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22 Best and Worst Frozen Dinners

Frozen dinners are no longer things reserved for an evening spent in front of the television. After 71 years on the market, they’re now part of many American’s weekly routines. And if we’re being frank, it’s because we’re busier and lazier than ever. (Be honest with yourself: How many times have you bought something pre-made because you just simply didn’t feel like cooking?) And while the freezer aisle has come a long way in improving the nutritional quality and taste of its offerings over the past few decades, it’s still laden with fat traps waiting to assault your weight loss progress and good health. The worst part: Bad-for-you frozen dinners can be tricky to spot. Many brands that advertise themselves as healthy choices often don’t provide enough calories or nutrients to be considered a wholesome meal—and then there are those dishes that are overflowing with salt, fat, calories, and chemicals, despite showing images of seemingly-innocent dishes on the packaging.

To make it easier for you to pick a healthy frozen dinner, we scoured the supermarket shelves for the tastiest, most nutritionally-sound options. All of our Eat This picks fall between 280 and 400 calories, have no more than 650 milligrams of sodium (with many carrying half as much salt), and serve up a fair share of protein and fiber. Not to mention, they’re all made with quality ingredients and taste delicious, too. We’ve also called out some of the worst picks in the freezer aisle so you know which ones to avoid tossing into your grocery cart. Thanks to us, you won’t have to waste time reading food labels in the coldest part of the grocery store.

EAT THIS

1

Evol Butternut Squash & Sage Ravioli

310 calories, 9 g fat, 4.5 g saturated fat, 650 mg sodium, 44 g carbs, 2 g fiber, 6 g sugar, 14 g protein

Made solely of ingredients you can pronounce, this is one of the cleanest and most wholesome pasta dishes in the freezer section. These vitamin A and protein-filled ravioli are stuffed with roasted butternut squash and ricotta cheese, and topped with roasted tomatoes, kale, and a sage-garlic sauce. The result: a melt-in-your-mouth meal you’ll crave time and time again.

2

Kashi Black Bean Mango Bowl

340 calories, 8 g fat, 1 g saturated fat, 380 mg sodium, 56 g carbs, 7 g fiber, 11 g sugar, 8 g protein

This filling entree is built on a bed of Kashi’s Seven Whole Grains and Sesame pilaf, which is comprised of a nutritious mix of oats, brown rice, rye, hard red wheat, triticale, barley, buckwheat (one of the best carbs that will uncover your abs), and sesame seeds. Black beans and roasted onions, peppers, and carrots round out the dish and amp up the protein and fiber content. And thanks to the use of mango, ginger, and a host of other seasonings, Kashi is able to keep the sodium down to a respectable 380 milligrams, which is less than what you’d find in 1/4 teaspoon salt—a rarity in frozen food land.

3

Lean Cuisine Marketplace Chicken with Almonds

290 calories, 5 g fat, 0 g saturated fat, 490 mg sodium, 44 g carbs, 4 g fiber, 8 g sugar, 16 g protein

In response to declining sales, about a year ago, Nestle incorporated more “chef-inspired” dishes to the Lean Cuisine lineup. Their new Marketplace product line of frozen dinners include gluten- and preservative-free offerings, as well and many ethnic-inspired and protein-rich dishes. Honestly, some are nutritional hits and others aren’t; but we found the chicken with almonds offering to be pretty well rounded. It has 16 percent of your day’s fiber and 25 percent of the day’s protein. Its main downfalls, however, are that it’s a bit light in the vitamins and calorie departments. To sneak in more nutrition, pair this meal with a spinach-based side salad or a cup of fresh fruit.

4

Saffron Road Lemongrass & Basil Chicken

390 calories, 10 g fat, 5 g saturated fat, 320 mg sodium, 59 g carbs, 2 g fiber, 9 g sugar, 19 g protein

This gluten-free Thai-inspired dish features basmati rice and tender chicken that’s been simmered in lemongrass- and basil-based green curry. To sneak in some extra vitamins, Saffron Road adds some green peppers and onions to the mix for a meal that tasters describe as “very flavorful” and having “just the right amount of heat with an excellent aroma.”

5

Amy’s Thai Stir-Fry

310 calories, 11 g fat, 7 g saturated fat, 420 mg sodium 45 g carbs, 5 g fiber, 2 g sugar, 8 g protein

This organic heat-and-eat tofu dish gets our vote because it’s filled with a plethora of veggies including, broccoli, bell peppers, carrots, cabbage, jalapeños, and zucchini. Keep one of these frozen dinners on hand so you’re always prepared with a Meatless Monday dish if your week gets off to a hectic start.

6

Cedarlane Foods Eggplant Parmesan

280 calories, 13 g fat, 5 g saturated fat, 590 mg sodium, 26 g carbs, 5 g fiber, 13 g sugar, 13 g protein

Craving Italian? Skip the soggy zappable noodles (more on those later) and dig into this baked—not fried—eggplant dish. Aside from the delicious, savory flavors, the addition of zucchini, peppers, onions, and cheese, join together to create a dish that serves up an impressive 35 percent of the day’s vitamin A (a nutrient that bolsters immunity and keeps your peepers healthy) and 45 percent of the day’s bone-building calcium.

7

Luvo Vegetable Bibimbap

Per pouch: 270 calories, 10 g fat, 1.5 g saturated fat, 460 mg sodium, 39 g carbs, 4 g fiber, 9 g sugar, 6 g protein

Never tried bibimbap before? It’s time for you to give it a go! The traditional Korean dish consists of rice, sautéed vegetables, chili paste, and protein-rich meat. Though nothing beats a fresh bowl of the stuff, Luvo’s meal is a solid second best—and an option that’s not too abundant in the freezer section. Pick this up if your taste buds are tired of the same old, same old.

8

Saffron Road Lamb Saag

300 calories, 12 g fat, 3 g saturated fat, 3 g saturated fat, 630 mg sodium, 36 g carbs, 3 g fiber, 3 g sugar, 17 g protein

Made with free-roaming lamb, this Indian-inspired saag paneer platter fuses the flavors of spinach, ginger, paprika turmeric, and yogurt to create a protein-rich dish that tasters describe as “spectacular,” “spiced to perfection,” and “tender.”

9

Evol Fire Grilled Steak

400 calories, 8 g fat, 4 g saturated fat, 520 mg sodium, 40 g carbs, 8 g fiber, 3 g sugar, 20 g protein

Move over Chipotle, a new Mexican mouth fiesta has arrived—and it lives in your local grocery store! Made with antibiotic-free beef, fibrous black beans, rice, veggies, cheese, and a cilantro lime pesto, this steak bowl gives the Tex-Mex chain a real run for its money in terms of flavor and nutrition. Not only is a potent source of protein and fiber, but this Evol creation also provides 25 percent of the day’s iron, a vital nutrient that up to 20 percent of women don’t consume enough of.

10

Kashi Sweet Potato Quinoa Bowl

300 calories, 8 g fat, 1 g saturated fat, 440 mg sodium, 50 g carbs, 7 g fiber, 9 g sugar, 9 g protein

Quinoa bowls are all the rage right now—and it’s easy to see why. They make it easy to mix and match healthy grains, produce, and proteins with a wide variety of flavors and spices. Plus, everything just looks more appetizing (read: Instagram-worthy) when it’s served in a bowl. We’re fans of this South American-inspired take on the dish because it relies on meat-free proteins (black beans and red quinoa) instead of chicken or beef to boost its staying power. And considering all of us eat far too many animal products, it’s always a win when there’s an easy way to sneak in a meat-free meal without sacrificing important nutrients.

11

Luvo Chicken & Harissa Chickpeas

310 calories, 12 g fat, 1.5 g saturated fat, 460 mg sodium, 32 g carbs, 6 g fiber, 6 g sugar, 19 g protein

Chicken, broccoli, chickpeas, brown jasmine rice, wheat berries, butternut squash, and kale join together to create this flavorful and filling dish. Topped with harissa, a spicy paste made with hot chili peppers, garlic, coriander and caraway seeds, harissa is a staple of North African cuisine—and a source of smoky, mellow heat that can blast away body fat. Capsaicin, the compound that gives the chili sauce its powerful kick, has proven to suppress appetite and boost metabolism. And recent research into caraway seed has found regular consumption of this spice can alter gut microbes and improve weight loss. Sounds like a great reason to give this zappable meal a try if you ask us!

NOT THAT!

1

Hungry-Man Selects Classic Fried Chicken

940 calories, 56 g fat, 12 g saturated fat, 1,370 mg sodium, 58 g carbs, 3 g fiber, 14 g sugar, 39 g protein

You had to know that a meal comprised of fried chicken, mashed potatoes, corn, and a brownie wasn’t going to help your waistline, but did you know that this meal has nearly as many calories as five orders of McNuggets?! Didn’t think so. To make matters worse, Hungry-Man (whoever the heck that evil dude is) manages to squeeze a whopping 57 percent of the day’s sodium and 86 percent of the day’s fat into one tiny box. Do your arteries a favor and just say no to this blood pressure-raising meal.

2

Amy’s Light & Lean Roasted Polenta

140 calories, 4 g fat, 1.5 g saturated fat, 540 mg sodium, 20 g carbs, 4 g fiber, 7 g sugar, 6 g protein

Unlike the previous meal on this list, which serves up far too many calories to ingest in one sitting, this Amy’s meal doesn’t even have enough calories to really be considered anything more than a snack. If you don’t want to miss out on this combination of cornmeal polenta, squash, sun-ripened tomatoes, and mushrooms, plan to pair your meal with a hearty side salad and a piece of grilled chicken. These add-ons will provide the fiber, calories, and protein necessary to keep you full and satisfied until your next meal.

3

Marie Callender’s Spaghetti with Meat Sauce

530 calories, 15 g fat, 4.5 g saturated fat, 1,000 mg sodium, 76 g carbs, 7 g fiber, 12 g sugar, 22 g protein

You might think that you’re sitting down to a steaming hot bowl of hearty pasta, but let’s be real: The fact is, you’re actually enjoying a plastic container overflowing with little more than nutrient-void carbs, salt, and fat. Since spaghetti and garlic bread are easy to make yourself, anyways, this meals’ extra baggage is hardly worth it.

4

Chili’s Chicken Fajita Bowl

370 calories, 10 g fat, 3.5 g saturated fat, 960 mg sodium, 51 g carbs, 4 g fiber, 4 g sugar, 20 g protein

Made with more rice than chicken, there’s nothing fun about this salty fiesta in a bowl. Plus, there are plenty of better options in the freezer aisle if you’re craving Mexican. We like Newman’s Own Complete Chicken Fajita Skillet Meal for Two (310 calories, 660 mg sodium) and Evol’s Chicken Enchiladas (410 calories, 610 mg sodium).

5

Marie Callender’s Cheesy Chicken & Bacon Pot Pie

Per pie: 1,040 calories, 62 g fat, 26 g saturated fat, 1,480 mg sodium, 86 g carbs, 8 g fiber,14 g sugar, 34 g protein

Marie claims that her pot pies serve up the “comforting warmth and flavors of homemade goodness,” but she fails to mention that they also serve up an entire day’s worth of fat and a half day’s worth of calories and salt. Sure, she may argue that her pies are meant to be split, but you can I both know that no one has ever thought of a personal sized pie as something to share. If rapid weight loss is among your chief health goals, this is one frozen meal we must insist you leave behind.

6

Banquet Meatloaf Meal

330 calories, 11 g fat, 1,350 mg sodium, 43 g carbs, 5 g fiber, 11 g sugar, 13 g protein

When your mom made meatloaf, do you think she added caramel color, high fructose corn syrup, BHT, or monosodium glutamate? She didn’t. So we’re not sure why Banquet feels the need to toss these questionable ingredients and chemicals into their dish. What we do know, however, is that anything with an ingredient list as long as this product is better left out of your shopping cart—and out of your tummy.

7

Lean Cuisine Pomegranate Chicken

180 calories, 3 g fat, 1 g saturated fat, 370 mg sodium, 20 g carbs, 3 g fiber, 13 g sugar, 17 g protein

Lean Cuisine? More like too lean cuisine. The truth is that 150 calories aren’t really enough for a meal—in fact, there are snack bars on the market with more calories than this dinner imposter. Save your money for something that packs enough calories and nutrients to keep you healthy and satisfied—not starved.

8

Healthy Choice Sweet & Sour Chicken

350 calories, 3.5 g fat, 0.5 g saturated fat, 590 mg sodium, 68 g carbs, 3 g fiber, 22 g sugar, 12 g protein

It may be marketed as a “healthy choice,” but this Chinese-inspired meal has more sugar than a pack of Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups! And if you’re going to spend an entire day’s worth of sugar, wouldn’t you rather indulge in something that’s actually sweet? We know we would. Candy trumps chicken every time when it comes to splurging on something sugary.

9

Stouffer’s Chicken Fettuccini Alfredo

570 calories, 27 g fat, 7 g saturated fat, 850 mg sodium, 55 g carbs, 5 g fiber, 5 g sugar, 26 g protein

Traditionally, alfredo sauce contains any of the following: oil, butter, cheese, cream, and egg yolk. But Stouffer’s take on the Italian classic relies on cheap soybean oils, cheese, milk and all sorts of other hard-to-pronounce ingredients. No matter how you make it, though, it’s still a heart attack is a dish. With 42 percent of the day’s fat and 34 percent of the daily recommended intake of saturated fat, this frozen feast is a definite Not That!

