In a perfect world, every meal you eat would be cooked from scratch. But when time is tight, a frozen entrée can be your best option—provided you do your homework. “When you can’t make it yourself, make it a good choice,” says registered dietitian Nicolette M. Pace, a certified diabetes educator and founder of NutriSource Inc.
She suggests sticking to meals with fewer than 500 calories, 3g of saturated fat and 600mg of sodium per serving. “Fiber and protein help you feel full,” she adds, “so look for meals with 3-5 grams of fiber and a 1-1 ratio of carbohydrates to protein.”
Scan our top picks from the latest frozen entrée lines before your next shopping trip.
For Pasta Lovers:
Healthy Choice 100% Natural Tortellini Primavera Parmesan
Unlike most frozen pasta entrées, the tortellini from Healthy Choice’s revamped Café Steamers line—which allows the sauce to cook in a separate tray—retains that al dente “bite” and features a rich, cheesy flavor for only 260 calories and 4g of fat.
For Protein Freaks:
Smart Ones Pork Carnitas Fajitas
With 19g of protein—thanks to a good- sized portion of meat plus a side of rice and beans—this meal from Smart Ones’ new Mexican offerings should easily tide you over until your next meal or snack.
Amy’s Light and Lean Meatless Swedish Meatballs
This take on a frozen-entrée staple replaces beef meatballs with a satisfying blend of quinoa, lentils, tofu and flax seed but keeps the classic mushroom-based flavor for just 260 calories.
For Pizza Fiends:
Kashi Greek Tzatziki Pizza
This new line of single-serve pizzas boasts a crust made of seven grains, including sesame and flax seeds, for a total of 6g fiber. The somewhat small-sized pie, weighing in at 340 calories and 9g fat, has bold flavor and a delightfully crunchy crust.
Lean Cuisine Pineapple Black Pepper Beef
This dish from the new Honestly Good line features chunks of beef and pineapple in a sweet-spicy sauce over a brown- wild rice mix. A side of beans and carrots helps you meet your five-a-day veggie quota—all for 320 calories and 23 grams of protein.
Bertolli Chicken, Rigatoni & Broccoli
This Mediterranean-style entrée serves up two hearty portions in a creamy olive oil-garlic sauce. The 860mg of sodium per serving is steep—go light on the salt the rest of the day to balance it out.