Busy families, older folks, single folks, and workers of all kinds love the convenience of popping a frozen meal into the microwave to save time and energy when preparing whole meals just isn’t an option. Not only are they easy to cook, they’re portable, compact, portion controlled, and can be somewhat inexpensive for the level of convenience they offer.
But not all frozen meals are as healthy as they seem. Here are Noom’s tips on how to choose when it comes to health frozen meals. We’ve also included a list of top picks from brands that won’t totally sabotage your healthy lifestyle efforts.
Healthy frozen meals 101
- Read the nutrition labels and ingredients and make sure the portion sizes are within the ranges listed below per serving. Spend the extra time in the frozen-foods aisle to make sure you’re not taking home 1,600 calorie “heart healthy frozen meals” that actually only meet that criteria if you eat a 1⁄4 cup serving of the entire package.
- Stick to frozen meals that have 800 mg of sodium or less, are 450 calories and under, have a maximum of 25 grams of fat, and contains at least 3 to 5 grams of fiber.
- Keep your eyes peeled for frozen meals that have lots of vegetables. They’ll up the fiber content, keep the calorie count down, fill you up, and help you meet your veggie and vitamins and minerals requirements for the day.
- When choosing frozen meals with meat, stick with lean meats like fish and chicken.
Healthy frozen meals for weight loss
1. Trader Joe’s Chicken Burrito Bowl
The Trader Joe’s Chicken Burrito Bowl is surprisingly tasty and filling for a frozen meal. With brown rice, chicken, beans, and vegetables you’re getting a well balanced meal with plenty of fiber, protein, and other nutrients.
- 11 grams of fat
- 4 grams of saturated fat
- 54 grams of carbohydrates
- 10 grams of fiber
- 3 grams of sugar
- 22 grams of protein
- 380 calories
- 560 mg sodium
Parboiled brown rice (water, brown rice), water, white meat chicken (chicken breast, water, potato starch, sea salt), black beans (water, black beans), red quinoa (water, red quinoa), red pepper, green pepper, corn, cheddar cheese (milk, salt, bacterial culture, calcium chloride, annatto (color), microbial rennet, cellulose), tomato puree, sour cream (milk solids, cream, bacterial culture, microbial rennet), diced tomatoes (tomatoes, calcium chloride, citric acid (for flavor)), poblano peppers, onions, cream, cornstarch, expeller pressed canola oil, garlic puree (garlic, water), spice, sea salt, chili powder, chipotle pepper flavor (red pepper, sea salt, chipotle peppers), cilantro, lime juice (water, lime juice concentrate, lime oil). Contains milk.
2. Amy’s Asian Noodle Stir Fry
Amy’s Asian Noodle Stir Fry is one of Amy’s most popular healthy frozen meals for vegetarians and non-vegetarians alike seeking a plant-based protein source and a generous serving of vegetables. It’s pretty low in calories for a complete and filling meal from the freezer aisle of a grocery store. It’s sodium content is a little close to our 800 mg limit coming in at 680 mg, so if you’re watching your salt intake, just keep that in mind on days you supplement a fresh meal with this frozen one.
- 8 grams of fat
- 1 gram of saturated fat
- 48 grams of carbohydrates
- 4 grams of fiber
- 15 grams of sugar
- 10 grams of protein
- 300 calories
- 630 mg sodium
Organic rice pasta (organic rice flour, filtered water), organic broccoli, organic onions, filtered water, organic tofu (filtered water, organic soybeans, magnesium chloride), organic bell peppers, organic carrots, organic cabbage, organic mushrooms, organic tamari (water, organic soybeans, organic alcohol [to preserve freshness], salt), organic green beans, organic cane sugar, organic pineapple juice concentrate, organic brown rice vinegar (filtered water, organic brown rice, salt, koji spores), organic high oleic safflower and/or sunflower oil, organic green onions, organic ginger purée (filtered water, organic ginger), organic garlic, organic cornstarch, sea salt, ume plum vinegar (water, ume plum, herbs, sea salt), organic toasted sesame seed oil, black pepper, spices. Contains soy and sesame seeds.
3. Healthy Choice Grilled Chicken & Broccoli Alfredo
This Grilled Chicken & Broccoli Alfredo frozen meal by Healthy Choice is super low in calories, fat, and carbs! This meal serves as a great light lunch that meets protein and veggie needs and works well with those trying to lose weight by cutting carbohydrates.
- 5 grams of fat
- 2.5 grams of saturated fat
- 8 grams of carbohydrates
- 4 grams of fiber
- 2 grams of sugar
- 28 grams of protein
- 190 calories
- 600 mg sodium
Broccoli, cooked chicken (chicken breast, water, contains 2% or less of: sea salt, sugar, olive oil, isolated soy protein, natural flavoring), water, contains 2% or less of: Parmesan Cheese (pasteurized milk, cheese culture, salt, enzymes), Romano cheese made from cow’s milk (part skim milk, cheese culture, salt, enzymes), cream, corn starch, whey protein concentrate, sea salt, flavorings, butter (cream, salt), and locust bean gum.
4. Evol Lasagna & Meat Sauce
Evol’s Lasagna & Meat Sauce dish from the freezer aisle of your local grocery store ranks as one of the best healthy frozen meals out there as far as frozen lasagna goes. It is layered with herbed ricotta cheese, a tasty garlic and red wine tomato meat sauce, and topped with mozzarella cheese.
- 17 grams of fat
- 9 gram of saturated fat
- 48 grams of carbohydrates
- 3 grams of fiber
- 6 grams of sugar
- 21 grams of protein
- 430 calories
- 570 mg sodium
Lasagna pasta (water, semolina wheat flour, egg whites), tomatoes in puree (tomatoes, tomato puree, citric acid), ricotta cheese (whey, milk, vinegar, salt) tomatoes in juice (tomatoes, tomato juice, citric acid), low moisture mozzarella cheese (milk, cheese cultures, salt, enzymes), water, cooked beef, red wine, heavy cream, onions, garlic, extra virgin olive oil, tomato paste, corn starch, basil, carrots, celery, dried cane syrup, salt, oregano, spices, parsley, and rosemary.
Even healthy frozen meals are still frozen meals
At the end of the day, even healthy frozen meals are just a mediocre stand in for meals that provide for a well balanced and nutritious diet that aids in wellness, long term weight management, and a better relationship with food. Check out Noom today for a look at how our innovative approach to meal planning and weight management benefits all types of lifestyles and dietary needs.