10

Stouffer’s Monterey Chicken

530 calories, 21 g fat, 6 g saturated fat, 1,300 mg sodium, 54 g carbs, 4 g fiber, 19 g sugar, 31 g protein

It may be a solid source of protein, but don’t let that fool you. This microwave meal is a giant fat and salt mine waiting to ruin your flat belly progress. Not to mention, it carries nearly an entire day’s worth of sugar. There a far better chicken options in the freezer aisle. Buy those instead.

11

Hungry-Man Home-Style Meatloaf

660 calories, 32 g fat, 10 g saturated fat, 1,440 mg sodium, 64 g carbohydrates, 6g fiber, 22 g protein

Word of advice to the calorie conscious: Purge Hungry-Man from your freezer for good. This is consistently the worst brand in the frozen-foods aisle. This meal, in particular, has 60 percent of the day’s salt, or more than what you’d find in three bags of pretzels, and a mile long list of ingredients. With all the wholesome options in the freezer aisle these days, there’s no point in bringing this box home.

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20 Healthy Frozen Meals for Quick Office Lunches

Frozen meals tend to have a bad rap for being high in sodium and littered with artificial preservatives, but today’s freezer-friendly dishes are far from the processed TV dinners of our childhood. It’s hard to deny that frozen meals can definitely come in handy when it’s lunchtime at the office, especially since they can deliver a delicious meal to your desk in minutes.

But since it’s hard to decipher which ones won’t throw a wrecking ball into your healthy lifestyle, we found the healthiest office-friendly frozen meals for you, so you can literally grab it out of the freezer in the morning and go. And if you’re looking to stock up on more ready-made dishes, check out our list of the 46 best frozen foods.

RELATED: Easy, healthy, 350-calorie recipe ideas you can make at home.

1

Wildscape Peri Peri Portobellos with Sweet Potatoes, Black Beans and Mango, Turmeric Farro, and Toasted Coconut

Courtesy of Wildscape 350 calories, 11 g fat (5 g saturated fat), 580 mg sodium, 55 g carbs (10 g fiber, 15 g sugar), 12 g protein

You can definitely ditch your midday office snack when you have this high-protein meal on your side. It has filling farro, roasted portobello mushrooms, and sweet potatoes, which will keep you energized all day long. Cashing in at only 350 calories per cup, you get a wholesome, restaurant-style meal that you can enjoy guilt-free.

Buy Wildscape

2

Daily Harvest Brussel Sprouts + Tahini Harvest Bowl

Courtesy of Daily Harvest 330 calories, 25 g fat (3 g saturated fat), 110 mg sodium, 21 g carbs (7 g fiber, 3 g sugar), 10g protein

Enjoy the taste of the Mediterranean with this scrumptious harvest bowl, which delivers fiber-dense lentils and delicious roasted vegetables such as Brussel sprouts, leeks, and butternut squash. You won’t have to worry about the sodium content inside this bowl going over your recommended daily limit; it only contains 100 milligrams, making it an energizing and immunity-boosting meal you can make in minutes.

$6.99 – $7.99 on daily-harvest.com

3

Dr. Praeger’s Hearty Breakfast Bowl

270 calories, 12 g fat (3. 5g saturated fat), 450 mg sodium, 28 g carbs (1 g fiber, 6 g sugar), 12 g protein

This hearty breakfast bowl may look like a high-calorie deathtrap, but it can actually start your morning off on the right foot thanks to its decent protein content. And if you’re looking for other good frozen breakfast food options, here are the best frozen breakfast foods to add to your freezer.

$4.99 on ShopRite.

4

Healthy Choice Pesto & Egg White Scramble

190 calories, 6 g fat (1.5 g saturated fat), 430 mg sodium, 21 g carbs (5 g fiber, 1 g sugar), 12 g protein

You really have no excuse to skip meals when this power bowl only has 190 calories and six grams of fat. The high-protein egg whites and white kidney beans will keep you alert and energized just before your next office meeting comes knocking.

Buy Healthy Choice

5

Kidfresh Mighty Meaty Chicken Meatballs

Courtesy of Kidfresh 150 calories, 8 g fat (1.5 g saturated fat), 340 mg sodium, 5 g carbs (1g fiber, 1 g sugar), 12 g protein

These chicken meatballs are actually quite suitable for adults because they’re low in carbs, fat, and sodium. Whether you serve them over whole-wheat pasta or alongside a quick store-bought salad, there’s no denying these meatballs are a good frozen entree choice for those on a serious time crunch. And speaking of saving time, here are 20 quick recipes made with frozen foods that only take minutes to make.

$3.99 on Fresh Direct

6

Veestro Mushroom Risotto

Courtesy of Veestro 350 calories, 1 g fat (0g saturated fat), 320 mg sodium, 64 g carbs (7 g fiber, 7 g sugar), 10 g protein

Those observing a plant-based diet will love this delivery service as if offers 50+ a la carte frozen meals. And you don’t have to worry about any of these meals skimping out on decent nutrition. This cholesterol-free mushroom risotto goes easy on the fat and sodium and provides a decent amount of fiber.

$10.99 on Veestro.com

7

Tribali Foods Chicken Chipotle Patties

Courtesy of Tribali Foods 140 calories, 4 g fat (1 g saturated fat), 410 mg sodium, 3 g carbs (0 g fiber, 0 g sugar), 22 g protein

If you’re looking for a massive protein boost, these chicken patties will get the job done as they deliver a whopping 22 grams of protein to your plate at only 140 calories. And keto-enthusiasts may also want to add these patties to their shopping list, as three grams of net carbs per patty is definitely worth indulging in.

$55.96 per 4-pack on Amazon

8

Qrunch Original Quinoa Burgers

Courtesy of Qrunch 140 calories, 4 g fat (2.5 g saturated fat), 240 mg sodium, 22 g carbs (4 g fiber, 1 g sugar), 4 g protein

These organic quinoa burgers are great for those who are looking for something lighter to eat during the workday. The low calorie, fat, and sodium content won’t wreck that big dinner you planned after work.

$4.99-$6.99 on Qrunch

9

Feel Good Foods Vegetable Fried Rice

Courtesy of Feel Good Foods 350 calories, 18 g fat (0 g saturated fat), 490 mg sodium, 40 g carbs (0 g fiber, 5 g sugar), 7 g protein

Ditch the Chinese takeout with this much healthier alternative, which probably has half the sodium of your traditional fried rice order.

$62.18 per 8-pack on Amazon

10

Gardein Sweet and Tangy Barbecue Wings

Courtesy of Gardein 110 calories, 5g fat (0g saturated fat), 300 mg sodium, 4g carbs (2g fiber, 0g sugar), 14g protein

You’ll definitely be surprised by these meatless barbecue wings. While they look like a high-sodium and carb-filled nightmare, they actually contain 300 milligrams of sodium and just four grams of carbs. And instead of going high on the calories and low on the protein, these wings pack 14 grams of the muscle-building macronutrient and bring only 110 calories to your plate.

$49.25 per 8-pack on Amazon

11

Hip Chick Farms Organic Chicken Fingers

Courtesy of Hip Chick Farms 180 calories, 7 g fat (2 g saturated fat), 390 mg sodium, 12 g carbs (1 g fiber, less than 1g sugar), 16 g protein

Chicken fingers may seem like anything but a healthy lunch, but allow these organic and preservative-free chicken fingers prove you wrong. They skip the added sodium and fat found in most drive-thru tenders. Plus, you’re also getting a great dose of protein here as one serving delivers up to 16 grams of protein.

$31.96 per 4-pack on HipChickFarms.com

12

Sweet Earth Truffle Lovers Pizza

280 calories, 12 g fat (5 g saturated fat), 360 mg sodium, 32 g carbs (5 g fiber, 2 g sugar), 12 g protein

You’ll definitely want to stop having pizza delivered to the office when this frozen alternative is in the fridge. It’s low in calories and sodium and is way better than the salty and greasy takeout options you rely on a little too much.

$6.99-$7.99 on SweetEarthFoods.com

13

Hilary’s Spicy Veggie Breakfast Sausage

Courtesy of Hilary’s 90 calories, 3 g fat (1.5 g saturated fat), 260 mg sodium, 14 g carbs (2 g fiber, 2 g sugar), 3 g protein

Whether you serve them over a bed of greens or eat them on their own, this spicy breakfast sausage is anything but ordinary. One patty has three grams of protein and just 90 calories.

$4.29 on ShopRite

14

Lean Cuisine Origins Linguine with Spinach & Ricotta Meatless Meatballs

Courtesy of Lean Cuisine 260 calories, 7 g fat (2.5 g saturated fat), 510 mg sodium, 39 g carbs (3 g fiber, 8 g sugar), 10 g protein

Be sure to try out this yummy lunch on your next Meatless Monday. It brings organic ricotta cheese-filled meatballs over a bed of delicious spinach linguine to your plate. And it’s made without any artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives. This is one lunch to have in the fridge when you have a busy day ahead!

$3.99 on ShopRite

15

Tres Latin Black Bean & Sweet Corn Pupusa

Courtesy of Tres Latin Foods Per pupusa: 130 calories, 3.5 g fat (0.5 g saturated fat), 170 mg sodium, 22 g carbs (4 g fiber, 1 g sugar), 4 g protein

These vegan pupusas are way better than the sodium-filled hot pockets you can’t stop munching on, as six pupusas have 210 milligrams of sodium and just 170 calories. And boasting a very small ingredient list, you won’t have to worry about any unpronounceable ingredients finding their way inside your lunch.

$5.99 on TresLatinFoods.com

16

Healthier Way Frozen Butternut Squash Veggie Noodles

Courtesy of Healthier Way 50 calories, 0 g fat (0 g saturated fat), 0 mg sodium, 12 g carbs (1 g fiber, 2 g sugar), 1 g protein

You really can’t go wrong with this frozen pack of butternut squash noodles, especially since they can be dressed up easily with low-sugar pasta sauce or a five-minute pesto sauce the night before.

$3.99 to $4.99 on Healthier-Way.com

17

Trifecta Turkey Patty, Brown Rice, Mixed Vegetables, Meal

Courtesy of Trifecta Nutrition 262 calories, 10.2 g fat (2.6 g saturated fat), 89 mg sodium, 37 g carbs (5.5 g fiber, 6.2g sugar), 26 g protein

Nothing says balanced like this hearty meal, which combines high-protein organic turkey with nutrient-dense vegetables like zucchini, broccoli, and carrots.

$9.97 per week at trifectanutrition.com

18

Good Food Made Simple Organic Cilantro Lime Chicken Entree

Courtesy of Good Food Made Simple 260 calories, 5 g fat (0 g saturated fat), 290 mg sodium, 42 g carbs (4 g fiber, 2 g sugar), 11 g protein

Yes, even your go-to burrito can be made healthy. This organic cilantro lime chicken entree keeps it low on the sodium and calories, making you rethink those Chipotle runs altogether.

$2.99-$3.49 at GoodFoodMadeSimple.com

19

Zoni Foods Sweet Potato Cashew Alfredo

Courtesy of Zoni 290 calories, 11 g fat (3 g saturated fat), 470 mg sodium, 42 g carbs (8 g fiber, 8 g sugar), 9 g protein

Say goodbye to the Italian takeout with some help from this sweet potato noodle dish, which swaps out the carb-filled noodles for spiralized sweet potato noodles topped with a creamy cashew sauce and seasoned green chickpeas.

Buy Zoni Foods

20

Beetnik Lemon Chicken With Cauliflower Rice

Courtesy of Beetnik 150 calories, 2.5 g fat (0 g saturated fat), 160 mg sodium, 13 g carbs (3 g fiber, 3 g sugar), 20 g protein

This dish is another great takeout alternative, as it utilizes organic ingredients that are not too overwhelming in sodium, fat, and calories. Plus, cauliflower rice is a great alternative to rice, making it a must for those who are looking to load up on fiber.

$5 on Walmart

Want to lose 10, 20, even 30 pounds—all without dieting?! Get your copy of Eat This, Not That: The Best (& Worst) Foods in America!, and learn how to indulge smarter and lose weight fast!

The 30 Unhealthiest Frozen Foods on the Planet

For anyone who has ever been tight on time, too tired to cook, or not up to par on how to work a real live skillet on a stove, freezer food can be a lifesaver. But if you’re choosing the wrong boxes and bags of pre-made frozen meals from that chilly grocery aisle, you could be actually making yourself sick, fat, and even hungrier. Steer clear of these products that the experts at Eat This, Not That! have identified as icky options and keep the improvement going by then discovering these 37 Worst Breakfast Habits for Weight Loss!

Breakfasts

1

Bob Evans Sausage, Egg & Cheese Burrito

1 burrito: 350 calories, 21 g fat, 8 g saturated fat, 810 mg sodium, 28 g carbs, 1 g fiber, 0 g sugar, 13 g protein

Don’t let the picture of the barn on the box fool you; these burritos are far from “farm fresh.” Not only do they pack 40 percent of the day’s saturated fat (much of which comes from hydrogenated palm oil), they bring next to nothing to table in terms of nutrition.

2

Kellogg’s Special K Flatbread Sandwich Sausage Egg & Cheese

1 sandwich: 220 calories, 12 g fat, 4 g saturated fat, 700 mg sodium, 19 g carbs, 5 g fiber, 3 g sugar, 14 g protein

When you think of breakfast, do you think of corn syrup solids, soybean oil, xanthan gum, calcium sulfate, processed cheddar cheese product, and ascorbic acid? No? Well, those are just a few of the tough-to-swallow ingredients you’ll get with this meal. Top it off with some sky-high sodium counts and you’ve got the makings of one of the worst breakfast sandwiches in the freezer section.

