When you’re dashing to prepare for work or too drained to cook dinner dinner, nothing’s simpler than grabbing a frozen entrée. After all, the prep time is zero.
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But how do you make certain these handy meals aren’t hurting your efforts to remain wholesome (and trim)? Registered dietitian Anna Taylor, MS, RD, LD, CDCES, gives eight tips to bear in mind when looking the frozen meals aisle.
How to search out the most effective frozen meals
Many frozen dinners are full of tons of salt and saturated fats, however these aren’t your solely choices. There are methods to search out wholesome, handy frozen meals for you and your loved ones!
1. Emphasize high quality
“The most important thing to look at is the ingredients list,” says Taylor. If you could find meals with fewer than seven components, she says, you’re extra more likely to be consuming entire meals and fewer more likely to be consuming components and preservatives.
The high quality of the components is extra essential than the amount of energy, she says.
Just as a result of a product is marketed as “organic,” “natural” or “vegan” doesn’t essentially imply it’s wholesome. You must learn the diet label and components checklist to make certain.
2. Round out meals
“The best meals have a nice portion of colorful vegetables, a lean protein source (like chicken, turkey, beans or fish/seafood) and either a whole grain or a starchy vegetable,” says Taylor.
If any of those components are lacking, add them as a aspect. “Try pairing a chicken and sweet potato entree with a side salad, or round out your meal with raw veggies and hummus,” she notes.
3. Choose entire grains
“Entrees that utilize 100% whole grains or even grain alternatives, like bean pasta and cauliflower rice, are best,” says Taylor.
Finding refined grains, like white rice, in a frozen meal “is a deal-breaker for me,” she provides.
4. Keep it lean
“Compared to traditional frozen entrees, ‘lean’ and ‘light’ varieties typically shave off considerable calories, saturated fat and sodium,” notes Taylor.
Such meals are usually lower than 400 energy — a superb restrict if you’re watching your weight.
“Steer clear of ‘hearty’ or ‘family-size’ meals unless you plan on sharing them,” she provides. Even then, these merchandise are sometimes excessive in unhealthy saturated fat, sodium, added sugars and refined grains, so regulate the label.
5. Favor fiber
Fiber is a nutrient lacking from most processed meals. Fiber eases digestion and helps you are feeling full so that you don’t overeat.
“Choosing meals with beans, whole grains and vegetables is a good way to increase your fiber,” says Taylor. “Aim for at least 25 to 35 grams of fiber per day.”
6. Spare the starch
Try to keep away from frozen entrées that solely comprise starch, comparable to macaroni and cheese, suggests Taylor. Instead, select extra balanced choices that additionally comprise lean protein and greens.
“If you crave the comfort of a starchy meal, eat only half the portion of the meal, then balance out the meal with a source of protein and some vegetables, like a hard-boiled egg and side salad,” she says. “Balance is key to supporting your overall health and quieting those carb and sugar cravings.”
7. Consume salt and saturated fats moderately
Frozen meals will be notoriously excessive in sodium and saturated fats. “The worst frozen meals have more than 700 grams of sodium and more than 4 to 5 grams of saturated fat,” says Taylor.
It’s greatest to restrict the sodium in your frozen meals to 600 milligrams or much less, and the saturated fats to three grams or much less.
8. Say no to trans fat and sugar
Avoid any meal containing trans fat, says Taylor. The FDA has dominated it unsafe for human consumption. Here’s her pro-tip: “Scan the ingredients list for ‘partially hydrogenated oils,’ a fancier term for trans fats.”
Taylor advises limiting added sugar as effectively. The day by day restrict for added sugars is 25 grams for ladies and 36 grams for males. “Many frozen entrees labeled ‘healthy’ are high in added sugar. Some contain 12 grams — that’s a whole tablespoon!”
Eating wholesome and conveniently
On most days of the week, you’ll need to depend on recent meals — or tasty leftovers. “At the end of the day, I would limit frozen meals to no more than twice a week,” notes Taylor.
But if you want the comfort of a frozen entrée, these tips can information your selections.