Save time—and sodium and calories!—with these nutritionist-approved picks from the freezer aisle.
The freezer aisle is having a moment. Once known for faux-cheese lasagna, tasteless diet food, and cardboard pizza, it now offers delicious and healthy meals that are just as convenient as the old standbys.
But shoppers beware: Gut bombs lurk among the good stuff. So how do you choose? You need to comb the ingredients list, and who has time for that?
Well, we do.
Enter the nine frozen dinners below. All come highly recommended from top dietitians, thanks to their relatively low sodium count and good-for-you ingredients like vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins.
The only downside: Many frozen meals come in pretty small portions, so depending on how hungry you are, you might need to bulk them up a bit. A few suggestions:
- Add a hard-boiled egg or heaping spoonful of plain Greek yogurt on top for bonus protein.
- Pair your meal with a side of vegetables and two tablespoons of hummus or guacamole to add both fiber and healthy fats.
- Try any of the specific serving suggestions below.
Frozen Dinner #1: Beetnik Organic Shepherd’s Pie with Grass-Fed Beef
“Beetnik Organic are my favorite frozen entrées because they’re rich in protein and organic vegetables, and not too high in sodium,” says Lauren Minchen, M.P.H., R.D.N.
Instead of the traditional sour cream, garnish this classic shepherd’s pie with a dollop of Greek yogurt, plus a little hot sauce if you like things spicy, she suggests.
Minchen warns this brand may be hard to find at your local grocery store, but it's available online. Order a few different meals (there's another suggestion below) to have a variety of quick and healthy dinner options at the ready.
Nutrition per serving: 350 calories, 17 g fat (7 g saturated), 210 mg sodium, 29 g carbohydrates, 4 g fiber, 5 g sugar, 18 g protein
Frozen Dinner #2: Beetnik Organic Peruvian Seasoned Chicken Stew
This low-carb dinner is another one of Minchen's favorites. Big chunks of chicken come drenched in a flavorful sauce that's impressively low in sodium for a freezer meal.
Consider adding a big piece of whole grain bread and using it to sop up any leftover sauce. Or if you have cooked whole grains on hand like brown rice, reheat a serving to add to the stew, Minchen suggests.
Nutrition per serving: 160 calories, 1 g fat (0 g saturated), 135 mg sodium, 15 g carbohydrates, 4 g fiber, 6 g sugar, 23 g protein
Frozen Dinner #3: Sweet Earth Protein Lover’s Breakfast Burrito
It may be labeled a “breakfast” burrito, but you can enjoy this hearty vegetarian burrito anytime.
“It’s packed with eggs, quinoa, vegan bacon, and cheese in a whole grain wrap,” says Rachael Hartley, R.D. “And 20 grams of plant-based protein makes it really satisfying.”
The burrito is a great light meal on its own, but you can up the staying power by serving it alongside some raw vegetables and hummus or a handful of nuts.
Nutrition per serving: 310 calories, 13 g fat (4 g saturated), 430 mg sodium, 29 g carbohydrates, 6 g fiber, 3 g sugar, 20 g protein
Frozen Dinner #4: Luvo Orange Mango Chicken
This chicken dinner comes on a bed of whole grains, so it's plenty filling, Hartley says. "Plus, it's made with sweet, juicy mango and fresh herbs and spices, so it has tons of flavor and is still under 500 milligrams of sodium."
To bulk it up a bit more, garnish with a few tablespoons of crunchy chopped almonds.
Nutrition per serving: 310 calories, 9 g fat (1 g saturated), 470 mg sodium, 37 g carbohydrates, 3 g fiber, 10 g sugar, 19 g protein
Frozen Dinner #5: Evol Foods Fire Grilled Steak
Evol Foods frozen meals are readily available in most supermarkets and convenience stores, but be sure to check the sodium before you buy, Minchen cautions. Some of the brand's offerings pack much more salt than others.
This steak and veggie bowl is one of her favorites. It's flavored with a cilantro-lime pesto and just enough cheese, without going overboard on calories.
Nutrition per serving: 400 calories, 18 g fat (4 g saturated), 520 mg sodium, 40 g carbohydrates, 8 g fiber, 3 g sugar, 20 g protein
Frozen Dinner #6: Evol Foods Shawarma-Style Chicken
This chicken and veggie bowl is another go-to meal from Minchen. "It has tons of spices and a tasty dill-yogurt sauce," she says.
Bulk it up with some nutrient-rich spinach and an extra dollop of plain yogurt on top, if you want.
Nutrition per serving: 300 calories, 6 g fat (2.5 g saturated), 440 mg sodium, 45 g carbohydrates, 3 g fiber, 3 g sugar, 17 g protein
Frozen Dinner #7: Beyond Meat Beyond Burger
This has been deemed “the best veggie burger in the freezer aisle” by Minchen and several vegetarians we talked to.
“The Beyond Burger is a less processed, high-protein veggie burger that is also lower in sodium than most,” Minchen says. “It has 20 grams of plant-based protein and is gluten– and soy-free.”
Even more impressive: It's so good that some restaurants and burger chains have started serving it as a vegetarian option. Toast up a whole wheat (or gluten-free) bun, prep a little lettuce and tomato, and you'll have a meatless dinner ready in no time.
Nutrition per serving: 270 calories, 20 g fat (5 g saturated), 380 mg sodium, 5 g carbohydrates, 3 g fiber, 0 g sugar, 20 g protein
Frozen Dinner #8: Good Food Made Simple Chicken and Black Bean Burrito
This is the perfect alternative to those monster-sized burritos served at many fast food or fast casual restaurants. It comes highly recommended from Cara Harbstreet, R.D., who loves the simple mix of chicken, beans, brown rice, cheddar, and sweet peppers.
Nutrition per serving: 350 calories, 11 g fat (3 g saturated), 420 mg sodium, 45 g carbohydrates, 3 g fiber, 3 g sugar, 18 g protein
Frozen Dinner #9: Luvo Turkey Meatloaf and Mashed Potatoes
If you're craving a traditional meat-and-potatoes meal, Harbstreet recommends this frozen turkey meatloaf. It comes with a scoop of mashed potatoes and a blend of collard greens, cranberries, and perfectly cooked butternut squash.
Nutrition per serving: 290 calories, 11 g fat (1.5 g saturated), 380 mg sodium, 22 g carbohydrates, 4 g fiber, 5 g sugar, 20 g protein
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