3

Hot Pockets Sausage Egg & Cheese

1 sandwich: 320 calories, 17 g fat, 8 g saturated fat, 370 mg sodium, 34 g carbs, 0 g fiber, 2 g sugar, 10 g protein

As nostalgic as many of us are for hot pockets, your days of noshing on these neatly-packed meals should be dead. Approximately 140 of these calories are from simple carbs (translation: nutrient-stripped), thanks to the croissant crust—which is not how you want to start your day.

4

Kellogg’s Eggo Blueberry Waffles

2 waffles: 180 calories, 6 g fat, 1.5 g saturated fat, 370 mg sodium, 29 g carbs, < 1 g fiber, 6 g sugar, 4 g protein

Despite the title, blueberries don’t make an appearance in the recipe until the 12th ingredient—and even then, they’re colored with the assistance of Blue 2 and Red 40. (To learn about more potentially harmful ingredients that could be lurking in your food, don’t miss our special report The 23 Worst Food Additives in America.) If you’re a fan of blueberry waffles, pick up the Kashi option, in which you get way more blueberries, way fewer chemicals, and more fiber, too.

5

Jimmy Dean Original Pancakes & Sausage on a Stick

1 each: 230 calories, 12 g fat, 3.5 g saturated fat, 480 mg sodium, 22 g carbs, 0 g fiber, 9 g sugar, 6 g protein

None of these nutrition stats are too outrageous, but eating this sausage-wrapped-in-a-pancake exposes you to countless harmful ingredients—ranging from caramel color to BHT (which are both possible carcinogens). Plus, there’s nothing on this stick that will keep your body full and satisfied, so you’ll probably be hungry again as soon as you plunk down at your desk.

6

El Monterey Signature Egg, Sausage, Cheese & Potato Burrito

1 burrito: 270 calories, 12 g fat, 4.5 g saturated fat, 550 mg sodium, 30 g carbs, 1 g fiber, 1 g sugar, 11 g protein

Given how easy it is to make your own version of an egg/sausage/cheese/potato breakfast, we’re not sure why anyone would gobble this down; the majority of this burrito is filled with various sources of fat and dough conditioners. Yuck!

7

WalMart Great Value French Toast Sticks

5 sticks: 320 calories, 15 g fat, 2.5 g saturated fat, 370 mg sodium, 43 g carbs, 43 g carbs, 1 g fiber, 11 g sugar, 5 g protein

Considering other brands pack 50 percent fewer calories into each stick, there’s really no reason to snag this store-brand imposter. Speaking of French toast, don’t miss our report on the 18 Most Popular French Toast Restaurant Dishes in America—Ranked!

8

Jamba Strawberries Wild Smoothies

4 oz: 60 calories, 0 g fat, 0 g saturated fat, 20 mg sodium, 15 g carbs, 1 g fiber, 11 g sugar, 2 g protein

Anyone who’s ever made a smoothie knows that the drinks are sweet enough without adding any sugar or stevia to the mix. But apparently, Jamba Juice didn’t get the message. You’re better off making a drink from scratch using unsweetened frozen produce like berries, pineapple, and spinach. This way you have total control over what winds up in your cup.

9

Amy’s Breakfast Scramble

1 entrée: 360 calories, 20 g fat, 2.5 g saturated fat, 780 mg sodium, 27 g carbs, 5 g fiber, 8 g sugar, 18 g protein

Amy’s makes far better products than this one, but we had to warn you about it: The amount of salt in this scramble rivals what you’d find at the bottom of the ocean.

10

Aunt Jemima Scrambled Eggs and Bacon

1 package: 250 calories, 15 g fat, 6 g saturated fat, 870 mg sodium, 17 g carbs, 2 g fiber, < 1 g sugar, 11 g protein

This high-salt dish is made with subpar ingredients like “scrambled egg product,” “butter flavor,” and “smoke flavorings,” all of which pretty much make this breakfast the opposite of appetizing.

11

Pillsbury Toaster Strudel Strawberry

1 pastry with icing: 180 calories, 7 g fat, 3 g saturated fat, 180 mg sodium, 27 g carbs, 1 g fiber, 9 g sugar, 3 g protein

Not only are these pastries void of any nutrients your body needs to fuel the day, they’re spiked with high fructose corn syrup and soybean oil, a fat that’s been connected to super-fast weight gain. Not to mention, as a general rule of thumb, you should never buy a breakfast food that proudly advertises that it has “30 percent more icing.”

12

Jimmy Dean Bacon & Veggies Stuffed Hash Browns

1 piece: 240 calories, 11 g fat, 5 g saturated fat, 720 mg sodium, 25 g carbs, 2 g fiber, 2 g sugar, 10 g protein

This product has one of the longest lists of ingredients we’ve ever seen on a heat-and-eat dish—and only a handful of them don’t raise an eyebrow. Steer clear!

Lunches and Dinners

13

Fast Fixin’ Chicken Nuggets

4 pieces: 180 calories, 11 g fat (2.5 g saturated fat), 510 mg sodium, 13 g carbs, 1 g fiber, 1 g sugar, 9 g protein

With added fat, three kinds of sugar, and a slew of ingredients we don’t love ranging from soy protein concentrate to a caramel coloring additive typically found in soda, this is one nugget you should just never eat.

14

Tombstone Original Pepperoni

1/4 pizza: 390 calories, 20 g fat (8 g saturated fat), 880 mg sodium, 37 g carbs (4 g fiber, 6 g sugar), 18 g protein

Along with containing two, pesticide-ridden, genetically-modified oils (corn and soybean), this pizza adds nitrates and other dangerous preservatives to their pepperoni: namely BHA and BHT. Butylated Hydroxytoluene (BHT) and Butylated Hydroxyanisole (BHA) are both already banned in the UK, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, and much of Europe because they are thought to be carcinogenic. Yikes!

15

1 meal: 940 calories, 56 g fat, 12 g saturated fat, 1,370 mg sodium, 58 g carbs, 3 g fiber, 14 g sugar, 39 g protein

Fried chicken isn’t exactly a good start, but try to swallow this fact: This meal has nearly as many calories as five orders of McNuggets! To make matters worse, Hungry-Man manages to squeeze a whopping 57 percent of the day’s sodium and 86 percent of the day’s fat into one tiny box. Do your arteries a favor and just say no to this blood pressure-raising meal. And for even more foods that will mess with your ticker, be sure to read up on these 30 Worst Foods For Your Heart.

16

Mrs. Paul’s Parmesan and Roasted Garlic Tilapia

1 fillet: 280 calories, 10 g fat, 1 g saturated fat, 650 mg sodium, 26 g carbs, 1 g fiber, 2 g sugar, 20 g protein

Other than the 650 milligrams of sodium for a measly frozen fish fillet, the nutritional info doesn’t look so alarming. And we’ll admit that parmesan and garlic sound delicious. But we do have an issue with tilapia in general—tilapia is one of the worst fish choices out there, after all—and the ridiculously long ingredient list for this product, which includes everything from soybean oil to guar gum to sugar. If you can’t kick your tilapia habit, just throw it in a pan with a little olive oil and minced garlic; sprinkle with parmesan when done, and you’ll have a much fresher dish than this one.

17

Digiorno Small-Sized, Four-Cheese Traditional

1 pizza: 710 calories, 29 g fat (14 g saturated fat), 1,190 mg sodium, 88 g carbs (4 g fiber, 12 g sugar), 25 g protein

If you’re going to market a pizza as being “personal sized,” you can’t fault us for providing nutritional information for the whole pie—even though Digiorno deceptively calls the serving size half a pie. It’s one of the reasons they’re on our list of 14 Sneaky Types of Food With Bogus Serving Sizes.

20

California Pizza Kitchen Crispy Thin Crust BBQ Chicken

1/3 pizza: 300 calories, 11 g fat (5 g saturated fat), 640 mg sodium, 35 g carbs (1 g fiber, 8 g sugar), 16 g protein

CPK has actually compiled the longest ingredient list of all the frozen pizzas on the market. Among the 50+ items is caramel color, an ingredient known to be contaminated by carcinogens.

24

Red Baron Classic Crust 4 Cheese

1/4 pizza: 390 calories, 17 g fat (9 g saturated fat), 750 mg sodium, 42 g carbs (2 g fiber, 8 g sugar), 16 g protein

If we were to ask you to guess the ingredients in pizza, you’d probably say cheese, tomatoes, and a wheat-yeast crust. We’d bet you wouldn’t guess “L-Cysteine hydrochloride” (a salt used to treat overdoses) and “ammonium sulfate” (a commonly-used lawn fertilizer), which are two ingredients found in this franken-pizza. Oh, and did we mention the calorie, fat, and sodium contents are some of the highest on the market, too?

26

1 meal: 660 calories, 32 g fat, 10 g saturated fat, 1,440 mg sodium, 64 g carbohydrates, 6g fiber, 22 g protein

Word of advice: Purge Hungry-Man from your freezer for good. This is consistently the worst brand in the frozen-foods aisle. This meal, in particular, has 60 percent of the day’s salt (which is more than what you’d find in three bags of pretzels) and a mile-long list of ingredients. With all the wholesome options in the freezer aisle these days, there’s no point in bringing this box home.

27

Glutino GF Duo Cheese

*1 pizza: 410 calories, 19 g fat (8 g saturated fat), 660 mg sodium, 48 g carbs (3 g fiber, 4 g sugar), 12 g protein

Don’t let the “gluten-free” health halo fool you; Glutino’s pies are consistently high in calories and fat. For more on which gluten-free products to buy, don’t miss our exclusive report on the 40 Best and Worst Gluten-Free Food Products!

28

P.F. Chang’s Home Menu Orange Chicken

*1/2 bag: 430 calories, 18 g fat (2.5 g saturated), 930 mg sodium, 23 g protein

Ch-Chang! Half this bag—which is the recommended portion size—has a whopping 930 milligrams of sodium, which is nearly a half a day’s worth. Whenever something comes with a glaze or sticky sauce, you should hear a little warning bell because it’s often a sign you’re about to get loads more sugar and salt than you think.

29

Weaver Chicken Breast Dinosaur Fun Nuggets

4 pieces: 210 calories, 12 g fat (2.5 g saturated fat), 560 mg sodium, 14 g carbs, 1 g fiber, 0 g sugar, 11 g protein

Your kiddos may love the dinosaur shapes, but these fun nuggets are full of fat and sodium that won’t do your offspring any favors. They are also made with an ingredient that contains MSG, but goes by a different name to cover it up: textured soy protein.

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The 16 Worst Frozen Meals You Should Never Eat

Not all frozen food is bad for you. In fact, many healthy foods are better bought from the freezer aisle. And there are plenty of frozen meals made with fresh, quality ingredients that are worth investing in. However, some of the worst frozen meals on the market are packed with sodium, saturated fat, and artificial ingredients. Some don’t even have enough nutrition to count as a full meal.

Don’t worry, you don’t have to swear off frozen meals completely if you like the convenience and taste. But it is important to know what to look out for when choosing from the many varieties available in the frozen food aisle. Here are some examples of frozen meals you should leave on the shelf.

1. Lean Cuisine: Sweet Sriracha Braised Beef

It’s healthy — there’s just not enough of it. | iStock.com/rez-art

When hunting for healthy frozen meals, it’s tempting to gravitate toward the least caloric options available in the aisle. Is it possible to take this mindset too far, though? Lean Cuisine’s Sweet Sriracha Braised Beef, a member of the brand’s low-calorie selection, has 180 calories per single-serving meal. It’s not so much a meal as it is a side dish. It’s healthy enough — meat and veggies provide some carbs and protein, plus a few grams of fiber. However, such a small amount of food won’t keep you full for long, making you more likely to grab a high-calorie snack not long after lunch. Serve this dish supplemented with some pasta or potatoes, or even add your own veggies and other ingredients to bulk it up.

2. Banquet: Salisbury Steak Meal with Mashed Potatoes

Anything creamy should send up a few red flags. | iStock.com/MSPhotographic

When you glance at a nutrition label and discover a 350-calorie meal made of meat and potatoes, “it’s too good to be true” might cross your mind before you toss it into your shopping cart. Sadly, it really does seem like a better deal than it actually is. Just because something has a lower calorie count than you might expect doesn’t mean it’s automatically good for you. Banquet’s Salisbury Steak Meal has 44 grams of carbohydrates and more than 1,000 milligrams of sodium.

Check the description on Banquet’s website: “creamy mashed potatoes.” That’s never a good sign. It doesn’t help that this meal comes with dessert. Even if you save that for later, the meal as a whole is composed mostly of salt and saturated fat, and lacks the nutritional value to make up for those drawbacks.

3. EVOL: Gluten-Free Smoked Gouda Mac & Cheese

Gluten-free doesn’t always mean good for you. | iStock.com/ rez-art

This is a perfect example of why gluten-free doesn’t mean healthy. EVOL’s Gluten-Free Mac & Cheese has a total of 31 grams of fat, most of which comes from saturated fat. If this were just boiled macaroni noodles with fresh cheese on top, it wouldn’t be so bad. These gluten-free noodles are coated in a cheddar and Gouda sauce, though. Translation: Multiple types of cheeses, whole milk, and butter, plus liquid smoke. If you’re wondering what “liquid smoked flavor” is, it’s exactly what it sounds like: smoke and water. Except many liquid smoke flavorings also contain molasses and caramel coloring.

