a while isn’t deadly, but if you regularly rely on frozen meals, it pays to choose those that are low in calories. This can be tricky if you buy entrées that have more than one serving per package. Healthy frozen entrées contain 500 or fewer calories per serving. Check the label to make sure the one you choose doesn’t have more than one serving, which means you’ll have to cut it in half. No one wants to do that!
2. Go for Low-Fat
Too much fat ups your risk of developing a variety of health problems, including heart disease, obesity and diabetes. Ideally, you should opt for frozen entrées that have less than 18 grams of total fat, with no more than 4 grams being saturated. This might seem impossible, but if you look at meals that are heavy on vegetables and whole grains, and light on processed meats, gravy and cheese, you’re bound to find a few you like.
3. Choose Low Sodium Options
Most Americans consume way too much salt on a daily basis. It hides in so many foods that it’s very hard to keep your intake under control. Frozen dinners are one of the top culprits when it comes to being high in sodium. These choices contain less than 600 milligrams of salt per serving. Many items with reduced sodium are available and are often tasty without being unhealthy. Too much salt increases the risk of high blood pressure, which translates to an increased risk of heart disease. Sauces, gravy and processed meats are ingredients that can make a meal’s salt content skyrocket.
4. Find One with Plenty of Fiber
Look for frozen entrées that contain at least 3 grams of fiber per serving, though closer to 5 grams is even better. Fiber fills your belly and keeps you feeling full, which means you won’t be as tempted to reach for chocolate, chips or candy between meals. This can be a problem for me, so fiber is vital at every meal. Fiber also regulates your digestion and cholesterol levels.
5. Make Sure There Are Nutrients
You need certain nutrients each day to support good overall health. Deficiencies of these nutrients, which include calcium, iron, vitamins A, C and B and potassium, could lead to health problems. Look for frozen dinners that contain at least 10 percent of the daily recommended value for most nutrients. This way, you can be sure you’re getting enough when you combine your frozen meal with the rest of your day’s healthy selections.
6. High in Protein
No, you don’t need a frozen meal with hundreds of grams of protein, but 10 to 20 grams is ideal. Protein is important for many of your body’s functions, so you don’t want to eat meals that don’t contain any. Frozen entrées that contain low-fat cheese, nuts, whole grains and lean meats are good bets.
7. Find Choices You Can Pair with Sides
Many frozen meals look small and sad when they meet the guidelines for a healthy choice. I like to add a side or two to my frozen meal to beef it up, add flavor and make sure I don’t get hungry before my next meal. A tossed vegetable salad, steamed vegetables or fruit are great options that are easy to make and taste great!
If I could eat any frozen dinner I want, I’d go for pizza or chicken nuggets. That’s not healthy, right? Fortunately, there are so many yummy choices that I can eat tasty meals without feeling deprived. What’s your favorite frozen dinner?