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Best Frozen Meals, According to Nutritionists

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Healthy frozen meals

According to Astute Analystica, a global analytics and advisory company, the global frozen food market anticipates growth from its current market of $254 billion to over $500 billion by 2030.

Why? According to its research, that’s partly because the “… busy lifestyles of individuals have led to a growing demand for ready to eat food products as they are instant, convenient, affordable and equally healthy alternatives to fresh food products.”

In other words, people are busy, but they want healthy and affordable food to eat. Enter: ready-made frozen meals. And let’s face it, whatever post-pandemic world we are in, we could all use some food prep relief in the kitchen, especially during the work week.

Next:Convenient and healthy meals

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Convenient and healthy meals

The food industry is cranking out healthy frozen meals that you can pop in the oven, microwave or quickly sauté on the cooktop. Another bonus: These meals can help reduce food waste, as you don’t have to buy a slew of ingredients to satisfy a recipe, while having to throw the unused portions of the ingredients in the trash.

If all of this isn’t motivation enough to start shopping down the frozen food aisle at the supermarket, here’s another incentive: Frozen meals can allow you to expand your taste palates with globally-inspired, culinary cuisines. These fully prepared meals allow you to awaken your taste buds to flavors from around the world without having to purchase a plane ticket. These African, Latin American, Asian and Indian heritage cuisines, which are all full of fruit, veggies, whole grains, along with lean protein foods and vegetables oils, are also receiving the seal of approval from in-the-know registered dietitian nutritionists and cardiologists for their health benefits.

Next:What to look for when choosing a frozen meal

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What to look for when choosing a frozen meal

If you’re ready to expand your culinary palate but are short on time, I’ve composed, with the help of my registered dietitian nutritionist colleagues, eight healthy frozen meals, with unique flavor profiles, for your cooking ease.

If you’re picking a frozen meal beyond this list, here are some tips to keep in mind:

  • Make sure it contains adequate calories for a meal. Otherwise, consider enhancing the meal with healthy sides or stretching it with an addition or two. Feel free to add some veggies, dairy and whole-grain sides to boost the nutrition at the meal. Here are some ideas.
  • Check the Nutrition Fact Panel for the amount of heart-unhealthy, saturated fat content per serving. If a meal provides 20% or more of the daily value for saturated fat, it’s considered high in this fat. Adjust the saturated fat at your other meals intake at your other meals accordingly.

Next:Nutrisystem’s Asian-Style Salmon With Pasta

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Credit

(Courtesy Nutrisystem)

Nutrisystem’s Asian-Style Salmon With Pasta

This is my favorite for multiple reasons. This savory dish delivers a boatload of protein (31 grams), which is more than 60% of the recommended daily value and includes a colorful medley of carrots, peppers and edamame, which help deliver 5 grams of fiber (18% DV) in each serving. DV is the recommended amount of a nutrient to consume daily. The % DV is how much of that nutrient is found in a single serving of food.

The salmon also provides some heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids. Here’s the best part: I order these babies from Nutrisystem online or over the phone so they’re delivered to my doorstep. That’s what I call one-stop healthy shopping.

(Full disclosure: I’m a consultant with Nutrisystem, but I’d order these anyway.)

Next:Healthy Choice Greek Style Chicken Power Bowl

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Healthy Choice Greek Style Chicken Power Bowl

Kathleen Zelman, a Georgia-based nutritionist who’s founder of No Nonsense Nutrition and co-host of the podcast True Health Revealed, is a fan of this bowl as it’s full of vegetables, including cauliflower rice, simmered in a delicious vinaigrette.

She often adds a handful of chopped nuts or leftover vegetables to the low-carb bowl to increase calories and satiety. It’s healthy, has 20 grams of protein and only 170 calories. It’s a winner.

Next:Saffron Road Chicken Tikka Masala With Basmati Rice

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Credit

(Courtesy Saffron Road)

Saffron Road Chicken Tikka Masala With Basmati Rice

Next:Chef Bombay Beef Vindaloo

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Chef Bombay Beef Vindaloo

According to Nicole Rodriguez, a registered dietitian and certified personal trainer who resides in the metro New York area, the flavor of this frozen meal rivals that of the vindaloo at her favorite local restaurant but can be had in less time and at significant savings to her wallet.

She loves the beef, ginger and cilantro infused flavor. Here’s the best part: It serves up only 15% DV of heart-unhealthy, saturated fat so there’s room to spare at other meals. Plus it offers 19% of your DV of iron. She rounds out this savory meal with leftover veggies.

Next:Sweet Earth’s Curry Tiger Bowl

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Sweet Earth’s Curry Tiger Bowl

This East Asian bowl, featuring curried lentils, sweet potatoes, broccoli, carrots and brown rice, seasoned with cinnamon, cardamon and turmeric, is an easy vegetarian lunch for Vandana Sheth, a registered dietitian nutritionist based in the Los Angeles area and expert reviewer for U.S. News.