4. Stouffer’s: Swedish Meatballs

Sauce ruins everything. | iStock.com/macniak

Many frozen meal brands tend to take a relatively healthy meal and sabotage the whole thing by adding in some kind of sauce. Stouffer’s Swedish Meatballs, for example, contain over half the amount of sodium you’re supposed to eat in a single day. This combo wouldn’t have nearly as much salt or saturated fat if it weren’t for the sour cream sauce covering everything. Meals like this would benefit from including sauces in separate packaging along with the main entrée, but in most cases, all ingredients are added into individual containers and frozen during manufacturing for the sake of convenience.

5. Hungry Man: Mexican Style Fiesta

This meal counts toward almost half the average daily calorie intake. | iStock.com/ EzumeImages

If you want to consume the maximum amount of sodium you need per day in just one meal, this is the perfect pick. That’s not all it has to offer, though. Hungry Man’s Mexican-style meal provides almost half the calories you would normally eat in one day, plus alarming amounts of fat and sugar. If you only ate three meals a day, sans snacks, (and your first two meals were light) you might be able to get away with this as a regular dinner option.

There are much healthier ways to eat enchiladas, rice, and beans, though. We suggest you go for those.

6. Chili’s: Chicken Bacon Ranch Meal

Is the ranch sauce really necessary? | iStock.com/MSPhotographic

Chicken, rice, and vegetables — it all sounds pleasing, until you factor in the sauce. Chili’s makes this dinner with chicken, bacon, and ranch, which has plenty of protein and a little bit of fiber, but the ranch sauce and bacon add an unreasonable amount of sodium and saturated fat for the dish’s size. It only makes sense, since Chili’s at-home meals are modeled after the same entrées you can order at the restaurant. Even with a smaller portion than the traditional dish, it’s still not worth buying. Look for a chicken, rice, and vegetable-based meal with a lighter sauce instead.

7. Healthy Choice: Beef Pot Roast

Normally, pot roast would provide plenty of nutrition with very few downsides. | iStock.com/bhofack2

When it comes to healthy dinner ideas, a pot roast is always a favorable option. Its variety of nutrition sources provides a combination of protein, complex carbohydrates, and fat to fill you up and keep you full. So you would think Healthy Choice’s Pot Roast falls into the healthy frozen meals category. Unfortunately, this isn’t the case. There’s nothing wrong with the major ingredients themselves — beef, plus red potatoes, corn, and other veggies in a light gravy. But this meal fails in a different category entirely: portion size — and not in the way you’d think. An entire single serving only provides 220 calories. For a meal that’s supposed to satisfy your hunger, this pot roast misses the mark.

8. Jimmy Dean: Meat Lovers Breakfast Bowl

Maybe all your favorite breakfast foods don’t belong in the same bowl after all. | iStock.com/rez-art

Microwavable breakfasts seem like the perfect way to squeeze a meal in when there’s not enough time to cook. You’d most likely be better off buying something on your way to work than settling for this, though. This breakfast bowl is a mix of all your go-to breakfast foods, including eggs, sausage, bacon, cheese, and potatoes. While it has 24 grams of protein, it also has almost no fiber, and more than 30 grams of total fat. It’s one of those heavy breakfast meals that will sit in your stomach for awhile, which isn’t exactly the way you want to feel when you walk into the office.

9. Kashi: Chimichurri Quinoa Bowl

You can eat this, but it’s not going to take long to start feeling hungry again. | iStock.com/bhofack2

Quinoa is a superfood, which means companies have tried to incorporate it into as many of their products and recipes as possible to please consumers. While quinoa is an excellent alternative to animal protein sources and refined grains, this can have major setbacks when it isn’t paired with the right foods — or enough food in general. At just 260 calories per one serving, Kashi’s Chimichurri Quinoa Bowl may not be the best choice for a solo meal.

It’s made with notably healthy ingredients like fresh vegetables and spices, but 10 grams of protein and fiber isn’t very much when you consider this bowl is supposed to hold you over from lunch until dinner — or dinner until the next morning. If you don’t have healthy snacks readily available for a few hours after you finish eating this, you might want to go for something with a little more substance.

10. Marie Callender: Country Fried Beef Steak & Gravy

There are better ways to eat steak. | iStock.com/tbralnina

Marie Callender offers several varieties of country-fried meat dishes, and this one earns a spot on the list because — you guessed it — gravy makes an appearance. The country-fried steak meal, as a result, has more sodium than a single meal should. Fried food might taste great, but it’s simply not worth the extra salt, sugar, calories, or saturated fat. Unfortunately, you’re not going to have an easy time finding a frozen meal from Marie that’s any healthier than this.

11. SmartMade: White Wine Chicken & Couscous

This might not be enough to count as a whole meal. | iStock.com/mikafotostok

SmartMade was on the right track when they created a meal doused in a light sauce. However, this chicken and couscous option doesn’t provide much fuel for what it’s worth. That’s the problem with frozen meals that focus on the quality of ingredients but don’t take into account a single-serving meal’s true purpose: To give you fuel and keep you from getting hungry later.

For the amount of food you get in this protein-rich meal, there’s not a great fiber yield to keep you full for long. Just 190 calories might get you through a few hours, but after that, you’re going to start craving carbs again. If you’re going to bring a meal like this with you for lunch, bring a few other high-fiber food items to go along with it.

12. Zatarain’s: Bourbon Chicken Pasta

Let’s maybe steer clear of bourbon sauce. | iStock.com/bhofack2

Another cream sauce is ready and waiting to doom an otherwise healthy meal. Zatarain’s bourbon-spiked pasta wouldn’t have nearly 1,000 milligrams of sodium if it weren’t for its creamy bourbon sauce of destruction. Zatarain’s isn’t exactly known for their healthy recipes to begin with, but this meal’s ingredient list is long enough to break records. Homemade chicken and pasta with natural seasoning and fewer artificial ingredients is fairly simple to make, and you have the option to control how much sauce (if any) you pour onto your plate.

13. Mrs. Paul’s: Crispy Fish Tenders

There’s something fishy about these fried fillets. | iStock.com/ gbh007

In the mood for a seafood dinner? Going the frozen route might not be the best way to enjoy fried fish. These crispy fish sticks are likely to satisfy your craving for something crunchy, but the amount of processing they had to go through to get to your kitchen table is a little unsettling. If you’re not a fan of fillers in your food, the MSG, sodium tripolyphosphate, modified food starch, and added sugars in these fillets probably aren’t worth a meal rich in omega-3s and protein. If you’re really craving fish, frozen shrimp is a much better alternative.

14. Special K: Spinach, Egg & Cheese Medley

You might need something a little more filling than this. | iStock.com/bhofack2

Breakfast sandwiches are appealing for a few reasons. First of all, they’re portable, which makes fueling up on the go much easier. They’re also filled with all your favorite things, and if you buy them frozen, you get to enjoy your food without the added cook time. What does all this mean for the quality of your breakfast, though? Well, it depends.

This flatbread breakfast sandwich is a cheesy, spinach- and egg-filled collection of protein, fat, and carbs — everything you need to start your day off feeling great. However, it only provides 170 calories. That’s not a lot of energy to get you through the morning, especially if you haven’t eaten since the night before.

15. Boston Market: Smothered Turkey

Must we drown everything healthy in gravy sauce? | iStock.com/bhofack2

Just the name of this product should give away how healthy it isn’t. Boston Market’s Smothered Turkey meal includes turkey literally smothered in gravy as its main component. (It’s one thing to drizzle gravy on top of your turkey at Thanksgiving, but there’s really no need to smother any food in any kind of topping, is there?) Granted, the website description does call it a “comfort food favorite,” so turkey breasts drowning in gravy on top of white bread really isn’t all that surprising.

Turkey, mashed potatoes, and vegetables all on their own aren’t unhealthy meal options. The problem here is the gravy brings this meal’s sodium content above 1,500 milligrams, which is where a lot of its flavor — and most of its health hazards — come from.

16. Amy’s: Sweet & Sour Asian Noodle

A bowl of noodles won’t keep you full for long. | iStock.com/bhofack2

Amy’s Sweet & Sour Asian Noodle bowl, part of its Light & Lean selection, provides only 250 calories and 3 grams of fat in the entire portion. With 10 grams of protein and less than 50 grams of carbs, this seems like the perfect lunch option. However, this isn’t a very sustainable option for a meal. It includes a combination of tofu, vegetables, and noodles, but there’s just not enough food to provide the amount of fiber and protein you’d need if you wanted this meal to keep you full.

The 31 Best Frozen Foods in America

There’s an old cliche that says if you’re looking for love, forget about the singles bars. The real action is in the frozen foods aisle of your supermarket, where men and women unencumbered by domestic attachment (and, presumably, cooking skills) gather to hunt down the evening’s meals.

While we’re not sure the freezer section can quite hold a candle to Tinder, we do know one thing: finding foods you can love—and that will love you back—truly is possible, if you know what to look for. And microwave meals aren’t as nutritionally destitute as you might think—in fact, they can lead to quick weight loss: A 2014 study in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics found that when you opt for a frozen meal from the grocery store, you’ll consume an average of 253 fewer calories and 2.6 fewer grams of saturated fat per day than if you stopped at a fast food joint.

Whether you’re serious about nutrition or just cruising the frozen food scene looking for Mr. Hot Pockets, we’ve got the lowdown on the best options in your supermarket. The researchers of Eat This, Not That! put on their mittens and reached deep into the freezer section to find the 46 best frozen meals.

RELATED: No-sugar-added recipes you’ll actually look forward to eating.

FROZEN BREAKFAST ENTREES

You want to start every morning with a healthy dose of protein (think 10 grams and up) and a belly-filling boost of fiber (try for 5 grams and up). The dishes we chose here meet at least one of those criteria.

1

Kashi Blueberry Waffles

2 waffles: 130 calories, 5 g fat (0.5 g saturated), 310 mg sodium, 25 g carbs (7 g fiber, 3 g sugar), 3 g protein

Blueberries figure prominently in these first-rate waffles, explaining the huge hit of fiber. You’ll also get nearly half a day’s worth of whole grains—without the artificial colors you’ll find in Eggos.

2

Kashi 7 Grain Waffles

2 waffles: 140 calories, 5 g fat (0.5 g saturated), 310 mg sodium, 25 g carbs (7 g fiber, 3 g sugar), 3 g protein

Kashi does waffles right: These are the most fiber-packed waffles in the freezer.

3 per bowl: 190 calories, 6 g fat (1.5 g saturated fat), 430 mg sodium, 21 g carbs (5 g fiber, 1 g sugar), 12 g protein

This hearty breakfast power bowl meets both our fiber and protein criteria, deeming this pick one of our best a.m. meals to wake up to.

4

Amy’s Black Beans & Tomatoes Breakfast Burrito

1 burrito: 270 calories, 8 g fat (1 g saturated fat), 540 mg sodium, 38 g carbs (6 g fiber, 3 g sugar), 12 g protein

Black beans are one of the healthiest foods on the planet—and this burrito is packed with ’em.

5 270 calories, 12 g fat (3.5 g saturated fat), 450 mg sodium, 28 g carbs (1 g fiber, 6 g sugar), 12 g protein

Made with cage-free eggs for a healthy protein punch and hidden veggies for added vitamins, this breakfast is both delicious and nutritious.

FROZEN PIZZAS

If you find one with more than 10 grams of protein per serving, and 500-800 mg of sodium, then who needs Domino’s for their cheat meals?

6

Amy’s Cheese Pizza

½ pizza: 290 calories, 12 g fat (5 g saturated fat), 590 mg sodium, 33 g carbs (2 g fiber, 4 g sugar), 12 g protein

Made with organic, unbleached wheat flour, as well as other wholesome ingredients, this pick serves up 2 grams of fiber and 12 grams of muscle-building protein.

7

Newman’s Own White Thin & Crispy Pizza

⅓ pie: 350 calories, 18 g fat (9 g saturated fat), 690 mg sodium, 33 g carbs (0 g fiber, 2 g sugar), 15 g protein

Newman’s Own combines spinach and cheese for a truly delicious slice sans too much sodium (that’s if you stick to the serving size).

8 ½ pizza: 280 calories, 12 g fat (5 g saturated fat), 360 mg sodium, 32 g carbs (5 g fiber, 2 g sugar), 12 g protein

Truffle lovers rejoice for this umami-packed pie that also sneaks in a respectable 5 grams of fiber and 12 grams of protein.

9

Peas of Mind Cheese Pizza

⅓ pie: 240 calories, 5 g fat (2 g saturated fat), 510 mg sodium, 36 g carbs (2 g fiber, 2 g sugar), 11 g protein

They snuck broccoli and carrots into the crust. Clever devils! And still curious about how these compare to takeout? Don’t miss our special report every menu item at Domino’s—ranked!

FROZEN PASTA ENTREES

10

KidFresh Wagon Wheels Mac ‘N Cheese

1 package: 270 calories, 9 g fat (5 g saturated fat), 360 mg sodium, 35 g carbs (2 g fiber, 4 g sugar), 12 g protein

Diffuse the comfort food’s flab-producing potential by opting for this light rendition. It omits artificial flavors, colors, and preservatives you’ll find in other frozen mac and cheese meals.

11

Lean Cuisine Four Cheese Cannelloni

1 package: 230 calories, 6 g fat (3 g saturated fat), 690 mg sodium, 33 g carbs (3 g fiber, 11 g sugar), 11 g protein

Swap out the white sauce for red sauce and you’ll save a few hundred calories per serving every time. For more easy tips and tricks, don’t miss these 50 ways to lose 10 pounds—fast!

FROZEN FISH ENTREES

To shrink your belly, go small with shrimp. Just skip the cocktail sauce—and avoid tilapia.

