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Healthy Frozen Dinners: 20 Picks

How to choose healthy frozen dinners.

How to Choose Frozen Dinners continued...

Skip frozen dinners with cream sauces, gravies, or fried foods. And although dessert may look like a bonus, experts suggest having a piece of fresh fruit instead, for more fiber, nutrition, and fewer calories.

Here is expert advice for choosing a healthy frozen dinner. Keep in mind that some healthy meals will meet some, but not all, of these recommendations:

  • 300-500 calories
  • 10-18 grams of total fat, or less than 30% of total calories
  • Less than 4 grams of saturated fat
  • Less than 600 milligrams of sodium
  • 3-5 grams of fiber
  • 10% of the Recommended Daily Value of vitamins or minerals
  • 10-20 grams of protein

The bottom line: Don't assume a product is healthy without checking out the nutrition facts panel.

Dollars and Cents

Frozen entrees can  be a money saver, compared to restaurant meals.

"At a time when most people are looking to save money, a frozen meal costing between $2.50-$4 is less expensive than eating out," McGrath says.

All it takes is 20 minutes to whip up an entire family meal from frozen food components that is balanced, nutritious, economical, and delicious, Andrews says. “Instead of buying a single meal for yourself, why not create a quick skillet meal using all frozen components, including vegetables, protein, grains, and fruit for dessert?" she asks.

Andrews suggests experimenting with the wide variety of ethnic vegetable, rice, bean, pasta, and grain mixes that the whole family will enjoy.

Another way to enjoy frozen food components is to top your entrée salad with defrosted cooked chicken strips or shrimp, McGrath says. Her tip: “Use one or more elements from the freezer compartment and build on it with foods from your pantry or refrigerator so it can help you put together a quick, healthy meal.”

Kathleen Zelman, MPH, RD, is director of nutrition for WebMD. Her opinions and conclusions are her own.

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Edited on August 29, 2011

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