Whether it’s due to convenience, affordability, or sheer laziness, we’ve all enjoyed a frozen meal at some point in our lives. There’s something so satisfying about a dinner that only requires a microwave (without the meal prep).
The only catch is that most frozen meals are on the same level as junk food: loaded with sodium and fat. But in this day and age, frozen meals are so much more than processed crap. Many varieties now contain plenty of protein, fiber, and veggies, and they won’t fill you up with unnecessary sodium.
While there aren’t any steadfast “rules” for picking healthy frozen meals, here are a few guidelines to follow: First, look for frozen meals that have at least 10 grams of protein. While that may not be enough for one sitting, it’s a good starting point and can easily be doubled or tripled with additions like two eggs, three ounces of chicken, or a half-cup of beans or quinoa.
Try to stay under 750 milligrams of sodium, which is about 33 percent of the daily sodium recommendation in a typical 2,000-calorie diet. Lastly, look for options that are loaded with veggies because, well, veggies are good for you. Get the nukers ready because these nine healthy frozen meal options fit the bill.
This vegan Asian noodle bowl contains all the flavor of Thai food with a creamy cashew sauce. Made with red pepper, lemongrass, ginger, edamame, cashews, and buckwheat and semolina noodles, this bowl is loaded with protein and fiber, and the flavor will give you all the feels of a home-cooked meal.Per serving: 390 calories, 18 g fat, 460 mg sodium, 45 g carbs, 5 g fiber, 10 g sugar, 13 g protein(Visit Kashi’s store locator for purchase options)
Yes, you read that right. This fancy frozen bowl features red wine-braised beef, polenta, and veggies, including collard greens and butternut squash. Each bowl has a serving of beef with a side of fiber and flavor. Double win for meat lovers and red wine drinkers who don’t have time to marinade.Per serving: 300 calories, 10 g fat, 410 mg sodium, 32 g carbs, 6 g fiber, 8 g sugar, 19 g protein($6.99; shop.luvofoods.com)
This frozen meal needs to be prepared in the oven or grill, but it’s worth it. Love the Wild uses sustainable fish, and each dish comes with homemade frozen saucy ice cubes (the ingredients list only contains items you have in your kitchen). This version brings the flavors of “bold red coconut curry sauce, with notes of Thai basil and kaffir lime” to your plate. If that’s not worth lighting up the oven, then we’re not sure what is.Per serving: 430 calories, 27 g fat, 360 mg sodium, 5 g carbs, 0 g fiber, 4 g sugar, 37 g protein.($9.99; lovethewild.com)
Saffron Road offers delicious Indian food without the hassle of ordering takeout. Chicken tikka masala is a fan favorite, and this version has chicken simmered in Tandoori spices and basmati rice straight from your freezer.Per serving: 300 calories, 9 g fat, 690 mg sodium (29%), 39 g carbs, 1 g fiber, 5 g sugar, 17 g protein($5.49; freshdirect.com)
Finding a vegetarian frozen meal that has protein and veggies can be tough. Luvo made it easier with this So Cal Kale and Beans bowl, made with red rice, kale, white beans, and shiitake mushrooms. The bowl boasts one and a half cups of veggies and tons of fiber.Per serving: 300 calories, 7 g fat, 360 mg sodium, 53 g carbs, 11 g fiber, 14 g sugar, 10 g protein($5.99; shop.luvofoods.com)
Don’t be fooled by the name—Lean Cuisine has plenty of hearty and tasty meals. This mango chicken with coconut rice is a great bring-to-work lunch option that won’t stink up the entire office like your coworker’s can of tuna fish. As a bonus, the toasted coconut and sweet and spicy mango sauce will make you feel like you’re on an island when really, you’re sitting at your desk.Per serving: 330 calories, 6 g fat, 620 mg sodium, 50 g carbs, 2 g fiber, 14 g sugar, 19 g protein(View Lean Cuisine’s store locator for purchase options)
When you’ve got a hankering for pasta but don’t feel like going out or cooking that “easy” homemade sauce with too much salt, Amy’s has got you covered with their Light in Sodium line. This veggie lasagna is layered with a tomato sauce made with organic tomatoes, cheese, and organic veggies. It’s also got more protein than many of Amy’s bean dishes, so why not make it a pasta night?Per serving: 320 calories, 9 g fat, 340 mg sodium, 44 g carbs, 4 g fiber, 8 g sugar, 16 g protein($5.29; freshdirect.com)
Skip Chipotle and nuke this fire-grilled steak bowl by Evol instead. With steak, black beans, rice, peppers, corn, cheese, and a cilantro lime pesto sauce, this bowl gets it done right without wasting a whole day’s worth of calories in one sitting… so you can still have dessert.Per serving: 400 calories, 18 g fat, 520 mg sodium, 40 g carbs, 8 g fiber, 3 g sugar, 20 g protein($3.99; jet.com)
A healthier version of spaghetti and meatballs? Count us in! Made with turkey meatballs, organic veggies, fettuccini noodles, and shaved Parmesan, this frozen meal maybe isn’t Nonnie’s homemade dish, but it’s a light and satisfying choice when you’re craving pasta. The entire bowl is just 250 calories, so serve it with a side if that’s not cutting it.Per serving: 250 calories, 3.5 g fat, 590 mg sodium, 35 g carbs, 4 g fiber, 5 g sugar, 17 g protein(Visit Good Food Made Simple’s store locator for purchase options)