12

Cape Gourmet Cooked Shrimp

3 oz: 50 calories, 0.5 g fat, 330 mg sodium, 10 g protein

Unadulterated shrimp are among the leanest sources of protein on the planet.

13

SeaPak Salmon Burgers

1 burger: 110 calories, 5 g fat (0.5 g saturated fat), 340 mg sodium, 0 g carbs, 16 g protein

Toss this on the grill, then sandwich it between a toasted bun with arugula, grilled onions, and Greek yogurt spiked with olive oil, garlic, and fresh dill. Pair it with one of these fat-burning soups, and you have a full, healthy meal.

14

Fish People Meyer Lemon & Herb Panko Wild Alaskan Salmon Kit

1 fillet with 1/2 toppings: 240 calories, 3.5 g fat (0 g saturated fat), 260 mg sodium, 9 g carbs (0 g fiber, <1 g sugar), 27 g protein

Craft a better dinner with Fish People’s salmon kit. It comes with wild-caught salmon and a crunchy crust made of Parmesan, Meyer lemon, and a splash of butter. One serving is jam-packed with protein and low in sodium. Be sure to pair it with a side salad for some fiber.

FROZEN CHICKEN ENTREES

High in protein and always lean, chicken is our go-to in the frozen aisle—just be careful of what it’s sauced in, especially if you see sugar in the ingredients. That’s how the calorie count gets jacked up.

15

Evol Bowls Teriyaki Chicken

1 bowl: 260 calories, 2.5 g fat (0 g saturated fat), 600 mg sodium, 45 g carbs (4 g fiber, 12 g sugar), 14 g protein

Evol’s teriyaki bowl is made with brown rice, free-range chicken, and enough produce to meet 70 percent of your day’s vitamin A needs.

16

Ethnic Gourmet Chicken Tikka Masala

1 package: 260 calories, 6 g fat (2 g saturated fat), 680 mg sodium, 32 g carbs (3 g fiber, 4 g sugar), 19 g protein

The sauce is created with fat-free yogurt for low-calorie creaminess and an extra dose of the muscle-building macro.

17

Wildscape Chimichurri Chicken

Courtesy of Wildscape 1 meal: 430 calories, 16 g fat (3 g saturated fat), 670 mg sodium, 56 g carbs (6 g fiber, 5 g sugar), 24 g protein

The vitamin-packed ingredient list includes farro, red skin potatoes, chicken thighs, and extra virgin olive oil for a truly delicious and clean meal that will keep you satiated well past dinnertime.

18 Courtesy of Good Food Made Simple 1 burrito: 260 calories, 5 g fat (0 g saturated fat), 290 mg sodium, 42 g carbs (4 g fiber, 2 g sugar), 11 g protein

Instead of the standard white rice, this meal rests on a blend of black beans and brown rice.

19 Per meal: 150 calories, 2.5 g fat (0 g saturated fat), 160 mg sodium, 13 g carbs (3 g fiber, 3 g sugar), 20 g protein

Beetnik’s blend of cauliflower rice, tender chicken, and lemony mushroom sauce makes this pick low-carb and high-protein.

FROZEN SIDES, SNACKS AND APPS

Because so many frozen sides are baked, instead of fried, you can find some healthy choices. And to see how your favorite McFry pans out, don’t miss our special report on every fast-food French fry—ranked!

20

Cascadian Farms Fire Roasted Sweet Potatoes

¾ cup prepared: 100 calories, 0 g fat, 35 mg sodium, 22 g carbs (3 g fiber, 7 g sugar), 2 g protein

Cascadian Farms uses just one ingredient in this bagged app: organic sweet potatoes. Pair one of our best frozen meals with this sweet side for a balanced meal.

21

Applegate Organics Organic Chicken Strips

3 strips: 160 calories, 6 g fat (0.5 g saturated fat), 360 mg sodium, 13 g carbs (0 g fiber, 1 g sugar), 11 g protein

The relatively light breading makes Applegate’s strips less fatty than the competition’s.

ICE CREAM AND FROZEN TREATS

Find ones with few ingredients and under 20 grams of sugar and you’re golden!

22

Breyers Black Raspberry Chocolate

1/2 cup: 140 calories, 4 g fat (3 g saturated fat), 30 mg sodium, 25 g carbs (<1 g fiber, 18 g sugar, 1 g protein

The secret to a low-calorie ice cream is simple: Lead off with something lighter than cream. This one uses regular milk first and cream last. Use a bit to make one of these smoothies for weight loss!

23

Turkey Hill Light Recipe Moose Tracks

1/2 cup: 140 calories, 6 g fat (2.5 g saturated fat), 65 mg sodium, 20 g carbs (1 g fiber, 15 g sugar), 3 g protein

Swirled ice cream flecked with chocolate peanut butter cups—you won’t find a more decadent dessert with fewer calories, or a better chance to indulge and lose belly fat at the same time.

24

Edy’s Slow Churned Mint Chocolate Chip

½ cup: 110 calories, 3 g fat (2.5 g saturated fat), 40 mg sodium, 18 g carbs (0 g fiber, 13 g sugar), 2 g protein

Edy’s Slow Churned line leans more heavily on milk than cream, which keeps the calories in check.

25

So Delicious Chocolate Velvet

½ cup: 130 calories, 3.5 g fat (0.5 g saturated fat), 0 mg sodium, 24 g carbs (2 g fiber, 14 g sugar), 2 g protein

So Delicious cuts the fat without needing to make up for it with an extra hit of sugar. Thanks to organic soymilk, you’ll get plant-based protein and fiber in each bite. Pair it with some sliced bananas.

26

Edy’s Rich & Creamy Grand Coffee

½ cup: 140 calories, 7 g fat (4 g saturated fat), 35 mg sodium, 16 g carbs (0 g fiber, 14 g sugar), 2 g protein

Careful—it’s made with real coffee, so it’s not the best choice right before bed.

27

Breyers Natural Vanilla

½ cup: 130 calories, 7 g fat (4 g saturated fat), 35 mg sodium, 14 g carbs (0 g fiber, 14 g sugar), 2 g protein

Breyers Natural has earned our allegiance for both its low-calorie concoctions and the simplicity of its ingredient statements.

28

Halo Top Red Velvet

1/2 cup: 90 calories, 3 g fat (1.5 g saturated fat), 115 mg sodium, 16 g carbs (3 g fiber, 7 g sugar), 5 g protein

The secret behind the stellar nutritionals: it’s made with milk and cream and sweetened with erythritol, a sugar alcohol that likely won’t cause digestive issues. Get spooning!

29

Diana’s Bananas Banana Babies Dark Chocolate

1 piece: 130 calories, 6 g fat (3.5 g saturated fat), 15 mg sodium, 18 g carbs (1 g fiber, 14 g sugar), 2 g protein

Banana, chocolate, and peanut oil. You don’t find a frozen treat with a simpler recipe.

30

So Delicious Fudge Bars

1 bar: 60 calories, 4 g fat (3.5 g saturated fat), 40 mg sodium, 9 g carbs (5 g fiber, <1 g sugar), <1 g protein

Low in sugar and overall calories, this is a good treat to keep in mind even if you’re not lactose intolerant. Unlike dairy desserts, this treat’s saturated fat content comes from brain-boosting, plant-based MCTs.

31

Yasso Frozen Greek Yogurt Chocolate Fudge Bar

1 bar: 80 calories, 0 g fat, 55 mg sodium, 15 g carbs (0 g fiber, 12 g sugar), 6 g protein

A classy upgrade to the standard Fudgsicle, this frozen treat delivers 6 grams of belly-filling protein. Kinda like our favorite chia puddings.

Want to lose 10, 20, even 30 pounds—all without dieting?! Get your copy of Eat This, Not That: The Best (& Worst) Foods in America!, and learn how to indulge smarter and lose weight fast!

We all remember eating Salisbury steak, meal loaf and country fried chicken, each with some veggies, whipped potatoes and a scalding-hot brownie. Nostalgia for TV dinners can make the mouth water. But what was delicious then we now know wasn’t very nutritious. Sodium-packed, artificially-flavored meals are stuck in the past — and should be left there.

Best new frozen foods: Chipotle chicken patties and more

May 1, 201804:09

The editors of Eat This, Not That! scoured the freezer aisle to find the very best, healthiest meals made with the cleanest ingredients. Some may even be healthier than the grab-and-go options you’ve been eating! Read on for our list, and click here to get a full year of Eat This, Not That! magazine for half off!

These items were hand-picked by our editorial team because we love them – and we hope you do, too. TODAY has affiliate relationships, so we may get a small share of the revenue from your purchases. Items are sold by the retailer, not by TODAY.

Breakfast Bites

Vans Power Grains Waffles, $4, Amazon Fresh

Vans

Vans Power Grains Waffles, $4, Amazon Fresh

Per 2 waffles (84 g): 200 calories, 7 g fat (0.5 g saturated fat), 170 mg sodium, 26 g carbs (1 g fiber, 6 g sugar), 10 g protein

Kodiak Cakes Power Flapjacks, coming soon, Kodiak Cakes

Kodiak Cakes

Kodiak Cakes Power Flapjacks, coming soon, Kodiak Cakes

Per 3 flapjacks (109 g): 190 calories, 2 g fat (0.5 g saturated fat), 340 mg sodium, 30 g carbs (4 g fiber, 6 g sugar), 14 g protein

Easy Meals

Grainful Ranchero Chicken, $5 per meal, Grainful

Grainful

Grainful Ranchero Chicken, $5 per meal, Grainful

Per 1 entree (283 g): 280 calories, 9 g fat (1 g saturated fat), 470 mg sodium, 37 g carbs (7 g fiber, 6 g sugar), 17 g protein

Grainful Vegetarian Chili, $5 per meal, Grainful

Grainful

Grainful Vegetarian Chili, $5 per meal, Grainful

Per 1 entree (283 g): 270 calories, 8 g fat (2.5 g saturated fat), 390 mg sodium, 41 g carbs (9 g fiber, 8 g sugar), 11 g protein

Grainful Jambalaya, $5 per meal, Grainful

Trending stories,celebrity news and all the best of TODAY. Grainful

Per 1 entree (283 g): 350 calories, 14 g fat (4.5 g saturated fat), 660 mg sodium, 40 g carbs (7 g fiber, 5 g sugar), 16 g protein

Blake’s All-Natural Chicken Pot Pie, available in-store only, Target

Blake’s All Natural

Blake’s All-Natural Chicken Pot Pie, available in-store only, Target

Per 1 pie (227 g): 340 calories, 18 g fat (7 g saturated fat), 730 mg sodium, 32 g carbs (3 g fiber, 4 g sugar), 13 g protein

Protein Packed

Tribali Foods Chipotle Chicken Patties, $56 for four 4-packs, Amazon

Tribali Foods

Tribali Foods Chipotle Chicken Patties, $56 for four 4-packs, Amazon

Per 1 patty: 140 calories, 4 g fat (1 g saturated fat), 410 mg sodium, 3 g carbs (0 g fiber, 0 g sugar), 22 g protein

Fishpeople Meyer Lemon & Herb Panko Wild Alaskan Salmon Kit, $10, Jet

Fishpeople Seafood

Fishpeople Meyer Lemon & Herb Panko Wild Alaskan Salmon Kit, $10, Jet

Per 1 fillet with 1/2 toppings: 240 calories, 10 g fat (3.5 g saturated fat), 250 mg sodium, 9 g carbs (0 g fiber, 1 g sugar), 27 g protein

Get Your Veggies

Green Giant Veggie Spirals Zucchini, $4, Green Giant

Green Giant

Green Giant Veggie Spirals Zucchini, $4, Green Giant

Per 3/4 cup (85 g): 15 calories, 0 g fat, 0 mg sodium, 2 g carbs (1 g fiber, 1 g sugar), 1 g protein

Green Giant Veggie Spirals Carrot, $4, Green Giant

Green Giant

Green Giant Veggie Spirals Carrot, $4, Green Giant

Per 1 cup (85 g): 30 calories, 0 g fat, 50 mg sodium, 7 g carbs (3 g fiber, 3 g sugar), 1 g protein

Green Giant Veggie Spirals Butternut Squash, $4, Green Giant

Green Giant

Green Giant Veggie Spirals Butternut Squash, $4, Green Giant

Per 3/4 cup (85 g): 50 calories, 0 g fat, 0 mg sodium, 12 g carbs (1 g fiber, 0 g sugar), 1 g protein

Green Giant Veggie Spirals Beets, $4, Green Giant

Green Giant

Green Giant Veggie Spirals Beets, $4, Green Giant

Per 3/4 cup (85 g): 35 calories, 0 g fat, 65 mg sodium, 8 g carbs (2 g fiber, 7 g sugar), 1 g protein

Sweet Treats

Arctic Zero Vanilla Bean Light Ice Cream, $6, Arctic Zero

Arctic Zero

Arctic Zero Vanilla Bean Light Ice Cream, $6, Arctic Zero

Per 1/2 cup (58 g): 70 calories, 1 g fat (0.5 g saturated fat), 70 mg sodium, 14 g carbs (3 g fiber, 9 g sugar), 2 g protein

Arctic Zero Mint & Chocolate Cookies Light Ice Cream, $6, Arctic Zero

Arctic Zero

Arctic Zero Mint & Chocolate Cookies Light Ice Cream, $6, Arctic Zero

1/2 cup (58 g): 90 calories, 2.5 g fat (1.5 g saturated fat), 70 mg sodium, 16 g carbs (3 g fiber, 11 g sugar), 2 g protein

Arctic Zero Cookie & Brownie Dough Light Ice Cream, $6, Arctic Zero

Arctic Zero

Arctic Zero Cookie & Brownie Dough Light Ice Cream, $6, Arctic Zero

1/2 cup (58 g): 80 calories, 1.5 g fat (1 g saturated fat), 60 mg sodium, 15 g carbs (3 g fiber, 10 g sugar), 2 g protein

Arctic Zero Chocolate Chunk Light Ice Cream, $6, Arctic Zero

Arctic Zero

Arctic Zero Chocolate Chunk Light Ice Cream, $6, Arctic Zero

1/2 cup (58 g): 80 calories, 2 g fat (1 g saturated fat), 60 mg sodium, 14 g carbs (3 g fiber, 10 g sugar), 2 g protein

Yasso Pistachio Brittle Frozen Greek Yogurt Bars, available in-store only, Target

Yasso

Yasso Pistachio Brittle Frozen Greek Yogurt Bars, available in-store only, Target

Per 1 bar (62 g): 90 calories, 1.5 g fat (0 g saturated fat), 55 mg sodium, 15 g carbs (0 g fiber, 13 g sugar), 5 g protein

Yasso Fudge Brownie Frozen Greek Yogurt Bars, available in-store only, Target

Yasso

Yasso Fudge Brownie Frozen Greek Yogurt Bars, available in-store only, Target

Per 1 bar (65 g): 100 calories, 1 g fat (0.5 g saturated fat), 60 mg sodium, 19 g carbs (0 g fiber, 13 g sugar), 5 g protein

Scrumptious side dishes made with frozen vegetables to make life easy.