The lentils help provide legumes in your diet. While the recommendation is for adults to consume two cups of legumes weekly, most of us don’t even come close to this amount. This meal can help.

Next:Amy’s Pad Thai

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Credit

Courtesy Amy’s Kitchen, Inc.

Amy’s Pad Thai

Amy Gorin, a plant-based dietitian and owner of Master the Media, follows a gluten-free diet so this meal is prepared without wheat-containing soy sauce. Bonus points: It’s also dairy free, lactose free, vegan and kosher.

She adds a tossed salad with a ginger dressing for a Thai-themed dinner.

Next:Deep Indian Kitchen Chickpea Masala

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Credit

Courtesy Deep Indian Foods

Deep Indian Kitchen Chickpea Masala

When a chef recommends a flavorful frozen meal, I know she’s on to something. Chef and registered dietitian nutritionist Abbie Gellman enjoys this vegan frozen delight.

Chickpeas are the primary source of not only the protein, but also provides most of the 50% DV of fiber, a ridiculously high amount for one meal. According to Gellman, she loves this brand of frozen meals because they always use whole ingredients, spices and herbs.

Next:Tortilla Crusted Fish by Lean Cuisine

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Credit

Courtesy Nestlé S.A.

Tortilla Crusted Fish by Lean Cuisine

While the latest recommendation is that adults consume at least 8 ounces of seafood weekly, on average, we’re consuming only about half of the amount.

That’s why Lauren Harris-Pincus, founder of NutritionStarringYOU.com and author of “The Everything Easy Pre-Diabetes Cookbook,” enjoys this tasty, Mexican-inspired fish dish that is made with a mix of corn, poblano peppers and rice. This savvy RDN serves it on top of a cup of steamed frozen veggies, such as broccoli, cauliflower or green beans, to soak up the extra sauce and add another serving of Mother Nature’s finest.

Another bonus: This meal is actually modest in sodium with only 440 milligrams. And the Alaska pollock is a good source of important heart-healthy omega-3s. 

Next:Healthiest Frozen Meals:

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Healthiest Frozen Meals:

  • Nutrisystem’s Asian-Style Salmon With Pasta.
  • Healthy Choice Greek Style Chicken Power Bowl.
  • Saffron Road Chicken Tikka Masala With Basmati Rice.
  • Chef Bombay Beef Vindaloo.
  • Sweet Earth’s Curry Tiger Bowl.
  • Amy’s Pad Thai.
  • Deep Indian Kitchen Chickpea Masala.
  • Tortilla Crusted Fish by Lean Cuisine.

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Updated on March 6, 2023: This story was previously published and has been updated with new information.

Sources

The U.S. News Health team delivers accurate information about health, nutrition and fitness, as well as in-depth medical condition guides. All of our stories rely on multiple, independent sources and experts in the field, such as medical doctors and licensed nutritionists. To learn more about how we keep our content accurate and trustworthy, read our editorial guidelines.

Toby Amidor, MS, RD, CDN, FAND

Amidor is an award-winning nutrition expert and Wall Street Journal best-selling author of “Diabetes Create Your Plate Meal Prep Cookbook” and “The Family Immunity Cookbook.”

Abbie Gellman, MS, RD, CDN

Gellman is a NYC-based chef, registered dietitian and author.

Amy Gorin, MS, RDN

Gorin is a plant-forward registered dietitian nutritionist based in Stamford, Connecticut. That means she helps everyone eat more plants, whether someone is vegan, vegetarian or just curious.

Lauren Harris-Pincus, MS, RDN

Harris-Pincus is the New York City-based founder of Nutrition Starring YOU and author of “The Everything Easy Pre-Diabetes Cookbook.”

Nicole Rodriguez, RDN, NASM-CPT

Rodriguez, a registered dietitian and certified personal trainer, resides in the metro New York area, where she offers in-home meal prep, small group training and one-on-one fitness coaching.

Vandana Sheth, RDN, CDCES, FAND

Sheth is a nationally recognized and award-winning registered dietitian nutritionist, certified diabetes care and education specialist and CEO of a successful nutrition practice that offers in-person counseling in the Los Angeles area, as well as a virtual nutrition coaching program. She is also author of “My Indian Table: Quick & Tasty Vegetarian Recipes.”

Kathleen M. Zelman, MPH, RD, LD

Zelman is a Georgia-based nutrition communications consultant, founder of No Nonsense Nutrition and co-host of the podcast True Health Revealed.

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Bernard Greenhall
Bernard Greenhall

Bernard is a sports and physical education expert with years of experience. He's passionate about promoting health and wellness through physical activity, and he's worked with athletes and non-athletes alike to help them achieve their fitness goals. Bernard holds a degree in Physical Education and is dedicated to staying up-to-date with the latest trends and research in his field.

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