We’ve all been there – in the grocery store frozen food aisle because we’re too tired or busy to cook dinner from scratch.
“Frozen dinners are easy and convenient,” said Paula McIntyre, a Marshfield Clinic registered dietitian. “But you do need to read the nutrition label because not all are the best fit for you.”
What to look for on frozen food labels
When choosing a frozen dinner, each serving should meet these four nutritional guidelines:
- 200-350 calories
- 700 milligrams of sodium or less (if you have lower sodium restrictions, divide your daily limit by three)
- 4 grams of saturated fat or less
- 3 grams of fiber or more
Check the serving size. A small box doesn’t always mean the meal is one serving.
Beware of buzzwords like “natural,” “organic” and “healthy,” McIntyre said. They sound great, but check the nutrition label to make sure the meal meets your nutritional needs.
Top frozen food picks
Look for any of these meals when you’re in a rush. They meet the guidelines listed above.
“If you can’t find what you’re looking for, frozen fish and veggies are usually a safe bet,” McIntyre said.
Kashi Frozen Entrees Black Bean Mango
Nutrition information: 340 calories, 8 g fat (1 g saturated fat), 58 g carbohydrates, 8 g protein, 7 g fiber, 380 mg sodium
Lean Cuisine Butternut Squash Ravioli
Nutrition information: 260 calories, 7 g fat (2 g saturated fat), 40 g carbohydrates, 9 g protein, 5 g fiber, 580 mg sodium
Healthy Choice Chicken Pasta Primavera
Nutrition information: 220 calories, 2.5 g fat (.5 g saturated fat), 29 g carbohydrates, 20 g protein, 5 g fiber, 390 mg sodium
Smart Ones Pulled Pork and Black Beans
Nutrition information: 230 calories, 4 g fat (1.5 g saturated fat), 30 g carbohydrates, 19 g protein, 7 g fiber, 480 mg sodium
Kellogg’s Special K Flatbread Breakfast Sandwich – Egg, Spinach & Cheese Medley
Nutrition information: 170 calories, 7 g fat (3 g saturated fat), 21 g carbohydrates, 10 g protein, 3 g fiber, 600 mg sodium
Prepare frozen meals according to the package directions to prevent foodborne illness.
Add extra veggies and a side of fruit to make any frozen dinner a more filling and nutritious meal.
“You don’t want to be hungry shortly after you eat,” McIntyre said.