Whether you’re working off of a meal plan or are flying by the seat of your pants, if you’re anything like me, you’re so focused on throwing together a main dish for dinner that you forget about a side dish until the last minute. Enter frozen vegetables, one of your kitchen’s best kept secrets. It doesn’t matter what time of year it is, you can always get your hands on a bag and serve up fresh side dishes made with frozen vegetables. Yes, for real: Frozen veggies can be good and, even better, they cook up fast. You just need the right cooking technique and recipe, like these 7 tasty finds.

Before we get started, if you’re nervous about using frozen vegetables, you might want to check out the primer on how to cook with frozen vegetables (top) from our friends at Food52. Though they are truly a lifesaver, frozen vegetables done wrong are a bad, bad thing. This guide will help you go beyond the recipes I’ve rounded up here so that you can use frozen veggies night after night to get you through a long winter of off-season produce.

Related: Get more veggies on the table with these kid friendly vegetarian recipes.

This 30-Minute Farro Fried Rice at Flavor the Moments is not made with rice, but rather uses farro as a base. Frozen veggies add great flavor and texture to this beautiful dish that takes about 30 minutes to prepare. Throw some meat on the grill while you’re making this and you’ve got a well-rounded dinner with protein, grains and veggies in no time.

Humble frozen peas are downright magical in this recipe for Cilantro, Frozen Pea, and Pistachio Hummus at Peas and Crayons. The best of all frozen vegetables (maybe even better than their fresh counterpart), peas turn plain hummus into something really fabulous in this recipe that you are definitely going to want to try. Serve this with a store-bought rotisserie chicken and pita bread to make a quick dinner with laid-back Mediterranean flair.

If you’d like to use peas in a more traditional side dish, you can’t get more delicious than this Pea and Bacon Panzanella with Warm Vinaigrette by Phyllis Grant at Food52. Fresh, tangy, smoky, and vibrant, this dish has it all. Plus, it’s veggies and bread in one bite. All you need to go with this is a simple protein on the side.

Related:8 family-friendly zucchini recipes with major kid appeal.

While at Peas and Crayons, you should also check out this recipe for Garlic Butter Edamame. It may sound all fancy-like, but it’s actually quite simple to prepare with just a few basic ingredients, including frozen edamame. Bonus: This also makes a great weekend snack and even a healthy game-time munch.

If you’re looking for a lot of flavor bang for your cooking buck, this Quick Indian-Style Spinach and Chickpeas at our editor Stacie’s site, One Hungry Mama, is a great option. While you need lots of wonderful ground, dry spices for this recipe, the preparation is quick and the results are heavenly.

This Pesto Tortellini Soup at my website, This Week for Dinner, is one of my favorite go-to recipes and is perfect as an appetizer or even a light vegetarian dinner with some crusty bread (maybe even spread with tasty roasted garlic—mmm). This is seriously easy and, when I served it to guests recently, one of our friends even commented on how delicious the vegetables were. Frozen veggies for the win!

Related: 6 mouthwatering no-cook pasta sauce recipes for beyond summer.

Believe it or not, you can roast frozen veggies. This recipe for Roasted Frozen Vegetables at Jessica N. Wood gives you the lowdown on how to get it done right. This is one of those “toss it on the pan and walk away” recipes that I pretty much live for.

Tags: appetizers, dinner, dinner help, easy recipes, healthy eating, quick recipes, side dishes, vegetables, winter

Tags: appetizers, dinner, dinner help, easy recipes, healthy eating, quick recipes, side dishes, vegetables, winter

When it comes to finding better-for-you items in the frozen-food aisle, it can be tough to determine what’s what. Jackie London, registered dietitian, author of “Dressing on the Side (and Other Diet Myths Debunked)” and Nutrition Director at Good Housekeeping joins TODAY to show us her favorite frozen-food picks as well as top tips to help you make the healthiest and most nutritious choices.

Many frozen items will seem like nutritious choices, but their ingredients tell a different story. The biggest problem I see when it comes to frozen meals is that everything looks just great from a nutrition standpoint, but the picture on the packaging is triple the size of what’s in the box (and therefore, too small or too low in calories to actually fill you up and keep you satisfied). So, here are our top supermarket shopping tips for the frozen aisle, plus some Good Housekeeping Institute Nutrition Lab Taste-Test Winners (and Runners-Up) we love.

Frozen Food Shopping Tips

2. Look for meals that pack a good combo of protein and fiber (goal of at least 4 grams each) from veggies and prioritize plant-based protein and seafood.

3. In packaged or frozen meals, aim for under 500 milligrams of sodium (aim for <20% daily value of sodium).

4. Choose snacks that include a veggie or fruit in the box (less work to get little ones to eat after-school veggies if it’s already provided for you … and delicious!).

Best Breakfast You Can Eat with 1 Hand

Winner: Sweet Earth’s Get Focused Breakfast Burrito, $4, Instacart

Breakfast is tricky, so having morning meals on hand that are quick to prepare are crucial. The ingredients in Sweet Earth’s breakfast burrito may sound like they’re too healthy to get the whole family on board, but these were a star top-taste-tested pick and features a combo of nutrient-packed ingredients, like farro, kale and plant-based protein. It’s one of the only breakfast burritos out there that satisfies on the flavor-front and satisfies our nutritional criteria, albeit, a little higher in saturated fat (4 grams per serving), but since it’s beyond satisfying, you won’t need to supplement with additional items — it’s got everything you need with 320 calories, 18 grams of protein and 7 grams of fiber, and just 430 milligrams of sodium without sacrificing flavor (the smokiness in there is from Gouda cheese!).

Runner-up: Amy’s Gluten Free Tofu Scramble Breakfast Wrap, $3, Target

Amy’s breakfast wraps (and breakfast burritos) are both old standbys in our kitchens (both the gluten-free version and the traditional version have met our rigorous standards — and palates — in taste tests!). The tofu breakfast scramble is packed with flavor, filled with hearty ingredients and loaded with veggies. Trust us, you won’t notice that there’s no meat in the mix — tofu is the first ingredient in each burrito, packing in about 11 grams of plant-based protein — and provides a hearty breakfast you can pair with a piece of fruit for a little extra fiber in your morning meal.

Best On-the-Go Brunch

Winner: Healthy Choice Power Morning Unwrapped Burrito Bowl, $5, Instacart

Healthy Choice’s Power Morning Unwrapped Burrito Bowl is as delicious as it is nutritious. It’s basically a whole burrito served up for a fast, easy breakfast or nutrient-packed lunch and it only takes just a few minutes in the microwave. The unwrapped burrito version is packed with veggies, and you can add in extras from leftover sautés or salads that you’ve got on hand at home (and bring to the office). It’s higher in fiber (with 12 grams) and packs in 9 grams of protein (which becomes 17 grams of protein with an extra egg!).

Runner-up: Evol Creamy Basil Veggie Bowl, $5, Instacart

Evol Creamy Basil Veggie Bowl is an all-in-one omelet-in-a-bowl (that turns into breakfast in 3½ minutes in the microwave (or 40 minutes in the oven). While this one’s a little heavy on the cheese and cream (it has 6 grams of saturated fat per serving, about 30% of your daily value), it’s super filling for just 240 calories, so you’ll fill up from a hearty omelet that packs 12 grams of protein and 3 grams of filling fiber.

Top Swap for Toast

Winner: Kashi Whole-Grain Waffles, $4, Amazon Fresh

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Made from a flour blend of seven whole grains, Kashi Whole-Grains Waffles, 7 Grain and Whole-Grain with Blueberries, are filled with fiber and protein, and serve as a fun alternative to traditional toast. Both the plain and the blueberry versions pack 7 grams of fiber (the blueberry uses wild blueberries, which is unique — they have a short-season during the summer, so frozen is a great bet!) and just 3 grams of sugar for two waffles. Swap for sandwich bread with eggs on your way out the door, or top with nut butter (2 tablespoons), a sprinkling of cinnamon and chocolate chips.

Runner-up: Van’s 8 Whole Grains, $3, Amazon Fresh

Van’s’ 8 Whole Grains version is similar in taste profile and provides multi-flavor options. Bonus: they’re gluten-free alternatives are tasty and nutritious — which is tough to find in gluten-free griddle cakes!

Top Taco Tuesday Pick

Winner: Love the Wild Baja Style Fish Taco Bowl, $6, Target

If you’re one of the (nearly) 3 million people who’ve posted a #tacotuesdsay dinner pic, Love the Wild’s Baja Style Fish Taco Bowl is your new Insta-worthy “cooking” companion. These ready-to-heat-and-eat bowls are an all-in-one combo of deliciousness — and they’re ready to serve in just five minutes in the microwave.

These come with an automatic taco-element built-in (the corn tortilla is already in the bowl!) so you’ll enjoy a protein-packed meal that’s full of flavor (with 5 grams of fiber and 16 grams of protein) with every bite. The combo of whole grains and sustainable fish (barramundi) will fill you up fast for just 320 calories per bowl. And while it’s a touch higher in sodium than we’d like (25% of your daily value), it packs key minerals (potassium, magnesium, calcium, and 80% of your daily value for iron) which will help to offset the higher salt content. Plus, it’s portable — which makes it an easy-to-eat option for workday lunches.

Runner-up: Love the Wild’s Rainbow Trout Salsa Seafood Kit, available in-store only, select Whole Foods locations

Runner-up: Love the Wild’s Rainbow Trout Salsa Seafood Kit, available in-store only, select Whole Foods locations

Love the Wild’s Rainbow Trout Salsa Seafood Kit is a ready-to-cook meal in a box. Try it with corn tortillas, like Mission, for a nutrient-packed meal that’s mess free and packs in 23 grams of protein (and under 300 milligrams of sodium!) per serving.

Best for a Weeknight Pizza Party

Winner: Green Giant Cauliflower Pizza Crust, $5, Amazon Fresh

Not all cauliflower-crusts/snacks/meals are created equal, but Green Giant Cauliflower Pizza Crust is among the most nutritious products you can find (it’s even earned our Good Housekeeping Nutritionist Approved Emblem for its simple, nutrient-dense ingredients!).

Made from a mix of cauliflower and corn flour, the ingredients are light in texture and serve as a perfect base for a healthy, hassle-free dinner that’s packed with — and primed for — produce. The crust itself is 80% cauliflower (and has 50% fewer calories than traditional pizza crust — a mere 160 per half pie!), and is tastiest when topped with fresh tomatoes, mozzarella and loads of veggies (think: spinach, broccoli, mushrooms, peppers), plus any protein (like grilled shrimp or chicken if that’s your bag — though it’s a stellar vegetarian-friendly option, too!).

Since the base is lower in calories, you can load ’em up with veggies, sprinkle some cheese and low-sodium sauce and make yourself a personal pizza — or, use it as a base for a family-friendly meal, party app (cut into eighths), or serve the Tuscan version solo and use it as a healthier swap for pita bread with dip.

Runner-up: 365 Cauliflower Pizza Crust, $6, Amazon Fresh

365 Cauliflower Pizza Crust purees mozzarella into the crust — which makes it a more filling option in its own right (1/2 the crust is 220 calories and packs in 12 grams of protein).

Pasta Bowl #Goals

Winner: Bird’s Eye Steamfresh 100% Vegetable Penne with Olive Oil, $5, Amazon Fresh

Another super-simple base for any meal: Bird’s Eye Steamfresh 100% Vegetable Penne with Olive Oil which is made from lentil flour. These higher-protein, higher-fiber pastas are a great base for any meal — just add in a heap of stir-fried veggies and you’ll have a protein-packed dinner on the table in less than 10 minutes, that’s loaded with 10 grams per serving. You can add protein to these, too — but you may want to go smaller on the serving size since the 10 grams of protein per 1¼ cup serving makes them satisfying on their own. Serve with a side salad and you’ve got an easy, delicious meal that’s lower in calories and cost (compared to takeout).

