Today’s busy schedules can make it difficult to put together healthy home cooked meals every day. If you resort to the frozen food aisle for most of your lunches or dinners during the week, you don’t have to sacrifice health for convenience. Each package of frozen dinner is marked with an ingredient list and nutrition tables that can help guide you toward healthier frozen meal choices that will make it easier to feel good about your nutrition when you are on the go.
- Check the Calorie Count
Many frozen dinners come in containers that only offer about 300 calories. While you are taking in that meager amount of fuel for your body, you are also taking in higher sodium and less nutrition. These smaller meals will leave you feeling hungry sooner, which could lead to unhealthy snacking between meals. Try to find a frozen dinner that provides at least 400 calories for the entire meal. If you can’t find a bigger meal that you like, supplement your smaller frozen meal with a healthy side dish that will fill you up rather than leaving you hungry all day.
- Look for a Good Balance
The best frozen dinners offer good amounts of the variety of food that you need at each meal. Look for dinners that include a three-ounce portion of lean meat, beans, or other protein. Skip the potatoes and choose meals that have between a half cup and a full cup of pasta or rice. The meal should also contain at least one cup of vegetables. Picking a well-balanced meal rather than a frozen entree that only contains meat and potatoes will help you get all of the nutrients you need to maintain your health and keep up your energy levels.
- Compare Fat and Sodium Content
Once you have narrowed down your meal choices, look at the sodium and saturated fat listed in each meal. Most Americans consume more sodium than they need for the entire day during breakfast, so cutting back on sodium in your frozen foods will help you reduce your chances of high blood pressure in the end. Choose meals that have lower sodium and lower saturated fats whenever possible. You may be surprised at how much sodium and fats some meals contain compared to other meals. Reducing both will help you avoid cardiac trouble.
- Read the Ingredients Carefully
The ingredient list on the back of the dinner package can be eye opening. The preservatives and additives in many frozen entrees can make the meal seem like a chemistry experiment rather than food. Try to choose dinners that include as few preservatives as possible. If there is fruit or a vegetable in your meal, make sure it is the only fruit or vegetable listed. Avoid fatty cheese sauces or gravies. Monosodium glutamate, or MSG, causes allergic reactions for many people, so you might want to avoid it. The more natural ingredients the dinner uses, the better it will taste and the healthier it will be for you.
Jessica Bosari blogs for LowFatDietPlan.org, a site dedicated to information consumers about the latest nutrition studies and helping them fit the findings into their diet plans.