Frozen entrees are a quick and easy meal solution. They come in varieties capable of satisfying any food craving and portion sizes catering to individual or family needs. The nutrition content varies from brand name and type of food. Whether you choose desserts, meals or snacks, educate yourself on the food label of each entree to determine which is the healthier option.
The Food Label
When reading the food label of any product, there are a few items of particular importance. Check the serving size and nutrient amounts. In general, the serving size for an individual frozen meal is the entire entree. If there are multiple servings per package, multiply the nutrient amount by how many servings to get the full nutritional value. In the second section of the food label, pay close attention to the sodium levels. The U.S. Department of Agriculture has set a tolerable upper limit for sodium at 2,300 mg/day. Some frozen meals contain the majority of your daily allotment for sodium. Lastly, check the ingredient list. As a general tip, if you cannot pronounce the ingredient, it is probably not the best for you. If the terms "hydrogenated" or "partially hydrogenated" are before any type of oil, it indicates trans fat in the product. Compare the nutrition information for three similar products.
Healthy Choice Chicken Romano Fresco
The serving size is one meal. Per serving there are 230 calories, 45 calories from fat. There are 5 grams of total fat, 2 grams are saturated fat. The cholesterol content is 25 mg, sodium is 490 mg and 340 mg of potassium. There are 29 grams of total carbohydrate, 4 grams of dietary fiber and 16 grams of protein. The ingredients are cooked whole-grain pasta, chicken tenderloins, water, broccoli, red pepper, cornstarch, butter, Romano cheese, sea salt, garlic puree, spices and garlic powder.
Lean Cuisine Grilled Chicken Primavera
The serving size is one meal. Per serving there are 220 calories, 40 calories from fat. The amount of total fat is 4.5 grams and 1.5 grams of saturated fat. There are 25 mg of cholesterol, 610 mg of sodium and 600 mg of potassium. The total carbohydrate amount is 29 grams with 5 grams of dietary fiber and 5 grams of sugar. The protein content is 19 grams. The ingredient list is blanched whole-wheat vermicelli, cooked white meat chicken, skim milk, asparagus, broccoli, tomatoes, and 2 percent or less of sea salt, enzyme modified Parmesan cheese, Asiago cheese, Parmesan cheese, salt, roasted garlic, modified cornstarch, soybean oil, bleached wheat flour, basil, garlic puree, sugar, autolyzed yeast extract, seasoning, potassium chloride, whey, lactic acid, calcium lactate and spice.
Smart Ones Pasta Primavera
The serving size is one meal. Per serving there are 250 calories, 35 calories from fat. The total fat content is 4 grams, 2 grams of saturated fat. There are 5 mg of cholesterol and 610 mg of sodium. (Potassium is not listed.) The total carbohydrate content is 41 grams with 4 grams of dietary fiber and 4 grams of sugar. The protein content is 11 grams. The main ingredients are cooked enriched macaroni product, Alfredo sauce, broccoli, carrots, red bell peppers, water and carrageenan. The cooked macaroni and Alfredo sauce are accompanied by a long list of what they are made of including shortening powder, corn syrup solids and fermented wheat protein.