Runner-up: Luvo’s Roasted Cauliflower Mac n’ Cheese, $4, Target

Luvo’s Roasted Cauliflower Mac n’ Cheese is another veggie-heavy pasta alternative that’s creamy, cheesy flavor for 340 calories and only 380 milligrams of sodium (that’s lower than most other brands!). Plus, the pasta’s made from brown rice pasta, making the whole meal gluten-free.

Winner, Winner, Chicken-Finger Dinner

Winner: Tyson Naturals Lightly Breaded Chicken Breast Strips, $9, Amazon Fresh

If the key to life is compromise, then consider these Tyson Naturals Lightly Breaded Chicken Breast Strips your new side-kick. They have a similar consistency as chicken tenders you’d order at a restaurant, but since they’re lightly breaded, the coating is minimal, so you’ll get that crispy deliciousness without loads of saturated fat and calories from refined carbs you’d find in the standard versions that are deep-fried in oil. They’re made from chicken breast and are an easy family favorite: A 3-ounce serving packs in just 1.5 grams saturated fat per 16 grams of protein.

Runner-up: Perdue Simply Smart Lightly Breaded Chicken Breast Strips, $9, Amazon Fresh

Perdue Simply Smart Lightly Breaded Chicken Breast Strips are also made with all-white meat chicken and have 25% fewer calories compared to their original (aka heavily breaded) version.

Hot for Tots

Winner: Dr. Praeger’s Carrot Puffs, $60 for six 9-ounce boxes, Amazon

There’s a whopping 45% of your daily value for vitamin A in just one serving of Dr. Praeger’s Carrot Puffs — carrots are the first ingredient — but they taste just like tater tots (I think they’re even more flavorful, actually!). Plus, they’re packed with 6 grams of fiber per 13-piece serving, making for a veggie-packed snack or side dish you can serve with just about anything.

Runners-up: Green Giant Cauliflower Veggie Tots, $4, Amazon Fresh

Garden Lites Superfood Veggie Cakes, $5, Target

Green Giant Broccoli or Cauliflower Veggie Tots are another nutritious tater-tot upgrade, and Garden Lites Superfood Veggie Cakes are perfect for after-school snacks or pre-dinner apps. They’re made from a blend of veggies (including zucchini, squash, broccoli, cauliflower and kale), plus egg whites and brown rice to make for a small-but-satisfying savory bite.

Dessert on a Stick

Winner: Diana’s Bananas’ Banana Babies, $3, Amazon Fresh

Is there really anything better than chocolate-covered fruit? Diana’s Bananas’ Banana Babies come in two forms — bite-sized and on-a-stick, which turns them from car snacks (for family road trips) to an after-dinner dessert (or even a late night treat!). Bananas are a great snack in their own right (they’ve got potassium and magnesium, which is crucial for blood pressure), but when covered in chocolate, they’re even more delicious and decadent.

Runner-up: Dole Dippers, $4, Amazon Fresh

Dole Dippers provide similar fruit-based treats, and you can choose from banana, pineapple and strawberry versions, all of which are coated in chocolaty goodness.

Low-Sodium Frozen Meals: 10 Healthy Microwave Meals

Are you eating too much sodium?

Americans eat more than 3,400 milligrams of sodium per day on average, according to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). That’s 1,000 mg more than the USDA’s daily recommended value for healthy adults and nearly 2,000 mg more than the American Heart Association recommends for optimal heart health. The FDA recommends that healthy adults eat less than 2,300 mg of sodium a day or about 1 teaspoon, and yet the average American eats 5 or more teaspoons each day.

A high sodium intake can increase your risk of developing high blood pressure and heart disease. While eating less sodium is widely recommended for people already diagnosed with high blood pressure and heart disease, a low sodium diet can also help lower the risk of stroke, heart attack, and other cardiovascular conditions for healthy adults, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Learn more: 8 low-sodium, heart-healthy foods >>

Because blood pressure typically rises with age, reducing sodium intake may be particularly important for older adults. Reducing daily sodium intake to 1,500 mg lowers blood pressure even more than the general 2,300 mg recommendation, according to the FDA.

Chances are, you are eating more sodium than you know. Where is all of that sodium coming from? It’s not the saltshaker on the table. Restaurant, processed, and prepackaged foods like frozen meals account for more than 75 percent of the sodium that Americans eat. Sodium is widely used in packaged foods to preserve, thicken, or enhance flavor. Even foods that don’t taste salty may have high levels of sodium.

What to look for

Not all frozen meals are created equal. A single slice of frozen pizza can pack a whopping 370 to 730 mg of sodium and more than 300 calories. Many meals have more sodium and fat than you should eat in the entire day.

Read more: 10 seemingly healthy foods that can make you fat >>

The Cleveland Clinic recommends you look for frozen meals that have less than 600 mg of sodium, less than 500 calories, and less than 3 grams of saturated fat. Be careful to avoid “empty calories,” or meals that are low in protein, vitamins, and minerals. Meals packed with vegetables and whole grains will keep you full longer and have a higher nutritional value. Avoid meals with added sugar and high fat content.

10 healthy options

1. Amy’s Light in Sodium Black Bean Vegetable Enchilada

Made with organic tortillas, black beans, and vegetables, this gluten-free, vegan meal has 190 mg of sodium and 160 calories per serving.

2. Luvo Steel Cut Oatmeal with Quinoa and Mixed Fruit

Look forward to getting out of bed in the morning. Luvo’s steel cut oatmeal is packed with heart-healthy fiber and protein to keep you full longer. It has only 120 mg of sodium and 260 calories in the entire package.

3. Ian’s Fish Sticks Family Pack

Who said fish sticks were just for kids? These allergy-friendly fish sticks are made with sustainable Alaska Pollock, and they are free of gluten, dairy, nuts, soy, eggs, and wheat.

With 190 calories and 170 mg of sodium per serving, you don’t have to feel guilty for eating some too.

4. Whole Foods’ 365 Organic Quinoa with Vegetables

Perfect as a side dish or main course, this quinoa has only 10 mg of sodium and 140 calories per serving. Made with organic quinoa, zucchini, and sweet potato, this frozen meal is high in iron, potassium, and vitamin A.

5. Luvo Organic Roasted Eggplant and Quinoa Burrito

Organic vegetables and quinoa are wrapped in a flaxseed tortilla for a healthy, nutrient-dense meal. The entire burrito has 270 calories, 270 mg of sodium, and 10 grams of protein.

6. Ian’s French Toast Sticks

Take your breakfast on the go with these French toast sticks. Made without common allergens like wheat, diary, and eggs, each serving has 120 mg of sodium and 270 calories.

7. Amy’s Light in Sodium Shepherd’s Pie

Forget trying to portion out a tiny frozen meal. This hearty vegan shepherd’s pie has only 160 calories and 290 mg of sodium in the entire package. Amy’s organic vegetables are covered in creamy mashed potatoes for a low-fat, healthy twist on the classic.

8. Sukhi’s Samosas and Chutney

Sukhi’s samosas and chutney bring home a taste of India. The award-winning potato samosas come with cilantro chutney for a delicious side dish or snack. The sharable dish has 190 calories and 300 mg of sodium per serving.

9. Trader Joe’s Thai Sweet Chili Veggie Burger

Pair Trader Joe’s Thai Sweet Chili Veggie Burger with a lettuce wrap for a filling, healthy entrée at 150 calories and 270 mg of sodium.

10. Lean Cuisine Pepperoni Snack Pizza

Satisfy your craving with Lean Cuisine’s snack pizza. At 300 mg of sodium and 210 calories per serving, this snack is best shared.

The takeaway

With a quick look at the nutrition facts and ingredients, you can choose a healthy, heart-friendly meal from the freezer isle.

To find heart-healthy frozen meals, the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center recommends looking for low-sodium varieties with less than 300 mg per serving and no more than 500 calories. Depending on your sodium intake the rest of the day, you may be able to increase your intake to 600 mg per frozen meal and still meet your daily sodium goal. Ignore the percent daily value of sodium on the nutrition label and instead focus on the total milligrams in each serving.

Be sure to always read the nutrition facts to avoid hidden sodium in packed and frozen foods. Packages that say “reduced sodium” or “25 percent less sodium” may still be high in sodium. Always check the milligrams in each serving and how many servings are in a package to avoid eating excess sodium. Ingredients like salt, sodium bicarbonate (baking soda), sodium nitrite, sodium benzoate, and monosodium glutamate (MSG) all contribute added sodium and are included in the total milligrams.

9 Nutritionist-Approved Frozen Meals That Actually Taste Good

I’m sure we’d all like to say we cook dinner from scratch every night, but there are days where that’s just not going to happen without some help. We need something quick and tasty—and something a little healthier than pizza delivery or fast food. This is when the idea of a frozen meal sounds ideal, but I’ve struggled to find a dish whose taste and nutrition label I cared for.

But things are slowly changing in the freezer case, because there’s a handful of new brands whose focus seems to be on higher-quality ingredients—which makes finding a balance between good taste and nutrition easier to find. Check out these 9 frozen meal options (some new, some old) that got the seal of approval from dietitians and taste testers.

Wildscape Cilantro Lime Chicken With Charred Corn Salsa, Freekeh, Black Beans, and Avocado Mojo Verde

The Wildscape brand is new and seems to emphasize quality ingredients (like EVOO, roasted corn, roasted bell peppers, and a chimichurri-like herb paste in this one). The result is that the dish tastes and looks like a meal I might have cooked at home and reheated for lunch the next day. In fact, the grain bowl is about as far from the frozen meal stereotype as you can get. The serving size is generous, and the fiber (12g) from the whole-grain freekeh and black beans made it filling. Wildscape meals are a little pricier than the typical frozen meal, but the other perks made it worth the cost—and still cheaper than a meal out.

  • Serving size: 1 container
  • Calories 400; Fat 14g (sat 3g); Protein 21g; Carb 53g; Fiber 12g; Sugars 7g; Sodium 610mg
  • Dairy-free

Trader Joe’s Vegetarian Fried Rice

Vegetarian Fried Rice from Trader Joe’s is the go-to frozen meal for Sacramento-based dietitian Jordan Mitchell, MS, RD. “This veggie-packed fried rice always hits the spot for me, especially when I add a scrambled egg to the mix,” says Mitchell. She also adds that it comes together in minutes, making this meal ideal for when she’s when crammed for time. Bonus: it’s almost half the calories of the fried rice at Panda Express. Add an egg or two like Mitchell, or toss in some shelled edamame for a plant-based protein boost.

Rising Moon Organic Spinach and Cheese Ravioli

“My favorite frozen product” is how Jessica Ivey, RDN, LDN described these ravioli, and after trying them, I get why! Even though the pasta isn’t made with whole grains, the ingredient list reads like a pasta recipe you might make at home: organic wheat flour, organic eggs, Parmesan cheese, and so on. “I keep these on hand for a quick meal when my menu planning falls short,” says Ivey, who says she adds a homemade or low-sodium jarred marinara, along with a few handfuls of baby spinach, to the cooked pasta for a quick meatless meal that everyone in her house loves.

  • Serving size: 1 cup
  • Calories 200; Fat 3.5g (sat 2g); Protein 7g; Carb 36g; Fiber 2g; Sugars 1g; Sodium 300mg
  • Vegetarian

Trader Joe’s Mandarin Orange Chicken

When you’re craving Asian takeout, try this Trader Joe’s bagged meal that Dallas-based registered dietitian Robin Plotkin swears by: “It tastes as close to takeout Chinese as I’ve ever found” says Plotkin. Acknowledging that the nutrition facts aren’t that impressive, she thinks it’s a healthier alternative to takeout. The dish has a sweet orange-soy glaze, but the sodium is low and added sugars are kept at a minimum. Plotkin says she serves with a salad and brown rice to bump up the veggies and fiber.

  • Serving size: 1 cup
  • Calories 320; Fat 16g (sat 3.5g); Protein 21g; Carb 24g; Fiber 1g; Sugars 6g; Sodium 330mg
  • Dairy-free

Amy’s Kitchen Light in Sodium Mexican Casserole Bowl

Bailee Hart, RDN says this bowl is one of her favorite frozen meals, and it was also a favorite two years ago in a frozen food taste test among Cooking Light editors. It’s a mixture of black beans, corn, and olives in a lightly spiced tomato sauce that’s then topped with a thick corn masa layer and sprinkled with cheese. Hart likes that this version has 50% less sodium, but still plenty of flavor, and recommends pairing it with fresh fruit for a quick lunch. This dish is also sold as a larger casserole, which can make a quick family dinner. Serve the casserole in a bowl with a diced avocado, or over a bed of lettuce with fresh tomatoes.

Newman’s Own Margherita Thin and Crispy Pizza

Some nights call for pizza, and this is the pizza I keep in my freezer for those times. It’s another frozen food that I discovered in taste tests two years ago, and I still haven’t found one to top its taste or nutrition. The pie has a perfect ratio of fresh tomato to cheese, and the tomatoes tasted like they were chopped just before the pizza hit the oven. The thin multigrain crust has a crisp, nutty flavor thanks to flaxseed and whole oat flour, and the tomato sauce is light—something that helps bring out the cheese and basil flavor.

  • Serving size: ⅓ of pizza
  • Calories 280; Fat 12g (sat 4.5g); Protein 12g; Carb 31g; Fiber 3g; Sugars 2g; Sodium 650mg
  • Vegetarian

Red’s Chicken and Riced Cauliflower

One of the only frozen prepared cauliflower rice meals I’ve seen, this southwestern dish is packed with flavor thanks to tomatillos, roasted corn, grilled chicken and white cheddar cheese. The “rice” isn’t mushy, and actually has a rice-like texture. In fact, I almost forgot that I was eating cauliflower and not a grain. Pair with a green salad, veggies or fruit to complete the meal, and top it with diced avocado or a dollop of guacamole and salsa.

