Short on time, aren’t we always? If the frozen food aisle is beckoning your name, don’t fear the attraction, there’s no reason to steer clear of these convenient dinner options. Follow these 5 tips for a fitter shopping cart.
Top Five Tips
- 350-600 calories per serving. Choose meals that fall within this calorie range. Many frozen dinners cater to the lower end as many of us are trying to lose weight and we’re leary of the high calorie offenders. Do add a side salad, additional brown rice, fruit cup or vegetables to those that fall short or you’ll be needlessly snacking shortly after dinner.
- Less than 4-7 grams saturated fat and no trans fat. Choose foods with less than 10% saturated fat which is 4-7 grams per serving for 350-600 calories. Both of these increase your risk for heart disease.
- Less than 600 milligrams sodium. This tip can be hard to achieve because too much sodium is easily the single worst dietary offender when it comes to frozen food. The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends we limit our sodium intake to less than 2300 milligrams per day. Limiting your prepared entrees to 600 milligrams or less safely buffers the sodium content from your other meals and snacks.
- 14-21 grams of protein and 5 or more grams fiber. Protein and fiber helps to keep you fuller longer, stabilizes blood sugar and protein helps to rebuild cells.
- Read the ingredient label. Do you recognize most of the words?
Who Eats Them?
Seventy-two percent of us consume frozen meals and they are a billion dollar industry. After three years of steadily declining consumption, 2015 saw a one percent increase according to Mintel research. More than half of adults who eat prepared meals do so because of:
- faster than cooking from scratch
- don’t feel like cooking
- missing ingredients for cooking
Many companies are converting to recognizable ingredients, more herbs, less sodium, swapping out the high-fructose corn syrup, adding transparent packaging and right-sizing portions. Just remember that while the nutritional profiles might improve it doesn’t mean they are any less processed.
- Smartmade Ingredients and recipes are recognizable and hip.
- Eatingwell Transparent packaging, unique flavor profiles and front of the label packaging that makes comparing easy.
- Evol GMO free, humanely raised animals and interesting flavors.
- Eat Global flavors, authentic ingredients, no artificial colors, flavors or preservatives
- Luvo Progressive grocer 2016 Best New Product Award. A balanced, nutrient dense plate with lean quality proteins. Created by dietitians.
Bottomline: Follow my nutrition panel tips, paying special attention to the sodium content as it can be killer and the ingredient label looking for words you recognize.
TV dinners have come a long way since I was a kid. Rubber peas served up with fried chicken, a side of mac-n-cheese and a brownie with cherry pie filling in the middle was probably a family fav but nothing I could condone nowadays.