I’m A Dietitian and These Are My Favorite Frozen Dinners In a Pinch
We appreciate that a no-hassle frozen dinner can be easily heated, just like everyone else. However, after reviewing the nutrition label of the popular frozen dinner options, we identified the healthiest options you can choose when you’re in a rush. We spoke with dietitians experts to pinpoint their recommendations on their healthiest favorite frozen dinner products.
How we chose these healthy frozen dinners
- Empty calories: Frozen foods can rack up significant calories, especially if you’re not paying attention to the nutrition facts. Depending on the label, the product might contain unnecessary calories or oils, contributing to taking in empty calories — without boosting the nutrition value.
- Saturated fat: Many frozen options are loaded with butter, cheese, and red meats — all high in saturated fat. Too much saturated fat may increase your risk for heart disease, so we considered saturated fat content was a key aspect of the nutrition label when evaluating the healthiness of these items.
- Sodium: Given that salt is a preservative, it’s quite easy to exceed the recommended daily allowance for sodium in frozen foods. The daily recommendation is 2,300 mg or less, so check out your nutrition label in the freezer aisle for added salt.
Opting for convenient options like frozen dinners to simplify meal preparation is totally OK from time to time. Consider pairing your meal with a piece of fruit or veggies for additional volume, nutritional value, and a little more balance to the meal. Let’s take a look at the frozen dinners dietitians recommend you choose from the store.
1. Red’s Burritos
Amy Beney, MS, RD, CDCES, Owner of Nutrition Insights recommends Red’s products are simple to make, a great source of protein, and are easily microwaved for people on the go. These can be used for breakfast, lunch or dinner.
2. Cascadian Farm Organics Powered by Plants
Cascadian Farm Organics Powered by Plants sweet potato, farro, black bean, and spinach mix is a great meatless option, Raelyn Snyder, RD offers. This mix takes less than 10 minutes in a skillet and has 8 grams of fiber and 7 grams of protein per serving. Adding an additional can of beans or some chopped chicken is also a great way to make this a balanced meal, she comments.
3. Trader Joe’s Vegan Thai Green Curry
“Sometimes, it can be tough to find a frozen meal that feels balanced without sacrificing on flavor. The vegan thai green curry does it easily. I love Trader Joe’s Vegan Thai Green Curry! It is so full of flavor and texture, it easily out-competes many meat-containing frozen meals,” says Tori Vasko, RD or Tori Vasko, RD owner of plant-based food blog Easy Chickpeasy. The serving size is satiating, and there are 7 grams of fiber that can keep you feeling full for hours, she adds.
4. Trader Joe’s Chicken Burrito Bowl
Trader Joe’s Chicken Burrito Bowl is a great frozen option when you need something quick, Alyssa Pacheco, RD tells us. “It’s not just a tasty option, either. On top of being delicious, it’s packed with 22 grams of protein and a whopping 9 grams of fiber that will keep you feeling full and satisfied,” she says.
5. Banza Pizza
Compared to frozen cauliflower pizza options, Banza pizzas pack in more protein and nearly double the fiber due to their plant-based, high-fiber crust. Great for a quick dinner that you can feel good about, pair this frozen pizza with some fruit or veggies on the side to increase the volume and balance of this meal.
6. Sweet Earth’s Frozen Pad Thai Bowls
When time is tight, Sweet Earth’s frozen pad thai bowls are my ultimate savior, comments Chelsea LeBlanc, RDN, LD, is a Nashville, TN based dietitian and owner of Chelsea LeBlanc Nutrition. “Packed with a generous 11 grams of plant-based protein, they’re a perfect choice for anyone aiming to add more plant-based goodness. To kick it up a notch, I toss in extra frozen peppers and edamame, creating a protein and veggie-packed lunch or dinner,” she says.
7. Ipsa Provisions
“As a pediatric dietitian and mom of three, frozen dinners have been a game-changer for me on busy nights when cooking just isn’t in the cards. I’m a big fan of Ipsa Provisions, which ships chef-crafted, nutrient-rich frozen meals, shares Malina Malkani, MS, RDN, CDN owner of Malina Malkani Nutrition and author of Safe and Simple Food Allergy Prevention.
From soups to main dishes to pasta and pizza, Ipsa is cooked in small batches with fresh, high-quality ingredients and reheats quickly in the oven or on the stovetop, allowing me to get a hot, nutritious meal on the table within minutes, Malkani says.
8. Trader Joe’s Cuban Style Citrus Garlic Bowl
Trader Joe’s Cuban Style Citrus Garlic Bowl is my go-to frozen meal when I don’t have time to meal prep or cook, Megan Huff, RD, LD tells us. It’s a flavorful yet balanced meal, this bowl contains plantains, bell peppers, yellow rice, chicken, and a tangy mojo sauce while packing in 16 grams of protein, Huff says.