Dr. Praeger’s Huevos Rancheros Breakfast Bowl

Need a hearty breakfast in less than 5 minutes? Try this breakfast bowl made with black beans, egg whites, corn tortillas and cheese that’s a favorite of NYC-based dietitian Natalie Rizzo, MS, RD. She describes the meal as “a Mexican brunch” that provides 14g protein and only 450mg sodium. “This hearty bowl is full of protein and fiber to keep me full all morning” says Rizzo. Want to bump the protein up a little more? Rizzo suggests adding an extra cooked egg.

  • Serving size: 1 bowl
  • Calories 270; Fat 7g (sat 3g); Protein 14g; Carb 37g; Fiber 6g; Sugars 3g; Sodium 450mg
  • Vegetarian, gluten-free

Blake’s All-Natural Shepherd’s Pie

Not only is Shepherd’s Pie a dish that I don’t each much, but beef and mashed potatoes aren’t foods that typically freeze well—meaning this isn’t a frozen meal I would typically pick up. So to say I was pleasantly surprised would be an understatement. In fact, I’ve bought it several times since. The mashed potatoes are as good as homemade—fluffy and with real butter flavor—and the ground beef tastes tender and high quality. Pair with steamed veggies or salad for a quick, made-from-scratch tasting comfort meal.

5. Reynaldo’s Jumbo Burritos

Via Instacart

Reynaldo’s Jumbo Burritos are a strong choice. The flavor is nearing a boldness that leaves you satisfied. They’re also legit big (10 ounces), meaning you’ll be full from eating just one. That’s a win when it comes to frozen burritos.

Best Flavor: Beef and Potato — adding potato is a nice change-up in the frozen burrito game.

4. Jose Ole Burritos

Via Instagram

It’s hard to beat Jose Ole’s Burritos, especially if we’re talking their chimichanga line. The filling is a distinct blend of meat, beans, spices, and cheese and you can still feel each ingredient’s presence. This is a solid choice to have on hand in your freezer for quick lunches or late night “snacks.”

Best Flavor: Steak and Cheese Chimichanga — the crispy flour tortilla counterpointed against the gooey cheese is a flavor bomb.

3. Amy’s Kitchen Burritos

Via Instagram

Amy’s Kitchen Burritos are probably the closest frozen burrito you will get to a fresh tasting burrito. It’s all organic, well-made, and damn tasty. Amy’s Kitchen followed the golden rule of “keep it simple but make it good” and it paid off with a very solid frozen burrito option.

Best Flavor: Classic Beans and Rice — it’s simple and tasty and shines with a nice hot sauce for dabbing.

2. Tina’s Burritos

Via Instagram

It’s hard to argue with Tina’s Burritos. They’re exactly what you want in a great frozen burrito: Reddish meat and bean mush, cheesy goodness, and plenty of heat all wrapped up in a soft flour tortilla. This is the choice from a late night convenience store that’ll never leave you wanting.

I Tried 11 Frozen Breakfast Burritos And This Is The Best One

Who doesn’t like a breakfast burrito? They’re portable, contain all the nutrients you could possibly need from a single meal, and, most importantly, are very tasty. Taking the platform of a burrito and shifted it into the breakfast space? That’s disruption, baby. I’m lucky enough to live near several high-quality mom-and-pop Mexican spots, but only one of them offers a breakfast burrito. It’s really good, and so is their iced coffee, but it’s about the same price as a lunch or dinner burrito. Since I mostly work from home, I’ve taken to making myself breakfast tacos and burritos once or twice a week, but I’m also very lazy, so I was interested in finding out what the frozen burrito market offered breakfast-wise. After schlepping around, I found 11 different breakfast burritos. Here are the results if the taste test, ranked from worst to best.

11. Engine 2 Plant-Strong Organic Potato and Green Chili Squarito Burrito

The first thing that jumps out is the cooking instructions, which is never a good sign. “Remove packaging. Wrap burrito in soaking wet paper towel.” Cook on high, flip halfway through, etc, etc. This leads to a hot, wet paper towel that needs to be peeled off before you’re supposed to let the burrito stand/cool for a couple of minutes. Fresh out of the microwave and un-blanketed by sopping-wet Brawny, you’re left with a soggy-looking burrito that feels more like a banana leaf, making it more of a breakfast tamale, really. The “burrito” itself, which is dairy-free (“Kale Yeah,” their website puns), doesn’t get any less soggy after cooling, but has a pretty nice kick thanks to the green chili. Mostly the inside is potato puree, but there’s corn, too. I’m not sure if this is a breakfast burrito, honestly. It’s vegan though, and available at Whole Foods, so if you’re vegan, this one is worth a look, but there are better vegan options available.

10. Good Food Made Simple Uncured Bacon

The potatoes are much chunkier than in the other ones that I tried before it, meaning each bite was a little more on the crispy side than the mushy side. The peppers are a lot bigger, too (adding to crunch), but not too hot or spicy, and give the burrito a smoky flavor. Unfortunately, the cheese is a little bland and the bacon is unnoticeable. The tortilla’s fine.

9. Sweet Earth The Big Sur Breakfast Burrito (Vegan)

This Sweet Earth burrito also smells great. Unlike the Protein Lover’s burrito, which had a whole-grain tortilla, this one is flour, giving it more of the burrito texture you know and love when you bite into it. However, since there’s no sauce or cheese-like substance inside the burrito, it’s a little dry in my humble opinion. Offsetting that, there’s some kick from the peppers, but the seasoned tofu and seitan don’t really add much more than the sensation of chewing through something that came off a pig or cow. It’s densely packed though, so you at least get a lot of the rather bland filling.

8. Evol Spicy Uncured Bacon, Roasted Potato, Jalapeno, and Cheddar Cheese Burrito

The first thing I noticed about this one was that it has a very appealing smell—like something that comes wrapped in foil out of a food truck or big cart. That’s a plus. The instructions don’t mention wrapping the tortilla in a paper towel or anything before cooking, so it’s very hot out of the microwave, even after cooling for a couple of minutes. The tortilla is very soft and the jalapenos are subtle, but noticeable—same with the bacon. The potatoes, though, are really mushy, more of a paste. It’s on the smaller side, but still very filling.

7. Good Food Made Simple Chicken Apple Sausage Breakfast Burrito

The tortilla smells very fresh right out of the microwave. The cheddar cheese is stronger than in other burritos and is the dominant flavor overall. Neither the peppers or the salsa provide much of a kick, but do provide some added texture as the potatoes and sausage are mushy, except the last bite which for whatever reason had a big chunk of sausage in it. As far as these things go, this one’s not bad at all.

6. Evol Lean & Fit

This one has a whole wheat tortilla, so it’s a little tougher to chew, but the filling makes up for that. There’s a lot of flavor from the gouda and onions (melted cheese solves most problems). Since it’s under Evol’s Lean & Fit sub-brand, there are about 75 fewer calories for it than the brand’s other burritos. Given that and it’s relatively exceptional taste, this is one of the best frozen breakfast burritos out there.

5. Sweet Earth Get Focused!

Smells great! A little soggy out of the gate. This one comes in a whole grain tortilla, but the sogginess mitigates the wrap’s chewiness. Like the other Sweet Earth options (according to their website, there are several more, but I have not tried them), this one is densely packed, and is in fact the only one where the tortilla split along its side during a bite. That said, the filling is good. The peas provide a bit of a crunch, and the meatless Tuscan grounds are the dominant protein here so their seasoning is much more noticeable. Coupled with the smoked gouda, there’s just more flavor here than in some of the other ones, and since it has kale in it, I don’t feel like a complete trash person for eating it. I wouldn’t be embarrassed to have one of these again. Its promotional copy also promises to “defog your morning brain,” but the ingredients don’t list dexedrine, so I don’t really know what that claim means.

4. Good Food Made Simple Sriracha Scramble

I found these at Target, so there’s a good chance the Target near you has them in stock. The tortilla became a little hardened from the microwave, but was much softer after the first few bites. It’s not super spicy, in fact there’s barely a kick. While it doesn’t taste bland, it’s as if the different ingredients are all speaking over each other. The melted cheese and avocado make each bite very smooth, but everything else seems to have the same consistency. It’s certainly not bad, and pretty good when taken into account that it’s one of the few vegetarian options that can be found at a chain store.

3. Amy’s Kitchen Breakfast Burrito

It’s worth noting that the Amy’s Kitchen brand was the most common brand that I found in my search (21 stores spread over two evenings spent in a host of different neighborhoods in Brooklyn). It’s abundance gave me some hope that it would the surprise best burrito. It wasn’t the best one, but it was, of the three sampled, easily the best vegan option. The flour tortilla was still pretty soggy after the microwave/cooling period (the instructions called for placing it on a plate and covering it with another plate), but the salsa and beans mask the bland rubberiness of the tofu and the potatoes are diced into little cubes that provide some resistance to each bite. It’s the McDonald’s of frozen breakfast burritos, but McDonald’s is pretty good at what it does.

2. Sweet Earth Protein Lover’s Functional Breakfast Burrito

The packaging promises “all the flavor of a Meat Lover’s Pizza, without the meat,” which is quite the boast, but this bad-boy lives up to it. Out of the microwave, it passes the smell test as an aroma of pretty-legit-smelling fake bacon (Fake-on? Facon?) is immediately apparent. The burrito itself is densely packed, making it one of the most filling, and, honestly, the “Benevolent Bacon,” as its packing describes it, is on par with the bacon you’d find in the freezer aisle at the grocery. The “Savory Grounds” don’t have the same taste as crumbled ground beef, but the texture is identical, and they’ve been seasoned to a good degree. The potatoes are much less mushy than some of the other varieties of breakfast burrito that I sampled here, too, which is always a positive. My only complaint is that the cheddar cheese wasn’t more noticeable as that would have helped paper over the imitation meats. That said, it’s the best vegetarian option.

1. Evol Egg and Green Chile Burrito

It’s not listed on the package, but this one contains potatoes and pinto beans, which, really, are the tastiest beans you can get. So, with the chiles, you’re basically eating an egg, beans, and home-fries burrito, which is as good as it sounds. It is also a lot spicier than the aforementioned Sriracha Scramble and is wrapped in a flour tortilla, which just taste better in the frozen burrito format. I liked this one.

The vegetarian or vegan options taking the top five spots in my rankings was not something I expected when I started this exercise that will require some exercise to help me recover, but it makes sense as the meat used in these can’t possibly be that great. That said, if I’m hankering for a breakfast burrito and don’t have the requisite supplies in my fridge, I’ll bite the bullet and head over to the mom-and-pop shop that makes theirs with chorizo, but I’ll undoubtedly stop off at one or two stores along the way to see if they carry any of the frozen ones that are good.

There are a number of existential questions that reliably plague me whenever I find myself having a quiet moment alone. For instance: Am I taking full advantage of my brief time on earth? What awaits us all on the other side of this mortal coil? And, of course, who are the people who cook their frozen burritos in the oven instead of using the microwave?

Every few months or so, I buy a frozen burrito under more or less the same circumstances, though the decision is never premeditated. It happens because I’m harried from working late. I need instantaneous calories. My eyes are glassy, and my animal brain can only focus on the prospect of putting on my big T-shirt and watching a 2014 Dateline rerun. As I unwrap it, I always take pause at the preparation instructions, because the two alternatives presented are so wildly, hilariously divergent. You can either zap your frozen burrito in the microwave for a maximum of two minutes, or you can bake it in the oven for 55 minutes, a suggestion that reveals not only a fundamental misunderstanding of why someone would buy a frozen burrito in the first place but, I believe, a misplaced hope in humanity in general.

Still, those instructions are there for a reason. And when I requested for people who favored the oven method to reveal themselves, I was surprised by the flood of replies I received from not only strangers but also acquaintances and even friends (which goes to show, you can never really know someone). From there, I found that I could divide them into two distinct groups. First, people who don’t own a microwave, so oven cooking is their only option—which is reasonable enough. This leaves the people who own a microwave but choose to take the ultimate convenience food down the path of most resistance.

I would like to concede that I’m sure frozen burritos taste better after going in the oven than after the microwave. But why would I want to spend so much time preparing an item meant to be eaten in a hurry? Some, like Anne Sticksel, see the burrito’s lengthy oven-cooking time as a net benefit for their routine. “It is good because you can do other things while it cooks, like exercise and chores at home,” she told me. “Then I am done and I get a burrito.” Practical multi-tasking aside, who are the natural-born hedonists who seek to maximize their pleasure in any situation, including ones that involve a sad TV dinner? It was only upon hearing from them when I realized that perhaps it was I needed who needed to rethink my viewpoints on not only frozen burritos but also self-love, respect (for myself, and burritos), and the very nature of time itself. Some such life-changing sentiments include:

“Burritos are great! Just firing them up as quickly as possible and shoving them down your slophole essentially reduces burritos to unfancy Soylent. I think that’s worth avoiding!” — Andy Karas

“Gently baking a burrito, rather than harshly bombarding it with atomic rays or whatever arcane processes power microwaves, results in a superior product at only the insignificant cost of a minor delay. It requires no extra effort, merely a bit of forethought so that the baking process is initiated early enough that the finished product is ready to eat at the moment of peak hunger. Using an oven instead of a microwave elevates the humble burrito, improving on its taste, texture, and also by eliminating the risk that it will explode or leak out its burrito-guts in the microwave.” — Jeff Armand

Healthy frozen food meals

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