Save time with healthy options from the freezer aisle
With fall approaching quickly, cooler weather will have us craving warm, hearty meals. And with school back in session, busy schedules just got busier. Despite longing for hot, tasty, nutritious food, we sometimes find ourselves too overscheduled to plan, prepare, and eat them. With packed calendars + cooler temperatures, how can we have more convenience without too much compromise?
As a Registered Dietitian, I encourage families toward planning ahead and carving out time for mostly fresh, nutritious, and enjoyable meals or meals that are prepared, frozen, and cooked at a later date. That being said, I also live in the real world and, with two children of my own, I understand the need for frozen meals. Thankfully, the frozen section of the supermarket has improved leaps and bounds from the TV dinners old! The frozen food section now boasts healthful innovations and inventive dishes in a wide variety of flavors.
Here are a few tips for selecting frozen fare that provides convenience without sacrificing nourishment…
- Look for meals that contain produce, whole grains, protein, and some fat. (Be wary of products containing trans-fats, though.) Remember: Fiber from fruits, veggies, and whole grains makes meals feel more filling.
- Read the ingredient list. Do you recognize them or do you see lots of unknown, un-identifiable ingredients? The latter could indicate high amounts of processing and lots of additives. Stick with less processed, whole food options.
- Many frozen entrees marketed on the “health food” or organic aisles tend to be too light or too small for a lunch or dinner meal. Lower calories can often mean low satisfaction, which could lead to rummaging through the pantry or running to the vending machine later.
Check out the meal ideas below from a sampling of our favorite brands* for easy additions that round out the meal without requiring additional cooking.
- Luvo serves up bowls, entrees, snacks, and sides with flavors from around the globe.
- Chicken Meatballs in Tomato Basil Sauce + ½ cup cannellini beans (stirred into entrée)
- Evol. offers vegetarian and classic single-serve meals (vegetarian and classic), bowls, and burritos.
- Portabella & Goat Cheese Ravioli + A sprinkle of toasted walnuts
- Amy’s has been cooking up vegetarian and vegan meals since 1987, and now sells over 250 different items, including food allergy-friendly options.
- Black Bean Burrito + Pre-made Guacamole + Fresh Fruit
- Red’s gives a southwestern flair to the freezer aisle with burritos, bowls, and enchiladas.
- Chicken, Cilantro, & Lime Bowl + Yogurt
- Saffron Road was the world’s first Halal-certified, antibiotic-free and humanely raised frozen entrée brand. It has become the fastest growing natural frozen food brand, recreating regional recipes from over eight different cuisines from around the world.
- Chicken Tikka Masala with Basmati Rice + Side Salad or Leftover Cooked Veggies
*Disclaimer: Opinions are our own. We have not been compensated by any of these brands.
Blair Mize, MS, RDN, CSSD, LDN is co-owner of Memphis Nutrition Group, a nutrition & lifestyle counseling practice operated by registered & licensed dietitians/nutritionists. Memphis Nutrition Group believes in a non-diet approach that promotes overall health and optimal performance without compromising the enjoyment of food. For more information call Memphis Nutrition Group at 901.343.6146 or visit www.MemphisNutritionGroup.com.